Imagine sitting beneath a star-strewn sky on a balmy summer evening, listening to a bit of Puccini or Pink Floyd, maybe Sibelius or Sinatra.
What could be better for the lover of iconic music?
Now imagine doing this to a backdrop of fine central European architecture. You can’t get more cultural bonus points than that.
Now imagine no more, and drop into the Rathaus film festival. Each summer, the square in front of Vienna’s city hall turns into an open-air cinema with a difference.
First, the films shown on the giant screen are all musical performances. Originally opera productions, there’s now a mix of musical styles.
So while classical composers still dominate, jazz, blues, rock, folk, even punk (albeit unplugged) make regular appearances. I’ve just got back from watching Eric Clapton’s Baloise Session. Yesterday it was an operetta by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán.
Second, the area leading up to the seating is a gastronomic paradise, with bars and restaurants serving food from around the world.
Plates of couscous and curry jostle with sausage and suckling pig, pasta and pancakes. Grab a steak or try some teppanyaki salmon. All washed down with your beverage of choice.
A word of warning, though. Don’t turn up just before the scheduled film start hoping for dinner and a show. Apart from the need to get a good seat by arriving earlier, you can’t eat or drink in the actual auditorium, only in the designated area behind it. So if you want to enjoy a meal with the music, it’s best to eat beforehand.
How much is entry to this cultural extravaganza going to cost you? A big fat nothing. You buy your food and drink as you’d expect, but the film showings are free.
Reach it on the U2 subway line (“Rathaus”) or trams 1, 71 and D (get out at “Rathausplatz / Burgtheater”) and 2 (“Stadiongasse / Parlament”). Address: Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna, Austria. The event usually runs through July and August.
The official website has timings and programme details. You can watch a short video from 2018 below: