Vienna Hofburg Kongreszentrum

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The Kaiserball developed from the imperial tradition of the so called “Hofball” (court ball) and “Ball bei Hof” that were organized by the imperial couple Franz Joseph (1830–1916) and his wife Empress Elisabeth (1837–1898), who is better known as Sisi. Both ball events were taking place in the Hofburg being the imperial winter residence of the Habsburg family.

The Hofball used to take place towards the end of January, with Empress Elisabeth deciding the precise date. Once the court had gathered in the Zeremoniensaal - which is still one of the most stunning rooms at the Hofburg to this day- selected guests were invited to pay their respects to the Emperor and Empress in person. The popular buffet was set up in the nearby Grosser Redoutensaal. Meanwhile the dance floor was positively brimming with activity - after all some 2,000 ballgoers were in attendance. The last waltz commenced at exactly quarter past midnight, and drew this spectacular imperial event to an end.

The “Ball bei Hof” took place just two weeks later. This more intimate event, reserved for the ruling elite, drew around 700 high-ranking royals and members of the diplomatic corps. To qualify as "Hochadel" (higher nobility), aristocrats were required to demonstrate a lineage going back at least eight generations on both the maternal and paternal sides.The most valuable porcelain in the imperial dining service was unpacked for a formal dinner which was served in the Radetzky apartments and neighbouring rooms. The strict seating order was dictated by rank. Ladies spared no expense and took every care to ensure their appearance matched the occasion, happily parting with between 300 and 500 Gulden for an evening dress - more than the annual income of a court servant.