In January, most of us usually hide out in a coffee house until it warms up. Seriously…you can while away the hours in the former haunts of folk like Klimt, Mahler and, um, Trotsky. They feed you cake, too.
But you probably want other suggestions for the month. Well, read on, dear visitor…
Top activities in January 2022
There’s always the world-famous New Year’s Concert in the Musikverein. Though you need to enter the lottery early in the previous year to get a ticket. Still, plenty of other seasonal activities exist for your consideration. For example…
(NB: Vienna has been open since May 2021, but be aware that public health regulations may still affect future events and activities.)
The New Year markets
Some New Year markets close their doors on January 1st, but one or two normally stay open a touch longer
Another good one is the Silvesterdorf at Maria-Theresien-Platz, which traditionally opens until around January 6th, though I’ve yet to find confirmation of 2022 dates at the time of writing.
The seasonal markets took a bit of a hit in 2020/2021, but I hope they return to their former glory in 2022. We have no guarantees, though.
Get your skates on
Be prepared for a pleasant surprise if you equate ice skating with indoor rinks. January brings two golden open-air skating opportunities:
- Wiener Eistraum: a beautifully-lit set of rinks and trails across the square in front of the Rathaus and through the surrounding park. This typically opens towards the end of January
- Eislauf-Verein: a traditional open-air rink next to the Konzerthaus that’s well over a hundred years old. Usually open daily through January
Both have skates for hire, of course.
Talking ice skating, the Holiday on Ice Supernova show is slated to visit Vienna’s Stadthalle venue this month (January 19th to 30th).
The Vienna Coffee Festival (2022 dates TBA) is not a staid industry event, but a three-day caffeine-fueled celebration of the bean, with music, competitions, tastings, demonstrations, and more.
The venue is the home of Vienna’s big brewery (Ottakringer). So it takes you away from the picturesque centre to see another side of the city.
The event shifted to October in 2021, so I’m not sure if it returns to the traditional January slot in 2022.
Slap on the skis
You won’t see too many people in Vienna waving ski sticks and buying chair lift tickets (for obvious reasons). However, the city’s not actually that far from the Alps. So if you do want to take a day trip into snowy mountains, January is a good time. The Semmering ski resort, for example, is a short bus or train ride away.
An alternative to the coffee house for spending a long, lazy day in the warm is Therme Wien: the hot water baths and spa.
The Therme has numerous thermal pools, both indoors and out, spa treatments, and much more. Although on the edge of town, the recently-opened extension to the U1 subway line means a train from the city centre takes you to the front door in about 16 minutes.
And for a little bonus…the spa entrance looks across to one of the finest patisseries and confectioners in Vienna: Konditorei Oberlaa.
Yep, just as we’ve all finished clearing away the tinsel and leftover turkey, the ongoing ball season continues to keep us entertained. This leads to cries of despair as trousers and gowns stubbornly refuse to fit after an Advent season of eating and drinking
Most balls (and there are dozens) are organised by a particular group, such as the “Doctors’ ball”, but many make tickets available to the public.
Go early for the best exhibitions
(Catch the last days of the fabulous Titian exhibition at the KHM)
Many museums time their top exhibitions for the summer or Christmas visitor peaks. The exhibitions at Christmas may extend into the early part of January to catch tourists staying in the city for the New Year celebrations. So be sure to check what’s on, particularly at the (art) museums.
So far, these are looking good bets for January 2022:
- The final days of the Modigliani – Picasso exhibition at the Albertina (provisionally until Jan 9th), with its focus on the former’s pioneering role in driving modern primitivism
- The Titian exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (provisionally until Jan 16th)
- An exploration of Schiele and self-portraiture at the Albertina Modern (until January 23rd). The same location also takes us back to the joys of art in The 80s
- The Treasures from the Forbidden City exhibition at the Weltmuseum Wien
- The Rebecca Horn retrospective at the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien (until January 23rd)
- The Josef Hoffmann retrospective at the MAK museum, celebrating his 150th birthday
- Catch Dürer and colleagues at Upper Belvedere (until January 30th) to see the artistic philosophy of the Renaissance begin to weave its magic. The end of the month also sees Belvedere exploring the connection between Salvador Dalí and Sigmund Freud (provisionally from January 28th)
- A delve into the darker side of the arts with an exhibition at the Wien Museum MUSA exploring Nazi art policy
- Enjoy a wonderful retrospective of Susan Meiselas’s photographic projects at the Kunst Haus Wien
- Travel through the history of The Viennese Rothschilds at the Jewish Museum
- And for something different, the Kinosaurier exhibition at the Natural History Museum looks at dinosaurs in movies and their relation to scientific reality. Hoping we finally get an answer to whether velociraptors really could use door handles
Bonus tips for January
Watch the weather
It’s midwinter in Austria. You might be lucky and still enjoy
Think about the zoo
(The lower entrance to the rainforest house)
It might seem strange to suggest Vienna zoo in January, when many animals do their best to avoid the seasonal chill. But there are two reasons you might visit anyway:
- Fewer people go at this time of year, which makes for an easier and m
orepleasant viewing experience
- The zoo has several large (and warm) indoor areas, particularly the Rainforest House, Aquarium, and Bird House
Museums, venues, and similar normally stay open all year in Vienna, but January does put paid to some outdoor places and activities. And I’m not talking about just the obvious ones, like open-air swimming pools. For example, Schönbrunn Palace’s maze and other ticketed outdoor features close for winter.