Vienna’s good at contrasts. A city where modern art and a monument to the 1679 plague are neighbours. And in early September, the 18th-century baroque Karlskirche church towers over a colourful mix of modern-day street performers at the Buskers Festival.
- Fun mix of music, dance, acrobatics, magic, juggling etc.
- Another good place to keep the kids engaged
- Free entry (but be generous to the performers)
- 2021 dates: TBA (usually September)
- See also: Streetlife festival | Südwind street festival
Celebrating street performance
Many outdoor Viennese events are often held in the shadow of historical buildings, adding an extra dimension to proceedings. Although to be fair, it’s hard to find locations in the center that aren’t in the shadow of an old building.
One such event is September’s Buskers Festival. This 3-day feast of sound and colour takes place in the Karlsplatz park area (see map below) in front of the imposing Karlskirche.
The “buskers” are not lanky students playing Mull of Kintyre on out-of-tune stratocasters. Nope, these street performers are masters of their trade: magicians and musicians, jugglers and acrobats, clowns and dancers…the usual and the unusual from all around the world.
The artistry on display creates a positive vibe to brighten a late summer day. This video gives you a sense of what to expect:
There are various stations around the park, with several performances going on at any one time. The crowds can get quite big, drawn in by the free, lively street entertainment (and possibly by the beer and food on sale, too) that continues from early afternoon into late evening.
When we went, we found space enough to enjoy the buskers, taking in an acrobatic show by the Freaks, music from the Balkan Tango Vibes, and a magic act from Diogo Alvares of Brazil, just to give you a flavour of the festival’s scope. All very enjoyable and deserving of a contribution to the inevitable hat that any self-respecting busker has to hand.
Bring some coins, relax and take in the show.
Check the official website for the full programme (once it becomes available next August). Expect over 100 performers across numerous genres: everything from aerial acrobatics to musical jugglers. The last one also featured a pop-up market that showcased the work of independent design labels and artists.
2021 dates and tickets
I don’t have the 2021 dates yet, but expect it to be a weekend in early September. Times are usually 2pm to 10pm.
No ticket required, but you might want to drop a few coins and notes in the hats as you wander around.
How to get to the Buskers Festival
Underneath Karlsplatz square is one of Vienna’s busiest transport hubs, so getting to the Buskers Festival is easy (it’s also close to the centre, if you’re on foot).
Head for any station or stop with the word Karlsplatz in it. Which means you can take the U1, U2 and U4 subway lines, trams 1, 2, 62, 71 or D, and buses 2A, 4A and 59A.
(Otto Wagner’s station pavilion at Karlsplatz)
While you’re there, do a quick detour to the Otto Wagner station pavilion – a classic bit of Jugendstil architecture.
Address: Karlsplatz, 1040 Vienna | Website