Last updated on December 5th, 2023 at 02:56 pm
You put your fanciest outfit on and you head to one of Vienna’s finest historic buildings for a night to remember. You get there, present your ticket and a kind lady nods at you, pointing you towards the entry. All of a sudden, you’re there. Surrounded by hundreds of other people in formal clothing, feeling as if you’ve gone back in time, attending a ball of the Habsburg dynasty for example.
Well, almost. You’re in the Habsburg’s imperial palace attending a Viennese ball, just in the 21st century. And you have to pinch yourself from time to time, to be sure this is actually happening.
This is how I felt at my first Viennese ball back in 2017. I was a student at the University of Vienna and some colleagues of mine suggested just going to a ball. I was like “Really!? We can just go to a ball in Vienna?”
Sure it was that simple. Since then, I’ve been to balls in Vienna 5 times already, and I’m planning to visit some more in the future.
In this article I’ll share everything I know about Viennese balls and answer some questions you may have regarding the topic – after all, if no one tells you you could visit one, you’d never know!
Where to stay in Vienna
We visited Vienna in January 2023 and we stayed at this apartment, located next to the U1 metro line, which was extremely convenient. The apartment was affordable in comparison to other options in the city, and it was super cosy.
Who can attend a ball in Vienna?
Viennese balls are open to anyone who wants to visit them. For most of them, you don’t need to be part of any club or belong to any part of society to be able to attend one of these magnificent balls.
All you need to do is buy a ticket, get the right clothing and show up.
How much does attending a Viennese ball actually cost?
Ticket prices for balls in Vienna can vary quite a bit, but you can expect the regular adult price to be around €100 – €150. If you’re a student, prices are much lower, going as low as €30 – €40.
This is usually a standing ticket which allows you to attend the ball without having a table reservation. I find this to be the perfect type of ticket, as Viennese balls are all about dancing. Unless you need to have a seat at your disposal 100% of the time, of course. From the five times I’ve been to a ball, there’s always been an opportunity to sit down and rest for some time, so it’s not that you need to be on your feet the whole night. It’s just that you don’t have a reserved seat.
Example prices for Vienna balls in 2023
WU Ball 2023 (University of Economics’ ball) – entry ticket €119, student ticket €37
Blumenball (Flowers’ ball) – entry ticket €75, student ticket €55
Wiener Philharmoniker Ball (Vienna Philharmonic ball) – entry ticket €195, student ticket €70
Wiener Kaffeesieder Ball (Coffee Makers Ball) – entry ticket €180, student ticket €84
As you can see, prices can vary quite a bit. If you’re looking for a personal recommendation for a ball on a budget, I’ve found the Blumenball to be the best priced for adults, and the WU Ball to have the best prices for students. I’ve been to both of them and absolutely loved them!
How do I buy a ticket to a ball in Vienna?
All Viennese balls usually have a dedicated website where you can purchase the tickets online. In the past, there’s always been a ticket desk on the night of the ball itself, so you could just show up and get your ticket. Until 2023. Apparently everyone was eager to get back into waltzing after 2 years without any balls, so tickets got fully sold out quite quickly.
If you’re planning on going to a Viennese ball in 2023 or 2024, I encourage you not to wait until the last minute.
Is there a dress code for Viennese balls?
Yes, there’s usually quite a strict dress code when it comes to Vienna balls. In general, men are expected to be dressed in a black smoking/tuxedo/frack and a bow tie, and women need to wear a floor-length evening dress.
Usually guys are allowed to wear a bow tie in a colour of their choice which is a great chance to match with your lady’s dress, if you come as a pair! I’ve also only heard of one ball that allows short dresses for women, which is the Sportsball.
Make sure to check the dress code of the ball you’ll be attending beforehand – they can really not let you in for wearing unacceptable clothing.
P.S. Ties for men are an absolute no-go!
Is there a certain etiquette/ skillset you need to attend a Viennese ball?
When I first told my boyfriend I’d like to take him to a Viennese ball, he got scared. He assumed we’ll have to dance waltz for 4 hours non-stop, he’ll feel out of place in such a “pretentious” environment and so on. Overall, he had many worries that were just unreasonable.
No, you won’t dance waltz for numerous hours straight. Actually, we only danced the waltz to 2 or 3 songs for the whole night. There are so many rooms with different types of music, that you can dance to pretty much everything – jazz, pop, 90s music, and there’s even a club room where they play normal club music!
Let’s address the fear of being out of place. First of all, there are so many people at these balls, that you wouldn’t feel out of place because no one would be looking at you. Secondly, Austrians weren’t fed with a silver spoon either. It’s just a bunch of normal people, dressed in fancy outfits, acting in an absolutely normal way. It’s just a giant well-dressed party. 🙂
Where do Viennese balls usually take place?
The most usual place for a Viennese ball to take place is the Hofburg (Imperial Palace) or the City Hall (Rathaus). I’ve been to both locations a couple of times and I still can’t say which one I prefer.
There are a few balls that take place in other places, but I haven’t visited any of them – for example the Vienna Philharmonic Ball.
What happens at a Viennese ball?
I can only talk from personal experience and impressions from the balls that I’ve been to in the Hofburg and the City Hall. Both these places have one big hall/room and numerous smaller rooms you can roam around.
The big hall is the so-called main ballroom – this is where a live orchestra is playing classical music and you can dance waltz, chacha, foxtrot and others.
The opening of the ball
At the beginning of the night, usually one hour after the admission starts, there’s the opening ceremony. It consists of a few dance acts, usually performed by the ball committee – a group of young ballroom dancers, all dressed in black and white. Sometimes, there are other performances in the opening ceremony as well. It’s beautiful to watch, though don’t expect world class dancing – after all it’s mainly students that do this and they only have a couple of months of preparation.
The main ballroom is also where the midnight quadrille takes place! This is my absolute favourite part of every ball. At midnight (sometimes a bit after midnight) everyone gathers in the main hall for the so-called quadrille dance. For this you need a partner – if you don’t have such, look around and ask someone to join you.
You stand in lines, facing another couple in front of you, and someone on stage is showing what you need to do and giving you instructions on a microphone. The fun part is that you learn an easy choreography where you get to interact with the opposite couple, switch partners etc, and with every go the music gets a bit faster, so you need to dance it a bit faster as well. By the last round, it’s so fast that you’re literally running back and forth and laughing your a** off, because it’s so hilarious!
Oh, and right after the quadrille there’s the gallop. You basically run in all directions as if you’re galloping, and at some point you create a tunnel with all other people. Just see the below photos.
Drinks and food at Vienna balls
All around you’ll also find different bars where you can order some drinks. The most typical and usually cheapest drink is the weißer spritzer – white wine mixed with sparkling water. It’s definitely refreshing!
You could also order some food with the waiters, but that’s mainly for people sat at a table. If you don’t have a table, you can still ask if you could order some food – just keep in mind that it’s quite pricey at an event like this. I’ll add the menu from the night of the WU Ball 2023 below.
Here are some examples in English:
- Beer 0,33l – €6.50
- Water 0,75l – €13
- Gulasch soup – €8.50
- Viennese Schnitzel with potato salad and berries – €26
Basically, at a Viennese ball you walk from room to room, dancing for a bit in each place, stopping for a quick drink, and then dancing again.
Games at Viennese Balls
Often there are some games as well, organized by sponsors.
At the WU Ball 2023 there was a roulette by Ralph Lauren where you spin a wheel and you could win a prize, such as their latest perfume, a bag, a drink etc. We both received a case for cosmetics with Ralph Lauren’s logo. There was also a game by AXE where men could get a quick hairstyle and receive a free deodorant, shower gel or some other AXE products.
There were also a few photo booths where we got some photos taken – a great way to capture this memory!
The ending of the night
The end of the Viennese balls has a traditional ritual – the lights in the main ballroom are dimmed and the band plays a slow waltz as everyone is leaving. Traditionally,the ball ends at a sausage stand or over goulash, which you can get from the waiters.
Which Viennese ball should I choose?
There are quite a few Viennese balls and I’m sure they’re all wonderful – they just all have a different price tag. If you’re looking for a cheaper ball, I highly recommend the Blumenball (Flower Ball) and the WU Ball.
Here’s a list of the balls I know of that you can check out.
- Ball of the Viennese Chimney Sweeps: November 17, 2023 – rauchfangkehrerball.wien
- New Year’s Eve Gala at Vienna City Hall: December 31, 2023 – silvestergala.com
- Confectioners’ Ball: January 11, 2024 – www.zuckerbaeckerball.com
- Flower Ball: January 12, 2024 – https://www.wien.gv.at/
- WU Ball: January 13, 2024 – https://www.wuball.at/en/
- Ball of the Vienna Philharmonic: January 18, 2024 – www.wienerphilharmoniker.at
- Ball of Industry and Technology: January 20, 2024 – Ball.techniker-cercle.at
- Ball des Sports: May 6, 2024 – https://www.ball-des-sports.at/
- Doctors’ Ball: January 27, 2024 – www.aerzteball.at
- Viennese Ball of the Sciences: , January 27, 2024 – www.wissenschaftsball.at
- Hunters’ Ball: January 29, 2024 – www.verein-grueneskreuz.at
- Vienna Coffeehouse Owners’ Ball: February 2, 2024 – www.kaffeesiederball.at
- Opera Ball: February 7, 2024 – www.wiener-staatsoper.at
- Lawyers’ Ball: February 10, 2024 – www.juristenball.at
As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve attended a Viennese ball five times already, and I’d do it again. For me, this is one of the most magical experiences one can have in the Austrian capital, and I recommend it to everyone who wants to visit Vienna in the winter!
Put your worries aside, take a look at the tickets and just pick one – you won’t regret it!
If you have a question that I’ve missed to answer in this blog post, leave it in the comments below – I’d be happy to share my thoughts!
And if you get to experience a ball after reading this article, I’d love to hear about it – share it in the comments or send me a private message via social media.
Let’s waltz the night away!
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