“Vienna – Now or Never” is one of the catchy slogans used by the Viennese Tourist Office in their promotional material. Perhaps they do have a good point. There are plenty of things happening in Vienna at the moment and a short break in this wonderful city is always time well spent.
What could be more Viennese than a visit to a classical music concert? Most Friday and Saturday evenings in the summer Vienna’s symbolic St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the place for top-class classical concerts.. Soloists of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra play Mozart and more. The one-hour, atmospheric concerts with violins and trumpets fill St. Stephen’s Cathedral with the greatest pieces by the old masters.
If you prefer opera, the Vienna State Opera is one of the top opera addresses in the world – where you can enjoy the very best in first-class productions. This famous stage offers a different programme every day, with over 50 operas and ballet works on around 300 days per season. In April, May, June and September, around 150 opera and ballet performances are screened live on Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz in front of the opera building on a 50 m² screen – so you can enjoy your opera for free.
If you fancy a very different musical style, tonight Friday 23rd August, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame is performing The Wall Live at the Ernst Happel Stadium. Vienna is certainly a city of contrasts!
If you feel like relaxing and letting off steam during your stay in Vienna a visit to the Prater park is a must. The Prater is an exciting amusement park and an oasis of greenery and is of course the location of the Giant Ferris Wheel, one of Vienna’s most famous symbols. The Vienna Prater is in season from March to October but the world-famous Giant Ferris Wheel and a few other attractions are open all year round.
Continuing the theme of classical composers, a visit to Vienna’s Stadtpark or “city park” will inevitably include the gilded bronze monument to the composer Johann Strauss II. Lying alongside the Ringstrasse, the Stadtpark was created in 1862 as Vienna’s first public park and provides peace and tranquillity and also the opportunity for a souvenir photo – this is the richest park in Vienna for monuments and sculptures. Johann Strauss directed his orchestra in the Kursalon in the Stadtpark. Today you can experience charming Viennese evenings with waltzes, polkas, duets, operetta and piano. Vocal and ballet soloists also perform.
If your interests are culinary as well as cultural, you should try to be in Vienna during September to experience the Wiener Wiesn Festival which runs from 19th September to 6th October on the Kaiserwiese in the Prater. Austrian beer, local food, all sorts of music and traditional outfits ensure a great atmosphere.
Direct flights to Vienna from the UK currently operate only from London but there are other ways of reaching the city – we’ll take a look at the various possibilities another time.