Another month that feels like the young boy staring forlornly through the sweet shop window while December and August get to choose all the nice things. But November in Vienna has its own pleasures.
In particular, you get to enjoy the Christmas flair, but without quite so many crowds.
Activities for November 2020
All Vienna’s indoor delights await. But here are a few suggested activities and events specific to November.
(Take the below as provisional suggestions – we will almost certainly still have public health measures in place that will restrict certain activities and events.)
Christmas markets and lights
Call me fussy, but the Christmas season seems like it really ought to happen in December. However, the preparations and celebrations start much earlier in Vienna.
They tend to switch on the official Christmas lights sometime in the second half of the month, though the date rarely gets confirmed too far in advance. And they’re fantastic – very classy, especially the white chandelier-style displays in the very centre of town. All the main Christmas markets open up in November; the earliest around the middle of the month.
Although the real advent atmosphere does indeed come in December, it’s not a bad idea to pop into those markets before then. They get very (very) busy close to Christmas, so a November visit means you have more space to enjoy the cooked and crafted delights (of which there are many).
Also, November offers a couple of bonus markets that leave December feeling a little jealous. Both usually take place at the end of November:
- So schmeckt NÖ Adventmarkt in Palais Niederösterreich, a rare chance to see inside this 16th-century architectural joy (cancelled for 2020, unfortunately)
Films and movie stars
November offers the opportunity to see the best of cinema both on and off the screen.
- Vienna’s big international film festival is the Viennale, which begins in late October and continues through to November 1st. A joyous mix of films includes festival tracks dedicated to particular directors and themes. And the retrospective is always a big hit
- The Viennale has many filmmakers in attendance, but if you favour the geekier side of cinema, comics and/or cosplay, then Vienna Comic Con is for you. My favourite event of the year (that’s me above). Sean Astin, for example, appeared last time out (unfortunately, they cancelled the event for 2020 and will return in 2021 on the weekend of November 20th and 21st).
(The Kunsthistorisches Museum has a special Beethoven exhibition in November 2021)
With all its art museums, Vienna hosts numerous exhibitions at any one time. But, now and then, a couple stand out from the crowd. And the top exhibitions tend to appear later in the year. At the moment, these look very promising:
- The three Warhol exhibitions at the MUMOK
- Run off a few artist names from western Europe around the time of Cézanne and friends. Chances are they’re all represented in a top exhibition at the Albertina museum (until November 15th)
- The MAK starts up a big exhibition dedicated to the architectural genius of Adolf Loos (begins November 18th)
- Admirers of contemporary art have a treat in store at the Kunstforum Wien: a major Gerhard Richter exhibition with a landscapes theme
- The Albertina will put out some of the many masterpieces from their archives (beginning November 13th) in a special exhibition that takes us on a trip through hundreds of years of spectacular art
- The Weltmuseum Wien has a rather fine exhibition on the Aztecs, which corrects a few misconceptions and misunderstandings about that legendary Mexican empire
Bonus: the Photo+Adventure fair and festival (next date is November 13th and 14th, 2021) is big on travel photography, for example, which means lots of photo exhibitions from top photographers covering various locations and/or themes.
(Ottakringer brewery, host of Fesch’Markt Wien)
The Christmas markets include a great deal of unique craft items, and the theme of crafted beauty continues at three other events:
- The Art&Antique fair at the Hofburg palace (November 5-8) brings together around 50 Austrian and international art dealers and galleries. A chance to view (and acquire) everything from the latest contemporary designs to works from antiquity
- Fesch means handsome or pretty in German, and the Fesch’Markt Wien (November 13-15) at the city’s largest brewery showcases the creations of dozens of independent design talents across a host of categories: from food to fashion and furniture
- The Weihnachtsquartier (November 27-29) opens its doors for three days of art and design from independents
Classical music with a difference
Vienna is the home of classical music, with concerts everywhere. But among the pieces by Beethoven, Mozart and their ilk is a thriving modern scene.
The Wien Modern festival (on almost the entire month) highlights the work of contemporary composers and performers. Some of the world’s top orchestras participate. The event includes the final premiere in the sirene Operntheater chamber opera festival.
Finally…roast chestnuts and beer
As the temperatures fall so the Maronistands rise up like mushrooms, peppering the city with their little huts and heated ovens. This is your chance to travel back in time for some original fast food – roasted chestnuts.
And beer lovers should find their way to the Marx Halle for the Craft Beer Festival (November 27th and 28th), when dozens of breweries offer up their wares for the discerning consumer of the amber nectar.
Bon Appetit, as they don’t say in Vienna (try Mahlzeit or Guten Appetit).