New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day The famed concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra launches Vienna’s biggest night. The New Year also marks the beginning of Fasching, the famous Vienna Carnival season, which lasts through Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). For tickets and information, contact the Wiener Philharmoniker, Bösendorferstrasse 12, A-1010 Vienna (tel. 01/505-6525; www.wienerphilharmoniker.at).
The Imperial Ball in the Hofburg follows the concert. For information and tickets, contact the Hofburg Kongressz Ent Rum, Hofburg, Heldenplatz, A-1014 Vienna (tel. 01/5873666; www.hofburg.com). December 31/January 1.
Eistraum (Dream on Ice) During the coldest months of the Austrian winter, the monumental plaza between the Town Hall and the Burgtheater is flooded and frozen. Lights, loudspeakers, and a stage are hauled in, and the entire civic core is transformed into a gigantic ice-skating rink. Sedate waltz tunes accompany the skaters during the day, and DJs spin rock, funk, and reggae after the sun goes down. Around the rink, dozens of kiosks sell everything from hot chocolate and snacks to wine and beer. For information, call tel. 01/409-0040; www.wienereistraum.com. Last week of January to mid-March.
Opera Ball Vienna’s high society gathers at the Staatsoper for the grandest ball of the Carnival season. The evening opens with a performance by the Opera House Ballet. You don’t need an invitation, but you do need to buy a ticket, which, as you might guess, isn’t cheap. For information, call the Opera House (tel. 01/514-44-2250; www.staatsoper.at). On the last Thursday of the Fasching.
Vienna Spring Festival The festival has a different central theme every year, but you can always count on music by the world’s greatest composers, including Mozart and Brahms, at the Konzerthaus. The booking address is Karlsplatz 6, Lothringerstrasse 20, A-1030 Vienna (tel. 01/242-002; www.konzerthaus.at). Mid-March through the first week of May.
International Music Festival This traditional highlight of Vienna’s concert calendar features top-class international orchestras, distinguished conductors, and classical greats. You can hear Beethoven’s Eroica in its purest form, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, and perhaps Bruckner’s Romantic. The list of conductors and orchestras reads like a “who’s who” of the international world of music. The venue and the booking address is Wiener Musikverein, Bösendorferstrasse 12, A-1010 Vienna (tel. 01/505-8190; www.musikverein-wien.at). Early May through late June.
Vienna Festival An exciting array of operas, operettas, musicals, theater, and dances, this festival presents new productions of classics alongside avant-garde premieres, all staged by international leading directors. Celebrated productions from renowned European theaters offer guest performances. Expect such productions as Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, Monteverdi’s Orfeo, and Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne. For bookings, contact Wiener Festwochen, Lehárgasse 11, A-1060 Vienna (tel. 01/589-2222; www.festwochen.at). Second week of May until mid-June.
Vienna Jazz Festival This is one of the world’s top jazz events, based at the Vienna State Opera. The program features more than 50 international and local stars. For information and bookings, contact the Verein Jazz Fest Wien, Lammgasse 12 (tel. 01/712-4224; www.viennajazz.org). Late June to early July.
Music Film Festival Opera, operetta, and masterly concert performances captured on celluloid play free under a starry sky in front of the neo-Gothic City Hall on the Ringstrasse. Programs focus on works by Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, or other composers. You might view Rudolf Nureyev in Swan Lake or see Leonard Bernstein wielding the baton for Brahms. For more information, contact Ideenagentur Austria, Opernring 1R, A-1010 Vienna (tel.01/4000-8100; www.wien-event.at). Mid-July to mid-September.
Wien Modern Celebrating its 22nd year in 2009, the Wien Modern was founded by Claudio Abbado and is devoted to the performance of contemporary music. You might catch works from Iceland, Romania, or Portugal, in addition to Austria. Performances are at Verein Wien Modern, Lothringerstrasse 20; the booking address is Wiener Konzerthaus, Lothringerstrasse 20 (tel. 01/242-002; www.konzerthaus.at). Late October through late November.
Christkindlmärkt Between late November and New Year’s, look for pockets of folk charm associated with the Christmas holidays. Small outdoor booths known as Christkindlmarkts — usually adorned with evergreen boughs, red ribbons, and, in some cases, religious symbols — sprout up in clusters around the city. They sell old-fashioned toys, tannenbaum (Christmas tree) decorations, and gift items. Food vendors offer sausages, cookies and pastries, roasted chestnuts, and kartoffel (charcoal-roasted potato slices). The greatest concentration of open-air markets is in front of the Rathaus, in the Spittelberg Quarter (7th District), at Freyung, the historic square in the northwest corner of the Inner City.