I would like to welcome you into the 2020 with a sound of the Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss and an image of couples waltzing around. This is how the Viennese celebrate the arrival of a new year. Everybody can waltz in Vienna and, in fact, they do perform this beautiful dance a few times a year, on different occasions in various locations. If you want to learn to waltz, come to Vienna.
The New Year’s concert on 1st January, translated live by many media channels from the Wiener Musikverein, the home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, is the highlight of the year for many music lovers.
Every year, the now 150-year-old Vienna State Opera transforms into the most beautiful and elegant ball room for its annual Opera Ball, a glamorous event, much-copied around the world. This year, on 20th February many millions of viewers will be watching on their screens how 150 young couples open the gala with the first polonaise, which will be then followed by “Let the waltz begin!” – for everybody to join in. This event is the highlight of the ball season that includes more than 450 balls each year in Vienna.
Throughout the year, the Vienna State Opera presents around 350 performances of over 60 different operas and ballets. Visitors can also enjoy guided tours of this legendary venue and learn how costumes and backdrop sets are created, including the incredibly complicated overhead rigging system and the space beneath the stage.
This year, Vienna celebrates 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven and many exciting events will be happening across the city throughout the year. The composer is considered a Viennese by choice, having chosen Vienna as the main place of his life and work.
Beethoven lived in 68 places during his 35 years of residence in the city, and you will find references to his name everywhere.
In “Ludwig van” restaurant you can sample the traditional Austrian cuisine that also tastes great (!), in Beethoven museum in Heiligenstadt you will learn about the composer’s elaborate attempts to cure his hearing disorder and in the House of Music you will find unique interactive exhibits themed on Beethoven and other great masters who lived and worked in Vienna (Haydn, Mozart, Shubert, Strauss Jr, Mahler). Here, you can experience the birth and the physics of sound and also attempt to conduct one of the famous music works to the above-mentioned Vienna Philharmonic.
But be careful, they will tell you off for not doing your job properly!
The city literally lives and breathes music.
You will be stunned by the sound of the largest bell in Austria, called Pummerin and located in the North Tower of St Stephens Cathedral, the symbol of Vienna.
On Sundays, when the shops are closed, head to a mass in Hofburg Chapel of the Imperial Palace and be enchanted by the bell-like voices of the world-famous Vienna Boys Choir. Dating back to 1498, the Vienna Boys Choir is the oldest boy band in the world. Despite their extremely busy schedule (around 300 performances a year), you can still attend their afternoon performance in the concert hall MuTh on selected Fridays between April and June and between September and November.
Another performance not to be missed in Vienna is the magnificent Lipizzaner stallions, trained in the classic equestrian form since the Habsburgs. You can see them at their morning exercises or performances, accompanied by classical music, in the Spanish Riding School at Hofburg Palace.
When you are not taking in the wonderful sound of music, enjoy the culinary delights that Vienna has to offer in numerous coffeehouses, heurigers and street markets across the city.
My personal favourites are: Tafelspitz, Kletzen bread, mead (still or sparkling), Berg cheese and Heublau cheese, Apfelstrudel, Drunken Schmarrn, and of course, Sachertorte.
See you in Vienna!