“A bit of music in the garden” takes on another dimension in the Viennese summer. The “music” is a live performance by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; the “garden” is the landscaped park of Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Welcome to the annual Summer Night Concert.
- Free, open-air Sommernachtskonzert in the palace grounds
- Classical music programme with a world-class conductor and soloist(s)
- 2021 date: TBA (provisionally June 18)
- See also: Classical concerts in Vienna | The Festival of Joy
Vienna has a habit of throwing up beautiful settings for unique events. The Summer Night C
Each year, the Wiener Philharmoniker gives a free open-air performance in the Schönbrunn Palace gardens.
Picture a huge stage standing among sculpted flower beds and lawns, a golden Imperial palace on one side, the majestic Neptune fountain on the other. Then add lights, fireworks and, most importantly, one of the world’s greatest orchestras. That’s the Summer Night C
The tradition began in 2004 as a “concert for Europe”, conducted by none other than Bobby McFerrin, and has since gone global: the event is broadcast around the world.
The programme usually features more accessible classical pieces, with the occasional surprise: perhaps my favourite moment was a rendition of the Imperial March from Star Wars (better known as the Darth Vader music).
It’s a little early for 2021 details, so watch this space or keep an eye on the official website below.
In 2020, the event shifted to September following the COVID outbreak and also took place largely without an audience. The theme was “Liebe” (love) and German tenor and opera star, Jonas Kaufmann, sang. He recently released an album of Viennese songs and scenes from operettas by the likes of Johann Strauss (in cooperation with the Wiener Philharmoniker).
Valery Gergiev, music director of the Munich Philharmonic (among other activities), flourished the conductor’s baton. He first conducted the Wiener Philharmoniker back in 1997 at the Salzburger Festspiele.
2021 dates and tickets
Hopefully, the 2021 Summer Night Concert will revert to its usual slot in early summer (exact date TBA, though I’ve seen June 18 quoted).
In normal years, the concert typically begins at 8.30pm. You would need to get there much earlier, of course, because entry is always free and requires no ticket, with admission on a first come – first served basis.
The park gates close once the park reaches full capacity, plus the earlier you arrive, the better view you’ll get.
How to get to the concert
Directions for the palace are here. Access to the concert site for able-bodied non-VIP visitors is only from the northeast and northwest ends of the park, via the so-called Meidlinger and Hietzinger gates.
If using public transport, take the U4 subway line to either Schönbrunn station (close to the Meidlinger gate entrance) or Hietzing station (close to the, um, Hietzinger gate entrance). This subway line gets busy, though, so check the link above for alternatives.
Address: Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Vienna | Website