If you drift through Vienna’s centre in August, you may wonder why you rarely hear a Viennese accent.
It’s because we’re all on holiday. The city is yours, now.
(P.S. Be sure to water the houseplants and feed the parrot.)
Top activities in August 2024
Incidentally, if you’re worried about keeping cool, the Vienna authorities install numerous mobile drinking water fountains around the tourist hotspots, as well as water spray facilities in selected locations.
The summer normally has orchestras replacing batons and bows with sandals and snorkels. However, some classical venues use the mid-year break to offer special concerts aimed at incoming visitors.
The Vienna Mozart Orchestra, for example, presents light classical music in period attire and the rather prestigious surrounds of the Musikverein.
(The Weltmuseum always has intriguing exhibitions)
The museum summer normally offers a few distractions for visitors to the city. Check the main exhibition listings for fuller details nearer the time, but highlights already announced include:
- The Albertina Modern brings its exhibition on The Beauty of Diversity to an end (runs until August 18th) and begins its Alfred Kubin exhibition (provisionally from August 14th)
- Also catch the final days of the We❤ exhibition at the Heidi Horten Collection, full of famous names and iconic pieces from that collection (until August 25th)
- The Albertina introduces us to the art of Eva Beresin, the paintings and graphic works of Franz Grabmayr, and the staged photos of Gregory Crewdson
- Broncia Koller-Pinell, artist of the Wiener Moderne and a wider player in the art world, receives an exhibition at Lower Belvedere, alongside a retrospective for Hannah Höch
- Upper Belvedere goes further back into the past and takes a closer look at paintings by Franz Anton Maulbertsch, who celebrates his 300th birthday in June 2024 (so you have time to bake him a cake)
- Another birthday boy is Anton Bruckner, who turns 200 in 2024. The National Library has a suitable exhibition in their magnificent State Hall
- The Leopold Museum has two exhibitions for us. One covers the era of New Objectivity in Germany, while Unknown Familiars pulls out highlight pieces from the collections of the Vienna Insurance Group
- Go beyond the canvas and brush to discover two of Austria’s artistic geniuses in other fields:
- Among its many exhibitions, the MAK brings us a closer examination of the design work of the iconic Auböck workshop
- The Jewish Museum examines Jewish contributions to the relief of suffering in Vienna through the ages, examines (together with the Wien Museum) Nazi theft and subsequent restitution, and also introduces us to the story and art of Emil Singer
- Fresh from its reopening, the Wien Museum has an exhibition looking at Secessionist art in Berlin, Munich and Vienna. Klimt makes an appearance
- Another newly-reopened institution (the Kunst Haus Wien) has the last days of its Into the Woods contemporary art exhibition (until August 11th)
- Learn about the world of the Arctic at the Naturhistorisches Museum, as well as the changes affecting the region
- From snow to sand…the Weltmuseum looks at the role camels and other domestic camelids have played and continue to play in society and human development. They also present indigenous art from the Amazon and use items from their collections to illustrate a glossary of materials
Stay on the Rathausplatz
(Come for the film, stay for the gastronomy)
As mentioned for July, much fun may be had on the main Rathausplatz square.
The open-air film festival continues through August, with evening showings of (mainly) music performances on a huge screen.
We like to get there in the early evening for something interesting to eat and drink from the food court, which features cuisine from around the world (and Austria). Then find a seat to catch a bit of Sheeran or Tchaikovsky.
A fair few open-air cinemas usually fire up the popcorn machine come August. For example:
- The dotdotdot film festival (2024 dates TBA) has its showings of short films in the garden of the Volkskundemuseum
- Frameout open-air cinema (2024 dates TBA) carries on in the courtyards of the city’s main contemporary art quarter, the MQ
- The Stumm&Laut (2024 dates TBA) offers silent movies with live accompanying music
- The Kino am Dach has screenings on top of the main city library: a personal favourite (2024 dates TBA)
Be sure to look for the abbreviations OV (shown in the original language), OmU (ditto with subtitles), OmeU (ditto, but subtitles are in English).
Watch the old timers
(Get a glimpse of the motorised past)
Classic car enthusiasts gather in the city in August for the Vienna Classic Days old timer festival.
The highlights for visitors is the Old Timer Parade (August 24th), when vehicles of all shapes, sizes and eras do a turn of the Ring, waving cheerily as we all remember the days of flapping scarfs and picnic hampers tied to the boot.
Enjoy the urban flair
Vienna may have a reputation for imperial elegance and genteel coffee house culture. But it’s also a modern, diverse city with quite a few areas that weren’t actually built by a Habsburg monarch.
- The Calle Libre festival (2024 dates TBA), for example, celebrates street art as a true art form, with the chance to watch those at the top of their profession creating giant murals and similar
- The Gürtel Nightwalk (2024 dates TBA but usually the end of August) highlights the urban regeneration success story that is the Gürtel road. A stretch of the Gürtel has become a popular nightspot for clubs, bars and venues: several throw open their doors for an evening of (free) live performances
A taste of Vienna (and the world)
(Dumplings and Sauerkraut for the discerning palate)
A few diverse food, drink, and music (or all three) events appear in August. For example:
- Music forms the centrepiece of the Afrika Tage African festival (August 9th to 26th), with national and international performers. Enjoy plenty of African cuisine, too, as well as a bazaar and various info stands from NGOs working in and with the continent
- The Neustifter Kirtag (August 22nd to 25th) brings traditional Austrian garb, copious quantities of wine, live music and a street market to Vienna
- And the Veganmania vegan summer festival rolls into town with street food, music and more (August 23rd to 25th)
Several summer events that typically continue daily (or almost daily) through August are:
- The Ottakringer beer festival, with Ottakringer’s own traditional and craft beers, and food that goes well with a pint (actually half a liter) on a balmy evening. Look out for the Summer Nights mini-edition of the Vinyl & Music festival that often fills an August weekend there
- Summer in the MQ is not a formal event as such, but the expression of seasonal flair in Vienna at the MuseumsQuartier, where open-air bars and the famous summer furniture invite you to imbibe something cold, relax, and watch the occasional cloud meandering through the blue skies above (hopefully)
- Talking open-air bars, Summerstage on the Donaukanal has a fair few, with accompanying live music, outdoor art and other waterfront delights
Take to the water
(The Hochstrahlbrunnen fountain on Schwarzenbergplatz)
And, finally, all of July’s advice on waterways obviously applies to August, too.
If you want to make more of a trip of it, there’s always the option of a short cruise along the Danube. Ships leave from moorings on the Donaukanal, for example, at the edge of the city centre.
Plenty of tour operators will happily show you other options. I can recommend a trip up the Danube through the beautiful Wachau wine-growing area or one across the border into Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital.