There’s no doubt that Vienna is a major destination among music lovers, whether you’re a fan of classical or contemporary music. Touted as the world’s capital of classical music, Vienna is the birthplace of the operetta and the waltz and was home to some of the greatest classical musicians and composers ever lived.
Theatrical performances, concerts, and operas have been part of Viennese life for many centuries. And in recent years, its music scene has grown significantly. But besides its opera houses and theater shows, many live venues, cafes, restaurants, bars, and pubs come alive in the evening with live music.
If you’re looking for high-quality music, exciting Vienna concerts, and festivals, there’s no other place to go than the Austrian capital. There’s always something going on in Vienna, from a Summer Night Concert and Vienna Jazz Festival to Donauinselfest, Popfest, and winter festivities. But before attending any music festival and joining in on the fun, drop off your luggage at secure luggage storage in Vienna to guarantee the safety of your belongings.
And wondering how to get from place to place? Read our guide on how to get around in Vienna and feel comfortable no matter which method of travel you choose.
The best music festivals in Vienna in 2022
The Vienna Festival (Wiener Festwochen) has been a fixture in the country’s busy events calendar, attracting more than 180,000 visitors. It’s an annual event from May to June, offering attendees guest performances and outstanding productions by Tiago Rodrigues, Christopher Rüping, Christiane Jatahy, and many more.
Expect many surprises at this year’s Vienna Festival. It runs from May 13th to June 18th, with the opening taking place on City Hall Square and spreading out over multiple venues. These include the Museum Quarter, the Wiener Konzerthaus, the Kunsthalle, and more.
It is a large open-air event that celebrates arts in different forms and presents more than just music to the audience. It offers six weeks of theater plays, visual arts, concerts, opera performances, and incredible music. It features thirty-eight productions, including a dozen premieres and 161 performances. More than 300 artists are set to perform, including emerging artists, professionals, and guest actresses.
Summer Night Concert
Although not exactly a music festival, the Summer Night Concert is worth mentioning as one of the highlights of the Philharmonic year. The world-famous Vienna Philharmonic gives an open-air performance for free in the gorgeous setting of the Schönbrunn Palace. Expect some classic pieces and wonderful surprises from one of the greatest orchestras in the world.
The concert will take place on June 16th, conducted by Andris Nelson, with soloist Gautier Capuçon. It is free admission and requires no ticket, but you’ll want to arrive first to get a spot and secure the best view. It starts at around 8:45 pm, and the gates close at 9 pm or earlier if the venue reaches full capacity.
Taking place on Danube Island in Vienna, the Donauinselfest is the largest open-air music festival in Europe, attracting more than 2.5 million visitors each year. It’s an annual music festival that invites mainly local artists and performances, but it also has occasional international stars.
No matter your favorite music genre or preference, this music festival will tickle your senses. It covers numerous genres, including rock, hip hop, pop, electronic music, metal, and everything in between. The three-day event will start from June 24th to 26th, 2022.
Due to the limitations on audience size, there were only four stages with local acts that opened last year. But in 2022, expect eleven stages and over one-hundred acts, not to mention other activities that will keep you amused for 600 hours. Large and small stages will bring life to the island, from music performances, dance shows, fun games, theater, kid-friendly shows, and numerous entertainment elements.
The Vienna Danube Island Festival offers free admission. It means you can witness live performances of your favorite artists and DJs for free. Once again, it will feature international acts, such as Nico Santos and Jan Delay, James Cottriall, Johnny Logan, B Jones, the DJanes Mattn, etc. Austrian artists will also fire up the stage, including Peter Cornelius, Nadine Beiler, Ursula Strauss, Wiener Wahnsinn, and many more!
Summer of Culture
For the third time, the Summer of Culture (Kultursommer) in Vienna invites you to an open-air celebration of culture, music, and tradition. Around two thousand home-grown artists and emerging talents from different fields of art, including dance, literature, music, cabaret, theatre, object theater, performance, and contemporary circus, will set the stage on fire for you. No matter your age and preference, there’s always something to entertain you.
In terms of music, this summer will bring fascinating listening experiences to the audience. Expect electronic and experimental music, world and jazz, rock, hip hop, classical, Viennese song, and folk music. The Vienna Symphonic Orchestra will kick off the event with a classical performance in the Prater.
If these are still not enough to compel you to attend, you might change your mind if you know that it provides free entry! It will start from July 1st to August 14th, 2022 over forty locations from the historic city center to the outskirts.
Vienna may be known to the world for its classical music and concerts. But it has a broader music scene, and the Popfest Music Festival is here to prove that. The first edition of the Popfest in Vienna was held in several venues from May 16th to 9th, 2010, featuring local artists performing for the 38 concerts.
With its comeback this year, the audience can enjoy the latest Austrian pop music at Vienna's multi-day Popfest Music Festival for free. It’s an open event with indoor stages dominated by pop, hip hop, rock, and other similar genres. From July 28th to 31st, the music festival will bring the latest offerings from pop and different related genres for four days. It will take place in various stages inside and around the Kartsplatz town square.
After the restricted Popfest editions in the Vienna arena, the 13th festival will again take the Karlsplatz stage. The curator for this year’s festival is Dalia Ahmed, a music journalist, DJ, and radio presenter from Vienna. Joining her is a Burgenland-born musician and author, Andreas Spechtl.
SCL Youth Music Festival
Summa Cum Laude (SCL) Youth Music Festival is the gathering of young talents in Vienna from all over the world to perform together on stage. It’s an annual event every July, held in some of the world’s most heralded classic concert venues – the Wiener Konzerthaus and the Golden Hall of the Musikverein.
SCL Youth Music Festival is a global music celebration for youth in bands, choirs, and orchestras. This highly-anticipated reunion will take place from July 1st to 6th, offering six days of an international environment where tons of young musicians and gifted artists speak the universal language of music.
This Vienna festival is more than just delivering world-class performances; it’s also a competition. Forming the international juries are top professionals who will judge the participants' performances. It also celebrates the genius composers Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, and Edvard Grieg by setting their music as compulsory pieces for the orchestra.
The young musicians will have plenty of opportunities to perform and participate in other events. There are also educational lectures, interactive workshops, and additional concerts for local audiences to enjoy.
Music Film Festival
The Music Film Festival is one of the most anticipated and loved music festivals in Vienna. Held at the City Hall Square, this music and film festival runs almost throughout summer for a whopping 65 days. So if you’re looking for a town in Europe with seemingly neverending music and excitement, Vienna in summer should certainly be on your list.
The festival begins on July 2, and operations start from 11 in the morning each day until midnight. Admission is free, so anyone can attend and explore the square. Besides the music, the food at this festival is just as popular. You will find many food stalls in the food area, some of which comprise dishes from different parts of the world. For the amateur food taster, this is indeed a spot worth engorging your taste buds at.
If you’re hanging around the Music Film Festival for the music, then you will not be disappointed. This year, the festival will open with a charity concert with “We Stand With Ukraine” as the theme to show support for Ukraine in its war against Russia. Throughout the festival’s days, many globally-known and local artists will be featured on the 300 square-meter screen every evening. You will hear pop, rock, classical, and even opera, so there are plenty of genres to be enjoyed by everyone.
You would think that the long Music Film Festival would be the end of the summer season in Vienna. But with the Buskers Festival happening in September, the last month of summer, that is not the case. The Buskers Festival is a 3-day event occurring over the weekend from September 9 to 11. These are days filled with buskers performing at the Karlsplatz park in front of the Karlskirche Baroque Cathedral.
These buskers, however, aren’t just your local or amateur buskers. They are professionals in their respective skills and street performers that are masters of their trades. Some of these performers aren’t local, too, as some will come from different parts of the world to perform at this popular festival. Coming to witness these talented buskers is free, so you can easily set up a picnic spot to watch the many performers scattered around the park area.
You will find musicians, dancers, clowns and jugglers, and even acrobats and magicians. These buskers can vary in time each day, while some perform simultaneously. So it would be wise to come early to avoid the big crowds. And don’t forget to bring some change to tip your favorite buskers.
Wien Modern Festival
From October 29th to November 30th, Wien Modern Festival will return to the city to deliver a month’s worth of electronic music, dances, and your classic favorites. It’s Austria’s biggest festival for contemporary music and one of the biggest in the world.
Founded in 1988, the music festival takes place in the fall months each year, featuring home-grown and international artists. It sits at the border between innovation and tradition, perfectly blending the past and the future.
This year, the event will be held at the Wiener Konzerthaus, a first-class concert hall located in the third district of Vienna. Opening the event are Matthias Pintscher, Wiener Symphoniker, and Leila Josefowicz with works by György Kurtág, Sofia Gubaidulina, Helmut Lachenmann, and Pintscher. Apart from featuring the great works of some brilliant contemporary composers, you’ll also witness excellent performances like the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra.
Since it’s a month-long celebration, expect more performances by some of the biggest productions in the industry. Besides the Konzerthaus, several venues will also host the event, including the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum), the Musikverein, Schauspielhaus Wien, etc.
Planning to stay some more days in Vienna?
You won’t regret extending your stay in the city, whether you’re traveling solo, with a partner, or in a group. It is rich in culture, evident in its world-class concert halls, great opera houses, monuments, palaces, and magnificent museums in Vienna.
After attending a music festival, take the tram and visit some of the best spots in the city center. It’s also a paradise for food lovers with restaurants, coffeehouses, and food stalls offering delicious street foods that will give you a taste of authentic Viennese cuisine. Regardless of your interest or desired activities to do, you’ll have plenty of options in this colorful city.
If you're planning to stay longer in Vienna, take a look at our other Vienna guides for other fun activities!