The annual Life Ball has been raising funds for the fight against AIDS since 1993 and is, as the name suggests, an exuberant celebration that has gone a long way to raise awareness and set a high-profile example of tolerance and solidarity. This year, the event, reckoned to be one of the most extravagant charity events in world, will be held on May 21st, when the traditional elegance of Vienna will come face-to-face with celebrity glitz at its most provocative, with challenging speeches, DJs from New York, London and Paris, and unique live performances.
In 2009, the Life Ball started a series dedicated to the four elements. Having celebrated 'water' and 'earth', 2011 sees the turn of 'air', under the slogan Spreading the wings of tolerance. The cycle will be completed next year with 'fire' and the theme Fighting the flames of ignorance.
The Life Ball is held in the Vienna City Hall where the halls and courtyards will be transformed for the occasion. Entrance is by ticket only, and the nearly 4,000 tickets are already sold out. Fortunately, there are other associated events: you can still attend the glamorous fashion show featuring leading international designers that takes place before the main event. It's held in the main square outside the City Hall and each year draws some 40,000 spectators.
There is still time to reserve a place for the second of the dazzling dances to be held in the imperial city: the Fete Imperiale Summer Ball, which is held each year in the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. This is the place where the thoroughbred Lipizzan horses show their skill in the magnificent haute ecole displays of 'dancing'. On July 7th, though, the ancient splendour of the Hofburg Palace will come alive again for a single night: the magnificent hall, transformed as if by magic into a real ballroom, will host a traditional courtly ball, and ladies in their splendid ball-gowns and gentlemen, elegant in evening dress, will once more saunter through the palace courtyards.