So much more than Mozart: Vienna gets set to party

Vienna -- the home of ECR -- is known globally for its long-reigning status within the world of classical music and European arts, but the city has a rich tapestry of other enriching experiences to offer. We've selected a few cultural highlights to relish in 2024, along with some hidden gems. Because Vienna is so much more than simply Mozart...

It's jam time. Run by local artists, Frau Mayer lies in the heart of Vienna (Rudolfsplatz 12) and is in walking distance of St. Stephen's Cathedral. From Tuesday to Saturday, at around 19:30, you can experience lively jamming sessions. Everyone joins in, and don't be surprised if your server suddenly jumps on stage and plays the trumpet or someone in the audience delivers a stunning vocal solo. You're sure to mix with a friendly and creative crowd. Another great option is Porgy and Bess. Nominated by the Guardian as one of the top 10 jazz clubs in Europe in 2016, it also offers daily live performances.

Jamming sessions at Frau Mayer are spontaneous and great fun – and they can also unearth genuine talent. Videos shot by Liana Gruenberg.

Bonnie Tyler's in town. In the warm weather, the Viennese love a glass of "Weißer Spritzer" (usually half cold white wine and half sodawater) and afternoon dips in the many swim spots along the Danube, plus the festivals. On the little Danube Island, east of the city center, the "Donauinselfest" takes place from 21 to 23 June. Among this year's lineup are Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse of the Heart), Berlin's up-and-comer Paula Hartmann, and Vienna's current biggest export: rap star and producer RAF Camora.

Come dancing. From 11 July to 11 August, the largest festival for contemporary dance and performance in the world takes place in Vienna: "ImPulsTanz." Presenting a uniquely diverse program of performances, workshops, research projects, and musical acts brought to you by some of the most talented international artists.

Hip-hop festival. The Rolling Loud Festival is a huge continental hip-hop event. It has resided in different countries since 2021, and this year it's taking place in Racino in Ebreichsdorf near Vienna on 5 to 7 July. Artists are yet to be announced, but with past acts including giants like Kendrick Lamar, global chart-topper Central Cee, Afrobeat legend Wizkid, and the genre's rising queen Arya Starr, this year's lineup is expected to deliver a pop cultural experience Vienna has never previously hosted.

Party time. Where do the locals party, you might ask? Although the Viennese party scene cannot be compared with European hubs like Paris or Berlin, there are a few spots you must know about. A popular location for locals is Volksgarten, known for its 1950s aesthetic and mix of house, disco, and pop. It opens its doors from Thursday to Saturday at 23:00. Another venue is Grelle Forelle, where Vienna's Techno heads gather. But if you're more into mixing with a crowd that's hip on R&B, hip-hop, and Afrobeats, you can experience the Lituation event every Friday night at club "Vie I Pee."

Radiology's legendary annual party will take place on Saturday 2 March at Gasometer, Guglgasse 8, 1110 Vienna. Doors open at 20:45, and tickets cost €65 each. Photo courtesy of the ESR.Radiology's legendary annual party will take place on Saturday 2 March at Gasometer, Guglgasse 8, 1110 Vienna. Doors open at 20:45, and tickets cost €65 each. Photo courtesy of the ESR.

LGBTQ+ culture. Right beside the narrow river Wien (Yes, the Danube is not the only river in Vienna!) stands a small pink villa, called Türkis Rosa Lila Villa (Turquoise Pink Purple Villa), proudly waving its rainbow flag at Linke Wienzeile 102. The restaurant, café, and bar inside "The Villa" (as locals call it) cultivates authentic queer culture with its curated events, open mic sessions, and karaoke nights. Saturday's Queens' Brunch is the Villa's popular Drag Show -- be sure to book a table ahead of time! You will be fabulously entertained while sipping on mimosas. Fusing political awareness building, empowering resistance, and community building with good old quality enjoyment, the Villa is a safe haven for Vienna's LGBTQ+ community. Another popular spot in town is Café Savoy right beside Naschmarkt food market, where you can treat yourself to a meal at one of the many restaurants or stroll through Saturday's flea market.

It's showtime! The Queens' Brunch at Villa Vida features lively performances from super talented drag artists.

Hidden Gems. Besides the obvious choices for classical music, opera, and theatre, the hidden gems of Vienna's underground scene are slowly but surely bubbling to the surface. With a versatile sonic selection, the diverse DJs based in Vienna are working overtime to provide the city with a vibrant counterculture, connecting Vienna to the world. The Sounds of Blackness collective host international DJs and local gems like Zola during their annual summer/autumn season at the Pavilion. Dhaka's very own মo (pronounced mwo) of the Spice Mixers collective is regularly shaking up the underground scene, adding flavor where it's previously been missing.

For ECR 2024, consider seeing the scheduled performance by Iranian-born artist Bita Bell. Her solo, The Sun Is Gone, takes place on 1 March at 19:30 p.m. at Bräuhausgasse 40. It's a personal and collective story, mirrored through the life of the iconic Iranian singer, Googoosh. Bell informs us she will "embrace the depths of [her] lineage" through voice, music, and a light installation. Also, the artist and historian, Tayla Myree from Atlanta, is guiding a popular tour on "Representations of Blackness" at the Belvedere Museum.

Embrace the diversity and vibrancy of this captivating city, where tradition meets innovation, and let Vienna's rich cultural landscape captivate your senses in 2024.

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