While Austria is arguably most famous for its stunning mountain scenery, snow, incredible skiing and cute Christmas markets with Glühwein und Punsch, the awesome events taking place every summer in Vienna are seriously underrated.
Outside, in beautiful locations and mostly free, there is so much cool stuff going on that the Eurovision Song Contest, boat parties and countless outdoor raves didn’t even make it into my list. So in order to avoid a chronic case of FOMO, make sure you time your visit to Vienna with some of Europe’s coolest events.
1. Summer night concert (Sommernachtskonzert)
When? Thursday the 14th May 2015 at 8pm.
Where? Schönbrunn Palace (Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna)
What? It’s not every day you get to hear the Vienna Philharmonic (a worldclass orchestra made up of super-talented classical musicians cherry-picked from the Vienna State Opera). It’s not every day you get to see a 300-year old Barock-esque palace from the Habsburg monarchy which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s certainly not every day you get to do both of those, at the same time, FOR FREE. The concert attracts a very diverse crowd: young and old, Austrian and international, and you don’t need to be a classical music fan to appreciate the worldclass music and sensational atmosphere.
2. Danube Island Festival (Donauinselfest)
When? 26 – 28th of June 2015
Where? On the Danube Island, obviously, easily accessible with the subway lines U1 and U6.
What? Only the freaking biggest free festival in the whole of Europe. You know, pretty standard stuff really. The line-up is fairly diverse, with everything from hits to rock and everything inbetween. Even though, if I’m being perfectly honest, the only headliner I’ve actually heard of so far is Anastacia (probably just due to my terrible taste in music and that fact that my knowledge of the German/Austrian music scene only extends as far as Conchita Wurst and Helene Fischer), the incredible atmosphere attracts over 3 million visitors.
3. Vienna Beer Fest (Wiener Bierfest)
When? 28 – 31st of May 2015
Where? Burgenland Kultinarium, Am Hof 1, 1010 Vienna
What? Festival + beer = what’s not to like? With some of the most well-known brewers in Austria, such as Ottakringer and Zipfer, showcasing their wares, traditional Austrian food and a promised “beery reception”, this is definitely worth checking out. Oh, and there’s live music on in the evenings, too.
4. Holy Festival of Colours
When? 18th July 2015
Where? Festwiese, Danube Island
What? An ancient Hindu celebration dedicated to spring, love and colour, this carnival stems from Nepal in Asia but has become popular in many European capitals, including Vienna. It’s basically an amazing excuse to make the prettiest and most colourful mess you’ve ever seen. Expect lots of fun, colour and ruined clothes. Entry costs €19.99, but if you want to get some bags of colour to throw around, you’ll be looking at €27.99 – a small price to pay for the coolest photos your Instagram has ever seen.
5. Pillow fight
When? 3rd of June at 8pm
Where? Stephansplatz, 1010 Vienna
What? The chance to live out your childhood dreams by attacking friends and strangers with pillows. Bring a pillow and a sense of fun.
6. Amazing icecream
Where? Neustiftgasse 23, 1070 Vienna
What? OK, I get that this isn’t an event, but it absolutely qualifies as unmissable. On a Sunday there is always a pretty long queue, but it goes down fast and the creamiest vegan icecream you’ve ever tasted with funky flavours such as poppy seed, peanut butter and basil as well as firm favourites such as cookies, chocolate brownie and stracciatella are worth a 10 minute wait. So ask for eine Tüte (a cone) say how how many Kugeln (scoops) you would like and after a quick Danke, auf Wiederschauen you can head off to the Burggarten or Museumsquartier just down the road for a mini picnic.
7. Roof top bars
When? Whenever it’s socially acceptable time for you to drink. Just FYI, kein Bier vor vier (no beer before 4pm) is a rule made to be broken in the super-laidback Austrian capital.
Where? Café Bar Bloom, Rotenturmstrasse 15, 1010 / Ritz Carlton, Schubertring 1-3, 1010 / 25 Hours Hotel, Lerchenfelder Strasse 1-3, 1070, to name but a few
What? There’s nothing like sipping on an iced tea or a mojito while gazing over the rooftop’s of one of Europe’s most vibrant cities.
photo credit: HOLI Festival das Cores, Parque Villa-Lobos, São Paulo via photopin (license)