The Vienna Opera Ball is an annual Austrian society event which takes place in the building of the Vienna State Opera in Vienna, Austria on the Thursday preceding Ash Wednesday (a religious holiday). Together with the New Year Concert, the ball is one of the highlights of the Viennese carnival season.

The tradition of the ball goes back to 1814 during the time when the crowned heads of Europe and the aristocracy searched for entertainment after the Napoleonic wars. The first ball in the opera house took place in 1877 as a soirée. The following balls were redoute, a French term for masquerade balls or costume parties, where the ladies wore their masks until midnight.

The first ball to be named “Opera Ball” was held in 1935 under the honorary patronage of the Federal Chancellor, but was suspended during World War II. It was revived after the war; it has been held annually ever since, with the exception of 1991, when it was cancelled due to the Persian Gulf War.

The Vienna Opera Ball is the highlight of the season, with the heads of state and government, the political and industrial elite, members of the high society, and their guests attending. The price for the entry tickets is the highest of all the Viennese balls.

The dress code is evening dress: white tie and tails for men; floor-length gowns for women.

The ball does not start until around 10 pm when the Austrian president and his guests enter the imperial balcony. Their arrival is heralded by trumpets.

Then the Austrian national anthem is played followed by the European anthem. There are performances by the state opera ballet company and classical arias sung by the opera stars. Then comes the introduction of 180 debutante couples. The debutantes are led into the opera house to the sounds of Carl Michael Ziehrer’s Fächerpolonaise. Dances are then, for example, the Polonaise in A-Dur, Op. 40 by Frédéric Chopin and Johann Strauss’ Warschauer-Polka. The last dance of the debutantes is always the Blue Danube Viennese Waltz by Johann Strauss II, after which the floor is opened to all guests.

Various dances moderated by the master of ceremony take place every two hours, such as the popular cotillion. The ball runs until 6 am.

The opera house offers all access to the guests, with various other rooms and lounges open with different types of music and dance.

Information is courtesy of



Vienna Opera Ball 2016 – Die Eröffnung / The Opening