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?
Vienna reopened in early summer 2021, but check COVID info for relevant measures that might affect the below (especially entrance requirements).
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. For example:
- 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
- Continue the autumnal feeling at the Wiener Herbsttage (Viennese Autumn Days) from October 8th to 10th in the palm house and surrounds of the Burggarten park. Expect rare fruit varieties, arts, crafts, and edibles
And if you’re female and fancy running a bit faster around the Prater park, try the Asics Austrian Women’s Run (October 3rd with 5km and 10km runs).
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 sadly; 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)
- 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 several 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
- The Edelstoff design market visits the Marx Halle for its autumn edition (October 9th and 10th)
Exhibitions in October 2021
(Catch Titian and colleagues at the KHM)
October also sees the heavyweight exhibitions moving in, ready for the Christmas visitors. You might enjoy, for example:
- A major Titian exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (starts on October 5th)
- The Modigliani exhibition at the Albertina, which includes a large retrospective of the Italian artist’s works
- 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)
- Grab a look at some more design work from giants of the Wiener Werkstätte at the Leopold Museum’s exhibition of the Schedlmayer Collection
- 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 21st
- The Albertina Modern hosts a Schiele exhibition, with a focus on self-portraiture and juxtaposing his works with similary-themed art from more recent artists like Maria Lassnig. Travel back to The 80s, too, from October 10th
- Photo fans can enjoy various delights, including a Meiselas retrospective at the Kunst Haus Wien; the Albertina has artist portraits by Franz Hubmann (until October 17th) and an American Photography exhibition featuring iconic photographers of the USA; names like Arbus, Sherman and Friedlander
- The Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien offers a Rebecca Horn retrospective
- Explore art in environmental activism at the (free) Overground Resistance exhibition at the MQ
- Get insights into life in art under the Nazis at the Vienna Falls in Line exhibition at the Wien Museum MUSA (from October 14th)
- Should you wish a change from all the art, how about movie dinosaurs? The Natural History Museum’s Kinosaurier 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). So pack your Lederhosen, gentlemen and your Dirndls, ladies. There will be much feasting and music (albeit 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.
And if you’re in need of a caffeine kick before enjoying Vienna’s attractions and entertainments, then the Coffee Festival shifted from its usual January slot to provisional dates of October 8th to 10th in 2021.