Vienna Imperial Summer Festival
With 500 formal balls a year, Vienna is home to one of the world’s busiest social rosters. This summer, the Imperial Summer Fête debuts at the Spanish Riding School.
The rapid, twirling elegance of the Viennese Waltz is no thing of the past. As Dancing with the Stars continues to play on America’s small screens, Vienna continues to perfect the art of the formal ball, and evolve the elegant forms and undeniable skill of its most famous dance, among others. Traditionally, the city’s 500 or so balls are held during ‘carnival’ season, from early November until ‘Shrove’ Tuesday. Until this year, only two prominent balls took place in summer: The Concordia Ball and the Life Ball. On July 10, 2010, the Summer Fête Impériale joins this exclusive - and worthy - subset. Imperial Summer Fête will debut on Saturday, July 10th, in a unique location: the beloved Spanish Riding School. This first-of-its-kind festival will replicate the Renaissance-era fêtes that Empress Maria Theresa hosted - including the Ladies’ Carousel. “In those days, admission to the balls was granted only to members of the Court. For one unforgettable night, we’ll be resurrecting those fantasy-struck days in exquisite detail. We’ll open up the Riding School to guests and locals alike,” says Elisabeth Gürtler, managing director of the Spanish Riding School. On July 10, the riding area - normally reserved for snowy white Lipizzaner stallions - will be transformed into a magnificent dance floor. The Spanish Riding School and the Viennese BallHistorical references to the Spanish Riding School reach back as far as 1572. After the original structure’s destruction during a siege, Emperor Charles VI commissioned court architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach to rebuild it from 1729-1735. The new building exhibited yet greater splendor than the original. Even by the artisanal, artistic standards of that age, the Riding School was an architectural masterpiece. The suspended, 10,000 square-foot ceiling was - and still is - a feat to behold. Another gem of Renaissance architecture is the adjacent Stallburg. In 1565, this structure was an imperial stable. It lay dormant until 2008, when the Riding School threw the first of what was to become a series of now-legendary fundraising galas in the beautiful courtyard. On July 10th, this courtyard will be transformed into a breathtaking ballroom filled with twirling couples in their loveliest finery. www.fete-imperiale.at