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Vienna Ball Season, running from November to January, is a long-running tradition of glitz, glamour and, of course, waltzing. Originally exclusively for the upper crust of Viennese society, the dances celebrate the city’s relationship with music – harking back to a bygone era of decadence and high society.
The Vienna Philharmonic orchestra is among the finest musical institutions in the world – you are unlikely to find a finer accompaniment to waltz to. The venue, the Musikverein building on Bösendorferstrasse, is a historic Neoclassical concert hall – which is decked out for the dances and dressed with flowers. Many famous faces have attended the Vienna Philharmonic Ball in the past, including prominent figures from the art and music world. The highlight of the evening is considered to be the ‘Debutante Procession’ which sees the younger dancers take the spotlight.
The Technological University of Vienna holds their annual ball in the Hofburg Palace, inviting the younger generation to waltz the night away. One of the longest-running waltzes in Vienna, the event first took place in 1815, when it was the institution that brothers Johann and Joseph Strauss attended. Music is provided by the university orchestra and includes Blues and Jazz among the classical repertoire.
Although the ball season is an antiquated tradition, not all cohere to the status quo of formal attire and strictly choreographed dance steps. The Viennese Rainbow Ball is Vienna’s favourite LGBTI ball – inviting all to join in. The dance is one of the most popular balls in the city, praised for its inclusive attitude and colourful spirit; a welcome break from old-style events. All proceeds go to support the work of Homosexual Initiative Vienna, a charity which supports the LGBTI community.
One of the city’s more traditional balls in Vienna, the Physician’s dance in the Hofburg Palace has a strict dress code – ‘ladies’ are required to wear a floor-length gown and ‘gentlemen’ must be dressed in tailcoats and a tuxedo. Splendid decorations adorn the hall, making for a very special and glitzy evening.
One of the most prestigious events of the season, this dance takes place the lavish setting of Vienna State Opera House – transformed for the night into an exquisite dance hall, dripping with lavishness. The gala is known for attracting famous faces, including stars of the Viennese ballet and opera.
Coffee house culture in Vienna is one of defining characteristics of the city. These unique cafes were once hubs for the intellectual greats in the 19th century and their legacy has continued to this day. Therefore, it is apt that there is a ball dedicated to the owners of these renowned institutions. The Vienna Coffee House Owner’s Ball takes place each February at Hofburg, with a menu featuring Jazz and more traditional music to waltz to.
One for all the sweet-toothed waltz-lovers, the annual Bonbon Ball gathers together Austria’s confectionary business owners for an evening of saccharine splendour. Described as ‘an exquisite cross between an imperial-style ball, a beauty pageant and a feast’, it is a glamorous evening for those who enjoy the more antiquated elements of traditional Viennese balls. The Bonbon ball takes place in February in the Vienna Concert Hall.
Johann Strauss was one of Austria’s most prolific composers, writing more than 500 works. He was especially respected for his 150 waltzes that earned him the nickname ‘the Waltz King’. The annual ball named after the coveted composer takes place at the Kursalon, an elegant and historic venue, and is one of the most spectacular balls of the year. Guidance is given on the dance moves and music from the 70s, 80s and 90s features alongside the classical waltzes.
Masquerades aren’t just for the Phantom of the Opera. The first ball to be organised by a student organisation, The Rudolfina-Redoute sees Vienna’s younger generation get glammed up and swing the night away. In true antiquated style, the women attendees are only admitted if they are masked.
The grand institution of the Spanish riding school in Vienna has been running for around 450 years, with a continued reputation for being one of the finest equestrian groups in the world. The Fête Impériale takes place in the summer outside of the traditional ‘ball season’ – transporting its guests back in time for the evening. The event promises to be an exciting evening, full of old-style glamour with Imperial carriages and lavish attire.