There can be few events in Europe of such elegance and tradition as the famous Vienna Kaiserball. What more refined and yet opulent way is there to see in the New Year? Known throughout the world as the highlight of the winter ball season in Vienna, for which it is the curtain-raiser, the Kaiserball takes place in the State Rooms of the Imperial Hofburg Palace in Heldenplatz at the heart of the city.
Some guests, who all attend in traditional formal evening wear, will arrive at the Palace in a traditional fiaker – horse-drawn carriage – to be greeted in the sumptuous Entrance Hall by the historic Imperial Guard. There is the opportunity of attending the pre-ball dinner, at 7.30 pm, served, in the ornate splendour you would anticipate, by silk-clad waiters. Alternatively, admission for the Ball itself begins at around 10.00.
After the first cocktails of the evening, guests will ascend the Grand Staircase to be officially welcomed by ‘Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Sisi’, with ladies receiving a small gift from the liveried footmen. The dancing will take place in the luxuriously appointed State Rooms, with no fewer than ten orchestras providing the music. At midnight, heralded by the Pummerin bell of nearby St Stephan’s Cathedral, a volley of shots welcomes the New Year, followed, of course, by the Blue Danube Waltz. Immediately after this, the Viennese Operetta Gala begins in the Grand Festival Hall, with an hour of wonderful song and dance from members of the Vienna State Opera and the Volksopera.
Dancing continues until 3.30 in the morning, and there is a mouthwatering traditional buffet of cold delicacies to nibble away at during the early hours.
Famous as one of Europe’s cultural centres, Vienna is a spectacular city – and at new year it has an extra-special atmosphere. As well as the usual firework display across the city, there is waltzing throughout the streets – especially along what is known as the Silvester Path. Of course, on New Year’s Day itself the Vienna Philarmonic Orchestra plays its annual celebratory concert at the Musikverein.
Vienna’s airport, the largest in Austria, is to the south-east and has easy access into the city. The locals are inordinately proud of their public transport infrastructure, an integrated system of buses, trams and trains. It is also a destination that has long since been used to accommodating visitors and, as a result, has a wide range of hotels and hostels– both within easy reach of the centre and slightly further afield.
There are several ticket options available for the Vienna Kaiserball. For example, you can purchase a ticket for the ball along with the four course Gala Dinner, champagne at midnight, luxury buffet later and a table reservation in the Grand Festival Hall. The basic entrance to the ball itself, with a glass of sparkling wine at midnight and no reserved seat in the main hall is likely to be the cheapest choice. Details of these tickets, along with further useful information, can be found on the Vienna Kaiserball website. You will also be able to find many holiday companies and hotels in Vienna which offer packages of room and ball tickets combined.
If you are a fan of dancing and decadence, in a truly unforgettable setting, then a trip to the Vienna Kaiserball could be a gloriously unique way to start a new year.