Easily one of the world’s most well-known and reputable cultural festivals, the Wiener Festwochen has been under the direction of Luc Bondy since 2002. Visited by nearly 200,000 revelers every year, the festival included dozens of film and video productions, hundreds of live performances, and more than 50 concerts.
The festival was established in the early 1950s when Vienna was still under joint occupation after WWII. Historically, the festival not only highlights Viennese culture, but embraces internationalism in general. Admission is free and the lion’s share of activities are in open-air venues throughout the city. It kicks off each May at Vienna’s City Hall Square and the city (as well as practically everyone in it) comes alive and takes to the streets.
Not to be confused with the Vienna Festival Ballet (based in London), the festival is reason enough on its own to prompt a visit that coincides with the festivities. Needless to say, accommodations come dear during festival and many establishments completely fill up, so plan in advance. Many former citizens of the city make an annual pilgrimage to participate in the events
Culturally inclined travelers of all stripes are amply rewarded by planning a visit to the city during the festival. 2012’s festival will take place from May 11-June 17. The official program will be announced in mid-December.
Elite opera and theater directors, conductors and orchestras come from all over the world (by invitation only, needless to say) and the best Austria has to offer works year-round to put their best foot forward.