Another month that feels like the young child staring forlornly through the sweet shop window while December and August get to buy all the nice things. But November in Vienna has its own pleasures.
In particular, you get to enjoy the Christmas flair, but without so many crowds.
Activities for November 2024
Christmas markets and lights
(The Rathauspark before we had an energy crisis))
Call me old fashioned, but the Christmas season seems like it really ought to happen in December. However, the preparations and celebrations inevitably start much earlier in Vienna.
On the positive side, this means November offers seasonal spirit with fewer crowds than you get later.
Those responsible tend to switch on the Christmas lights sometime in the second half of the month. The big date was November 16th back in 2023, for example. Though the giant tree on the Rathausplatz lit up from November 10th.
These lights tend to take a more upmarket approach, especially the white chandeliers in the very centre of town.
LED joy is fine, of course, but the real fun starts with the Christmas markets.
(The market at Belvedere)
These markets begin opening from the middle of the month and continue through to at least December 23rd.
Although the full advent atmosphere does indeed come in December, it’s not a bad idea to pop into a market before then.
The markets get much busier close to Christmas, so a November visit means you have more space to enjoy the cooked and crafted delights (of which there are many).
Look out, also, for little bonus markets. In 2023, for example, the Vinyl & Music X-Mas Market (2024 dates TBA) added the flavour of its main festival to the wider Weihnachtszauber event at Ottakringer brewery. And the Medieval Advent market (2024 dates TBA) started up at the end of November.
Exhibitions in November 2024
(The gorgeous Kunsthistorisches Museum usually has a major exhibition in November)
November 2024 is some way off, so most places have yet to publish full schedules. But highlights announced so far include:
- Three big (BIG) year-end events looking likely:
- The Kunsthistorisches Museum gives us Rembrandt and Hoogstraten
- The Albertina teases us with the prospect of Marc Chagall
- The Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien spoils us with Paul Gauguin
- The Albertina also brings Egon Schiele’s lost works back to life in a special exhibition, offers up the photorealistic works of Robert Longo, and (from November 8th) presents highlights from the Othmar Huber Collection
- Over at the Albertina Modern, enjoy a solo exhibition for renowned Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, perhaps best known for his sculptures
- Explore art offering a particularly multisensory experience with the Heidi Horten Collection’s Light, Sound and Senses exhibition
- The Leopold Museum has two notable special exhibitions for us. One around Rudolf Wacker and New Objectivity. And the other (from November 13th) on the Backhausen company and the Wiener Moderne
- Among the MAK’s many exhibitions: the best of recent Austrian design and (from November 6th) a look at current trends in fashion and photography
- The Weltmuseum looks to have a special exhibition on the cultural and socioeconomic importance of camels and other domesticated camelids. And a presentation of indigenous art from the Amazon. And a look at how the Qur’an has influenced life and culture in Europe
- Lower Belvedere has Austria’s first solo exhibition for the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931) but also a solo exhibition for the contemporary Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo
- Get musical with the National Library’s special exhibition around the life and works of Anton Bruckner (who celebrates his 200th birthday in 2024)
- Staying with Austrian celebrities, the Literature Museum honours the acclaimed poet, Friederike Mayröcker
- Finally, the Jewish Museum looks at the legacy of the Holocaust, particularly from the viewpoint of the third post-Shoah generation. From November 6th, the museum also gives the Jewish perspective on Angst (fear)
Watch this space or the listings page for more suggestions as they appear.
Bonus 1: the Photo+Adventure fair and festival (November 9th and 10th) is big on travel photography, for example, which means lots of photo exhibitions from top photographers covering various locations and/or themes.
Bonus 2: the ROTLICHT festival (November 15th to 25th) celebrates analogue photography with exhibitions and an event programme.
Watch the stars
(Just one entrance to the huge Messe Wien complex; press photo © Reed Exhibitions / G. Szuklits)
November offers a big opportunity for those who favour the geekier side of cinema, comics and/or cosplay: Vienna Comic Con at the Messe Wien is my favourite event of the year (November 23rd and 24th).
Jonathan Frakes, for example, appeared last time out, along with the likes of David Anders, Andrzej Sapkowski, and John Ross Bowie. Read about my 2023 Comic Con experience.
As well as the film, book and TV stars, the event also features numerous professional artists, illustrators, screen voices, and cosplayers. And huge exhibitor, merchandise and art halls, a Star Wars parade, and heaps more. See you there.
(The MAK, host of the Blickfang fair)
The Christmas markets include a great deal of unique craft items, and the theme of crafted beauty continues at other events:
- The Art&Antique fair at the Hofburg palace (November 7th to 11th) brings together numerous Austrian and international art dealers and galleries. A chance to view (and acquire) everything from the latest contemporary designs to works from antiquity
- The “Presse”-SCHAU fair (November 8th to 10th) typically covers design and lifestyle themes including watches and jewelry, travel, mobility, crafts, and more
- The international Blickfang design fair (November 8th to 10th) displays the work of independent designers in various fields…from fashion to furniture. You can buy what you see and, most importantly, usually discuss the pieces with the designers themselves
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 and alternative scene.
- The Wien Modern festival (throughout November) highlights the work of contemporary composers and performers with some of the world’s top orchestras participating
- The KlezMORE festival (2024 dates TBA) celebrates this traditional form of Jewish music with performances, readings, films, and more
- Voice Mania (2024 dates TBA) brings A Capella singing from around the world to Vienna
Food & drink
The Advent season also brings fine fare in liquid and solid form. On the fair & festival front, for example:
- The Vegan Planet fair rolls into the MAK (November 16th and 17th)
- Beer lovers should find their way to the Craft Beer Festival (2024 dates TBA) in the Marx Halle, when various breweries offer up their wares for the discerning consumer of the amber nectar
(Roast chestnuts and more)
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: Maroni (roasted chestnuts). And, I should add, various potato-based roasted snacks the medieval Europeans missed out on.
Bon Appetit, as they don’t say in Vienna (try Mahlzeit or Guten Appetit).