Life's A Ball

Arts & Culture

The Life Ball in Vienna is simply the event of the year. There are weeks of preparation beforehand

Vienna is known for glamorous, beautiful and lavish Balls that have been in it’s tradition for the past centuries. Among the most famous are the Opera ball, the Spring Ball and the Jäger Ball, where all participants must wear traditional clothes. There are of course many others and all are known as the cardinal points in Vienna’s high society nightlife.

For the past 20 years however, one ball has amassed what many could agree to be a cult following – the LIFE Ball.

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In order to raise money for AIDS research, the non-profit organization AIDS LIFE started organising the Life Ball at the beginning of the 1990’s. In the years that followed, it has become the most talked about evening in Vienna, and one of the most important charity events across Europe and the world. The young, old and celebrities alike attend the ball to witness the magnificent and spectacular shows that take over Vienna’s gothic style City Hall. Fashion shows, mesmerizing circuit acts and international celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Jenna Jameson, Sharon Stone, Elton John and Liza Minelli have made their appearances in Vienna for this outstanding event.

There are weeks of preparation before hand, with multiple stages set up both inside and out of the venue and the complete shutdown of the main boulevard (the famous Ringroad) in front of the Rathauspark (City Hall Park). This results in a yearly “over the top” celebration, but also exposes the on going fight against AIDS all over the world. The importance of this endeavour is felt throughout the party as you make your way through a sea of colours and incredible costumes. In order to ensure the unique and extravagant style, the organizers decided to limit tickets to only 3780 each year. Today the Ball is so popular and attractive that international guests also have the opportunity to buy packages that include a flight, a hotel and table bookings.  

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The Life Ball in Viennais simply the event of the year. The shows are spectacular and you don’t want to miss any of it. The main stage in front of the city hall is where the opening takes place including the fashion show, which is followed by cabarets and circus acts. The theme changes from year to year; this year (2012) it was dedicated to fire and “fighting the flames of ignorance”. Most of the people attending were dressed in red, gold and any other colour resembling fire. There are a few smaller stages inside the city hall, where minor but still breath taking shows take place (usually choreographies, often of transgender artists, as well as cabarets and solos).

In fact, one very important aspect of the Life Ball is the design of your own costume, especially for local, “non celebrity” participants – most of them have no stylist or top designer advising them what to wear. People usually prepare and tailor their costumes for weeks. For those who can get a “style ticket” (those are very limited, check the LIFE Ball website for more information) you only need to pay half the price – condition to apply for them is the production of an extravagant and attention drawing costume.

Vienna has countless top attractions and events, but if you want to come to Vienna and experience something really outstanding and unique, you might as well plan your trip around this amazing event. Make sure you book the tickets in advance though: many last minute sellers boost the prices up to even double that of the original. Remember, pack a sexy costume – otherwise you might have to go naked to fit in…many of the participants do!

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