A Viennese Christmas is about the lights, the sights, the smells, and the sounds. Expect fewer sleigh bells and more violins, though: you’re in the concert capital of classical music, after all.
Here are my tips for finding the best classical concerts, church recitations, choir performances and more during the Advent season.
Classical concerts in advent
Goodness, Vienna has so many. All the popular venues continue their concert schedules through the Advent season. However, here are some Christmas-themed highlights from both major venues and some of the smaller or unusual venues that get active at this time of year.
Note that these are mostly general tips with some suggestions based on specific concerts (at the time of writing).
Mozart and Strauss for visitors
(The Kursalon venue at Christmas)
Various orchestras and ensembles perform the music of Mozart and Strauss with visitors in mind, usually at historical sites and sometimes in period costume. I’ve listed them here, but seasonal changes to the usual routine are common, even if just increased concert frequency.
For example, the famous Kursalon venue typically offers concerts through the holiday period and special Christmas concerts on two dates*, as do many ensembles that play in the churches listed later in this article.
(The façade above the front entrance)
The Musikverein ranks as probably the world’s most prestigious and best classical music venue. They have daily “normal” performances, but planned themed events for Christmas 2022 include (at the time of writing):
- A Kärntner Advent on December 4th, with the Grenzlandchor Arnoldstein choir, harp music, poems and stories
- The Wiener Domorchester and Domchor perform Christmas concerts with the music of the masters on December 9th and 10th
- Soprano Christiane Karg and pianist Gerold Huber offer an evening of Christmas songs from the likes of Humperdinck, Cornelius, Richard Strauss, and more on December 13th
- The Cappella Istropolitana perform Christmas im Wiener Musikverein on December 14th
- The Imperial Philharmonic Austria perform a Christmas concert on December 22nd
- If we stretch out the concept of the Christmas period a little, then consider the rather excellent New Year’s Concert from the Wiener Philharmoniker, which traditionally takes place on December 30th and 31st, as well as January 1st.
More info and tickets on Musikverein events available at their website.
Another prestigious venue is the Konzerthaus, which usually has a more eclectic advent choice.
The venue always hosts Christmas in Vienna: the rather-apt title of a traditional gala music event held every (normal) year. The 2022 dates are December 16th (preview edition) and December 17th (the main event).
International singers accompany the Vienna Boys’ Choir, the Konzerthaus’s own choir (the Wiener Singakademie), and the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra for a seasonal sing-song and feel-good evening of entertainment.
The program can range from traditional carols and songs to pop classics, opera arias, and orchestral compositions. If you miss out on tickets, the national broadcaster (ORF) usually shows it on TV (as do many other countries, I believe).
(The Konzerthaus main entrance)
Other scheduled Christmas-themed performances at the Konzerthaus at the time of writing, for example:
- A Kärntner Advent on December 3rd (see above)
- Thomas Gansch and friends perform Austrian Schlager music as a form of Christmas therapy on December 15th
- A Swinging Christmas with the Gerhard Aflenzer Broadway Big Band on December 17th
- The Wiener Symphoniker and Arnold Schoenberg Chor perform parts I, II and VI of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on December 21st and 22nd
More info and tickets for Konzerthaus events available at their website.
The opera houses
- The Staatsoper performs Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at New Year as an established tradition, which you can (usually, but check locally) catch outside on the streets on a giant screen
This is where Mozart lived and the location of the main museum dedicated to the composer. Keep an eye out for concerts in the Bösendorfer Saal in the basement. Frankly, it’s rather cool listening to, for example, Mozart’s music in the same house he composed it in.
Concerts in churches
Various churches hold advent concerts and choral recitals through advent. Here are the more popular ones…
(The dome mirrors that of its Vatican namesake)
A beautiful Baroque church in the centre, which hosts concerts in the church itself and also in the crypt. Notable for regular performances by the Classic Ensemble Vienna.
(The entrance is actually on the right hand side)
The mighty baroque church on Karlsplatz normally has a fair few concerts in the advent season programme. In 2022, for example, the Ensemble 1756 plan regular evening performances of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
(This Viennese landmark dominates the centre of town)
The grand cathedral is the heart of the city and obviously worth visiting in its own right.
At the time of writing, advent concerts are scheduled on several days through late November and December, with additional one-off concerts like Mozart’s Requiem. The world-famous Wiener Symphoniker orchestra has a planned concert in Stephansdom on December 14th.
Home to the Italian congregation in Vienna, this large gothic church also sits in the city centre.
Unlike many similar locations, the Advent concerts tend to be an eclectic mix of different performers and works (gospel choirs and music typically dominate, though). They have concerts pretty much every day through December.
(Home to many former Emperors and Empresses)
And another church in the old town with concerts typically focusing on the peak era of Viennese classical music (think Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, etc.).
The previous Advent also had carols and festive tunes performed on trumpet and organ. And it looks like the trumpets are returning.
(Impressive, but not as old as it looks!)
This neo-gothic giant has, for example, a Christmas concert by the Bolschoi Don Kosaken and concerts by Stella Jones & The American Christmas Gospel scheduled at the time of writing.
A special bonus mention for this church in the 9th district, since concerts on December 2nd and 4th in the undercroft uphold the Viennese tradition of amateur orchestras and musicians. The Concentus21 orchestra performs pieces by Mozart, Weber and Witt.
Concerts in Museums
One intriguing option is the Fever candlelight concerts, which typically feature classical interpretations of more popular or modern music. Among the venues: the Albertina, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and Palais Coburg.
The Christmas markets
(The entrance to the Christkindlmarkt)
Keep an eye (and ear) open when visiting the various Christmas markets, as several may have public music performances. For example:
- Christkindlmarkt: the main market in front of city hall has brass ensembles performing daily from November 25th to December 23rd at 7pm and 8pm
- Schönbrunn: the market outside the gorgeous summer Habsburg palace has choirs, brass bands, and similar in the late afternoon or early evening each day
Vienna Boys’ Choir
The Wiener Sängerknaben are usually quite busy at the end of the year.
Various choirs traditionally sing each year at the Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz. Sadly, this is not happening in 2022.
Still not found something?
For a list of absolutely everything, try the official tourist office events calendar.