A month like the day before your birthday. In October, everyone in Vienna stares impatiently into their coffee while waiting for the advent festivities to start. But October has its own appeal, with, for example, the city’s parks and woodlands ablaze with autumnal colour.
Top activities in October 2021
Most of Vienna’s delights are available all the year. But what can October offer in particular?
(Hopefully not, since Vienna reopened completely in early summer 2021, but the below may be affected should related COVID public health measures return. Check official sites nearer the time for certainty.)
Enjoy the autumn colours (and sport)
Autumn turns the city’s trees into swirls of yellows and reds. And we have a lot of trees.
The Vienna woods dominate the western edge of the city, but you needn’t travel far from the centre to enjoy nature’s transformation. Try, for example, the Stadtpark, where the Strauss statue adds another golden hue to October’s colours.
And if you’re female and fancy running a bit faster around Vienna’s autumnal delights, try the Asics Austrian Women’s Run (October 3rd with 5km and 10km runs in the city’s Prater park).
Talking sport, October serves up (LOL) the big event on the annual tennis calendar in Vienna: the Erste Bank Open 2021 (October 23rd – 31st).
Museums, but not as you know them
This is a fun event.
On the first Saturday of the month, a whole bunch of Vienna’s museums traditionally throw open their doors late and usher you in to experience special tours, displays, and/or entertainment.
A lovely buzz runs through the city during this Long Night of Museums (October 2nd), which the state broadcasting company (ORF) organises. Thousands mill the streets with a single ticket covering entry to any participating museum.
Talking museums, major art exhibitions normally begin in October to capture the Christmas traffic (more on that lower down the page).
Games and gaming
If you prefer your sports on a PC or console, then try Game City (cancelled for 2021; next dates are October 14-16, 2022). This huge gaming fair takes place on the Rathausplatz square and features eSports events, cosplay, and numerous stands showcasing the latest games and gaming hardware. Entry is free.
The silver screen
Several October highlights will appeal to fans of cinema:
- Hollywood in Vienna (moved to September 2022) honours the people behind the film scores with a concert and gala evening. The next award winner, for example, will be Alan Menken, whose numerous movie credits include Academy Award-winning music for The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, and Pocohontas.
- Vienna’s leading film festival starts toward the end of October. The long-running Viennale (October 21st to 31st) has all the accoutrements you expect of such an event: prestigious prizes, special guests, national and international pre-release films, etc.
- The Slash film festival invites you to discover the darker and more fantastical side of the silver screen (September 23rd to October 3rd)
- As you might expect from the name, the Vienna Independent Film Festival supports the indie movie world (October 1st to 4th)
- And the Jewish Film Festival brings the best of Jewish cinema to Vienna with plenty of ancillary activities, too (October 3rd to October 17th)
Form and function
October also hosts two big design events:
- The international Vienna Design Week (2021 dates: September 24th to October 3rd). This mother of all design festivals offers a huge array of events across the city
- The international Blickfang design fair (October 15th to 17th) 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
Colour and canvas
October sees the heavyweight exhibitions moving in, ready for the Christmas visitors. Provisional dates suggest you might be able to enjoy, for example:
- The final days of the MAK exhibition on the women involved in the Wiener Werkstätte group of artists and artisans during the period of Viennese Modernism (until October 3rd)
- Also catch the last days of the Lovis Corinth exhibition at Belvedere (also until October 3rd). The same institution has an exhibition on Dürer and contemporaries from October 22nd
- The Modigliani – Picasso exhibition at the Albertina, which includes a large retrospective of the former’s works. The same museum also has an exhibition featuring iconic photographers of the USA post-WWII; names like Arbus, Sherman and Friedlander
- A major Titian exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (starts provisionally on October 5th)
- The Albertina Modern hosts a Schiele exhibition, with a focus on self-portriature and juxtaposing his works with similary-themed art from more recent artists like Maria Lassnig
- Photo fans can enjoy various delights, including a Meiselas retrospective at the Kunst Haus Wien; the Albertina has an American Photography exhibition and artist portraits by Franz Hubmann
- Should you wish a change from all the art, how about movie dinosaurs? The Natural History Museum’s exhibition on that very topic begins on October 20th
Music and more
There’s no better time to hold an Oktoberfest than, um, in October. Vienna’s equivalent is the Wiener Wiesn Fest (cancelled for 2021, sadly), normally held out in a meadow in the Prater park and within shouting distance of the Giant Ferris Wheel.
So pack your Lederhosen, gentlemen and your Dirndls, ladies. There will be much feasting and music (in 2022).
If you prefer electric guitars and synthesisers to accordions, then take in the Indie Label Woche (2021 dates: TBA). The Reigen music venue hosts rock to pop to punk to hip hop (and more) across six nights of gigs showcasing local talent.