Vienna has a magical ball season that lasts for months. It’s how the Viennese celebrate Carnival (Fasching). Each year, Austria hosts over 300 balls. These events vary in terms of theme, dress code, price point, venue, and formality. Provided that you have a ticket and are dressed appropriately, anyone can attend any ball in Vienna.
Since 1998, HOSI Wien (Homosexuelle Initiative Vienna) organizes the Rainbow Ball (Wiener Regenbogenball) for Vienna’s LGBTQ community. It’s an elegant and celebratory evening that celebrates both Vienna’s diverse queer community as well as the Viennese ball tradition. The proceeds from the event are used to finance LGBTQ projects throughout the city.
The Rainbow Ball takes place at the gorgeous Parkhotel Schönbrunn in late January each year. This dazzling LGBTQ event begins at 7:30 p.m. and ends at 4:30 a.m. the next morning. Like all balls in Vienna, there is a program listing the time and place of different performances and DJ sets. While the main acts occupy the ballroom (Ballsaal), there are many other rooms in the hotel, where you can dance, drink and eat.
Everything You Need to Know About Vienna’s Rainbow Ball
Attending the Wiener Regenbogenball is an unforgettable experience. In this post, we’re going to tell you how to prepare for the ball and what to expect. If you plan on attending, know that this is a Viennese event, not an international one. Everything is conducted in German, so having some knowledge of the German language is useful, though it’s not necessary. You can follow the program and use the dict.cc language app to translate the main events of the evening.
- Program Highlights
- Rainbow Ball Disco, Food, Styling-Corner
- Dress Code
- Where to Stay
Vienna Rainbow Ball Program Highlights
Opening Ceremony, Dance of the Opening Committee (Eröffnung, Tanz der Eröffnungskomitees)
Guests begin to filter into the regal Parkhotel Schönbrunn as soon as the doors open at 7:30 p.m. Upon entering, you can check your coat (2 EUR per piece) and freely roam the premises of the hotel. The atmosphere is effervescent, as attendees greet their friends and acquaintances.
The ball officially begins with an Opening Ceremony at 9:00 p.m. The opening ceremony is conducted by the opening ceremony committee, who performs a collective dance. Next, the host of the evening introduces himself/herself/themselves and all the honored guests. The ceremony continues with musical and dance acts by performance groups (Desert Wind and Les Schuh Schuh in 2019) and concludes with a waltz by the opening ceremony committee. The waltz marks the official opening of the ball and everyone can join in.
Tip: We watched the opening ceremony from one of the staircases, which provided a great vantage point for the opening ceremony. We recommend securing a standing place no later than 8:30 p.m. You can also stand on the ground floor of the Ballsall, but unless you’re very tall, you probably won’t see everything.
Midnight Show (Mitternachtseinlage)
At midnight, there’s a show in the main ballroom with various acts. In 2019, the Mitternachtseinlage began with a performance by Circus Pikard, featuring a very talented contortionist and gymnast. Next, the REAL ABBA tribute performed ABBA’s most beloved songs to an enthusiastic audience.
The Quadrille is a group dance that was highly popular in Europe in the late 18th- and 19th-centuries. The Quadrille is a staple in the Viennese ball tradition, so you don’t want to miss it. At 1:00 a.m., a dance instructor leads the Quadrille and gives directions to an eager crowd.
The whole ground floor of the ballroom is filled with eager dancers – some familiar with the dance, and many not familiar at all. We watched the dance from the gallery (second floor).
Lottery (Ziehung der Hauptpreise des Glückshafens)
Glückshafen roughly translates as the lucky bag. Throughout the evening, guests have an opportunity to buy lottery-style tickets (3 EUR per ticket). At 2:00 in the morning, the winners will be selected and guests have an opportunity to win a vast array of prizes. In 2019, you could win a multi-course dinner with wine pairing for 8 people (we wanted to win that), an all-inclusive vacation to Gran Canaria (flight, hotel, food), a diamond ring, and much more.
Tip: Buy 4 tickets (one of each color). The Glückshafen tickets also have colors. And at the end of the presentation of prizes, one color wins. So, if you bought one ticket of each color, you’re guaranteed to win something. After the prizes are presented, you can collect your winning color prize at the Kaiser-Lounge (Glückshafen-Preisausgabe).
Final Waltz (Letzter Walzer)
At 4:30 a.m., the Rainbow Ball concludes with a final waltz in the Ballsaal.
Rainbow Ball Disco, Casino, Food, Styling-Corner
Apart from attending the main events in the ballroom, you can also freely explore the other rooms and bars.
Throughout the evening, each room of Parkhotel Schönbrunn hosted different performances, DJ sets, and music. Across from the coat check (Garderobe in German), there was a styling-corner. Guests received makeovers and extra glitter throughout the night.
In the basement, there was a Disco that started at 10:30 p.m. The Gloriette-Bar was filled with lively music and much-needed comfy seating. The Maria Theresia Salon featured another dance floor along with table seating (one of the rooms where you can purchase table seating). There was also a café, where you could purchase warm food. We had a delicious Goulash soup. The menu also featured a vegetable curry soup and frankfurter sausages.
How to get a Rainbow Ball Ticket
You can purchase tickets online here. Ticket sales begin in October. The Rainbow ball usually sells out in advance, so it’s best to purchase tickets early (no later than 3 weeks before the event).
How much do tickets cost for the Rainbow Ball?
Note: this price list reflects the 2019 Regenbogen Ball.
Entrance tickets cost 54 EUR (regular price), or 37 EUR (reduced price). This is the regular entrance ticket that everyone must purchase to attend.
In addition to purchasing your entrance ticket, you can also buy a seat option at one of the following locations. This is optional. The best location to sit is in the main Ballroom.
- Ballroom (First Floor/Parkett:): boxes (33 EUR) and tables (43 EUR)
- Ballroom (Second Floor/Galerie): boxes (43 EUR) and tables (53 EUR)
- Austria-Hungary Hall: 26 EUR
- Maria Theresia Salon: 20 EUR
- Wintergarten: 19 EUR
- Schlosscafé: 19 EUR
Vienna Rainbow Ball Dress Code
The official dress code for all attendees is “Full-length or knee-length gown, elegant pantsuit, tails, tuxedo, suit with (bow) tie, etc.” Men can wear full-length gowns, and women can wear tuxedos, etc…
If you’re not dressed formally and adhering to the dress code, you might be refused entry.
Where to Stay in Vienna
Radisson Blu Park Royal Palace Hotel Vienna is a five-minute walk to Schönbrunn Palace and a 20-minute walk to Parkhotel Schönbrunn. This modern hotel also offers an on-site restaurant, bar, and fitness center (with saunas).
Budget | Comfy apartments at Siebertgasse is a cheerful, and light-filled apartment-style accommodation in the 12th district, close to the Margaretengürtel U-Bahn station (U4). Each apartment has a kitchen and dining area. We love the airiness, the pastel accents, and the minimalist design of these apartments. This is a great place to stay if you’re an independent traveler, who craves exploring a city on your own terms.
Midrange | Hotel Schani Salon is an excellent hotel located on Mariahilfer Straße, Vienna’s biggest shopping street, a few steps away from the Neubaugasse U-Bahn station (U3). We love this Vienna hotel, because of the bright, modern rooms, the friendly vibe, the communal lounge and bar, and the helpful staff. Breakfast is healthy and varied.
Luxury | Altstadt Vienna is a boutique 4-star hotel in the charming Spittelberg quarter, close to Kunsthistorisches Museum. This contemporary-art-filled hotel features uniquely designed interiors and a hidden rooftop terrace (open from March until October). A wonderful breakfast is served in the Red Salon daily. In the afternoon, complimentary tea and homemade cakes are served in front of the open fireplace.
Splurge | SO/ Vienna is a stylish and modern hotel located in the 2nd district, directly on the Danube Canal, at the Schwedenbrücke bridge. From this prime location, it takes only 10-minutes to walk to Stephansdom. Flaunting a 750 m² spa area and a panoramic rooftop bar and restaurant (Das Loft), So/ Vienna offers the discerning traveler a place to relax and savor the very heart of the city.
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Austria Trip Planning Essentials
When to Visit Austria
Summer and early Fall are our favorite seasons in Austria.
Getting around Austria
Austria has an excellent public transit system. We’ve used it extensively to travel throughout the country. We highly recommend using transit if you’re visiting cities (Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz, etc…), and/or doing hut-to-hut hikes.
Some areas like Mayrhofen, Schladming and Lech am Arlberg have wonderful seasonal transit systems in place (e.g. summer hiking buses). However, if you’re not visiting during the high season, bus frequencies are significantly reduced and it’s far easier to get around with your own vehicle.
If you’re planning on visiting multiple destinations across Austria, we recommend renting a car.
Use these road trip itineraries for trip planning inspiration:
- 2 Week Austria Road Trip – starting in Vienna
- 1 Week Austria Road Trip – starting in Salzburg or Munich
- 10-Day Bavarian Alps & Tyrolean Alps Road Trip – starting in Munich
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
If you’re driving into Austria from a neighboring country, don’t forget to purchase a vignette at/near the border.
Hiking in Austria
Where to Hike in Austria
Read Austrian Alps Hiking Destinations for an overview of where to hike in Austria, with tips on specific trails and where to stay. Also check out Best Day Hikes in Austria and these region-specific hiking guides:
- Salzburg Hiking Guide
- Filzmoos, Salzburg Hiking Guide
- Schladming, Styria Hiking Guide
- Lech am Arlberg, Vorarlberg Hiking Guide
- Vorarlberg Hiking Guide
- Vienna Mountains Hiking Guide
Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria
Austria is a premier hut-to-hut and long-distance hiking destination. The quality of the mountain huts are superb. We particularly love the high-alpine trails, which are called Höhenwege in German. We’ve summarized our favorite multi-day hikes in Trekking Austria. If you’re new to hut hiking, read this in-depth guide to Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria.
What to See & Do in Austria
- Visit a gorge like the Liechtenstein Gorge in Salzburg.
- Bathe in the thermal pools of an Austrian Therme like Aqua Dome in Tirol
- Stay in a thermal spa hotel like Rogner Bad Blumau (designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser) in Styria, EurothermenResort Bad Ischl in Upper Austria, or the Aqua Dome Hotel in Tirol.
- Hike to a mountain lake like Lake Tappenkarsee in Salzburg or Lake Drachensee in Tirol.
- Go Wine Tasting in South Styria.
- Marvel at the culture, music, and architecture of Vienna.
- Eat heartwarming mountain food in an Almhütte at Grosser Ahornboden in Tirol or Ursprungalm in Styria.
- Drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Hohe Tauern National Park.
- Visit the castles, monasteries, and wine taverns of the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.