Inevitably, dozens of events typically take place each day in Vienna. Local listings can overwhelm you, though, so here are some annual events and festivals of particular interest to visitors (listed by month), plus current highlights.
Note: current Coronavirus measures may affect future concerts, festivals etc.. So consider all the below suggestions as purely theoretical and check with official homepages for up-to-date info.
Selected events on now(ish)
I have no event suggestions for you for the next few days/weeks because, well, there are very few events on at the moment. As time goes by, the government will allow events to take place of ever-increasing size. For example, the current plan at the time of writing is to allow those with up to 100 participants in June, up to 250 participants from July 1st, and up to 1000 participants from August 1st.
Ongoing exhibitions I’ve enjoyed
Vienna has various excellent exhibitions running at any one time and I don’t go to every single one. But here some recommendations for you.
- The Approximation by Bilderbuch exhibition demonstrates the possibilities when a band enters meaningful collaboration with various artists. Worth seeing just for the guitar
- The one-room Haydn – Mozart – Beethoven exhibition at the Mozarthaus. The simple display of their last-ever pieces of written music left quite an impression
- I’m a sucker for Hundertwasser’s colourful oeuvre. The Hundertwasser – Schiele exhibition at the Leopold Museum shows how his painting style evolved and reveals the huge inspirational role played by Schiele’s works and life
- Ever fancied trying out some of those on-set special effects used in Hollywood? Then visit the interactive exhibition at the Technical Museum
Annual events and festivals
These should take place each year but do check the individual articles…
Incidentally, 2020 is Beethoven year in Vienna in celebration of the 250th birthday of the composer. Follow the link for all sorts of Beethovenesque events.
- The 1st of January is, of course, the date of the world-famous New Year’s Concert
- You might catch the final days of the New Year markets at the beginning of the month
- The middle of January brews up the Vienna Coffee Festival
- Then it’s time to slap on your skates for the Vienna Ice World, which runs until early March
(For dates, details and more activities and ideas, see the guide to January 2021.)
- Sandwiched innocently between the holiday season and spring, February has few major annual events of note
- January’s Ice World continues through the month, though. And there’s the famous Opernball, of course
- The end of the month has the International Orchid Show
(For some tips on seasonal activities, try the February 2021 guide.)
- The Easter markets normally start up in March, depending on when Easter actually falls. In 2021, they should appear around March 20th. See, for example, the one at Schönbrunn Palace
- There’s also the Vinyl & Music festival at the city’s main brewery during the first full March weekend and the Blues Spring Festival normally starts up at the end of March
- If you prefer your words spoken, rather than sung, then there’s the Festival du Film Francophone (the French-language movie festival)
- Other fairs and festivals include the GoModelling event, the Bread Festival at the Marx Halle, and the Foto Wien photography festival
(See the full March 2021 guide for all details and more thoughts on what you might do in the month.)
- The Easter markets may continue (or start) in April, which is when most of the Vienna Blues Spring music festival actually takes place. Another feast of music this month is the two-day Electric Spring event in the Museumsquartier
- April also has one of the early food festivals: the Styrian Spring festival
- If you want to work off the calories after all those Styrian delights, then the Vienna marathon is usually later in the same month, as is the Argus Bike Festival
(For more tips, exhibition suggestions and outdoor activities, try the full April 2021 guide.)
This is the month when music and food lovers come into their own.
- On the music front, you have:
- On the food & drink front, you have:
- The Genuss Festival, a three-day food and drink festival in the Stadtpark
- The open day at the city-owned Cobenzl winery
- The spring edition of the Craft Beer Festival
- The Burgenland Kultinarium
- The Vienna Wine Fest
The events of May give you a big hint as to what Vienna is really all about: food, drink & music.
For more culture, however, try the Jewish (postponed to October) and Vienna Shorts film festivals, the Donaukanaltreiben riverside urban festival (in September in 2020) or the Long Night of the Churches.
(For dates, more information, and even more suggested things to do, see the complete May 2021 guide.)
(Expect all but the smallest June 2020 events to be postponed or cancelled).
- Things generally quieten down a bit in this month, though the drink theme continues with the Vienna Beer Festival.
- The month usually starts with the military old-timer meet at On Wheels and Tracks
- Two international music festivals pop up in June – the Vienna Jazz Festival and the Donauinselfest (postponed to September in 2020). The latter is Europe’s largest free open-air festival. Music also features at the Südwind Street Festival
- The Wiener Symphoniker performs for free at the end of June (2021) at the MQ open-air concert
- The spring/summer edition of Fesch’Markt Vienna (postponed to August in 2020) lets you sample the creative output of independent designers and artists
(Find out more about all these events, including dates and times, using the broader June 2021 guide.)
(Expect cancellations/changes in 2020 through the actual or knock-on effects of the Austrian Coronavirus measures.)
- The big July event is the Rathaus Film Festival, with daily public viewings of concerts and performances from various genres of music on the square in front of the Rathaus
- Talking music, June’s Jazz Festival usually continues through the early part of the month, too. And there’s more music in July:
- More on the food and drink front with…
- July typically also sees the start of the Frameout open-air cinema season at the MuseumsQuartier and the dotdotdot film festival at the folk museum
(For other activity tips and more detailed suggestions, try the comprehensive July 2020 guide.)
(There may be cancellations/changes in 2020 through the actual or knock-on effects of the Austrian Coronavirus measures.)
- Many of July’s film and other festivals carry on through August. And another international open-air cinema usually starts up at Belvedere Palace, too, with their Kino im Kammergarten programme
- Jump from classic to contemporary: numerous classic cars drive around the Ring at the Vienna Old Timer Parade, while the month also hosts the Calle Libre street art festival. For (live) modern music, try the Gürtel Nightwalk
(Discover a whole slew of ideas for what to do this month in the full August 2020 guide.)
(In 2020, many additional events to those mentioned below have shifted to September. Events may still be affected by health regulations – some have already been cancelled.)
- The food, drink, film, and music theme common to Vienna dominates the month with, for example:
- The last Sunday in September is European Heritage Day, when various historical buildings open their doors to the public (for free). The same concept applies at Open House Wien, but with a focus on newer constructions
- And the modern flavour continues at the…
- If you’re in need of a drink after all that, try the Rum and Gin festivals
(For more suggestions, details, and dates, browse the main September 2020 guide.)
(With any luck, we’ll be clear of Coronavirus-induced issues by now – let’s hope so, anyway. But who knows? Some events have already been cancelled.)
- The Wiesen Fest from September continues into October, when you can also sample the best of Vienna’s museal treasures at the Long Night of Museums
- Lovers of good photography and design should find their way to…
- If you prefer your design in interactive pixel form, then enjoy free entry to Game City on the Rathausplatz
- As in many months, film features strongly in October, too:
- For both ends of the modern music spectrum, consider:
- Or just get some fresh air: late October sees the start of the open-air ice skating season
(Take a peek at the October 2020 guide for more details and further tips and suggestions.)
(Both the Viennale and Wien Modern carry through into November.)
- The month’s main claim to fame is the start of the Christmas season, notably the wonderful Advent markets, the lights, outdoor ice skating, and early signs of gift-buying panic
- To pick up some gifts of a particularly artistic nature, try:
- Or forget the season and immerse yourself in the world of science fiction, fantasy and comics at Vienna Comic Con
- Or forget the season and immerse yourself in a glass of beer at the autumn edition of the Craft Beer Festival
(Call up the November 2020 guide for more information on the above, as well as tips on other activities and art exhibitions, etc.)
You’ll be surprised to learn that seasonal themes tend to dominate in December, notably…
- The Christmas markets, which continue through until December 25th, and often beyond in the form of New Year’s markets
- Many people also celebrate New Year’s Eve in Vienna along the Silvesterpfad. The final two days of the year feature the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year concert previews
(For all the details and a few more tips, check out the December 2020 guide.)
THE END (of the year and article).