I’ll be honest. February is probably the quietest month in Vienna, with the fewest annual events and festivals.
Think of January and take away the fun bits. (Only kidding.)
One thing very much in February’s favour is genuinely fewer queues and crowds. In 2022, one week is also the so-called Semesterferien: a kind of mid-term break when Vienna’s schools are all on holiday.
The Semesterferien should begin on Monday, February 7th. A lot of Viennese normally take off with the kids for the week (usually skiing), leaving more space for the rest of us.
Anyway, here are a few seasonal ideas for you. Be aware that COVID regulations may affect all the above and below, though. Check official sites for certainty and whether you may still need to fulfil requirements before accessing events and activities.
Top activities in February 2022
Exhibitions in February
(The Kunst Haus Wien hosts a wonderful Meiselas retrospective)
Vienna always has numerous exhibitions on at any one time. Some highlights for February 2022 based on current plans are:
- The David Hockney exhibition at the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien (begins February 10th)
- The Munch exhibition at the Albertina (begins February 18th). Also catch the last days of The 80s at the Albertina Modern (until February 13th)
- The Josef Hoffman retrospective at the MAK museum in honour of the architect and designer’s 150th birthday. While there, discover who influenced Gustav Klimt during his education in the Teaching Klimt exhibition.
- The Dalí – Freud exhibition at Belvedere, which focuses on the latter’s influence on the former.
- Belvedere also has an intriguing juxtaposition of Marc Quinn’s Emotional Detox sculptures with Messerschmidt’s Baroque character heads in the Face to Face exhibition (from February 24th)
- The Susan Meiselas retrospective at the Kunst Haus Wien highlighting various projects by the legendary photographer (ends February 13th)
- A rather poignant exhibition on Nazi art policy in the Wien Museum MUSA’s Vienna Falls in Line exhibition
- Discover a modern take on the silk routes at the Weltmuseum’s Dust & Silk exhibition
- A chance to see highlights in the development of interior design in the Home Stories exhibition at the Vienna Furniture Museum
- The KinoSaurier dinosaurs-at-the-movies exhibition at the Natural History Museum, which deserves attention for the name alone (the German for cinema is Kino and for dinosaurs is Dinosaurier)
- The Foodprints exhibition at the Technical Museum reviews the past, present, and future of food technology and how it affects such issues as sustainability. Lots of buttons to press.
- For more choices, check the exhibition listings
Enter the Ice World
It usually starts in January but hits its peak throughout February: the Wiener Eistraum (provisionally open all month).
The “Vienna Ice World” offers a wonderful outdoor ice skating experience right in the middle of the city, along with food and drink with an organic focus.
The square in front of the Rathaus turns into a split-level ice rink, with skating trails and other rinks spread among the trees of the Rathaus park. Everything lights up delightfully at night.
Oh, and don’t worry if you forgot your skates – simply hire them on site.
Popular tours & classical concerts
Given far fewer people around, February is the time for booking those activities that are often busy or oversubscribed the rest of the year.
I’m thinking here particularly of:
- The Schönbrunn Palace tours (do the Grand Tour of the interior: you get into many more rooms than the basic tour and the cost difference is quite small)
- The Spanish Riding School (book to see the morning training if you can’t catch a gala)
- Classical music concerts (especially at the two top venues: the Musikverein and Konzerthaus)
- Opera tickets (particularly for the ever-popular Staatsoper)
- Vienna Zoo (which has various indoor enclosures like a rainforest house, if you’re worried about the weather)
Have a ball
(The Kursalon ball venue)
One of February’s claims to fame is that this is a busy month for balls. So if you’ve ever dreamed of doing the waltz in the city that invented the dance, now’s your chance.
We have the Johann Strauss Ball, for example, at the famous Kursalon, where the man himself performed. And many more, including the world-famous Opernball (next one is in February 2023), though tickets and tables for the latter are not always easy to come by if you’re a mere mortal.
Having said that, many balls are taking a break in 2022. Let’s hope they return in full force in 2023.
Catch the flowers
Some 40 exhibitors add more than a few spots of colour to the Viennese winter. We really enjoyed the last one, since the show includes lovely displays as well as the expected sales booths.
Of course, you can always do as the Viennese do and flee the city for the slopes.
February is the main month for skiing in Austria, and you can reach the Semmering alpine ski resort, for example, in just over an hour, so suits a day trip.
It’s probably best not to do this in the Semesterferien week, unless you want to spend your day being abused by impatient Viennese as they push their way into the lift queue. Think of Rome’s Colosseum, but with ski sticks instead of gladiatorial swords and you get the idea. (I’m only partly exaggerating.)
Not outside, I should add. The state-run indoor swimming pools are nice and warm, but your holiday treat is a day or two at the spa baths complex at Therme Wien. Hot water from thermal springs feeds its various pools.
The Therme also offers all the usual spa treatments and a restaurant. Incidentally, it sits right next door to one of the city’s more renowned cake and confectionery outlets: the Kurkonditorei Oberlaa. (And it has its own subway stop.)
Tip – Dress up warm
I don’t have the stats, but I’m pretty sure February is our coldest month. Minus temperatures are no surprise.
That’s not all bad, of course. Snow is possible, which makes the city look even more beautiful (at least until it melts). And there is a certain pleasure to be had in entering a coffee house or Konditorei and warming yourself with a hot coffee topped by whipped cream or with a classic dish like Schnitzel or Kaiserschmarren.