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 more events to choose from.
The end of summer also means fewer visitors to compete with at exhibitions and museums. And the weather is still deciding whether it should be warm or cold, probably settling for something somewhere 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.
Enjoy some art
(The Albertina art museum)
Early September can be a bit of an ugly stepchild in the art world, but the standout exhibitions tend to start sometime in the month in anticipation of the Christmas period. Regardless, the city always has numerous exhibitions on at any one time.
Plans already include:
- The Albertina’s big autumn/winter exhibition is Michelangelo and his influence on peers and future artists (provisionally beginning September 14th), but also enjoy photos from Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects series (from September 28th). Other exhibitions draw to a close. For example:
- The Valie Export photo exhibition (until October 1st)
- Solo exhibition for Ofer Lellouche (until September 24th)
- Drawings by Georg Baselitz (until September 17th)
- The Kunsthistorisches Museum’s big autumn and winter exhibition begins on September 26th: Raphael: Silk & Gold – monumental tapestries of the Renaissance
- The Albertina Modern has its contemporary Diversity in Sex, Race and Gender exhibition, plus the Yoshitomo Nara solo exhibition
- The MAK, for example, has the last days of two fine exhibitions: the Hagenauer exhibition of Viennese metal art (until September 3rd) and a 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 Theatermuseum brings its Austropop exhibition to an end (available until September 4th) and showcases the costume designs of Monika von Zallinger
- The Literature Museum has a homage to the poet and author Ingeborg Bachmann
- The Weltmuseum offers a few treats:
- Extinctions!? explores various narratives around that topic
- Science Fiction(s) casts an eye on the future as seen from different perspectives and through indigenous voices
- Beyond the Future presents modern Japanese calligraphy (until September 12th)
- A solo exhibition of art by Maximilian Prüfer
- The Belvedere art galleries reflect on their own history in a lovely long-running exhibition at Lower Belvedere. The lower palace also has a solo exhibition for Louise Bourgeois from September 22nd
- The Jewish Museum explores the concept of Guilt, examines the role of skin colour in perceptions of Jews, and takes a closer look at Jewish fan culture in professional European football (COYS!)
- The Wien Museum MUSA’s look at Vienna in postcards ends on September 24th
Check the exhibition listings for more suggestions as schedules firm up.
Bonus: various art and music institutions around Karlsplatz square put on special tours as part of the Karlstag event (2023 dates TBA).
Treat your taste buds
(Fruits of the harvest)
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
- 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
- A pop-up farmer’s market moved into the historical palm house in the Burgarten for one weekend in September 2022, so may repeat (watch this space)
- Vienna’s established markets offer extended opening hours and bonus entertainments on the Long Night of Viennese Markets (2023 dates TBA)
- This time of year normally features the Wiener Wiesn Fest, which is similar to the Oktoberfest concept in Munich and elsewhere. This did not take place in 2022, but a similar event did (runs September 21st to October 8th in 2023)
- 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.
Get a little modern (and classic)
(A dash of urban flair)
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:
- The Buskers Festival (September 1st to 3rd) 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
- Viennacontemporary (September 7th to 10th) is a huge art fair that brings together galleries from all over the world. And we also have Parallel Vienna (2023 dates TBA), which is a unique “hybrid art fair, exhibition platform and artist studio”
- The Art Vienna fair (September 15th to 17th), a 3-day art fair, 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.
- 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
- The Streetlife festival (next dates TBA) is full of…cough…street life, with Camden-style market booths, live music and a general celebration of all things urban. Great for kids, especially
- 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
- Design is the watchword at Pots und Blitz (2023 dates TBA), which has around 40 artists and artisans presenting ceramics and porcelain for you to admire and buy
- The WAMP design market typically holds its autumn edition in early September (dates TBA) in front of the MuseumsQuartier
- Hollywood in Vienna (2023 dates TBA) 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 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 (2023 dates TBA) with demonstrations and similar
And some final suggestions
If you want to escape it all and enter other worlds, you can always try:
- The SLASH film festival (September 21st to October 1st)
- The last days of the Film Festival on the Rathausplatz (provisionally until September 3rd)
- The Vienna Independent Film Festival, which supports the indie movie world (September 2nd to 5th).