The highlight of Europe’s high society social season is the Vienna Opera Ball, a glittering annual event held in the beautiful State Opera House.
Held on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday each year (this year’s event is tomorrow, 3 March), the ball – which marks the finale of the Viennese carnival season – attracts socialites and celebrities from all over the world.
Described by Austrian newspaper ‘Die Presse’ as ‘a ball-night, for which the world is filled with envy’, the glittering event is held in the auditorium of the Vienna State Opera, which is transformed into a ballroom for one night only.
First held in 1936, the outbreak of World War II in 1939 caused the ball to be suspended. Following its revival, it has taken place every year since then, with the exception of 1991, when it was cancelled due to the Persian Gulf War. Dress code is strictly old-school glamour – women must wear floor-length ball gowns, whislt men must wear white tie and tails.
The origins of the ball lie as far back as 1877, when Emperor Franz Joseph encouraged that a party be hosted in the Imperial and Royal Court Opera, keen to cash in on Johann Strauss’s sell-out performances for the Opera Ball in Paris.