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 2020
Most of Vienna’s delights are available all the year. But what can October offer in particular?
[Note that some of the below may be affected by the knock-on effects of Coronavirus measures. Check official sites for certainty.]
Enjoy the autumn colours
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 want to know how best to capture the colours on camera, pick up a few tips from Photo+Adventure (October 30th and 31st). This fair and festival is big on travel photography, for example, which means lots of photo exhibitions from top photographers covering various locations and/or themes.
Museums, but not as you know them
This is a fun event.
On Saturday, October 3rd, a whole bunch of Vienna’s museums throw open their doors late and usher you in to experience special tours, displays, and/or entertainment.
There’s a lovely buzz to the city during this Long Night of Museums, which the state broadcasting company (ORF) organises, with thousands milling the streets. One ticket covers entry to any participating museum.
Talking museums, major art exhibitions normally begin in October to capture the Christmas traffic. Things are a little less intense in 2020, but I make a couple of suggestions lower down the page.
Games and gaming
If you prefer your sports on a PC or console, then try Game City (postponed to October 15-17, 2021). 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
Three October highlights will appeal to fans of cinema:
- Hollywood in Vienna (skipping 2020 and moving to September in 2021) 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 runs from October 22nd to November 1st. The long-running Viennale has all the accoutrements you expect of such an event: prestigious prizes, special guests, national and international pre-release films, etc.
- The Jewish Film Festival has moved to October (7th to 21st) from May. Enjoy a variety of movies that reflect the wide geographical and cultural world of Jewish life
Form and function
October also hosts two big design events:
- The international Vienna Design Week (September 25 – October 4). This mother of all design festivals offers a huge array of events across the city
- The international Blickfang design fair (October 9-11) 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. For some world-class artists, try, for example, one of these:
- The MUMOK has three exhibitions concerned with aspects of Andy Warhol’s works and work
- If you like your French impressionists (and those that came before, after and around them), then pop along to the Albertina (“Van Gogh, Cézanne, Matisse, Hodler. The Hahnloser Collection”)
Music and more
There’s no better time to hold an Oktoberfest than, um, in October. Vienna’s equivalent is the Wiener Wiesn Fest (September 24th to October 11th), 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. Although, unfortunately, it’s online only in 2020.
If you prefer gin to beer, consider the Vienna Gin Festival (October 16th and 17th) with its tastings, masterclasses, and more.
If you prefer electric guitars and synthesisers to accordions, then take in the Indie Label Woche (October 19th to 24th). The Reigen music venue hosts rock to pop to punk to hip hop (and more) across six nights of gigs showcasing local talent.
And if you prefer violins to electric guitars, the chamber opera festival held by the sirene Operntheater continues through October with three more premieres.