Ball season in Vienna: everything you need to know

I must admit that having my parents in Budapest and my brother in Vienna has its perks. The first that comes to mind is the ease with which I can go from one place to the next (and of course the privilege of being able to explore these two European gems whenever I feel like it). Since Budapest and Vienna are so close (just 2.30hr by car), for my mom’s birthday, my brother had the great idea of reuniting the whole family in Vienna to attend the fabulous Bank Austria ball.

As you probably know, Italy is famous for its Carnevale season, which takes place from end of January to mid February. And the Austrians have something similar, but instead of wearing masks, they wear stunning long dresses, fracs and go to balls to be swept off their feet while waltzing. It’s called ball season, and it takes place from January to February, and it’s one of the most awaited times of the year in Austria!

Viennese ball season: what you need to know

So if you’re planning on visiting snowy Vienna in mid January-February, definitely don’t miss out on this centuries-old tradition! Ball season is such a romantic, traditional and elegant celebration. I mean, when do you ever get the chance to waltz, foxtrot or dance to 19th century dances? Exactly! Plus, Vienna in wintertime is seriously magical. Sure, it’s very cold, but at the same time, the city has an extra sparkle and it’s just so beautiful. So I literally killed two birds with one stone on my first visit to Vienna! Here are a few tips to keep in mind before attending a ball in Vienna.

Master some dance steps

How does it feel to go to a Viennese ball? It feels amazing, it feels like you’re going back in time in 18th century Austria. But trust me on one thing, you need to learn how to dance, at least the basic steps, or you’re going to be completely off beat – and look like an outsider. Because let me tell you, the Viennese people know their waltz (and foxtrot and boogie)!

My brother works in Unicredit so he was lucky enough to have a two-hour dance class on the morning of the ball. He and his girlfriend were able to master the basic dance moves. To be completely honest, I had no clue what I was doing. But being a woman, I was lucky enough not to have to lead so the dancing wasn’t too bad. I’m definitely signing up for some dance classes and I’m gonna kill it on the dance floor next year!

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Dress the part

Guys, you don’t come to Vienna to go to a magical ball to not dress the part. I saw a girl with a short skirt and some flats. What was she thinking, honestly? It’s called a ball, not a disco. Dress the part people! For one thing, I was so excited to wear my beautiful long dress.

Gals: long dresses, nice hair does, heels, jewellery.

Guys: fracs, tuxedos, suits

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Bring cash

If you purchased a ticket with a table, drinks and food will be included in the price so you’re set. For those that purchased a normal ticket without a table, know that you won’t have seating and that food and drinks are not included in your ticket. But no worries, there are various stands and restaurants where you can purchase drinks and Austrian food, and numerous free tables where you can sit and enjoy your meal. The thing to keep in mind is that, ironically, at the ball they do not accept credit cards, only cash is accepted. So prepare yourself and have some cash on you or you’ll be spending a night filled with no alcohol and no food (unless you’re at the tables). Wine and champagne glasses range from 4 – 15 EUR, depending on the type you want to order.

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Not only waltz

The Viennese ball is not only a night where you waltz away with your partner. No no, that’s what you’d expect. But in reality, there are different rooms playing different music. From salsa to group dances and commercial music, get ready to disco in your long dresses and bowties! But definitely don’t miss out on the debutant ball that commences the dances at 9pm, and don’t miss out on the quadrille dance at around midnight!


I'm the daughter of an Italian family of diplomats, the second of three children, and a global citizen. I've lived in 7 cities around the world, I have a gigantic crush on Italy and my name has been mispronounced more times than I can remember.

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