Colorful tiles on the roof of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna

You are here:

Vienna Media News – June 2022 125 years: Giant Ferris Wheel Celebrates Action-Packed Anniversary

The Viennese like to say that anyone who hasn’t been on the Giant Ferris Wheel hasn’t really been to Vienna. This monumental attraction in the Prater park was built in 1897 to celebrate Emperor Franz Joseph I’s golden jubilee. At the time, it was one of the largest Ferris wheels in the world. Today, 125 years down the line, it is the oldest of its kind still in operation. Between June 25 and July 2, it will be at the forefront of a series of highly theatrical celebrations. Platform No. 9, set up specially for the anniversary, will add an unprecedented dimension to the Giant Ferris Wheel experience which is absolutely not for the faint-hearted.

Sightseeing Platform

Standing on a specially-installed glass and steel platform, visitors in search of an adrenaline rush can enjoy a flight of fancy not enjoyed by anyone since the original engineers built the Riesenrad back in 1897. Just to be clear: there are no side walls and no roof. Secured in a safety harness, thrill seekers can lap up the views high above the city. These unique trips can be booked at

Theatrical Anniversary Week

The week before the official anniversary will be filled with special events. Starting on June 25 and ending on July 2, a one-of-a-kind anniversary schedule will play out, quite literally. Entitled 125 Years of the Giant Ferris Wheel – 125 Years of History, the Riesenrad will celebrate its latest milestone with the Nesterval theater ensemble, proud winners of the Nestroy, one of Austria’s most coveted theater awards. This unique theatrical experience starts when visitors purchase their ticket and continues all the way until boarding.

An Immersive History of the Giant Ferris Wheel

The square directly in front of the Giant Ferris Wheel provides the stage for the production, as well as the Panorama Museum and – of course – the Riesenrad itself. Here, Nesterval will serve up a piece of theater that casts an eye back over the Giant Ferris Wheel’s 125-year history. Historic facts and eyewitness accounts have been recorded and translated into the language of theater, turning a trip aboard the Giant Ferris Wheel into a journey through time and an unforgettable memory for everyone on board. The actors – who will also be performing in English – play a series of historic personalities as well as died-in-the-wool Viennese characters.

Kisses and the Emperor

Fiction and reality come together through the stars of the show, while visitors are also invited to immerse themselves in the world of the Giant Ferris Wheel and Austrian history. Topics range from first kisses to marriage proposals. The Emperor himself might even put in an appearance alongside newspaper boys and the leading writers of their day. Visitors can also expect to encounter historic greats such as Sigmund Freud, Romy Schneider and Falco. And it is up to them how much they interact with the actors. Although no-one should feel obliged to, everyone is welcome to participate! The actors will be out and about on the opening day (June 25) between 11am and 3pm and from 5-9pm from June 26 to July 2. The show is included in the standard ticket price.

Famous Film Location

The dates chosen for the celebrations correspond directly to a pair of historical events: the last bolt was tightened on the Giant Ferris Wheel on June 25, 1897 – and it was officially inaugurated on July 3, 1897. And there has been lots of action swirling around the Giant Ferris Wheel ever since. It has always been a popular motif for movie scenes, featuring in various productions including The Third Man (1949), Bond film The Living Daylights (1987) and Richard Linklater’s hit movie Before Sunrise (1995). The resurrection of the Giant Ferris Wheel after the Second World War came to symbolize Vienna’s rebirth, too. In the past it has starred in a number of spectacular artistic endeavors: in 1914, a fearless horsewoman from France completed a full loop on the Giant Ferris Wheel on horseback – on the roof of one of the compartments. The spectacular stunt was for a film. A daring undertaking indeed, given that the 430-ton Giant Ferris Wheel stands almost 65 meters tall.  


Helena Steinhart
Media Relations
+43 1 211 14-364