Vienna Opera Ball

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Vienna Opera House
Interior of the opera house during the opening of the ball (2007)
The actress Mira Sorvino at the opera ball (2013)

The Vienna Opera Ball (Wiener Opernball in German) is an annual Austrian society event which takes place in the building of the Vienna State Opera in Vienna, Austria (Wien, Österreich) on the Thursday preceding Ash Wednesday (a religious holiday). Together with the New Year Concert, the Opera Ball is one of the highlights of the Viennese carnival season. The dress code is evening dress: white tie and tails for men; usually floor-length gowns for women.

Each year, almost overnight, the auditorium of the Vienna State Opera is turned into a large ballroom. On the eve of the event, the rows of seats are removed from the stalls, and a new floor, level with the stage, is built.

In a joint venture, ORF and BR broadcast live from the ball for several hours each year.

The ball is opened with the introduction of debutantes.

The ball was featured in the postcard for San Marino in the Eurovision Song Contest 2015. In it, San Marinese participants Michele Perniola and Anita Simoncini attend an evening at the ball.


The Opera Ball was first held in 1935, 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. Since 2008, Desirée Treichl-Stürgkh has been the chairman (supervising organizer) of the Vienna Opera Ball.

In recent years, the Opernballdemo, a left-wing demonstration along the Ringstraße against the kind of capitalism represented by, as the protesters see it, many of the well-to-do guests at the Opera Ball, has regularly taken place on the same night. There have been occasional outbreaks of violence.

In 1995 Austrian writer Josef Haslinger published a novel entitled Opernball in which thousands of people are killed in a Neo-Nazi terrorist attack taking place during that society event. The novel was the basis of a 1998 made-for-TV movie by Urs Egger with the same title.

The only ball officially associated with the Vienna Opera Ball is the Dubai Opera Ball. A similar ball takes place in New York City and another in Budapest, but they are not affiliated with the Vienna Opera Ball.

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