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How to get to one of the most luxurious events of the year, what preparations are necessary, who you could meet and what you could see.

Experience the Vienna Opera Ball! Glance into a hall of luxury and elegance

Elena Jakubovic
09.Feb 2018
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5 minutes

The Vienna Opera Ball will amaze you. Aside from the luxurious dresses, one thing that stands out compared to the Prague Ball is the feeling when the red carpet is not just used by celebrities but by Austrian aristocracy, ministers and presidents of various countries. 

Step one: How much is a ticket?

I started by searching for ticket prices. A simple Google search of “Vienna Opera ball tickets” brought me all the way to the Vienna Opera website.

The basic ticket, which does not include seating and a dinner but allows you to dance all night long and gives access to the casino and all bars, costs EUR 290. If I wanted to come with a partner, I’d probably try to get a table outside of the main ballroom for 2 to 6 persons; prices for these range between EUR 200 and 1200 (the price depends on which floor the table is located in).

If I were to become, if only for a single night, the heiress of an aristocracy or one of the beautiful VIP ladies with an intelligent and gallant man, naturally in a fitting tuxedo, by my side – then you’d find me sitting at a table in one of the boxes, with prices ranging from EUR 11,500 to 20,500 (for a double box).

Prodej luxusního bytu 2+kk, 98 m2 s terasou
Prodej luxusního bytu 2+kk, 98 m2 s terasou, Praha 4

I know, I know, it’s time to come back to reality. I’m neither Austrian royalty nor a VIP – I’m just going to the ball, alone.

But at least the ball I’m going to is the queen of all balls in Europe.

So it’s decided! My dream for this year will cost EUR 290.

Verification of all guests

However, the process doesn’t end by just selecting your ticket. It can’t be bought online! You need to ask the ball organizers in person. It’s a sort of internal check – fitting for such an exceptional event.

One day later I’m contacted by a pleasant assistant on behalf of the Vienna Opera Ball, who tells me that tickets are sold out – but that she’ll try her best to get one for me! I’m still optimistic and so I start looking for flight tickets and a hotel.

A luxurious event demands a luxurious hotel

I’ll be flying with Austrian Airlines; the whole flight only takes 55 minutes.

Naturally, I won’t reserve the last free room in Hotel Sacher for EUR 10,000 – by the way, that famous hotel is also a partner of the Vienna Opera Ball, just like well-recognized names such as Guerlain, OMW, Lexus and Siemens.

On the other hand, Park Hyatt has a special offer that caught my eye: a room with a view of the winter garden.

I’ll take that!

Minor spoiler: That “winter garden” turned out to be just the snow-covered roof of the hotel. However, the vestibule looked like the National Museum in Prague – full of marble and high ceilings everywhere. Garden forgiven.

Soon, the aforementioned pleasant assistant calls me again and tells me that she has my ticket.

So I really will be flying!

In Vienna – it’s time to roll!

I’m running late and getting worried that my hair stylist I ordered won’t take me anymore. Luckily, the girls working at Bundy Bundy on the 2nd floor of the building right behind the corner are full of understanding and very forthcoming. It only took them a few minutes to find a stylist who speaks English, allowing me to explain what I wanted my hair to look like.

After two hours of preparations, my make-up and hair style are done and I’m ready. I ask for a ride at the Park Hyatt reception. I hear the receptionist telling the porter that I’m not part of the VIP Group that just had dinner at the hotel. Later I learn that he was referring to the group of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.

The Ringstrasse in front of the State Opera is closed. My driver says it’s a precaution against demonstrators. When I ask about what they protest against, he says: “it varies – sometimes against the rich, other times against fur coats”.

I wince a little and stroke my mink coat.

On site at 20:00 – one of the first, in fact!

Guests usually arrive around 20:00, the most important ones often come just before 22:00. But that’s actually an advantage. I can get a good look at everyone who arrives to the ball.

Already when the first guests arrive, it becomes clear to me that perhaps for the first time in my life I dressed “too modestly”. I see the works of numerous world-famous or at least nationally recognized fashion designers, most dresses are decorated by laces, crystals or flowery motives. Most women have their hair styled up.

The presence of presidents lifts the ball to a truly high level

Aside from the luxurious dresses, one thing that stands out compared to the Prague Ball is the feeling when the red carpet is not just used by celebrities but by Austrian aristocracy, ministers and presidents of various countries.

The Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen appears at the ball just before 22:00, sneaks in through a side entrance and quickly moves to the presidential box. On the other hand, his Ukrainian colleague Petro Poroshenko is enjoying his time in the spotlight – he slowly moves up the main opera stairway, stops for the photographs. He sits in the presidential box together with the Austrian president, but it’s clear that they’re not the biggest friends – they don’t speak to each other at all – and so it seems that this is a purely official meeting at a ceremonial occasion.

Luxusní vila na prodej, Dolní Měcholupy - 616m
Luxusní vila na prodej, Dolní Měcholupy - 616m, Praha 10

When the singer sings her introductory aria, president Poroshenko dreamily closes his eyes.

No tables on the dance floor like in Prague

The Ukrainian president is enjoying the beginning of the ball; me, not so much.

One difference between the Prague Ball and the Vienna Opera Ball is that here the whole dance floor is intended exclusively for dancing. People only sit in boxes and on the balconies. Which means that – unless you belong to the truly highest class – you need to wait for the ceremonial opening on the first row directly on the dance floor. Otherwise you’ll have a bad view until the end of the event. And that’s exactly what happened to me. So I’m at least trying to enjoy the music and singing and only see, from time to time, ballerinas get hoisted up by their dance partners.

Viennese Waltz took center stage

After the breathtaking opening, the first dance on the Opera floor was none other than the Viennese Waltz: older and younger couples, they all moved together in synchrony, as if with a single heartbeat. There’s probably no better way of absorbing the timeless feeling of Vienna and its traditions.

Even I, a lady at the ball without a partner, was invited to a dance by a good-looking Austrian musician. I was excited just like when we visited the Prague Theme Park (Matějská Pouť) when we were kids, and at the same time I’ve had my dream come true – to dance at the Vienna Opera Ball.

It is said that the ball brings good fortune

I also went and took a look in the main ballroom and, to my surprise, discovered that it’s even livelier! Prominent guests entertaining each other outside of their boxes, drinking wine and champagne, politicians taking selfies and interviewing each other. By the way, a glass of champagne costs EUR 39. I also found an additional three bands which entertained the guests with music – one could hear jazz, pop and classical music.

The tables at the improvised casino were full of players and onlookers. “The ball brings good fortune”, that’s what they say at least.

Like Cinderella

One hour after midnight, an older man asked me in the cloakroom about why I’m leaving so early. After my surprised look, he added that the ball continues until 5 in the morning! I remembered the Cinderella fairy tale – and also a number of parties where I stayed too long.

“I need to leave. Before all these beautiful people turn into monsters.”

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