The annual Vienna Opera Ball or Wiener Opernball takes place in the grand auditorium of the Vienna State Opera House on the Thursday preceding Ash Wednesday. This glamorous occasion, first inaugurated in 1854, has its roots in the dance evenings held in Vienna’s aristocratic palaces during the late 18th century.
With its dazzling mix of ballet, polonaise and waltz, the Opera Ball is redolent of the grandeur of the Hapsburg Empire. It has become one of the biggest, most romantic middle-European society events of the year, attended by an eclectic array of aristocrats, bourgeoisie and bohemians.
Dancing opens with a formal polonaise, a showcase for Austrian high society, and socialising continues until 5am. Expect the romantic waltzes of Johann Strauss, Joseph Lanner and Carl Michael Ziehrer, as well as some swing and foxtrot.
On the one hand, the Vienna Opera Ball combines the Viennese lifestyle with international allure, and on the other the modern stage management of a traditional event. This is in equal measure a high-spirited ball in a unique atmosphere and the fashionable highlight of the ball season. Over the last two years, it has once again increasingly become an artists’ ball: the Vienna State Opera Orchestra performs under the baton of distinguished conductors for the opening, as do the Wiener Staatsballett and international stars. Besides, the Opera Ball has once more become an extremely popular event where cultural icons from all over the world come together to celebrate.