As a well-loved spot for luxury city breaks, Vienna has a vibrant festival scene. It’s little wonder, given that the city was once home to the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, and many famous writers. Each year, artistic directors conduct events that celebrate the best of Austrian (and international) music and culture – an eclectic mix of the avante-garde, the contemporary and the historic.
From June through to August, you’ll be basking in the sun, with temperatures reaching the mid- to late 20s – perfect for open-air stages and airy opera houses. And with events happening across the city, the best hotels in Vienna are never more than a hop, skip and a jump away.
1. VIENNA FESTIVAL, OR WIENER FESTWOCHEN
Typically running between May and June, this annual festival is a quirky marriage of modern art and musical theatre. It’s also the largest cultural festival in the city, and as fascinating as it is diverse. Expect punchy political exhibitions like the Universal Hospitality Project giving visual analyses on complex social issues. Engage in thought-provoking performances like the social experiment ‘Haircuts by Children’. And try to bag a ticket to Hollywood-worthy theatre shows, like 2017’s ‘Obsession’, starring Jude Law.
They do say the best things in life are free. Despite being the biggest open-air music festival in Europe, and drawing millions from all over the globe, getting in to Donauinselfest won’t cost you a penny. There’s something for everyone at this eclectic event in June, with nearly 2,000 acts covering a huge range of genres, including pop, dance, electronic and even traditional Viennese tunes.
3. VIENNA JAZZ FESTIVAL
In June and July, the streets of Vienna glitter with Grammy-winning jazz legends that come from across the globe. Open-air venues, operas and jazz clubs are filled with sounds from the sixties, new-age funk and sultry soul – all bringing a touch of La La Land to Vienna. As a small city steeped in rich history, Vienna is known more as the home of classical music and dazzling architecture than as a trendy, progressive hub. But The Jazz Festival highlights the capital’s cutting-edge qualities.
Top Tip: Keen to escape the crowds? Why not venture down to a venue only die-hard jazz fans know about? Some of the greatest jazz musicians have played in Porgy & Bass. So though it’s hard to find, it’ll be worth it when you do.
4. VIENNA BLUES SPRING FESTIVAL
Beat the blues this spring, and watch Woodstock legends and up-and-coming artists at the world’s longest-running blues festival. In March, the month-long musical masterpiece begins. Now in its twelfth year, blues masters JP Soars, talented pianist Katarina Pejak and legend Larry Garner promise raw, cascading guitar riffs, seductive slow jazz and high-energy rock rhythms. If you’re planning a trip to Vienna in the spring, a visit to this festival will warm the soul in the cool March climate.
5. ROCK IN VIENNA
Austrian island Danube, or Donauinse, is a Viennese paradise sandwiched by the Danube river. Families flock here all year round, covering the 21km of laid-back leisure space. If you join them in summer, you’ll have timed it perfectly for Rock in Vienna, Austria’s biggest and best rock festival.
Though young at only three years old, big-name bands like Muse, Biffy Clyro, Iron Maiden and Metallica have already graced the stage.
And even if the name may suggest otherwise, this budding Glastonbury is already opening its doors to acts from other genres, including Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and German electro/hip-hop band Deichkind. Set in exceptional surroundings, Rock in Vienna is certainly one for the bucket list.
Top Tip: Spending summer in a city can have you pining after a stretch of sand or body of water. Fear not – Danube Island boasts beach areas, so you can escape the sweltering city for an afternoon.