During the time of Fasching (carnival) there are hundreds of balls staged throughout Austria. Some of the most well-known are the Opera ball, held at the State Opera and the Imperial Ball held on December 31 at the Imperial Palace in Vienna.
At New Year’s Eve, the elegant Le Grand Bal at the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) attracts visitors and Viennese alike. This is also one of the most festive ways to start the New Year.
Of course, the crowning glory of Vienna’s ball season or, for that matter, the European ball season, has traditionally been the Vienna Opera Ball, held at Vienna’s venerable State Opera whose stage and auditorium are transformed into a giant dance floor. This is an even of such magnitude in Austria that it is broadcast live on television – and everybody participates, be it in dazzling ballgowns at the ball itself or watching it in the comfortable surroundings of one’s home.
The Jägerball (Hunters’ Ball) is a special event, where almost everybody turns up in elegant versions of Austria’s native dress. The floor-length dirndls of the ladies are made of velvet and silk and the Alpine jackets of the men of the finest materials.
One of the highlights in this city where music reigns supreme is, of course, the ball put on by the Wiener Philharmoniker at their “home,” the Musikverein concert hall: the members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra have put aside their instruments for the Philharmonikerball and let another orchestra play for them – but they do dance!
The Rudolfina Redoute is the only masked ball of significant stature in Vienna – and until midnight, the floor belongs to masked ladies: it’s ladies choice until then. If your heart is set on an elegant masked ball, of which there are not that many in Vienna, this Redoute at Vienna’s Imperial Palace may be your best bet.
The baroque city of Salzburg just added another cultural highlight to its event calendar. The world-famous Salzburg Festival will now host the Festival Ball, where the who-is-who of Salzburg will meet.
But if your heart is set on wearing a mask in less intimidating surroundings, however, one may participate in one of the numerous Gschnasfeste, usually organized by young artists and bohemians, where the motto is: Anything goes!
Of course, there are numerous other balls of differing degrees of elegance. They all have some things in common: they are festive, they are fun – and they offer an occasion to dance the night away in three-quarter time.