Attending a Viennese Ball: What You Need to Know

Vienna is a stately and grand city with extensive history. There are many things that remind you of its imperial glory. One of them is the traditional balls taking place here every winter.

List of Viennese Balls

The ball season in Austria is usually December through March with most balls taking place in the months of January and February. Over 400 balls happen every season in Vienna, and you have plenty of options to choose from. Most of them are usually held in beautiful venues from Hofburg Palace to the Vienna Opera House. Depending on what you would prefer, you can choose among very formal ones with strict dress code and rules or relatively informal.

This is by far not an exhaustive list. There are many other options, including Engineers’ Ball, Students’ Ball, etc. So everyone can find what they prefer.

You also have a number of Balls outside Vienna, for instance, a Casanova Ball in Graz.

How to Choose the Ball You Would Like to Attend

With so many options, it’s quite hard to choose. There are a few things to consider.

  • Venue: For me this was an important point. All these venues are gorgeous, but Hofburg Palace appealed to me more. Here is the list of the Balls held there. The City Hall (Rathaus) is also a popular venue. So decide, which one appeals more.


  • Price: All Balls come at a hefty price tag, but some are far more than others. The entrance only tickets can range from 70 EUR (Rotkreuz Ball cost – not sure if there is any that costs less) to 350 EUR (Viennese Opera Ball cost). This is just the entrance ticket. If you would like to book a seat at a table, you are paying more – table at one of the other rooms costs less, while the main ballroom prime spots are far more expensive. You have to decide how much you want to splurge. We didn’t care about sitting at the table and eating, so we went for general admission tickets.
  • Theme: All balls have their own theme, whether it’s celebration of different professions, music, sweets, flowers, coffee or anything else. Just have a look at what each of them offers and decide relevantly.
  • Invited Musicians: if this matters to you, find out which orchestra and singers will be invited to perform during the ball. At about 9-10pm at the ball there will be basically a concert, which can last half an hour to an hour.

I took into consideration all above and decided to attend the Coffee Brewers’ Ball (Wiener Kafeesieder Ball). It was held in Hofburg Palace, which was my venue of choice, the price was mid-range (plus, we got a student discount at the time), and what can I say, I love coffee and café culture in Vienna 😊



It is preferable to buy tickets online at least a couple of months in advance or even more for the more popular balls. Otherwise, the tickets may sell out.

Normally, you would buy tickets on the website of the ball itself. Check the relevant official websites of each ball in the list above. I decided to buy tickets directly on the Kafeesiederball official website here. The process was very straightforward, and I received tickets on my email without any issues.

None of the balls are cheap with prices starting from 70 EUR per person just for the entry and go far higher, depending on what exactly you want to choose.

All balls offer you several types of tickets:

  • The most basic ticket – the prices vary depending on the ball. The Kafeesiederball price is 180 EUR (if you have a student card, you get a discount and pay 84 EUR). This includes only entry and a small gift bag (on that later).
  • You also have an option to buy a ticket with a reserved seat and dinner at one of the rooms (not the main ballroom).
  • The most expensive option is the ticket for a dinner table in the main ballroom. Of course, if you have the means, this is the best option, as you will have the best view of the shows going on in this hall.

Dress Code for Viennese Ball

Almost all Viennese balls have a pretty strict dress code with a white-tie or black-tie attire that you need to follow to be let in. Each ball will have its own guidelines about this, so be sure to check it out. The Kaffeesiedeball guidelines are here for instance:

“Ladies: Large ball gown or floor-length evening dress.

Gentlemen: Tailcoat with decoration, tailcoat, tuxedo or gala uniform (Tailcoat with tailcoat bow, tuxedo with tuxedo bow).

The Committee reserves the right to refuse admission, in the event of non-compliance of the dress code!”

This warning is there for a reason – I have heard of people being turned away from the door because they were not relevantly dressed.

The general rules are following:

Women need to wear:

  • floor length gowns. This doesn’t mean ankle length; it means that only the tips of your shoes should be showing. Some balls would allow shorter cocktail type of dresses, but it’s rarer (from what I have seen only Sports Ball allows this), so be sure to check. Color of the dress is usually not important. Just be advised that it’s better not to wear white, as it’s the color for the debutantes and you might be frowned upon, if you aren’t one. I wore a long blue dress.
  • Women’s shoes aren’t strictly controlled. Wear any non-sporty shoes, which would make it easier for you to dance on a parquet floor. I decided to wear black heels.
  • Preferably gloves – but many don’t ask this. None of us wore gloves, as the ball we attended didn’t ask for it.


Men need to wear:

  • Black tailcoat or a tuxedo with a white shirt. We specifically bought this for the occasion. You can buy cheap ones; it doesn’t have to be anything expensive.
  • Black bow tie for tuxedo or white bow tie for tailcoat. The usual ties are not allowed.
  • Black shoes. Some balls even require patent black leather Oxford shoes.
  • Preferably white gloves, but this is optional for most balls. We skipped this.

Dance Classes?

Many people think that they need to know how to waltz well before attending a ball. It is certainly nice if you do, but it’s not necessary. While in the main ballroom, people are waltzing and the music is relevant, in other rooms you will have other types of music too. So you can move there to do your free style, if you prefer 😊

Accommodation in Vienna

We really didn’t have a hard time finding accommodation. I heard that hotels fill fast. However, we didn’t book any luxury hotels and I assume those are the ones many ball-goers book. Given that the ball season is not high tourist season, the more basic hotels are quite readily available and not as expensive, as in summer.

I decided to book one at about 20 minutes walking distance from the venue to make sure that we could get back late, when the metro no longer works. Of course, you can get around by taxi, but that’s pretty expensive in Vienna.

What to Expect at the Ball: Our Experience at the Coffee Brewers’ Ball (Kafeesiederball)

We arrived to the Hofburg Palace at around 8pm to attend the Coffee Brewers’ Ball (Kafeesiederball). We were not sure about the entrance, but it was easy to spot with the dressed-up people heading there. The doors normally open around 7pm (check your ticket and the website). We showed our printed tickets at the door and received the traditional Ballspende – that’s a small gift that women receive at the balls. This was a fan with the ball’s theme.


The Cloakroom was located to the left-hand side of the entrance, and we first headed there to leave our coats. This was well-organized and we had no issues.

Our aim was to walk around the beautiful rooms of the palace and explore. I had been to Hofburg palace before, but with this setting of beautiful lights and dressed up people, it was even more amazing.

Around 9pm the ceremony started in the main ballroom. Most balls have sort of a concert, with singers and dancers performing for the guests. There is also a sort of welcoming of the high-level guests (we didn’t really know who they were). This is followed by the presentation of the debutantes. I am not sure how I feel about this tradition being honored, given that this originally meant to be a presentation of the girls to the society and showing that they were ready to be married off.

Fun fact: Austrian President attends the Opera Ball every year.

It was quite hard to find a spot to watch, as the main ballroom was very crowded – there certainly is no sufficient space for the thousands of people, who attended (from what I hear, it’s about 5-6000 people).

The ball begins after a ceremony. At this point anyone can go to the dance floor. We went there for a few minutes, but we don’t know how to waltz really, so did it just for experience and moved to the other rooms to free style 😊


You will be able to order dinner or buy alcohol or coffee during the Ball, notwithstanding whether you have booked a table or not. We only bought coffee – Kafeesiederball had the Julius Meinl coffee.

At midnight the ball culminates with a quadrille dance in the main ballroom.

When we were leaving, we received gift packs with some cookies, Viennese sausage and a small Julius Meinl espresso cup, which I still keep.

Overall, we had a lot of fun. It was a lovely and lively evening with beautiful attire, dancing, coffee and a lot of photos.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Trudi Ward

    Great blog! Thank you for sharing.

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