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 2023
Most of Vienna’s delights are available all the year. But what can October offer in particular?
(The Kunsthistorisches Museum always has a super year-end exhibition)
October sees the heavyweight exhibitions appear, ready for the Christmas visitors. It’s a little early for full schedules, but selected highlights announced so far include:
- The Albertina looks to have an exhibition on Michelangelo focusing on his drawings of the human form and their influence on both his contemporaries and later artists. They also plan a solo exhibition for Gottfried Helnwein from late October and continue one for Joel Sternfeld
- The Albertina Modern offers up a solo exhibition for Yoshitomo Nara alongside an exhibition showcasing the diversity of art in terms of race, sex, and gender
- Another major event planned from October 12th is a Robert Motherwell exhibition at the Bank Austria Kunst Forum Wien
- And the Kunsthistorisches Museum’s big year-end exhibition deals with monumental Renaissance tapestries. Also enjoy the final days of In Love with Laura there: a detailed look at a rare coloured renaissance female bust
- Find a homage to esteemed writer Ingeborg Bachmann at the Literature Museum
- Lower Belvedere has a special exhibition around the 300-year history of the Belvedere (art) institution as well as a solo exhibition for Louise Bourgeois featuring her early works
- The Leopold Museum starts two new exhibitions in October:
- A solo exhibition for expressionist Max Oppenheimer (from the 6th)
- A retrospective for Gabriele Münter (from the 20th)
- The Weltmuseum places its own special perspectives on Extinctions!? and Science Fiction(s). It also has a solo exhibition for Maximilian Prüfer
- See also the wider exhibition listings for more suggestions and details…
Enjoy the autumn colours
(Spotted on a woodland walk)
Autumn turns the city’s trees into swirls of yellows and reds. And we have a lot of trees. For some seasonal ambience, try:
- The Vienna woods: these 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
- Continue the autumnal feeling at the Wiener Herbsttage Viennese Autumn Days (October 13th to 15th) in the palm house and surrounds of the Burggarten park. Expect rare fruit varieties, arts, crafts, and edibles
- Another option in the same Burggarten venue might be the markta pop-up farmer’s market that made its first appearances in 2022
- Or pop down to the Prater to combine a Ferris wheel ride with a long country walk along hiking trail 9
The Erste Bank Open tennis tournament (won by Daniil Medvedev in 2022) takes place toward the end of the month (October 21st to 29th). Held in the Stadthalle, the prestigious event is an official ATP 500 tournament.
If you prefer your sports on a PC or console, then consider Game City (October 13th to 15th). This huge gaming fair occupies the Rathausplatz square and features eSports events, cosplay, and numerous stands showcasing the latest games and gaming hardware. Entry is free.
Museums, but not as you know them
(Numerous locations participate)
This is a fun event.
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 one evening in October.
A lovely buzz runs through the city during this Long Night of Museums (unconfirmed but traditionally the first Saturday of the month), 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 (scroll back up the page for suggestions).
The silver screen
A couple of October highlights will appeal to fans of cinema:
- Vienna’s leading film festival normally starts toward the end of October. The long-running Viennale (2023 dates TBA) 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 21st to October 1st)
Form and function
(We enjoyed our visit in 2022)
October also traditionally hosts art & design events:
- The international Blickfang design fair (October 20th to 22nd) 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
- The Edelstoff design market usually visits the Marx Halle for its autumn edition (2023 dates TBA)
- FAIR FOR ART Vienna is an art and antiques fair that drops into the historical Aula der Wissenschaften (October 7th to 15th)
- And Art Austria Highlights added artistic quality to the traditional Wiener Eislaufverein arena normally used for open-air ice skating in October 2022 (2023 dates TBA)
Parades and displays
October 26th is Austria’s official national holiday. So you may find parades and other events around the town centre.
The Austrian army typically puts on one or more displays on Heldenplatz and elsewhere, while the emergency services and other public safety organisations present their work on the big Rathausplatz square in front of town hall at the Wiener Sicherheitsfest.
Music and more
(Get ready to rock)
There’s no better time to hold an Oktoberfest than, um, in October. A Vienna equivalent is the Wiener Wiesn Fest (next dates TBA; the new Kaiser Wiesn event started up in 2022 at a similar location and runs until October 8th in 2023). So pack your Lederhosen, gentlemen and your Dirndls, ladies. There will be much feasting and music.
If you prefer electric guitars and synthesisers to accordions, then take in the Indie Label Woche (2023 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.