Don’t spend another anti-climactical New Year’s Eve when you could be dancing the night away at a ball in Vienna.
The Austrian capital is famous for its season of winter balls, from the celebrity-pulling Opera Ball to the Flower Ball, or the Bonbon Ball celebrating confectioners. Over 400 balls are held through January and February. You can find the calendar for Vienna’s ball season here.
But the biggest set piece of the season is the very first – held on New Year’s Eve every year in the wonderful imperial state rooms of the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. I can’t imagine a grander or more beautiful setting for a party.
The chandeliers are brighter than stars. Thousands of red and white blooms stand in huge vases alongside the dance floor. The orchestra strikes up as the first fat flakes of snow fall outside. Church bells ring in the New Year and through the windows fireworks can be seen lighting up the sky.
The New Year’s Eve ball at the Hofburg has been running for over 40 years, recreating a typical 18th century Habsburg empire New Year’s Eve ball. Traditionally called the Kaiserball, in 2012 the ball got a bit of a makeover, revealing the glitz and glamour of ‘Le Grand Bal’.
The stars of the Viennese opera and ballet take to the stage to entertain the grand ball room but if opera is not your thing you can slip away to the ballroom with the jazz band, or the swing band, or the piano quartet.
In fact there are so many gorgeously decorated rooms for dancing (and eating) it is easy to get lost. It’s not necessary to be a good dancer but the Vienna dance school is right next door if you want to improve your waltzing footwork.
A very international crowd attends this Vienna ball on New Year’s Eve – visitors from over 30 countries come to dance the night away every year, including Wandering Kiwis.
If you need a little bit of the hair of the dog after over indulging in the champagne, head for one of Vienna’s famous coffee-houses in the morning. Many offer special hangover breakfasts: the traditional cure is goulash soup and a small beer.
By Natasha von Geldern
I regretted staying in a cheap guesthouse as it was not the best place to recover from our wonderful evening but there are better options for where to stay in Vienna for all budgets here.
Have you attended a ball in Vienna? What are you planning for New Year’s Eve this year?