Capital of Culture
There’s never been a better time to visit Austria’s dynamic capital as Vienna prepares for a year of celebrations. Here’s some of the many reasons you should be visiting in 2018.
Beauty & the Abyss
Vienna celebrates Viennese modernism in 2018, as well as the heroes of that time – the painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, the composer Gustav Mahler and their contemporaries. The Viennese modernity – that time around 1900 – when these and many other personalities created great works, is one of the most important art and culture epochs of European history. In 1918, Vienna lost four important protagonists – Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, the architect Otto Wagner and the designer Koloman Moser – during a period in which Vienna was said to oscillate between “beauty and abyss”. In 2018 – a century later – Vienna will be taking an in-depth look at the creative output of the artists of Viennese Modernism, with 15 exhibitions held at the greatest museums and galleries in Vienna shedding light on the most prominent and highly popular masterpieces of that period.
A Fairy Tale Night
For more than two centuries Vienna has been the uncontested ball capital of the world. A unique blend of age-old Austrian traditions, magnificent court ceremonial and the trademark Viennese waltz has seen the capital’s ball industry turn into one of the nation’s best-loved exports, with replica events playing out in around 30 cities worldwide, from New York to Shanghai. But nothing beats the original – the romance and charm puts the Viennese ball season in a league of its own. Ball season starts each year on November 11 and runs until Ash Wednesday/ beginning of Lent, with its peak in January and February.
Specialised shops rent out ball gowns and tuxedos, and dancing schools offer blitz courses in waltzing and ballroom standards. A ride in a horse drawn carriage from a grand ball dinner to the splendid ball venue makes your fairy-tale night complete.
Reinventing Viennese Cuisine
A boom in Michelin-awarded restaurants and some of the best wine lists in the world ensure Vienna offers an enticing variety to those who look for gastronomic pleasures. The city’s long tradition of fusion cuisine and its close proximity to vineyards also make Vienna the place to go for authentic culinary treasures. While Vienna is famous for its traditional signature dishes Schnitzel, Tafelspitz, Sacher cake and apple strudel, Vienna’s young chefs have worked hard to forge their own styles, seeing the number of Michelin stars held by the city’s restaurants double. In 2017, Amador’s Wirtshaus, Mraz und Sohn, and Steirereck were awarded two Michelin stars each. Steirereck ranks #11 on the list of the World’s 50 best restaurants. Edvard, Konstantin Filippou, Le Ciel, Opus, Tian, and Walter Bauer were awarded one Michelin star each.
But don’t forget about the wine! Wine has been produced in Vienna since the Roman times. The typical Viennese style is a white wine, known as Wiener Gemischter Satz. For this kind of wine grapes of different varieties are planted, harvested and vinified together. From the 2013 vintage onwards, Wiener Gemischter Satz wines have enjoyed DAC status, a quality seal that guarantees their origin. The wine archive at Palais Coburg is not simply a wine cellar, but a total of six different wine cellars in the historical vaults of the palace. Over 60,000 bottles are stored here, the oldest being from the year 1727. In addition, the Coburg cellar, one of the world’s best-stocked collections, was recently awarded World’s Best Wine List 2017 by The World of Fine Wine magazine.
Where the Music Plays
Vienna is the world’s uncontested capital of music: no other city has been home to so many composers – Mozart, Mahler, Haydn, Beethoven and Johann Strauss, the king of the Viennese waltz, all worked in the city. Every night in Vienna around 10,000 music fans are treated to live classical music, something that is simply unheard of in any other city in the world. Each year the Vienna concert schedule includes more than 15,000 events of various sizes and genres. In total, the three big opera houses in Vienna – Vienna State Opera, Volksoper and Theater an der Wien – will hold 28 opera premieres during the 2017/18 season. Highlights include the Opera live on the Square, held in April, May, June and September 2018; the Summer Night Concert, held May 31st; and the Danube Island Festival, held in June.
A Thoroughly Livable City
Vienna was named the most liveable city in the world in 2017 (for the 8th time), by the Mercer Quality of Life Survey, which is annually conducted in 230 major towns and cities. The survey compares the political, social and economic climate, medical care, education, and infrastructural conditions such as public transportation, power and water supply. It also takes into consideration recreational offers such as restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports facilities, the availability of all kinds of consumer goods from food to cars as well as environmental conditions – from green space to air quality.