A month like the day before your birthday. In October, everyone in Vienna stares impatiently into their coffee while waiting for the advent festivities to start. But it has its own appeal, with, for example, the city’s parks and woodlands ablaze with autumnal colour.
Top activities in October 2019
Most of Vienna’s delights are available all the year. But what can October offer in particular?
Catch them while you can
A few interesting exhibitions draw to a close and some rather special ones are in full swing. I recommend, for example, catching the last days of:
- The Vertigo exhibition at the MUMOK museum. Works that mess with your senses and play with your perception – full of illusions, deceptions and masterful examples of optical art. (Ends October 26th)
- The Arik Brauer exhibition at the Jewish Museum. Brauer’s life story is fascinating and his art equally so. Both can be seen in this exhibition. (Ends October 20th)
Then wade into the magnificence of these two world-class exhibitions:
- The Dürer exhibition at the Albertina. Christmas comes but once a year. Exhibitions of Albrecht Dürer’s iconic works are far rarer. Not to be missed (and the Albertina has gorgeous staterooms, too)
- The Caravaggio and Bernini exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Another rarity – the first time such a significant collection of early baroque art from Rome has seen the light of day outside of Italy. (Starts October 15th)
Watch history being made (hopefully)
People have run a lot of marathons. But nobody has ever done so in under two hours. Until, the week of October 12th-20th, when Eliud Kipchoge will give it a go.
Kipchoge won the 2016 Olympics marathon and is the current record holder at this distance. The attempt takes place along the Hauptallee in Vienna’s Prater, so anyone can come along, line the route, and watch sporting history being made.
Enjoy the autumn colours
Autumn turns the city’s trees into swirls of yellows and reds. And we have a lot of trees.
The Vienna woods dominate the western edge of the city, but you needn’t travel far from the centre to enjoy nature’s transformation. Try, for example, the Stadtpark, where the Strauss statue adds another golden hue to October’s colours.
Museums, but not as you know them
This is a fun event.
One night in October (the 5th in 2019), a whole bunch of Vienna’s museums throw open their doors late and usher you in to experience special tours, displays, and/or entertainment.
There’s a lovely buzz to the city during this Long Night of Museums, which the state broadcasting company (ORF) organises, with thousands milling the streets. One ticket covers entry to any participating museum.
Games and gaming
World-class tennis arrives in Vienna for the 2019 Erste Bank Open (October 19th – 27th). At the time of writing, the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios and Dominic Thiem were all slated to appear.
If, however, you prefer your sports on a PC or console, then try Game City (October 18th – 21st). This huge gaming fair takes place on the Rathausplatz square and features eSports events, cosplay, and numerous stands showcasing the latest games and gaming hardware. Entry is free.
The silver screen
Two October highlights will appeal to fans of cinema:
- Hollywood in Vienna honours the work of Gabriel Yared with a concert and gala evening (October 18th and 19th). Yared’s numerous movie credits include scores for The English Patient, Cold Mountain and Betty Blue
- Vienna’s leading film festival runs from October 24th to November 6th. The long-running Viennale has all the accoutrements you expect of such an event: prestigious prizes, special guests, national and international pre-release films, etc.
Form and function
October also hosts two big design events in 2019:
- The international Vienna Design Week (September 27th to October 6th) is the mother of all design festivals, with a huge array of events across the city
- The international Blickfang design fair (October 25th to 27th) displays the work of independent designers in various fields…from fashion to furniture. You can buy what you see and, most importantly, usually discuss the pieces with the designers themselves
There’s no better time to hold an Oktoberfest than in October. Vienna’s equivalent is the Wiener Wiesn Fest (September 26th to October 13th in 2019), held out in a meadow in the Prater park and within shouting distance of the Giant Ferris Wheel.
So pack your Lederhosen, gentlemen and your Dirndls, ladies. There will be feasting and music.