Ball Season in Austria

    Austria's ball season is sometimes called the "fifth season" and stretches between November and February. In a country that knows how to enjoy life with all senses, these events are truly magical.

    No other country has balls as romantic and festive as Vienna. The traditional events enchant locals and guests from around the world alike well beyond a single night. More than 400 balls take place in Vienna every winter, attracting dance-loving visitors from all walks of life. The special ambience is created by the ceremonial programme and the courtly customs, which go back to the 18th century: there are dress codes, an opening fanfare, the debutants' arrival, and the exclamation "Alles Walzer!" Other highlights include the so-called "midnight performance," often a quadrille, and a small gift for every visitor when entering the hall.

    Many of the Viennese balls are now organized by professional guilds. The coffee maker ball, for example, transforms the Vienna Hofburg into the most festive dance café in the city with its elegant and charming programme, while the Viennese confectioners came up with a "ballet of pastries". Many consider the Ball of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to be the unofficial highlight of the ball season: It takes place in the halls of the Vienna Musikverein, from where the New Year's Concert is broadcast every year. The Opera Ball, set "in the most beautiful ballroom in the world" - the Vienna Opera House - is the official State Ball of the Republic of Austria. It also aims to celebrate the artists of the Vienna State Opera in one magical night.

    The Most Beautiful Balls

    • Confectioners Ball

      Hofburg, Vienna
      A Viennese ball highlight, not just for those with a sweet tooth. The city's bakers and confectioners invite you to dance in the imperial ambience of the Hofburg. An event in itself: the tombola. You can win 3,000 handmade cakes!

      When: 16th January 2025

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    • Ball of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

      Musikverein, Vienna
      Vienna's most exclusive ball, as some would say, is hosted by one of the most famous orchestras in the world, and invites dancers into the Golden Hall of the Musikverein.

      When: 23rd January 2025

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          Vienna Philharmonic Ball
    • Opera Redoute

      Opera House, Graz
      Big robes, festive ambience: the ball in Graz' Opera - one of the most magnificent opera houses in Europe - is the social event in the Styrian capital. The Graz Philharmonic, the ballet, and the singers open the ball together.

      When: 25th January 2025

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          Graz Opera Ball / Graz opera house
    • Vienna Medical Doctors' Ball

      Hofburg, Vienna
      The Physician's Ball is another mainstay of Vienna's Ball Season. The fancy setting inside the Imperial Palace guarantees a glamorous night! And should there be any medical emergencies, you are perfectly covered, too.

      When: 25th January 2025

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    • Coffee Maker Ball

      Hofburg, Vienna
      A popular ball, not only among coffee lovers. The event with 6,000 guests takes place in the Hofburg and is a highlight of the Viennese carnival. Obviously, one of the must-do's here is a visit to the coffee bar!

      When: 21st February 2025

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    • Vienna Opera Ball

      State Opera, Vienna
      Once a year, the Vienna State Opera transforms into the most beautiful ballroom in the world. Guests from all over marvel at the opening polonaise, sip champagne, and listen to the performances of well-known opera singers.

      When: 27th February 2025

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          Wiener Opernball
    • Edelweiss Ball

      Kongresshaus, Salzburg
      The Salzburg "Edelweiss Club", the leading mountaineering club in the city, hosts its own ball event every year. The dress code is strict: dirndls and lederhosen. This is the perfect ball for those who want a more rustic and Alpine atmosphere!

      When: 31st January 2025

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          Cozy enjoyment in traditional costume in Salzburg's old town
    • Concordia Ball

      Rathaus, Vienna
      The ball takes place in the state rooms of the Vienna City Hall and the arcade courtyard. Johann Strauß dedicated the Morgenblätter Walzer (also known as Feuilleton Walzer) to the Concordia Ball.

      When: 24th May 2024

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          The Concordia Ball - Opening Ceremony
    The Concordia Ball - Opening Ceremony

    How to Waltz

    Quick Tutorials from Ball Veterans

    With tailor-made courses, the Rueff dance school is aimed particularly at international guests who are planning a dance evening during their visit to Vienna - and have little time to rehearse. Here, dancing is not only seen as a sequence of steps, but as a living cultural phenomenon!

    The Elmayer dance school is located right next to the stables of the Spanish Riding School in downtown Vienna: couples or individuals are taught the most important dance steps in the famous Palais Pallavicini, while getting a crash course on ballroom etiquette at the same time.

    Interview with Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer

    The well-known Viennese dance school teacher Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer talks about Vienna's ball culture and his favourite dance. What's the difference between the Viennese ball culture and dance events, say in New York or Frankfurt am Main?
    Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer: The biggest difference are the Viennese, who are extremely experienced in balls and know that the guests themselves are the most important part. The Viennese audience knows exactly what is important at a ball: a good atmosphere, elegant clothes, a charming etiquette, cultivated conversation, and the joy of dancing. In addition, a classic Viennese ball always includes an opening ceremony by the "Young Women and Young Men Committee" and at least one quadrille of the public. Are these aspects not known in other countries?
    Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer: Many balls in other countries are not opened with debutante pairs. The public quadrille is almost unknown abroad. Only in Bavaria, where the quadrille is known as "Française", have I seen it at the "Ball of the Austrians". You run the most renowned dance school in Vienna. How enthusiastic are young people these days about dancing?
    Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer: Attending the Elmayer dance school has been a fixture and indispensable part of adolescence among Viennese families for many generations. Every year, we succeed in getting the young people attending our courses excited about the Viennese ball tradition. Your personal favourite dance?
    Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer: The Viennese waltz, of course. What makes a good dancer?
    Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer: A good dancer should recognize which dance suits the music, always dance to the beat, be considerate of the partner and her knowledge of the dance and not worry about looking great on the dance floor. What is an absolute no-go at a ball?
    Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer: Any kind of stress, lack of consideration, and a bad mood are inappropriate. In addition, regardless of the temperature, it is essential for the atmosphere that all guests wear elegant ball attire and keep it on until they leave the ball.

    Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer talks about the Ball Season in Vienna

    • What makes the Ball Season in Vienna so special?
    • What is the etiquette on a Viennese ball?
    • What is the dress-code on a Viennese ball?

    Listen to Thomas-Schäfer Elmayer answering the most important questions about Vienna´s Ball Season.

    Welcome to the Opera Ball / Staatsoper Wien

    Dresscode Opera Ball

    The right tailcoat for every man

    Lambert Hofer junior is one of the most sought-after outfitters of the Viennese ball scene. As soon as summer is over, the first tailoring requests for the opera ball arrive in the studio. At the height of the ball season in Vienna, crowds gather at the atmospheric shop on Margaretenstrasse, just like on the dance floor of the Vienna State Opera right before the midnight quadrille.

    "The Viennese ball culture is unique," says Olga Hofer, who has been running the tailcoat and costume rental in the fourth district on her own for some time now, following her husband's death. “In Germany, men can go to an exclusive ball in a black suit, that's an absolute no-go in Vienna. Tuxedo is the minimum, tailcoat is better. ”And so, year after year, Ms. Hofer and her team of tailors help countless despairing men find a matching tailcoat.

    3 tips for a successful ball night

    •                         Hot Dog Stand Bitzinger at the Albertina

      Viennese sausage stand

      During the ball season, the city's sausage stands are a popular meeting place after a long night of dancing!
    •                         Schlumberger Sparkling Wine Cellar - Schlumberger Sparkling Wine / Schlumberger Sparkling Wine Cellar in Vienna

      Austrian Sekt

      What would the ball season be without a little something sparkly in a tall glass? Schlumberger is the Sekt of choice.
    •                         Hairdo

      Fashionable updos

      The real artists of the ball hairstyles are at work in the Steinmetz Bundy private salon.
    Great Hall at the Sofienbad, Unknown, Aquarelle 1870

    „May I?“

    Viennese Waltz

    The waltz as a couples dance initially stirred up moral outrage. The Vienna Congress (1814/15), which met in the Austrian capital to reorganize Europe after Napoleon's campaigns, finally made the dance socially acceptable. The political work was so abundantly accompanied by balls that the legendary saying "the congress dances!" was born.

    The intoxicating rotary movements in the waltz step brought an intimate atmosphere to the festive ballrooms. And Johann Strauss's father (1804 - 1849), who composed 152 popular waltz tunes, made the dance popular together with his orchestra from Vienna to London. "May I?" is the classic invitation to dance during a long ball night.

    Original score of the Donauwalzer ("By the beautiful blue Danube") by Johann Strauss II (excerpt)

    The music

    The waltz is danced to classical and modern music in three-quarter time.

    • Dancing Couple in Vienna

      The dancing posture

      The gentleman puts his right hand lightly under the lady's shoulder blade.

    • Wiener Opernball

      The basic step

      The basic step is a swaying pendulum step, which you either dance sideways or back and forth.

    • Opening of the Opera Ball / Staatsoper Wien

      The turn

      The gentleman begins with a big step to the right - sideways - close.

    • The Concordia Ball in Vienna

      Learn to dance the Viennese waltz

      The waltz is a fast dance with many turns. Tip: Do not look at your feet, but at a fixed point in the room.

    Waltz Around the World

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