Inside the Life Ball, the HIV/AIDS charity event filled with supermodels, drag queens and fashion that rivals the Met Gala

Michael Gruber/Getty ImagesDita Von Teese performs on stage during the Life Ball 2019 show at City Hall on June 08, 2019 in Vienna, Austria.
  • The Life Ball in Vienna, Austria, brings together stars representing the LGBTQ community and beyond for a night of extravagant performance and fashion.
  • It donates profits to fund HIV/AIDS projects around the world, and raised $US34 million in the past 26 years.
  • This year’s gathering will be the last one, because organisers say scientific advances in fighting HIV/AIDS have made it harder to attract sponsors.
  • Take a look at this year’s event, which took place on Saturday.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The Life Ball, held annually in Vienna, Austria, is one of Europe’s largest charity events, bringing together celebrities and LGBTQ icons for a gala with fashion that rivals New York’s Met Gala.

Raising money for HIV and AIDS charities, the Life Ball has raised more than 30 million euros ($US34 million) in its 26 years.

But Saturday’s event was the final one, with the organisers saying that scientific advances that have made it possible to live with the disease also mean that the support for HIV/AIDS charity projects “is decreasing both at home and abroad.”

Past attendees at the Life Ball include international celebrities like Elton John, Bill Clinton, Kim Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, and Lindsay Lohan; Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst; and drag queens Alaska and Violet Chachki.

Here’s a look inside this year’s event:


The Life Ball is held in Vienna’s City Hall every year, shutting down some of the city’s streets.

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Life Ball


Every year, guests make a grand entrance as thousands gather to watch.

Robert Schlesinger/Life Ball 2019/Getty Images

The theme of this year’s Life Ball was “United in Diversity. Walking on the yellow brick road towards an end to AIDS.”

The organisers said “extravagant outfits and creative stylings are not only a sign of solidarity, but also an important visual statement that is carried out into the entire world.”

Source: Life Ball


Guests are encouraged to dress up, and can’t enter if they wear casual clothes like jeans, t-shirts, or sneakers.

Robert Schlesinger/Life Ball 2019/Getty Images

Guests are shown a number performances throughout the night, including an extravagant opening ceremony.

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Performers at this year’s ball included burlesque star Dita Von Teese…

Michael Gruber/Getty Images

… and “Eurovision” winner Conchita Wurst.

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Actress Dianna Brill, who was a muse for Andy Warhol, also took to the stage.


Famous guests included legendary New York City performer Amanda Lepore.

Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images

Alaska — in the front wearing orange — the winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” also made an appearance.

Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images

Actress Katie Holmes spoke at this year’s event, which — like in previous years — will fund HIV/AIDS projects in Austria and around the world.

Previous Life Ball events have benefitted 170 projects around the world.

Source: Life Ball


Gery Keszler, the event’s founder and organiser, said ahead of Saturday’s ball: “We achieved more than we ever dared hope. I am so eternally grateful.”

Robert Schlesinger/Getty ImagesKeszler pictured at Saturday’s Life Ball.

“It is now time to bring this project to a fitting conclusion,” he said.

Source: Life Ball


Keszler said, however, that there are still “great challenges” facing LGBT communities around the world. “We will continue to take a passionate stand against stigma and exclusion and fly the flag,” he said.

Robert Schlesinger/Life Ball 2019/Getty Images

“There are still great challenges out there – especially in Africa,” Keszler said Saturday, adding that the profits from this year’s ball would go to “regions where the problem is still acute and where we can save lives.”

Source: Life Ball

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