You know, September’s not a bad month to visit Vienna. The summer holidays are over, so the Viennese roll back into town. Which means far more events to choose from.
The end of summer also means fewer visitors to compete with at exhibitions. And the weather is still deciding whether it should be warm or cold, probably settling for something gentle in the middle.
So, yep, we’ll give September a big thumbs up. (Though you could hold off a bit and hit the Christmas markets. Just saying.)
Top ideas for September 2023
Many event organisers hold fire until the locals come back from summer retreats and beach holidays. So, compared to August, September has a wider selection of fairs and festivals to offer alongside the usual museums, concerts, tours and similar.
Johann Strauss conducted at the opening concert of the Kursalon back in the day. His music continues to entertain at special evening concerts designed to give visitors a taste of Viennese classical music, with a focus on the King of the Waltz and Mozart.
Enjoy some art
(The Albertina art museum starts its highlight year-end exhibition)
Early September can be a bit of an ugly stepchild in the art world, but top exhibitions tend to start mid-month in anticipation of the Christmas period. Regardless, the city always has numerous exhibitions on at any one time.
- The Albertina’s big autumn/winter exhibition is Michelangelo & Beyond, looking at artistic representation of the human form through the centuries (begins September 15th)
- Other Albertina exhibitions to enjoy include photos from Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects series (from September 28th) and a VALIE EXPORT retrospective. Two draw to a close:
- The Kunsthistorisches Museum’s big autumn and winter exhibition begins on September 26th: Raphael: Silk & Gold – monumental tapestries of the Renaissance. Other events include a special coin exhibition and the story behind a remarkable Renaissance bust
- The Albertina Modern has its Yoshitomo Nara solo exhibition, but also a dialogue between Austrian and German painters from post-1970 (from September 6th)
- The MAK, for example, has the last days of two fine exhibitions: the Hagenauer exhibition of Viennese metal art (until September 3rd) and a gorgeous look at 200 years of Lobmeyr glassware (until September 24th)
- A last chance to see some amazing works from the Würth Collection, courtesy of the Leopold Museum (runs until September 10th). Think Munch, Picasso, Sisley, Magritte…
- The Belvedere art galleries reflect on their own history in a long-running exhibition at Lower Belvedere. The lower palace also has a solo exhibition for the great Louise Bourgeois from September 22nd
- And Belvedere 21 begins a major retrospective for a giant of Austrian contemporary art: Renate Bertlmann (from September 29th)
- Take a tour of garden and park architecture and design in the State Hall of the National Library
- Talking design, the Vienna Furniture Museum begins its special exhibition on German Design 1949–1989, comparing approaches in East and West Germany (from September 13th)
- The Literature Museum has a homage to the poet and author Ingeborg Bachmann
- The Weltmuseum offers a few treats. For example, Science Fiction(s) casts an eye on the future as seen from different perspectives and through indigenous voices
- The Jewish Museum explores the concept of Guilt, examines the photographic legacy of Maria Austria, and takes a closer look at Jewish fan culture and history in professional European football (COYS!)
- The Theatermuseum brings its Austropop exhibition to an end (available until September 4th) and showcases the costume designs of Monika von Zallinger
- Finally, the Wien Museum MUSA’s look at Vienna in postcards ends on September 24th
Check the exhibition listings for more suggestions.
Alongside the museal exhibitions, we also have various art events. These include:
- Viennacontemporary (September 7th to 10th): a huge art fair that brings together galleries from all over the world
- Parallel Vienna (September 5th to 10th): a unique “hybrid art fair, exhibition platform and artist studio”
- The Art Vienna fair (September 15th to 17th): a 3-day art fair that gathers together numerous art galleries and usually features works of international and regional importance, as well as giving a platform to up and coming artists
- The 1st Vienna ArtPark (September 9th): over 80 artists turn a small park in the centre into an open-air gallery (where you can buy what you see) with additional activities and entertainment that includes an area for kids
- And not forgetting Art Austria Highlights (September 28th to October 1st)
Treat your taste buds
(Fruits of the harvest coming your way in September)
The way to a man’s heart is, allegedly, through his stomach. And the way to the Viennese heart is no different. September has a few festivals to whet your appetite.
- If you’re up for something a little more spirited (ba dum tish!), try the Rum and Gin Festivals (September 22nd and 23rd). Local interest in both drinks, but particularly in gin, has shot up recently. Tastings, talks, music, and more
- On a similar theme, the three-day Liquid Market Cocktail Festival (next dates in 2024, September 5th to 7th) is the place for drinking green tea and organic coffee. OK, perhaps it’s more a place for drinking cocktails. Whatever the word is for a collection of cocktail bars (an umbrella?), this is one of them
- The 3-day Waldviertelpur festival (September 27th to 29th) features the best of the Waldviertel region (a rural area northwest of Vienna). This includes their rather hearty cuisine, particularly a myriad different things you can do with poppy seeds
- The city has the Vienna Coffee Festival (September 8th to 10th): not a staid industry event, but a caffeine-fueled celebration of the bean, with music, competitions, tastings, demonstrations, and more
- The Erntedankfest (next dates TBA) is a weekend festival bringing Austria’s agriculture into the city, armed with truckloads of regional specialties from all over the country
- Vienna’s established markets offer extended opening hours and bonus entertainments on the Long Night of Viennese Markets (September 1st)
- The Kaiser Wiesn is similar to the Oktoberfest concept so popular in Munich and elsewhere (runs September 21st to October 8th)
- Oh, but talking beer, the Ottakringer Bierfest ends on September 1st (so be quick)
- On the wine front, a themed hiking weekend (September 23rd and 24th) features routes around the areas closely associated with wine growing and wine taverns, who offer stops along the way
Run off the calories
The 5km Vienna Night Run (September 19th) offers an opportunity to stretch your legs and lose some of the calories accumulated at all the above events. Not a competitive race as such…more a chance to run around the famous Ringstrassen for a good cause.
Get a little modern (and classic)
(Scene from a previous Buskers Festival; press photo © Buskers Wien)
Vienna is an elegant city, rich in history and numerous buildings whose names end in Palace. But it’s a big, thriving capital city, too, with urban and contemporary culture to share. For example:
- MQ Vienna Fashion Week (September 11th to 16th) does the same as the two events above, but for fashion. Enjoy daily catwalk shows and more from prestigious local and international designers
- It’s all about the music at Waves Vienna (September 7th to 9th), which showcases new musical talent from around the world through dozens of live performances. And there’s a side programme of events for those wishing to dig deeper into the current issues facing the music industry
- Vienna Design Week (September 22nd to October 1st) offers a host of events and exhibitions around the city with all sorts of tracks and channels to pick from
- The WAMP design market typically holds its autumn edition(s) in September (2023 dates are the 2nd and 30th)
- The Buskers Festival (postponed to 2024) turns street entertainment into an art form, with free performances from some of the world’s best…enjoy musicians, magicians, acrobats, clowns, dancers, and more
- Hollywood in Vienna (not happening in 2023) honours the people behind the film scores with a concert and gala evening. The last award winner, for example, was Alan Menken, whose numerous movie credits include Academy Award-winning music for various Disney productions.
Go behind the scenes
(The Hofburg often opens special areas for the Tag des Denkmals)
September has special treats for those who like to go behind closed doors or enjoy special insights into some of the many wonderful buildings and institutions in the city. And they’re all free.
- Tag des Denkmals (September 24th) is Vienna’s contribution to European Heritage Day, when numerous historical buildings open their doors. Many open to the public for one day only
- And talking of opening doors, Open House Vienna (September 9th and 10th) follows a similar concept but with newer buildings and architectural initiatives. Vienna’s famous social housing projects usually get good coverage at this
- The central Am Hof square hosts the annual festival of the Vienna fire services (September 8th to 10th) with demonstrations and similar. The other emergency services participate, too
- And Karlsplatz square hosts Public Transport Day (September 9th), with entertainment and a peek at the work of our wonderful municipal transport authority, Wiener Linien
If you want to escape it all and enter other worlds, you can always try:
- The SLASH film festival with its focus on the fantastical and imaginary (September 21st to October 1st)
- The last days of the Film Festival on the Rathausplatz, which spirits you away into musical realms (July 1st until September 3rd)
- The Vienna Independent Film Festival, which supports the indie movie world (September 2nd to 5th).
- The Queerfilmfestival, which has showings of the best of recent queer filmmaking (September 7th to 13th)
- The Blue Danube Film Festival (September 20th to 30th), which has screenings in Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava