The Balls of Vienna

Culture Facts

Where: Vienna, Austria
When: The ‘season’ is Nov – June
Top Events: New Years, and Life Ball
What’s it about: Refined culture of romantic dancing and etiquette.
Remember to: Learn how to waltz in style


During the official ball season (between November and June), over 300 take place and there are plenty to choose from over the rest of the year. Traditional balls include the Kaiserball (the New Years’ Eve party for Vienna’s elite which takes place in the Hofburg Palace), the Opernball (the most expensive, with tickets going for a cool EUR210 or EUR6,000 if you want a table!) and thePhilharmonikerball. There are however some which are not so exclusive such as the Life Ball,held to raise money for Aids Charities where the most outrageous costumes can be seen, and theRegenbogenball, the Gay and Lesbian Rainbow Ball.

Murder on the Dancefloor

Whichever you fancy, make sure you get your ticket way in advance as all these events tend to get booked up very early, such is their popularity with the Viennese. The various quadrilles(prompted dances danced from a square group formation) that occur at regular intervals over the evening, beginning with the one at midnight, are hilarious as the caller on the microphone calls out the instructions for everyone to follow and lots of confusion and falling over ensues as the music gets faster and faster. The balls go on through the night, usually finishing at around 5 or 6am.

TheWaltz is of course the most popular of the ball dances and many Viennese take a course of Waltzing lessons. The oldest and most distinguished of the dance schools is the Tanzschule Willy Elmayer. Courses start at EUR42.87 for 50 minutes tuition. The majority of the classes are taught by the wonderful Rudolf Peschke. Elmayer is also a school of etiquette so you can brush up on your manners too.

What to Wear

Once you’ve bought the ticket and you’ve learnt how to dance, the only other thing left to worry about is your outfit. Lambert Hofer has provided the costumes for feature films and theatre performances and is the number one ball costumier in Vienna. Prices start from around EUR150 to hire a tuxedo.


Destination – Austria