The Ball Season
Vienna’s legendary ball season is the crown jewel of Austria’s cultural calendar; a tradition going back over two centuries, it has come to symbolise the city’s splendour and rich heritage. The season runs from January to early March, attracting thousands of guests to over 400 different balls; from the exclusive Vienna Opera Ball, a favourite of aristocrats, politicians and Hollywood stars, to the more casual Bonbon Ball. For two months, scenes of waltzing couples, silken gowns and horse-drawn carriages evoke images from the past, suffusing Vienna with a sense of imperial charm. As such, the ball season is one of the most essentially Viennese times of the year.
Vienna’s tourism board offers a list of some of the balls this season.
The Continuing Story of the Space Invaders (John Fekner and Don Leicht), Street Art Passage
A haven for street art in the heart of Vienna’s Museum Quarter, this winter Street Art Passage features a permanent installation by French artist Invader. The exhibition prepared by John Fekner and Don Leicht provides an extension of Invader’s own work; their stencils explore the relationship between street art, format and beauty, and address questions of a social significance. The playful, comic and iconic Space Invader stencils are presented here in an entirely new setting as part of the duo’s ongoing collaborative project. The installation is also the last chance to check out the ice pavilions, which sit inconspicuously among Vienna’s most prominent museums.
The Continuing Story of the Space Invaders is on display until 28 February 2014. Street Art Passage, MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1, Vienna, Austria.
A huge ice rink set up in the heart of the city every year, the Viennese ‘Ice Dream’ turns a whole park into a vast icy surface for more than a month. And while the size of the affair is certainly impressive, the Eistraum’s main draw is its incredible setting: the rink sits directly in front of the stunning, neo-gothic City Hall, which is lit up with myriad vibrant colours in the evening. Just opposite the towering building, on the other side of the rink, the famous Burgtheater emerges, and beyond it – the Hofburg Imperial Palace and its surrounding gardens. The perfect place to soak up Vienna’s magical winter atmosphere, the Wiener Eistraum would be incomplete without a visit to the nearby Café Landtmann, Vienna’s foremost Kaffeehaus.
Wiener Eistraum, Rathausplatz, Vienna, Austria. The event runs from January 29 through March 9, 2014. Tickets must be booked well in advance.
Fabergé – Jeweller to the Tsars Exhibition
Appointed by Russia’s last tsar as his head jeweller, Peter Carl Fabergé quickly became one of the most renowned jewellers in the world. The House of Fabergé’s intricate designs for decorative eggs, meticulously sculpted and adorned with the most precious of stones, have become a symbol of Imperial Russia’s wealth and splendour. In addition to the Romanov family’s private jewels, the exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum also showcases four Imperial Easter Fabergé eggs, treasures of great historic significance and immense value. Organised in connection with the Austrian-Russian cultural season, this exhibition is the perfect complement to a visit to Empress Sisi’s Hofburg Treasury (Schatzkammer).
Fabergé – Jeweller to the Tsars is on display from February 15, 2014.
Musée à vendre pour cause de faillite Exhibition
Presented by the astonishing Annick und Anton Herbert Collection, Musée à vendre offers an unparalleled insight into the world of conceptual art and design. Organised as a spatial dialogue between the temporary exhibition and mumok’s permanent collection, this event illustrates and examines era-defining works by artists such as Martin Kippenberger, Carl Andre, Daniel Buren and Art & Language. This journey across the 20th century and four floors will grapple with the very fundaments of minimalist and contemporary art, bringing to light issues like the role of the artist and the dark side of the human psyche.
Musée à vendre pour cause de faillite is on display from February 21 through May 18, 2014.
Nureyev’s Swan Lake Premiere
The Swan Lake premiere, staged at the Vienna Opera House (Staatsoper), is one of the most eagerly awaited cultural events of this season. Nureyev’s reinterpretation of the famous ballet in the 1960s signalled an entirely new approach to the role of Prince Siegfried who, until then, had been more of an ornament to go with the female lead. Nureyev gave the male part a vibrant, assertive stage presence, lending the ballet a much more nuanced character. With the Staatsballett’s first soloist Robert Gabdullin cast as Prince Siegfried, this season’s Swan Lake promises to be a unique event.
Swan Lake opens on March 16, 2014, with five performances planned until March 28, 2014 at the Wiener Staatsoper.
Reopening of Empress Sisi’s Hermesvilla
The Hermesvilla, nestled in the charming Lainzer Tiergarten, opens its doors to the public on March 15, 2014 after a winter-long break. Gifted to Empress Sisi by her husband Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1886, the villa is a magnificent example of late Romantic architecture. Thanks to its sumptuous design and lavish interiors, it became widely known as Sisi’s ‘castle of dreams’; original murals, baroque furniture and valuable paintings have been preserved in perfect condition, offering an intimate glimpse into the imperial family’s lifestyle.
Hermesvilla is open from March 15 through November 2, 2014.
The innovative sound:frame festival comes back to Vienna for the eighth time this spring, under the intriguing title ‘a matter of…’. Combining visual performance with audio experiment, formatted creativity with loosening limits of expression, this year’s festival seeks to pose questions around the nature of its own focus – audiovisual art. Site-specific installations will cross paths with experimental DJs, visual shows will encounter innovative performers; discussions on the state and condition of audiovisual art promise to break taboos to the sound of nuanced tunes, far detached from defined genres. As usual, the festival’s acts will be accompanied by an exhibition at the MAK (Museum of Applied Arts), organised to extrapolate from ‘a matter of…’.
sound:frame kicks off on March 25 and runs until April 6, 2014 in different locations in the city.
Vienna Spring Festival
The 23rd Vienna Spring Festival is a regular guest to the capital city of classical music. Every year, it brings big names of the music scene, as well as emerging young talents, to the Viennese Musikverein. International orchestras and soloists perform some of the most challenging and intriguing pieces from a range of repertoires, including Viennese composers such as Mozart and Bach. This year promises to be no different, with the beautiful setting of the Musikverein providing the perfect backdrop to the music.
Precise dates have not been established yet, but the event will take place between April and May 2014.
A Stroll Around the Prater
The huge Prater garden, centrally located in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt, is a must-see for all those seeking an authentically local experience. In spring, it typically welcomes families and couples, who stroll around its green meadows or take a ride on the Liliputbahn, a miniature railway. But the Prater is a complex and intriguing place, hiding a surprising mixture of attractions from the former micronation of Kugelmugel to a nostalgic amusement park, and a giant Ferris wheel – which was the largest in the world for over 60 years. A regular fixture in films based in Vienna, the park is a real treasure trove for those who know where to look.
By Ewa Bianka Zubek