Christmas concerts in Vienna 2023

A Viennese Christmas is about the lights, the sights, the smells…and the sounds. Expect fewer sleigh bells and more violins, though: you’re in the concert capital of classical music, after all.

Lights on the Graben

Here are my tips for finding the best classical concerts, church recitations, choir performances and more during the Advent season.

Classical concerts for 2023

Goodness, Vienna has so many. All the popular venues continue their concert schedules through late November and December. However, here are some Christmas-themed highlights from the major concert & church venues, as well as details of some smaller and seasonal venues.

Note that these are mostly general tips together with some specific suggestions based on individual concerts already scheduled at the time of writing.

Mozart and friends for visitors

The Kursalon at Christmas

(The Kursalon venue at Christmas)

Various orchestras and ensembles perform the music of Mozart, Strauss and/or other famous composers with visitors in mind, usually at historical sites and sometimes even in period costume.

I’ve listed many options for you here, but seasonal changes to the usual routine are common, even if just increased concert frequency.

For example, the concerts in the Schönbrunn orangery even have a special cooperation* with the neighbouring Christmas market in the grand palace forecourt.

The Musikverein

Front of the Musikverein

(The façade above the front entrance)

The Musikverein ranks as probably the world’s most prestigious and best classical music venue. They have daily “normal” performances, but seasonal events and concerts always make an appearance.

Christmas 2023 schedules at the time of writing include…

  • The Wiener Symphoniker and the in-house choir give us a Welcome Christmas concert on the afternoon of December 10th, where you have the likes of Tchaikovsky, John Williams and Danny Elfman on one programme
  • Christmas im Wiener Musikverein: the Cappella Istropolitana orchestra and soloists present works by Tchaikovsky, Humperdinck and Liszt on December 14th
  • The cathedral orchestra and choir play Christmas concerts on December 16th and 17th featuring pieces by Nicolai, Mendelssohn and Haydn
  • The orchestra and choir of the University of Vienna offer up two seasonal concerts on December 18th and 19th; the first features the likes of Brahms and Bruckner, the second has more swing to it as Christmas pop and gospel
  • The Imperial Philharmonic and solists offer The Sound of Christmas on December 22nd

If we stretch out the concept of the Christmas period a little, then one reliable annual constant is the rather excellent New Year’s Concert from the Wiener Philharmoniker, which traditionally takes place on December 30th and 31st, as well as January 1st.

More info and tickets on Musikverein events available at their website.

The Konzerthaus

Another prestigious venue is the Konzerthaus, which usually has a more eclectic advent choice.

The venue always hosts Christmas in Vienna: the rather-apt title of a traditional gala music event held every (normal) year. The 2023 dates are December 15th (preview edition) and December 16th (the main event).

International singers accompany, for example, the Vienna Boys Choir, the Vienna Girls Choir, the Konzerthaus’s own choir (the Wiener Singakademie), and the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra for a seasonal sing-song and feel-good evening of entertainment.

The program can range from traditional carols and songs to pop classics, opera arias, and orchestral compositions.

Should you miss out on tickets, the national broadcaster (ORF) usually shows it on TV (as do many other countries, I believe).

The Konzerthaus

(The Konzerthaus main entrance)

Other Christmas-themed performances scheduled for 2023 at the Konzerthaus at the time of writing include:

  • A Christmas Piano evening with Alexis Ffrench on December 7th
  • Works around Noël by the Company of Music on December 10th
  • A Swinging Christmas with the Gerhard Aflenzer Broadway Big Band and three solo singers on December 16th
  • One of Austria’s more successful bands (Die Seer) plays a special Christmas concert on December 17th
  • The Philharmonic Five offer advent tunes on December 18th. Time for ADVENTures is billed as a meeting of classic with “pop, waltzes & Christmas songs”
  • The L’Orfeo Barockorchester and Collegium Vocale Salzburg perform the first three parts of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on December 20th

I’ve not listed several others that involve readings or narration in German and similar. More info and tickets for Konzerthaus events available at their website.

The opera houses

  • The Staatsoper performs Strauss’s Die Fledermaus on New Year’s Eve (and again on January 1st) as an established tradition
  • The Volksoper has its traditional Christmas concert (twice) on December 17th

Concerts in churches

Various churches hold advent concerts and choral recitals through December. Here are some of the more popular locations…


Dome of Peterskirche

(The dome mirrors that of its Vatican namesake)

A beautiful Baroque church in the centre, which hosts concerts in the church itself and also in the crypt. Notable for regular performances by the Classic Ensemble Vienna (which I’ve attended with friends and thoroughly enjoyed).


Karlskirche front view

(The entrance is actually on the right hand side)

The mighty baroque church on Karlsplatz square normally has a fair few concerts in the advent season programme. In 2023, for example, the Ensemble 1756 has regular evening performances of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.


Front of the Jesuitenkirche at twilight

(Also known as the Universitätskirche)

The central Baroque Jesuitenkirche church hosts a special performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on the evening of December 7th.

The performers are from the prestigious mdw (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna): the Webern Chamber Choir and the mdw Barockorchester. You can catch them a second time at Klosterneuburg Abbey on the afternoon of December 10th.

(Klosterneuburg is just outside Vienna but easily reached by public transport.)


View of Stephansdom and south tower

(This Viennese landmark dominates the centre of town)

The grand cathedral is the heart of the city and obviously worth visiting in its own right.

Advent concerts are scheduled on several days through December, with additional one-off concerts as a bonus.

For example, December 7th has the annual advent concert given by the world-famous Wiener Symphoniker orchestra.


The Minoritenkirche

(This ancient bastion dates back to the 1300s)

Home to the Italian congregation in Vienna, this large gothic church also sits in the city centre.

Unlike many similar locations, the Christmas concerts tend to be an eclectic mix of different performers and works (gospel choirs and gospel music have dominated in past years).

Last time I looked, December had concerts by, for example, Trumpets in Concert, the police (musicians from the police force, not the band), a chamber ensemble, and the Ibaraki Youth Wind Orchestra.


Entrance to the Imperial Crypt

(Home to many former Emperors and Empresses)

As in past years, the Wiener Kaiserquartett & Friends perform a selection of seasonal music and songs in the Capuchin Church on various dates through Advent. The church sits above the Imperial Crypt.


And another church in the old town with concerts typically focusing on the peak era of Viennese classical music (think Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, etc.).

The previous Advent also had festive tunes performed, for example, on trumpets. And it looks like the trumpets are returning in 2023.


Portal into the Votivkirche

(Impressive, but not as old as it looks!)

This neo-gothic giant has, for example, a Christmas concert by the Bolschoi Don Kosaken, one by Monika Ballwein, and performances by Stella Jones & The American Christmas Gospel in 2022.

Bonus Concerts in Museums etc.

One intriguing option is the Fever candlelight concerts, which typically feature classical interpretations of more popular or modern music. Among the Vienna venues this Christmas: the Albertina, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Billrothhaus, and Palais Coburg.

The amateur tradition

A special bonus mention for planned concerts on December 2nd and 3rd in the Veranstaltungszentrum Rudolfsheim as they uphold the Viennese tradition of amateur orchestras and musicians.

The Concentus21 orchestra brings us a concert performance of Verdi’s Nabucco with the Chor Allegro Vivace and guest soloists.

The Mozarthaus

This is where Mozart once lived and the location of the main museum dedicated to the composer. Keep an eye out for concerts there. The Wiener Ensemble, for example, plays many dates in December.

Frankly, it’s rather cool listening to, for example, Mozart’s music in the same house he composed it in.

The Christmas markets

Entrance arch to the Christkindlmarkt

(The entrance to the Christkindlmarkt)

Keep an ear open when visiting the various Christmas markets, as several may have public music performances. Strong possibilities include:

  • Christkindlmarkt: the main market in front of city hall typically has brass ensembles performing most days in the evening
  • Schönbrunn: the market outside the gorgeous summer Habsburg palace usually has choirs, brass bands, and similar in the late afternoon or early evening each day


Vienna Boys’ Choir

The Wiener Sängerknaben tend to be quite busy at the end of the year. In 2023, for example, they play a huge advent concert with various guests at the major Stadthalle venue on December 9th.

The choir’s website has a calendar of all their performances, with appearances in the Hofburg court chapel continuing through advent.

Check the website of their own venue for in-house events, which includes several Christmas performances by the choir.

Other choirs

Various choirs traditionally sing each year at the Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz. Sadly, this did not happen in recent years but perhaps the tradition returns in 2023?

Still not found something?

Simply keep your eyes open for flyers and posters as you wander through the city centre.


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