Vienna is not perfect, but it does do some things perfectly. Like the open-air Sommernachtskonzert (Summer Night concert).
I’ve given general visitor info and event details in another post, but you might like to read how this free concert by the Wiener Philharmoniker in the Schönbrunn palace gardens feels when experienced live.
- Summary: a visual and aural delight
- See also:
Lights, music & joy
Extraordinary musicians, perfect sound, astonishing ambience, a relaxed crowd, superb organisation, and free entry.
Much as cynical me would like to find a flaw in the Sommernachtskonzert, I really can’t.
Approaching the concert area for the 2022 edition, the troubles of modern life seemed to seep away as the sky darkened and we got further into the landscaped Schönbrunn park.
A few minutes later, and we emerged into the wide gravel areas that bound the landscaped lawns and flower beds of the palace gardens with views across to the palace itself.
For an hour or three, you’re essentially transported to a previous century, albeit one with lighting rigs, sound systems, and two giant video screens. (Mozart would definitely like it.)
Once the music began, it was easy to see why experts rank the Wiener Philharmoniker among the world’s best orchestras. Their performance exuded a fluid flawlessness, and that alone would be a treat among the flowers and imperial architecture.
Then throw in a light show that turned the stage, the entire palace façade, the gardens, and even the distant Gloriette and Neptune fountain into a tasteful cornucopia of colour that changed with the mood of the music.
Lights, music & people
VIP invitees and those with mobility issues get special access and a seat at the Sommernachtskonzert, but the rest of us stand some way back to the sides and rear of that garden area.
And the “rest of us” included a lot of people at the 2022 concert: we shared the experience with around 64,997 others.
We got inside an hour before the start and still stood five rows back in a standing area. The crowd was not tightly packed, though, so we could still enjoy the lights and music without any issues and even catch a view of the stage. Those video screens allowed a closer look at proceedings, too.
Safety/access regulations prevented us bringing a portable chair or picnic blanket, so we really had to stand all the time. But that felt like a small price to pay for such an experience (and, frankly, the only price to pay given the concert is free).
A nod of appreciation goes to the organisation, too.
Friendly stewards helped us find our way around, for example, and the queue to get through the security/safety check progressed swiftly.
We had no need of either, but spotted mobile toilets and a refreshment booth (though with long queues at the latter, which only sold a limited choice of drinks).
The general amiability of the audience helped. We encountered no pushing or shoving and certainly no crowd chants questioning the parenthood of the
Although reaching the palace on the U4 subway proved swift and trouble-free, we felt a little wary of the return journey given the crowd size. So we left during the encore, guided back through the dark by torch-wielding staff and pools of light around giant exit signs.
As always, the transport authority (Wiener Linien) had everything in hand, with plenty of staff at Schönbrunn subway station and trains whisking people away every two minutes; we had to wait at the station for a whole 90 seconds before boarding.
Will we go again?
I think the answer is clear.