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Vienna Media News 10/2018 The season never ends in the world’s ball capital

The Viennese ball and dancing season gets underway at the start of carnival season. At Vienna’s traditional balls, the merrymaking is underpinned by a strict dress code: women must wear full-length ball gowns or traditional costume, while tuxedos or tails are de rigueur for men – as are bow ties, since simple neck ties are prohibited.

The intricate choreography of any self-respecting ball night officially opens with a procession into the main hall led by the members of the young ladies’ and gentlemen’s ‘committee’ who are decked out in black and white. No expense is spared for the debutantes’ grand introduction to society. For weeks they practice the steps to the classic fan polonaise by former chief music director of the imperial court Carl Michael Ziehrer. This Polonaise is always followed by a traditional Viennese waltz before the master of ceremonies calls out “Alles Walzer!”, declaring the floor open to all comers.

The rest of the evening is punctuated by entertainment acts and program highlights. Popular options include the Fledermaus quadrille by Johann Strauss. Performed by ballgoers according to the master of ceremonies’ instructions, it never fails to end in complete chaos, much to everyone’s amusement.

The grand opening of the Opera Ball, the world’s best-known ball, is particularly special as it is celebrated as an act of state just as it was in the days of Emperor Kaiser Franz Joseph. Representatives of the Austrian government file into the ballroom to literal fanfare. The Opera Ball’s little brother is the ultra-elegant Vienna Coffeehouse Owners' Ball, which is the only other ball to occupy all of the rooms at the Hofburg. For many the quintessential artists’ ball, the Vienna Philharmonic Ball plays out in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein. To this day, the entrance of the guests of honor is accompanied by a formal fanfare specially composed for the occasion by Richard Strauss. The glittering Rainbow Ball for the LGBT community and their friends takes place at the Parkhotel Schönbrunn. In summer City Hall opens its doors for the Life Ball, which is Europe’s best – and highest grossing – AIDS/HIV charity event.

And these are just some of the highlights of the ball calendar. Wherever it is hosted and whatever form it takes, a proper Viennese ball night has to feature two elements: a slow last waltz in the pale light of dawn, followed by an energy-boosting bowl of goulash soup at a coffeehouse afterwards.

The main Viennese ball events


Vienna Tourist Board
Helena Hartlauer
Media Relations
Tel. (+ 43 1) 211 14-364