Entertainment Guide to Vienna
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Discover great local attractions, activities and things to do in Vienna, Austria.
Tourist offices in Vienna provide monthly listings detailing what's on in the city, but it's a good move to buy one of the weekly magazines with extensive listings such as City or Falter. Vienna, like many major European cities, has an excellent public transport system offering reliable and convenient service. Taking public transport around the city is considerably less stressful than dealing with Vienna's numerous one-way streets, constant traffic, oncoming trams, extensive pedestrian areas and expensive parking garages. So, whether day or night, this is a city in which to make good use of public transport.
Museums & Galleries
According to the Austrian writer Karl Kraus, the streets of Vienna are "paved with culture." Even though the streets are today plagued with traffic, perhaps shrouding the cultural landscape of the city, its multitude of museums reinforces the legacy of art, history and culture unique to Vienna. Its outstanding architecture, two examples of which are Naturhistorische Museum and the Kunsthistorische Museum, is testament to this history. Both are worth visiting and their prominent location at the Ringstraße makes them easily accessible. The KunstHausWien is the antithesis of classical museums, designed by the famous Austrian painter and sculptor Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The building itself is very inspirational, as are the exhibitions held here, featuring mostly 20th-century modern art. The Museumsquartier offers a couple of small galleries which also feature photographic exhibitions. A classic is the Belvedere gallery showcasing some of Austria's most valuable paintings, such as Klimt's The Kiss.
The prime location in Vienna for theater enthusiasts is the Burgtheater, which of course requires a certain standard of German to follow what's going on. A smaller version of the same stage is the nearby Volkstheater. For performances in English, Vienna has its own English Theater in der Josefstadt (plays are cast and rehearsed in London). Satirical cabaret shows are staged all over town; a good place to go for this is Ronacher.
Classical Music & Opera
Classical music is still the sound that pervades Viennese culture. The program of musical events seems never-ending and this is the city in which to hear classical pieces. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra normally performs at the Musikverein, which is said to have the best acoustics of any concert hall in Austria (if not in the world). Just a stone's throw away is another famous concert hall, the Konzerthaus, which has the capacity to stage three performances simultaneously. Most programmes are classical, but you can also hear anything from ethnic music to jazz. The Schönbrunn Palace offers outdoor classical concerts in summer. Visitors to Vienna should not miss a night at the world famous Staatsoper (State Opera). It certainly ranks among the world's top five opera houses. Another main venue for opera is the smaller Volksoper (People's Opera), whose repertoire includes operettas and musicals.
Live music is played all over Vienna. Some recommended places to hear rock are the Chelsea and the Volkstheater (within walking distance of each other), featuring international as well as local bands. Jazzland is one of Vienna's few real jazz clubs—sometimes big international names even drop by. Plenty of good jazz musicians also perform at Radiokulturhaus. Big concerts featuring commercial pop groups are often staged at the Stadthalle, an indoor venue.
Some say Vienna is the old-fashioned capital of a small country. Its nightlife, however, proves the critics wrong. Everything from a cosy bar for a private tête-à-tête to a huge club for a night of dancing can be found here. The most popular area at night is the so-called Bermuda Triangle—the area around Ruprechtsplatz, Seitenstettengasse, Rabensteig and Salzgries. There you will find bars such as First Floor, pubs like the Krah-Krah or live-music venues such as Der Neue Engel. The club scene is spread out in Vienna; at places like Volksgarten or U4, you will find a young crowd dancing to commercial house and mainstream music. Lastly, at Flex, the accent is on independent music, hip-hop, drum and bass, trip-hop and all sorts of electronic tunes, Viennese style, of course.
Film in Vienna means mainly Hollywood productions. Most of the cinemas screen the latest U.S. releases, sometimes with a shor t delay. Films are generally dubbed, but exceptions do exist. There is an annual film festival, the Viennale, which features a wide range of international films as well as local productions. Special cinemas setting the pace away from mainstream film can also be found; the Votiv or the Filmcasino screen mainly independent pictures.
The Prater, the extraordinary fun fair with its gigantic trademark Ferris wheel (also featured in the film Before Sunrise), is definitely a place to fall in love with. Enjoy traditional food from one of the many stalls surrounding the wheel, or go on one of the other dizzying fun rides on offer, if you feel up for a challenge.
The Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule) gives performances of the famous snow-white Lipizzaner stallions.
The Vienna Boys' Choir (Wiener Sängerknaben), another famous institution dating back to 1498, sings every Sunday at the Burgkapelle (Royal Chapel) in the Hofburg.
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