Life in Vienna is not just a ball, but a whole range of festivals and cultural events throughout the summer months. This great city of culture is rarely without an event or a special festival going on somewhere. The Vienna Festival (Wiener Festwochen) is a cultural festival which takes place every spring and this year began on 9th May and continues right through to 15th June. The Wiener Festwochen is now one of the world’s leading cultural festivals and it is one of the major highpoints of Vienna’s annual cultural programme
The original Vienna Festival was held in the 1920s but has been in existence as an annual city festival since 1951, when Vienna was still occupied by the four Allied Powers. Traditionally it is opened with a free concert in the City Hall Square (Rathausplatz). A high quality show programme is presented against the background of the illuminated ViennaCity Hall and before an audience of tens of thousands of visitors.
The Vienna Festival offers a modern and multilingual programme that covers the whole range from traditional to avant-garde, with a rich variety of plays, musical dramas, concerts, performances, lectures and films. This year the cultural offering has a particularly international flavour with a total of 37 productions from 32 countries as well as exhibitions, films, talks by artists and 22 festival concerts.
The diverse programme of music includes Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice produced by Romeo Castelucci and Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte staged by the Austrian Oscar prize-winner Michael Haneke. Providing a contrasting music genre, cult German band Kraftwerk performed at the Burgtheater earlier in May.
In addition to all the action surrounding the Vienna Festival, the Life Ball, one of the biggest events in the Viennese summer calendar, takes place on 31st May. One of the biggest AIDS charity events in the world, the Ball starts with a red carpet reception in front of the ViennaCity Hall, followed by the Ball inside the hall, along with a night-long party in the Volksgarten. Many international stars such as Ricky Martin and Conchita Wurst are expected to take part in the show. One feature of the event is a men’s fashion show presented by the Italian Vogue for Men and showing looks by Givenchy, Viktor & Rolf, Lanvin, Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood. The Life Ball project raises money for non-profit organisations helping those with AIDS or who are HIV-positive.