With many of us opting to spend this summer in Vienna (ya’ know, with Corona and all) we and the crowd organising the festival, Kultursommer Wien 2020, thought you might appreciate some culture in August – come on, summer can’t be all swims in the Danube and hanging by the Donaukanal, right?
And we bet you our Oma’s favourite bikini that you’ve only got a vague idea of all the awesome things happening around Vienna this summer.
So, do what’s good for your culture-loving self, and check out these 13 tips on how to get your daily dose of culture in Vienna this summer:
1. Make the most out of the events happening as part of the festival, Kultursommer Wien
OK, so this tip is what has inspired this guide – throughout summer, you can check out the hundreds of events happening as part of the city-wide festival, Kultursommer Wien. This festival going on all over the city is celebrating Vienna’s rich arts and culture scene.
The program is verrrrry diverse, with 2,000 artists hitting the stage as part of over 800 acts. On the cultural menu, there’s Classical music, Jazz, Pop and Rap concerts, readings, comedy shows, along with dance performances, and lots more.
There are 25 open air locations in the mix, including all kinds of public spaces, like parks, squares, and courtyards.
Events are taking place on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and the admission is FREE. Yup, you’ve read that right, it will cost you nothing to attend any one of these culture-packed events.
Plus, everything’s Corona-appropriate, so no need to worry about not being able to take your baby elephant with you.
Be sure to check out the program on their website – they’re updating it almost regularly!
2. Explore the city’s fascinating museums by getting a Bundesmuseenkarte
You know, museums really aren’t as boring as people always make them out to be – actually, once you’ve spent some time in them, you realise they’re the complete opposite. But we don’t need to tell you that, since you’ve most likely been to one or two before, right? But what we’re challenging you to do this summer is to get the Bundesmuseenkarte, which gives you access to 8 museums for just 19€ this year! Check their website for more details!
Along your museum meanderings, be sure to check out these exhibitions:
+ Michael Horowitz, until September 6, at the Albertina
+ The Master of Mondsee, until September 13, at the Oberes Belvedere
+ SHOW OFF. Austrian Fashion Design, until August 30 at the MAK
+ Gelebt. Ingeborg Strobl, until January 2021, at the mumok
+ Evil Emperors, until February 21, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum
+ [Alien] Star Dust, until October 5, at the Naturhistorisches Museum
+ Special Effects, until November 2020, at the Technisches Museum
+ State Hall (Prunksaal), permanently, at the Nationalbibliothek
3. Integrate some culture habits into your lifestyle
Don’t just be a cultural tourist – integrate culture into every day of your summer by trying out some daily culture habits. For example, read one new Austrian author a month, read an article from a different magazine every second day, or try integrating some music genres you don’t typically listen to, like Classical music or Hip Hop, into your Spotify playlists and let the algorithm take you on one wild ride of music.
Adopting habits that see you consuming more and more culture can only be a good thing, right?
Here are a few up-and-coming Austrian authors that you should check out:
4. Visit one of the readings as part of the o-Töne Lesungen festival at the MQ
The ö-tONE literature festival is a literature festival (duh!) that’s taking place in the funky open air location of the Museumsquartier courtyard, throughout summer.
The festival puts a spotlight on Austria’s rich contemporary literature scene, and showcases the diverse array of authors scribbling out masterpieces in our small, little, itsy-bitsy, cute country.
Readings will take place on eight selected dates throughout summer. For detailed info on the festival program, check out the website.
5. Go to an open air (or online) poetry slam, or participate in one
- Just in case you haven’t been to one before, a poetry slam is a competition in which poems are performed (and we mean ‘performed’ – not just merely read) within a certain time limit on a stage. The audience chooses the winning performance, and yes, it always gets emotional, or emotionally-charged. And Vienna boasts a buzzing scene in regards to these spoken word performances.
So, take your chance to rhyme, all the time, in the lime…light. OK, so WE won’t be getting onstage, but that doesn’t mean YOU aren’t ready to step onto the stage. Or, you can also be one of those in the audience judging or getting deep into somebody else’s words.
This summer, take a look at the event calendar of the poetry slam-ming crowd, FOMP. They’re known for hosting fun poetry slam events, such as the Poetry Slam OBEN am Dach event series, in which there’ll be performances on top of the library at the Urban-Loritz-Platz. Meanwhile, there’ll also hosting online poetry slams.
6. Spend some chilled nights at the Filmfestival
The Filmfestival happening smack bang at Rathausplatz is a longstanding tradition of this fine city, and many people look forward to it every year – us included.
Feasting on the many international culinary experiences that can be had at the food stands, and catching a music video on the big screen, with the backdrop of the grand Rathaus, sure makes for a great chilled evening.
Although the Filmfestival is set up a bit different in 2020, it is happening until the end of summer.
A total of 500 visitors can enjoy various films, ranging from concerts, ballets, theatre and the opera. Check out the program on their website to see which films you don’t wanna miss!
7. Get into all the smaller, more weird and wonderful museums of the city
Sure, Vienna’s got plenty of grand museums, but its also got a whole world of weird and wonderful ones – focused on very niche topics – to be discovered, as well.
You can try on some of the fabulous hats from the olden days of Emperor Franz Joseph I. in the hat museum, or spend some time in an observatory (Kuffner Sternwarte), or visit the circus and clown museum. Be sure to check out our guide of all the fantastically weird, and oddly specific, niche museums of Vienna for more inspiration.
8. Catch an Improv Show, or join an Improv Class
If you’ve ever wanted to see how people can make great things happen on stage out of nothing, you should definitely catch an improv show this summer.
We’re sure it’s a special feeling getting onto a stage not really knowing what’s going to happen and what role you’re playing, and it’s even more interesting to be in the audience watching it all organically play out.
For anyone interested in an improv class, check out the International Improv Community in Vienna, as they have regular workshops for beginners, and those a little more advanced. Meanwhile, keep an eye on our event guides for the Improv theatre events happening this summer.
9. If you don’t already, actively search and listen to some rising Austrian musicians
What do you mean you haven’t done a deep dive into the many up and coming Austrian musicians yet?? Hop on the webs and go on a treasure hunt, because there’s actually way more happening in the music scene of this fine country than Bilderbuch and Wanda, and it is definitely is worth taking a listen.
10. Get out your comfort zone and learn a new style of dance
The ImPulsTanz Festival is cancelled this year, of course, but for all you passionate dancers or dance performance lovers – don’t despair. The festival is offering in 2020 a Covid-friendly program packed with a variety of outdoor dance classes in seven different locations around Vienna – and they’re all free! You can learn anything from Ballet, Bodywork, Jazz and Hip Hop, Voguing and Yoga. All age groups and skill levels are welcome – as long as you keep your distance.
11. Visit one of these indie galleries in Vienna
There’s more to Vienna than Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka when it comes to art. You might be surprised, but Vienna’s contemporary art scene is thriving, and there are plenty of great indie galleries that are shining a spotlight on the local talent and artists from abroad. Check out our guide on the 8 independent and contemporary art galleries in Vienna.
12. Check out the newest art museum in town, the Albertina Modern
So you’ve heard of the Albertina museum, right? Of course you have! Now, there’s an sister museum going by the name Albertina Modern! It was supposed to open up before the virus came to town and we all started wearing sweatpants full-time, but yeah, it didn’t, but now it’s open. And you should definitely go check it out. Even though the tickets are EXXXXXpensive! But yeah, there’s some modern art in there out of Austria you won’t catch anywhere else. Their current exhibition ‘The beginning: Kunst in Österreich’ is all about exhibiting the best of the best from the country in modern times. So yeah, that’s enough from us – go check it out.
13. Pay attention to the names of streets, bridges, statues etc. you encounter every day and research where their names come from
Paying attention to the details hidden along the streets that you walk every day can be great inspiration for discovering artists, authors, philosophers that walked the same streets that you probably didn’t know before. Also, you’ll learn loads of history about our fine city just by Googling some of the street names, as well!
Also, paying more attention to the statues and plaques that you can find all over the city is also quite the fascinating history lesson.
14. Watch old movies that take place in Vienna and look for what’s changed in the city
Many films have used Vienna’s magical scenery as the backdrop to their romance, action blockbuster, drama and we’ve made a list of them for you.
15. Catch a film at an open air cinema
- © Volxkino / Markus Sibrawa
Since the dawn of time, stories have been told by humans under the starry sky. In the beginning, it was around a fire where stories were told and acted out in strange dances (we still do that if we’ve had enough to drink). Today, it’s done with popcorn, surround sound, and projector screens. Here’s a list of Vienna’s summer open air cinemas, complete with our tips on the films you shouldn’t miss!