If you’re in Vienna and looking for something to do, head down to the Rathausplatz square in front of the Rathaus (city hall). As the city’s most popular site for open-air festivals and similar, there’s nearly always something going on there.
- Home to some of Vienna’s more iconic events, including the Christkindlmarkt, Rathaus Film Festival, and Vienna Ice World
- See also: Events by month
The square ticks a lot of the boxes that make a great outdoor location: roomy, central, and easily reached by public transport. The giant 19th-century Rathaus building and surrounding landscaped park also ensure a suitably picturesque setting.
No surprise, then, to find the Rathausplatz hosting many of Vienna’s top annual events. For example…
In late November and December, the Christkindlmarkt is both Vienna’s largest Christmas market and part of the wider Vienna Christmas Dream that sees the Rathaus park fill with bright lights and other wintry treats.
Dozens of stalls sell arts, crafts, decorations, toys and a range of seasonal refreshments, such as roast chestnuts and Christmas punch. Don’t pass up the chance to visit, since the combination of market ambiance and seasonal lighting is unforgettable.
Vienna Ice World
From mid-January to early March, the Rathausplatz turns into a huge ice rink for the so-called Eistraum or Vienna Ice World.
“Ice rink” undersells it, really. There’s more than one rink, for starters, and swathes of iced paths take you through the lights and trees. So get your skates on (see what I did there?).
A number of stalls sell food and drink to keep the cold at bay (just about every event on the Rathausplatz has a big gastronomic section).
The Rathaus Film Festival
Then in July and August there’s the Rathaus Film Festival.
A huge screen shows films with a musical theme, such as the great operas and ballets, as well as concert performances in more contemporary genres. One night you might get Carmen, another night it’s Clapton.
International food stalls enhance the attractions of the screen with a range of culinary delights…everything from waffles to wok dishes.
Other Rathausplatz events
Other smaller events on the Rathausplatz include:
- GAME CITY: a three-day gaming festival in October with a cosplay parade and free entry
- Silvesterpfad: the Rathausplatz is the biggest stop on Vienna’s New Year’s Eve celebration trail. At midnight, thousands dance a waltz to welcome in the New Year in the light of a thousand fireworks (or something like that)
- The Steiermark Frühling: a four-day gourmet and travel festival in April, centered around the province of Styria. Notable for its regional food and drink, traditional music, and suitably-dressed participants
- The Argus bike festival: on one weekend in March, Vienna celebrates two wheels with various displays and info stands
- Waldviertelpur: another regional festival in September, this time introducing you to the sights, sounds and (mostly) flavours of the Waldviertel, one of the colder, flatter and more mystical parts of Austria
How to get to the Rathausplatz
Subway: the square has its own station on the U2 subway line, imaginatively titled, “Rathaus”.
Tram/bus: since the Rathausplatz adjoins the the ring road that encircles the historic city center, any of the so-called Ring trams get you there. Take the 1, 71 or D trams to Rathausplatz/Burgtheater or the 2 tram to Stadiongasse/Parlament.
Address: Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna, Austria.