Queer and LGBTIAQ-friendly balls in Vienna

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Gay, lesbian and gay-friendly balls in Vienna

When Vienna’s ballrooms are packed with revellers and the nights are filled with the sounds of waltz music, the capital’s ball season is in full swing. The age-old tradition of carnival ball nights also has a loyal following among the city’s LGBT community. From elegant traditional ball events to wild carnival season parties: Vienna is the capital of ball culture. Each year around 450 ball events take place in the city.

The Viennese waltz’s star is in the ascendency – and not just among the straight crowd. There are plenty of ball events for the LGBT community to enjoy, as this overview of the 2019 season highlights confirms.

The Rainbow Ball, taking place for the 22nd time in 2019, has long since established itself as a classic Viennese ball for the LGBT community. Held at Parkhotel Schönbrunn, the event on January 26, 2019 will get underway with a polonaise as custom dictates, followed by waltzes, foxtrots and sambas. A disco, rainbow casino, various live acts and the public quadrille at midnight ensure that the Rainbow Ball is one of the highlights of the season, with something for everyone.

The Kreativball has come a long way since its low-profile beginnings – you have to be quick these days because tickets for this event for the LGBT community and their friends sell out weeks in advance! Held on February 1 and 2, it will take place for the 27th time in 2019. This year’s slogan is “Under the Rainbow”.

While guests at the Opera Ball waltz with typical restraint at the Vienna State Opera on February 28, 2019, on the same night revelers at Miss Candy’s Rose Ball really let their hair down. Vienna’s best-known drag queen never fails to deliver a spectacular show. The dancefloors are packed deep into the early hours.

Another LGBT highlight of the year ahead is EuroPride 2019, which will be returning to the city for the second time since 2001. A series of info events, discussions and cultural highlights – as well as parties – will put Vienna at the heart of Europe’s LGBT community from June 1-16, 2019. More than a million visitors are expected.

The Viennese ball season – which comprises a dizzying 450 balls each year – reaches a crescendo in January and February. There are plenty of ball events for the LGBT community to enjoy in the Austrian capital. A firm favourite the Rainbow Ball will take place for the 19th time this year in the opulent rooms and halls of the Parkhotel Schönbrunn. On January 30, 2016, ballgoers in formal attire will dance the waltz, samba and foxtrot into the early hours at this year’s event, inspired by the theme of “the never-ending story of love”. The Rainbow Ball is a high-profile charity benefit night. Revenue from the ball is donated to various events and organisations including the Rainbow Parade and HOSI (Homosexuelle Initiative Wien, www.hosiwien.at).

There is also plenty of dancing at the Rose Ball which will pack the Kursalon Wien ballroom, but we are not sure yet , if it will take place again this year.. At this outlandishly glamorous event, the only element that remains completely true to the classic Viennese ball format is the fact that it opens with a traditional Polonaise. Attending this wild alternative disco event is something of a political statement, as it takes place on the same night as the Opera Ball at the Vienna State Opera. Held in a vocational school on Längenfeldgasse, the Kreativball has come on in leaps and bounds since its relatively modest beginnings. And of course there is the Diversity Ball, also at Kursalon Wien, like Life Ball it’s not within the period of the ball season, which is in fact carnival season, but we don’t really care about that.

Viennese ball tradition

November 11 signals the start of the most enjoyable time of the year for ball enthusiasts and avid dancers. The Viennese ball season gets under way right at the start of the carnival season with a public waltz in the old town. Instructors from the city’s top dance schools ensure that everything passes off in perfect three-four time. The old tradition of Fasching (carnival) balls still lives on in the city to this day, even if the season now extends long into spring and, in some cases, as far as summer. That said, the Viennese ball season definitely reaches a crescendo in January and February when one event follows hot on the heels of the next.

More than 450 balls take place in the Austrian capital every year, with the most popular among them attracting anything up to 6,000 guests. Not only important from a social point of view, Vienna’s balls also have a wider economic impact. According to a 2016 study by the Vienna Economic Chamber, the average ball guest spends EUR 270 on preparing for a ball and the event itself. In 2016 the Viennese ball season brought in EUR 131 million in total. More than three-quarters of the season’s 500,000 ball guests were based in Vienna, about 60,000 from the Austrian provinces and 55,000 travelled from abroad.

The main Viennese balls include traditional events such as the Opera Ball, the Vienna Philharmonic Ball and the Vienna Coffeehouse Owners’ Ball, the Red Cross Ball before Christmas and the Hofburg Silvesterball at the turn of the year. There are also numerous “industry” balls such as the Vienna Science Ball, the Bonbon Ball, the Lawyer’s Ball and the Concordia Ball, as well as the LGBT Rainbow Ball, and various charity balls such as the Life Ball and Refugee Ball and the Fête Impériale summer ball.

Source: Wien Tourismus