Juristenbal - 3 Days Viennese Ball experience - Awesome Experiences

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Juristenbal - 3 Days Viennese Ball experience

The Jurustenbal is one of the last Viennese Balls of the main season which runs Jan to early March, There is also the Corcordia Ball in June. Most operate in the Ratshaus or Hofburg Palace, both of which are wonderful. The Opera Ball runs in the Opera House which is also sumptuous. Most are themed and organised by trades and professions - Juristenbal by lawyers; Blumenbal by the municipal gardeners and so on.


I recommend flying out early and getting ballgown/tuxedo hire sorted out the day before if you need them, to give time for alterations. AX have negotiated a special deal with a hire company in Vienna who will drop off and pick up your Dress/Dinner Suit for you at your hotel free of charge - saving lots of time and hassle - and usually costs Euros 50 extra. You can also hit one of the many excellent museums the day before the ball if you go early or maybe get Opera/Ballet tickets for the Opera House (which I have done previously). I didn’t get there early, but all was OK and the owner of the hire shop actually attends the balls and makes adjustments free of charge for clients on the night, if necessary!

Vienna is a cash society. You can pay for many things with credit cards, but use the many ATMs and you need lots of cash for the night of the ball. The deposit and hire of the ballgown came to Euros 300 in cash - although I got 150 back afterwards. This included alterations and cleaning - and of course someone spilt champagne of the dress at some point... occupational hazard.


You also need to book dinner for before the Ball. Although there is food available, balls start late, so eat at around 7pm, allowing 90 minutes so you can be there an hour before the opening ceremony to drop off your coats and get a position to see the beautifully choreographed ceremony itself - otherwise you need to be tall to see over the other guests. There are many restaurants nearby but you need to book, because everyone else is booking too!

Before the Ball AX include a 2 hour dance class at Elmayer Dance School which is just by the Hofburg Palace (and the famous Spanish Riding School). Like almost all Austrians they speak perfect English and have the patience of saints if (like me) you have two left feet. In fact we only got 25 minutes as we were late (did I mention the dress ??!) but incredibly by the end we could actually do a basic Viennese Waltz. Given 2 hours we could have done it far better and also maybe a Polka and practised for the Quadrille.


After the opening ceremony the master of ceremonies says ‘Alles Waltz’ and they play the first Viennese Waltz. This is when the simple Viennese Waltz learnt with Elmayer pays off - and incredibly it worked - we really were a central part of it and it was genuinely memorable. At midnight and again at 2 am there is a Quadrille. The Austrians - at least the ball-going variety - are very kind. They drag you round if you don’t understand German, and there is a magnificent sense of camaraderie, as no-one really knows the dance anyway. At the end of the quadrille there is a gallop, which is exhilarating and almost always ends in laughter and relief all round.


There are many rooms with different activities - Jazz dancing; disco, Latin/Salza and other ballroom/jazz. Also intervals with Jive/Rock ‘n Roll. If you can do a simple Viennese Waltz after Elmayer and like a bit of dancing of any sort (not necessarily formally) you will be fine! We met lovely people - Austrians mainly but a few Brits - and had to say good night to them at the end as they felt like real friends. Don't bother to book a table to sit - they are massively over-priced and you really don’t need one.

There is food, ice cream and champagne (Sekt in German) available all night. We stayed until 2.30 am but the balls typically continue to 5am and you return home with a bag of goodies - in this case donuts - to replenish the lost calories after the gallop. There are also photographers at the ball to immortalise the event for you. We took a rickshaw back to the hotel, as the weather was good, although taxis are plentiful, and on Fridays and Saturdays the metro runs all night.


The next day we used some of the many museum tickets included in our AX Experience. The Leopold Museum was undergoing restoration, but still open, and exhibiting Vienn's prozed Klimt and Schiele paintings. We also went to the Albertina and the Belvedere which weren’t included in our tickets but had excellent special exhibitions on (Monet to Picasso and Klimt respectively). The Sigmund Freud museum (near the ballgown hire shop, and the Strauss museum) is also interesting, especially if you have been to its counterpart in Hampstead. You could easily spend several weeks museum-going or ball-going in Vienna ! Our Juristenbal experience included tickets for the Schonbrunn Palace too, which is arguably one of the modern architectural wonders of the world, but I had already been so I made the choice to bypass it this time. On the same grounds, I eschewed - this time - the Spanish Riding School and a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

In the evening we ate near St Stephens Cathedral, which is the most happening part of Vienna with restaurants, nightclubs, ice cream parlours and lots more.

We used the CAT train to travel between central Vienna and the airport, but there is also a local train which is only slightly slower and it is easy and slightly cheaper. AX didn’t include a taxi transfer as there is often traffic to the airport making the journey unpredictable, and the trains really are incredibly easy to take into town. Our hotel was very comfortable and right next to a metro station, only 2 stops from the centre of town. We opted for the 4 star hotel which was delivered - as it should - a good location with a very aggreeable room and good facilities. Via AX's website you can also book accommodation at the amazing 5 star Viennese hotels, though, if you prefer.


Finally, because we were in Vienna after all, and we'd worked off several pounds on the dance floor, we simply had to rebuild our strength with some Weiner Schnitzel, Kaffe und Kugeln and other Viennese rib-expanders.

Bill Bryson once wrote that a Martian landing on planet Earth would think that Vienna, so elegant and grand, must be the capital of the world. After an AX long weekend break, I fully sympathised with our Martian neighbours.