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 2020
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.
(In 2020, many spring and summer events rescheduled to September, too. And there may be changes to the below suggestions due to anti-Coronavirus measures: so check with official websites.)
Bring in 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 excellent festivals to whet your appetite.
- The Erntedankfest (next dates are 2021) is a weekend festival bringing Austria’s agriculture into the city, armed with truckloads of regional specialties from all over the country
- If you wish something more exotic, then try the European Street Food Festival (September 26-27) with its food trucks assembled outside the Wildstyle & Tattoo fair
- And if you’re up for something a little more spirited, try the Rum and Gin Festivals (September 25-26). Local interest in both drinks, but particularly in gin, has shot up recently. Tastings, talks, music, and more
- Let’s finish this section with the Wiener Wiesn Fest (online only in 2020, unfortunately, starting on September 24th and carrying on through into October). You know the Oktoberfest in Munich? This is the Viennese equivalent. Enjoy (digitally, this year) a whole barrel-full of live music and traditional rural cuisine
Get a little modern
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:
- Sticking with the Danube (or at least one arm of it that passes through the city centre), the Donaukanaltreiben urban festival offers entertainment and more from September 3rd to 6th.
- The Buskers Festival (next one is September 2021) 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
- The Streetlife festival (the next one takes place in 2021) 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
- Viennacontemporary (September 24-27) is a huge art fair that brings together galleries from all over the world
- MQ Vienna Fashion Week (September 7-12) 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 10-12), which showcases new musical talent from around the world through dozens of live performances (streaming-only in 2020). And there’s a side programme of events for those wishing to dig deeper into the current issues facing the music industry
- There’s free music September 11-20 at the Gürtel Nightwalk ( a NightWEEK in 2020), a celebration of urban renewal and culture (normally an August event)
- Vienna Design Week (September 25 to October 4) offers a host of events and exhibitions around the city with all sorts of tracks and channels to pick from
Alternatively, you can go classic:
- Normally held in May, the 2020 Summer Night Concert has shifted to September 18th. This free open-air concert by the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic takes place in the grounds of Schönbrunn palace. Unfortunately, there’s no public access this year
- The sirene Operntheater chamber opera festival also begins in September (from the 1st) with three of the seven premieres taking place during the month
Go behind the scenes
September has two 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 both free.
- Tag des Denkmals (September 27) is Vienna’s contribution to European Heritage Day, when numerous historical buildings open their doors. Many open to the public on this day only
- And talking of opening doors, Open House Vienna (next one is in 2021) follows a similar concept but with newer buildings and architectural initiatives. Vienna’s famous social housing projects usually get good coverage at this
Enjoy some art
September is a bit of an ugly stepchild in the art world, since the major exhibitions tend to be in summer or over the Christmas period, which are the peak tourism times in Vienna. But the city always has numerous exhibitions on at any one time.
I’m loathe to make too many specific suggestions for September 2020 because the art museums might tweak schedules after the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus measures. But two particularly interesting exhibitions look set to start in this month:
- Two major Warhol-themed exhibitions at the MUMOK (a third already started in July)
- The delayed exhibition at the Albertina featuring numerous top names like Cézanne, Matisse, Van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec
If you want to escape it all and enter other worlds, there’s always the /slash film festival (September 17-27) or the last days of the Film Festival on the Rathausplatz and the Frameout festival at the MQ (end September 6 and 5 respectively).