“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)
- 2023 date: TBA (was June 16 in 2022)
- Andris Nelson conducted last time with soloist Gautier Capuçon
- Park closes if it reaches capacity so travel early
- See also:
(Photo credit: iStock.com / Furtseff)
Vienna has a habit of throwing up beautiful settings for unique events. The Summer Night C
Each year, the world-renowned Wiener Philharmoniker gives a free open-air performance in the gardens immediately behind Schönbrunn Palace.
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 a light display 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: TV stations around the world broadcast the event.
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.
(Apparently the Philharmoniker are a fan of that particular piece. In 2020, they performed with its composer, John Williams, and made a special request that the march be included in the programme.)
It’s a bit early for details of the coming concert, but the 2022 event saw Andris Nelsons conducting with cellist Gautier Capuçon also performing.
The programme included works by Beethoven, Rossini, Saint-Saëns, and Dvořák, a waltz from Ukrainian composer Mykola Lysenko, and other pieces. Plus the traditional encore(s), like Wiener Blut by Johann Strauss II.
2023 dates and tickets
The Summer Night Concert typically fills an early summer slot. Watch this space or the official website (see below) for a confirmed date. The 2022 concert took place on June 16th with a start time of 8.45pm.
You need to get there well before the start time, of course, because entry is free and requires no ticket, with admission on a first come – first served basis; the earlier you arrive, the better view you get.
The gates typically close soon after the concert begins, but sometimes earlier if the park reaches full capacity (as has happened in the past).
Check the official website for full organisational details, including what you can and can’t take in with you, where you can watch etc. It should also have a live ticker on the day with the current concert status and access situation should too many people attend or the weather intervene, etc.
If you miss out and wish to catch up on recent concerts, the Philharmoniker tend to bring out a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray soon after each event.
Another option is the small Wiener Philharmoniker Museum built into the Haus der Musik, which had lengthy highlights of the most recent Summer Night Concert playing on a big screen when I last visited.
How to get to the concert
Directions for the palace are here. Access to the concert site for able-bodied non-VIP visitors is normally only from the northeast and northwest sides of the park, via the so-called Meidlinger and Hietzinger gates (follow the crowds).
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, although train frequency normally increases before and (particularly) after the event.
Address: Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Vienna | Website