Halloween Weekend in Vienna
Halloween Night in Vienna
You have undoubtedly been to Berlin, Paris and London on numerous occasions. Fully understandable, they are always worth a visit. Vienna, on the other hand, is not quite getting the attention it deserves. We at Parnassos.dk aim to change that a bit.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire, with Vienna as its capital, was for centuries one of the most powerful empires in Europe, with an abundance of cultural and intellectual treasures. Amongst the city’s children you will find Erwin Schrödinger, Sigmund Freud and Gustav Klimt, not to mention classical music’s biggest stars, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Haydn, Mahler… the list is long.
Their music was all composed on the streets of Vienna.
Parnassos ApS is a member of the Vienna Experts Club. We cooperate with the Scandinavian department of the Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO), and we are a member of Rejsegarantifonden ↗, the Danish equivalent of ABTA (You can verify our membership by following this link↗). Just type our company name in the relevant field.
Rejsegarantifonden guarantees your money – independently from where you book your trip – whilst we guarantee your adventures.
Welcome Drinks and Dinner - a Piano Concert and an 'Off Centre' Show
As soon as our guests have found their rooms, at the 5* Hotel SO/Vienna, on Friday afternoon (see details further below), we will leave for Franz Schubert’s home, now a museum, where they have arranged a piano and viola recital, celebrating the composer’s music.
Immediately after the concert, we will go to another venue to enjoy dinner, from where we have a perfect view over the near-mythical Stefansdom cathedral. (The composers Joseph Haydn and Amadeus Mozart got married here – with their respective wives, of course.)
When our dessert plates have been removed we will be entertained by a stand-up comedian. Entertainment will be provided by Denice Bourbon. Not any old stand-up, not any usual comedy…
What Happened to the Tram Driver?
Late on Saturday morning (28th October) our guide, Gerti Schmidt, the CEO of Vienna’s official tourist organization, will take us on a tour through the city’s architecture and history.
Last year we rented a Hop-On Hop-Off bus for that purpose. This time around we have our own tram, parked only 100 metres away from our hotel.
Gerti’s two assistants will fill our plastic cups with bubbles whilst we await the green light – literally – from Wiener Linien, to be coupled to the city’s public tracks. The tram will halt in Heiligenstadt, near the home of yet another composer: none other than Ludwig van Beethoven.
The photo shows a tram in front of Wiener Staatsoper, the opera house we will visit that evening.
Beethoven, his home - his 'Heuriger'
At the foot of the surrounding Heiligenstadt hills we shall visit one of the best-known children of Vienna, Ludwig van Beethoven. He lived at Probusgasse 6, which today houses an elegant museum dedicated to him, where two Beethoven experts will welcome us in. Although born in Bonn, this was his home from 1792 until his death on 26th March 1827.
One of the first works he composed here was the Piano Sonata 17: Der Sturm or The Tempest. One evening he heard a galloping horse outside the window, giving him inspiration for the 3rd movement of the sonata. It lasts about 7 minutes, performed here by Valentina Lisitsa. Beethoven… a true giant.
At the end of Probusgasse, we will find one of the most pastoral heuriger restaurants in Vienna, where Beethoven was a regular. (His favourite drink was Austrian rosé). We will enjoy lunch here, before the bus brings us back to the hotel, giving us just enough time to recharge before we leave for the weekend’s cultural highlight.
In the city centre of Vienna you have two temples of classical music: Musikverein and the Wiener Staatsoper – the latter with a corpus of 2,000 employees; an opera house that can hold its own to La Scala in Milan. (The two musical institutions have a close working relationship that began during the reign of Gustav Mahler).
Last year we visited Staatsoper with our guests and saw Rigoletto by Guiseppe Verdi; a truly unforgettable experience. This year we are going to see Otello – again by Verdi. A supreme cast will give their all, among them Rachel Willis-Sørensen, an American soprano with a decidedly Danish sounding name.
One of our guests on the Vienna trip wrote to me, “by the way, do remember to emphasize that we are going to the Staatsoper to see Othello with the wonderful Jonas Kaufmann”. I agree. It’s going to be an evening of pure operatic joy.
A ticket with a face value of €96 is included, which is category 5 out of 9. If you wish to upgrade to a category 3 ticket, the parterre at €180, you can purchase this for an extra €50 (enjoying a €34 discount) via our shop.
An der schönen blauen Donau
Sunday morning, 29th October, a bus takes us away from all things modern and straight back to the 19th Century Romantic Period, which the Germans so excelled at. We will this year be driving through the Wachau district, an exceptionally beautiful part of Austria.
Gerti Schmidt will once again be our guide for the day. She will not only show us idyll, but also the prehistoric (the Venus of Willendorf is from this part of the world). There will also be time for poignancy when she tells us about the horror of the Nazis who were ravaging here.
Vesper at the Benedictine Monastery
At the bank of the Danube in the town of Melk we find one of the world’s most imposing abbeys, the almost 1000-year-old Benedictine monastery.
A huge number of reliquaries of saints are stored and displayed, together with a splinter from the cross of Christ. As if that’s not enough, a small piece that is stained with the blood of the Saviour. It’s up to you if you think this strains credulity.
We will visit the monastery in the afternoon, where we will be shown around by their very knowledgeable guides. They will lead us to the library, containing more than 20,000 volumes, that served as an inspiration for Umberto Eco, who gave us the wonderful novel The Name of the Rose.
After the doors have closed to the public, we will be guided to the impressive church to attend a church organ concert.
When the tones of the pipes and tubes have gone silent, we will head to a most charming pavilion, where a sommelier will tell us all about the monastery’s home-produced wines – including wine tasting, naturally!
Next, we will have dinner at their restaurant, before our bus brings us back to Vienna rather late in the evening.
Belvedere Palace to Ourselves
We come to Monday 30th October, the day before Halloween.
Monday, during daytime, there will, of course, be yet another event offered to our guests; we just haven’t decided what it should be.
City capitals are always dynamic. It would be a shame not to be able to react quickly to a new and exciting happening. Whatever it is, it will be in the same spirit as the rest of the program.
And in the evening? I have visited the imposing Belvedère palace and museum in Vienna twice. True, it’s simply spectacular, with Picasso and Monet en masse on the walls together with, unsurprisingly, the largest collection of paintings by world-famous Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt.
But there is a snag. You know how it is, you suddenly bump into a guide with a flag, another guide speaks too loudly and so on. Large crowds devalue the experience of these fine arts.
We have eliminated all this by hiring the whole building for Monday evening. Following a champagne and canapé reception, the museum’s art specialists will split us up in small groups and bring us to the inner sanctum of the museum.
The Quator Vivant from the Haydn Conservatory
After the tour and the view of the best in European painting, we will go to yet another enormous hall in the Oberes Belvedere.
Here, the quartet, Quatuor Vivant, from the Joseph Haydn Conservatory in the town of Eisenstadt, just outside Vienna, awaits us.
They will play a scary program taken from the best of 19th century music. (Romantic Europe was, like none other, fascinated by the macabre). A good warm-up for our Halloween.
We had the pleasure of the quartet last year, when our group visited Eisenstadt. They enchanted us in the Haydn Hall, depicted by the photo.
The same hall where Haydn worked for and entertained the wealthy Esterhazy family and their guests for nearly 30 years.
The photo was taken immediately after our concert on Thursday 29 September 2022. A lovely memory. (Our guests had already left for the palace’s Portico to taste the house’s many wines).
The séance in Belvedere will last until approx. 9 pm. At that time, many of us undoubtedly want to go to a restaurant. We are looking at a popular and reasonably priced nearby the museum. This dinner is not included in the tour price.
Visiting the Liechtenstein family's ‘StadtPalais’
We are extremely honoured that one of Europe’s richest families, the House of Liechtenstein, have given us full access to one of their palaces in Vienna, Stadtpalais Liechtenstein.
The palace has just been refurbished for the sum of €120 million, paid out of the family’s own pocket. Admittedly, inflation has been tough on all of us recently, but I still think that you get a lot for around £ 100 million.
Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before our evening at Palais Coburg, they will open their gate to us, where their two in-house art experts will show us the family’s private art collection, usually is reserved for VIP-guests, only. But Gerti Schmidt has opened the door for us because, surely, we are VIP-guests as well.
The tour ends at the family’s Baalsaal, which is otherworldly beautiful.
Tuesday’s highlight will take place in the evening. Actually, when you look at our many events most of them happen after sunset.
Tuesday morning, and up and until our visit to the Liechtenstein Stadtpalais, at around 3pm, is timeout from our arranged events. You probably just want to enjoy the city on your own; perhaps visit some of the city’s many museums (exactly 100, to be precise. Number 100 was the Heidi Horten Collection, which opened in the summer of 2022).
The Casemates of Palais Coburg
Tuesday evening commences 6.30 pm at Palais Coburg. The palace is the host for the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the world powers – when they are held. It also offers Vienna’s finest restaurant, awarded 2 Michelin stars, and run by chef Silvio Nickol.
Those will be our premises for the trip’s climax and coda. It’s 31st October, it’s Halloween and our dinner will be served in the palace’s casemates.
After a four-course dinner with wine pairing, included in the trip’s price, there will be entertainment. The management won’t tell what it is, but I fully expect that skeletons will come out of the closet.
A View and a Half at the 5* hotel SO/Vienna
Five star events demand a five-star hotel. This year we have chosen SO/Vienna, centrally placed and with a truly spectacular view over the city from its restaurant and bar area. You will almost get to know the full geography of Vienna from here.
This ultramodern SO/Vienna or Sofitel Vienna Stefansdom designed by the star architect, Jean Nouvel, who has created such chefs-d’œuvre as Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris, No. 1 Central Park in New York and… DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen.
A final word, four of guests from last year’s Vienna trip will join us again this year. I spoke with one of them recently where I said, ‘and this year’s Vienna-trip will be even better than last year’s’ to which he replied, ‘that’s not possible’.
We will put it to the test, then.
And our Purpose is?
We want to create exclusive experiences – without excluding.
Granted, our tours are not among the cheapest, but they are still accessible to most of those who walk in the footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish poet who once said, ‘to travel is to live’.
The ‘trick’ is to be a large group. We’re talking about 40 people. Being many has its own dynamic. And a larger budget allows us to offer truly unique adventures, that surely will be beyond most of us if we acted on our own.
Our purpose is to tear us away from our day to day lives, to ensure that when you are back home, you will ask yourself, ‘did I really experience what I think I experienced’?
What Exactly do you get for your dkk 13,500? (aprox 1800 euro)
The amount covers the stay and events during our days in Vienna. It does not include the flight as this give our guests much more flexibility.