On New Year’s Eve Vienna offers a spectacular mix of events. The entire city lets its hair down for an all-night party – on the New Year’s Eve Trail or the landmark Giant Ferris Wheel, at elegant balls and gala dinners, and in concert halls and clubs throughout the capital.
Right after the Christmas holidays a pair of markets will get everyone in the party mood ahead of New Year’s Eve. The New Year’s market in front of Schönbrunn Palace is full of stands laden with handicrafts from Austria, good luck charms, culinary delights, punch and mulled wine. Part of the New Year’s Eve Trail, the New Year’s Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz (between the Kunhistorisches Museum and the Museum of Natural History) offers a similar variety at the turn of the year.
When it is time to wave goodbye to the old year and ring in the new one, Vienna rolls up its sleeves for one giant party. Thousands of people take to the streets for the New Year’s Eve Trail, thronging through the Old Town to see one open air spectacle after the next, while others prefer to take in a concert, gala or river cruise. Whatever path is chosen, New Year’s Eve in Vienna is always a loud and lively affair, with the skies full of the sounds of laughter and fireworks.
The last night of the year sees the romantic cobblestone streets, elegant boulevards and squares in Vienna’s historic old town transform themselves into one giant venue for a loud, pulsating party. Thousands of people throng to the New Year’s Eve Trail, which is punctuated with concessions stands selling sparkling wine, punch and snacks. From Rathausplatz to Teinfaltstrasse and Freyung to Hoher Markt there is no end to the marquees, stages, live music and other entertainment. It goes without saying that music has a huge role to play in the proceedings, with revelers treated to a bit of everything – from traditional waltz melodies to the latest club hits as well as golden oldies and traditional folk music. There are even operetta productions to enjoy on a giant video wall outside the Vienna State Opera.
Anyone looking to leave the old year behind on a romantic high should take a spin on the Giant Ferris Wheel in the Prater park. Here passengers can take in the city lights while enjoying a glass of sparkling wine from the comfort of one of the traditional cabins. A great alternative for anyone with more sporty ambitions is the 5.4 kilometer New Year’s Run along the Ringstrasse boulevard, which takes in some of the capital’s most impressive sights. The Danube provides another popular setting for people to take in the bright lights of the city. A New Year’s cruise aboard one of the DDSG Blue Danube liners also offers passengers ample opportunity to show off their dancing skills. Alternatively people head to one of the capital’s landmark hills — the Kahlenberg, Leopoldsberg or Cobenzl — which provide the best view of all the fireworks in the city as the New Year rolls in.
As midnight approaches, thousands of people converge on Stephansplatz in the heart of the first district. At the last minute the music falls silent and the countdown begins. And on the stroke of midnight the sounds of Pummerin bell at St. Stephen’s Cathedral ring out across the crowds letting everyone know that the New Year has finally arrived. With the bells still echoing in the distance, the opening bars of the Blue Danube Waltz strike up and the champagne corks start to pop as everyone raises a toast, with complete strangers wishing each other good luck for the New Year to come. And to make doubly sure, the party continues long into the early hours.
The legendary charm of Vienna’s traditional balls and the imperial luster of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy come to the fore at Le Grand Bal, which is held in the state rooms of the former imperial palace. In the same place that the ruling Habsburgs once celebrated the turn of the year, a magnificent gala dinner sets in motion a night of music and revelry that includes performances by leading artists from the Vienna State Opera and Volkstheater. Guests can watch the skies fill with fireworks while savoring a glass of Champagne at the outdoor bar on Heldenplatz.
The New Year’s Eve Gala at the Grosser Festsaal inside Vienna City Hall is an elegant affair complete with waltz melodies from the ball orchestra, debutantes to officially open the festivities, international delicacies from the buffet and an opportunity to raise a glass to the New Year on the magnificent balcony. The balls and galas inside the capital’s legendary luxury hotels are no less glamorous, providing the ideal setting for a night of fine food and dancing, celebrating and flirting. In Vienna there is virtually no end are of ways to dance in the New Year for people looking for an alternative to the New Year’s Eve Trail. More or less every bar and club in the entire city opens its doors so that people can hit the dancefloor on the biggest night of the year.
The city of music more than does justice to its popular moniker at the end of the year. With concerts on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, the turn of the year is accompanied by perfect musical harmony. The Wiener Symphoniker, the Wiener Hofburgorchester, the Wiener Ring Ensemble, the Tonkünstler Orchester Niederösterreich, the Strauss Festival Orchester and the Wiener Residenzorchester are just some of the big names behind the musical magic.
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Concert is an unmissable highlight of the celebrations. This unique concert, first performed in 1941, is watched by around 50 million people from all four corners of the earth each year. Some of the world’s greatest conductors have taken up the baton over the years amid the beautiful floral displays in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein, including Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Georges Prêtre and Daniel Barenboim. The upbeat and moving repertoire features highlights from the rich Strauss canon left behind by the Strauss clan and their contemporaries. Due to exceptionally high demand, tickets can only be obtained for the New Year’s Concert (Jan 1), the dress rehearsal (Dec 30) and the New Year’s Eve concert (Dec 31) via an online draw. Anyone looking to obtain tickets must register on the Vienna Philharmonic website between January 2 and 23 to enter the draw for the next New Year’s Concert. And for the countless people who are not lucky enough to get hold of tickets, the concert is broadcast to a giant video wall on Rathausplatz – accompanied by a special hangover breakfast.
Celebrating New Year’s Eve at home takes the same form in Vienna as in many other parts of the world: people get together with loved ones to eat, drink, catch up and enjoy each other’s company. But in Vienna, one thing is an absolute must: dancing to the strains of the Blue Danube waltz at midnight. Johann Strauss’ world-famous waltz can be heard on all of the radio and television channels operated by the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) immediately after the twelfth strike of the Pummerin bell at St. Stephen’s, with many of the capital’s clubs also observing this proud tradition. Afterwards it is time to raise a toast and give each other little keepsakes and good luck charms such as pigs, cloverleafs, horseshoes and ladybugs. Many people go out onto the streets and set off bangers or launch fireworks into the heavens. Others turn to the ancient art of lead pouring. To do this a small lump of lead is melted over a flame before being tipped into a bucket of cold water. The resulting shapes are then interpreted and – with a healthy dose of imagination – used to predict the future. Or people’s fortunes for the year ahead, at the very least.
More than 210 discounts and unlimited free travel by underground, bus and tram for 72 hours. Available in hotels and at the tourist information centre on Albertinaplatz (open daily from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm) and the tourist information point at the airport (open daily from 6.00 am to 11.00 pm), at sales and information points of the Vienna Lines (e.g. Stephansplatz, Karlsplatz, Westbahnhof, Landstraße/Wien Mitte) or by credit card on tel. +43-1-798 44 00-148.
The information, and photos, on our Vienna pages has been compiled with the help of Wien Tourismus – http://www.wien.info/en– to ensure quality, up-to-date information on the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria.
Discover a wealth of information on travelling by Motorhome, Caravan or Boat when planning your holiday or trip of a lifetime
Which ever way you wish to travel, do it with style!