Backstage at the Operaball

Tying a bow tie

The Opera Ball has a strict dress code. Men are required to wear tailcoats with white bow ties – if they don’t comply, they simply won’t be allowed in! Wristwatches should be left at home since pocket watches are de rigueur at this high society ball.

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna
Woman putting on makeup in front of a mirror in the Opera Ball cloakroom

Preparations take slightly longer for the ladies. The Opera Ball dress code calls for floor-length gowns and a formal up-do for ladies with long hair. And then there’s the perfect make-up to think about.

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna
Couple at the Vienna Opera Ball

Preened to perfection, it is time to make a grand entrance at the opera house. The arrival of guests on the red carpet leading to Grand Staircase is a spectacle for all to see. Everyone who is anyone reaches the ballroom via this route, to a flurry of camera flashes. The ball gowns steal the limelight.

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna
Two women saying Cheers! in an Opera Ball box

Those lucky enough to snap up a box seat are in for a treat. These coveted spots are perfect for watching the grand opening ceremony and the hubbub on the dance floor, champagne in hand.

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna
Couples dancing at the Opera Ball

The words Alles Walzer ring out, declaring the floor open to all comers. Dancing the waltz at least once is an absolute must. At midnight there is a high-spirited public quadrille with easy-to-follow instructions from the master of ceremonies. That said, it often ends in complete chaos!

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna
Couple at the Vienna Opera Ball

When they are not on the dance floor, on the day of the ball guests are free to stroll around the Vienna State Opera and access all areas, from the cellar to the attic. The numerous bars, lounges and buffets – including a champagne and oyster bar – as well as the Heuriger wine tavern and a casino are always popular.

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna
Couple dancing at the Opera Ball

The Opera Ball has something for just about every dance style: at the disco ballgoers pack the dance floor and groove to the latest DJ sounds. A total of 120 musicians provide the musical backdrop for the event.

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna
Couple at the Vienna Opera Ball

Keeping hunger at bay. The Opera Ball even has its very own sausage stand. Despite the glamor of the occasion, people are welcome to eat this classic snack with their fingers.

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna
Couple at the Vienna Opera Ball

After the last quadrille at 4am, the bands play a last round of slow foxtrots and dreamy waltzes: after all, the guests are getting tired now!

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna
Couple with their shoes off in the Opera Ball cloakroom

With aching feet starting to make themselves felt, the night slowly draws to a close. The Opera Ball officially ends at 5am. As a special reward, guests who have made it this far are free to take some of the floral decorations home with them as a keepsake.

© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud/Couture: Vivienne Westwood Vienna

Text: Susanne Kapeller

Ball Season in Vienna

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