Another month that feels like the young boy staring forlornly through the sweet shop window while December and August get to choose all the nice things. But November in Vienna has its own pleasures.
In particular, you get to enjoy the Christmas flair, but without the crowds.
Ideas for November 2019
All Vienna’s indoor delights await. But here are a few suggested activities and events specific to November.
Christmas markets and lights
Call me fussy, but the Christmas season seems like it really ought to happen in December. And it does. However, the preparations and celebrations start much earlier in Vienna.
The official Christmas lights tend to switch on sometime in the second half of the month (it was November 17 last year), though the date rarely gets confirmed too far in advance. And they’re fantastic – very classy, especially the white chandelier-style displays in the very centre of town.
And all the main Christmas markets open up in November; the earliest on November 14, the latest on November 23.
Although the real advent atmosphere comes the following month, it’s not a bad time to visit the markets. They get very (very) busy close to Christmas, so November offers more space to enjoy the cooked and crafted delights (of which there are many).
Also, November has a couple of bonus markets that leave December feeling a little jealous:
- “So schmeckt NÖ” advent market in Palais Niederösterreich, a rare chance to see inside this 16th-century architectural joy (November 29 and 30)
- The medieval advent market at the Military History Museum (November 28 to December 1)
Films and movie stars
November offers the opportunity to see the best of cinema both on and off the screen.
- Vienna’s big international film festival is the Viennale, which began in late October and continues through to November 6. A joyous mix of films includes festival tracks dedicated to particular directors and themes. And the retrospective (O Partigiano! Pan-European Partisan Film in 2019) is always a big hit
- The Viennale has many filmmakers in attendance, but if you favour the geekier side of cinema (and comics and cosplay), then Vienna Comic Con is for you (November 23-24). My favourite event of the year (that’s me above). Sean Astin, for example, is slated to appear this year
With all its art museums, Vienna hosts numerous exhibitions at any one time. But, now and then, a couple stand out from the crowd. In November 2019, for example:
- The Albertina’s Dürer exhibition feels like you should go round in hushed reverence, because these works rarely appear in public
- The Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Caravaggio and Bernini exhibition brings the unique flavour of early 17th-century Rome to Vienna with a star-studded selection of art
- The Reading Time in Space exhibition starts on November 16th at MUMOK, which features works by Picasso, Magritte and similar
(For something different, the Photo+Adventure fair and festival – November 9 to 10 – is big on travel photography. Which means lots of photo exhibitions from top photographers covering various locations and/or themes.)
The Christmas markets include a great deal of unique craft items, and the theme of crafted beauty continues at two other events:
- The Art&Antique fair at the Hofburg palace (November 9-17) brings together around 50 Austrian and international art dealers and galleries. A chance to view (and acquire) everything from the latest contemporary designs to works from antiquity
- Fesch means handsome or pretty in German, and the Fesch’Markt Wien at the city’s largest brewery (November 15-17) showcases the creations of dozens of independent design talents across a host of categories: from food to fashion and furniture
Music with a difference
Vienna is the home of classical music, with concerts everywhere. But among the pieces by Beethoven, Mozart and their ilk is a thriving modern scene. The Wien Modern festival (on the entire month) highlights the work of contemporary composers and performers. Some of the world’s top orchestras participate.
And you’ll find contemporary compositions of a different kind at the Indie Label Woche (November 25-30). The Reigen music venue hosts rock to pop to punk to hip hop (and more) across six nights of gigs showcasing local talent.
Finally…roast chestnuts and beer
As the temperatures fall so the Maronistands rise up like mushrooms, peppering the city with their little huts and heated ovens. This is your chance to travel back in time for some original fast food – roasted chestnuts.
And beer loves should find their way to the Marx Halle for the Craft Beer Festival (November 22-23), when over 70 breweries offer up their wares for the discerning consumer of the amber nectar.
Bon Appetit, as they don’t say in Vienna (try Mahlzeit or Guten Appetit).