Christmas in Vienna is coming. A famous german children’s poem begins with “Advent, Advent a little light is burning …”. But during Advent season more than a little light burns in Vienna. The whole city is bathed in atmospheric lighting, in front of the town hall there is a whole Winter Wonderland that always amazes. Anyone entering a Vienna Christmas market is quickly enchanted. All these markets have a lot in common, there is a lot of mulled wine and lots of punch, for example. And yet different and are unique in their own ways…
As usual, we like to start our blog article with the history. Everything has a story. Mostly it is an interesting one, in any case it usually carries emotions and helps to immerse oneself in a topic.
Originally, it is said that it was medieval sales fairs that allowed people to stock up on meat and any necessities for the winter. Later, in the 14th century, craftsmen were also given stalls selling trifles that could be given as a gift to the children. The first “Nikolausmarkt” was named so officially in Munich in 1310.
In 1382, for the first time, it was also possible to hold the so-called December market in Austria’s annual fairs. But they did not really have anything to do with the Christmas markets as we know them today. The first traces can be discovered in 1626, when huts with gingerbread and baked goods were set up on the Graben and in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
In 1722, the first records of a so-called “Nikolo Christmas and Crib Market” can be found at the Freyung in Vienna’s first district. In the next few centuries there were some changes of location. Those were the beginnings of the Viennese Christmas market, as we know and love them today.
Of course, much has developed since then. Today,there are a lot of them. One more beautiful than the other. Here are some of them…
Picture of the christmas market in Neubau, 7th district of Vienna, anno 1950. Copyright MA59-Marktamt Wien. Thank you!
The largest in Austria and best-known ( but also the most crowded) is the `Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz. It is as beautiful as we remember it as childs. The trees are hung with colorful huge fairy lights. Every tree with different lanterns. One of them with big red hearts. This was criticized by many as a little bit “too much” at some point. The town hall itself has served as Advent calendar for many years. Every day another curtained window of the town hall is revealed.
Over the last few years, however, a huge and unique winter wonderland has developed there, its own Christmas microcosm. It is reminiscent of the chocolate factory of Willy Wonka in its lush decoration. It is really fantastic. And the cheesy little heart tree is making its comeback. Here, too, the increasing adoption of the American tradition to light up in “kitschy” style can be observed.
There is also a skating rink through the Rathauspark. And of course all sorts of stalls. Many stalls. More than 150. All together is called Vienna Christmas Dream. And many more visitors. At peak times there are mainly tourists and the Viennese deviate to calmer markets to drink their punch and to nibble chestnuts. But the Town Hall Square is really impressive and you should see it if you have the time!
Info about Christmas market at Rathausplatz:
- November 13 – December 26 | Su-Th 10am – 9.30pm | Fr-Sa 10am – 10pm
- December 24 | 10am – 6pm
- December 25 & 26 | 11am – 9.30pm
- The christmas tree will be illuminated until January 6!
- Loc.: Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna
The next Christmas hotspot for visitors in Vienna is Schönbrunn Palace. The Christmas and Culture market celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018. This market amazes because of the beautiful, illuminated castle of the Empress in the background. In addition to culinary delights, the approximately 80 stalls there offer mainly traditional craftsmanship, such as wood carvings, luscious candles, as well as nostalgic toys and Christmas decorations made of various materials. Admission is free as in all the markets presented here, but you have to know that dogs are not allowed there. You have to stand at the gate and talk to your friends over a punch through the gate … Yes, it’s a pity, but I admit: I have a dog myself and I have already been with punch at the gate, but I can understand… You do not want a dog pile in the Empress court …
This market is extended after Christmas and passes into the so-called New Year’s market. The New Year´s Market is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019. This market offers any kind of stuff you may need for the change of the year and there are daily Jazz concert. The sellers at the markets can decide whether to extend their presence on December 26th to January 5th or not. Therefore, the merchandise of the market may vary after December 26th.
In 2020, there will be no New Year´s Market, the Market ends with December 26th.
Info about Christmas market at Schönbrunn Palace:
- November 23 – December 23 | daily 10am – 9pm
- December 24 | 10am – 4pm
- December 25 & 26 | daily 10am – 6pm
- Loc.: Schönbrunn Palace, 1130 Vienna
- no dogs allowed!
The third in our series and sometimes very crowded, but also visited by many Viennese is the the arts and crafts market on Karlsplatz in front of our beautiful Karlskirche (St. Charles Church). In 2017, the Viennese even voted it the most popular, according to a survey by the Chamber of Commerce. Why? I think because he offers – although expensive – exceptionally nice handmade goods. He is also organized by Divina Art. In addition, he offers a lot of specials, music performances, or show workshops. There are also many things for children there. And it is the only Christmas market all over Austria where the catering is completely organic. And we Viennese love our organic stuff.
There is one deficit I have to mention here – they have (at least had) a petting zoo there in the middle of the market with living goats etc… that may be nice for the little ones but it is quite questionable concerning the animals. We will see if they repeat it this year…
Attention: it is one of the markets that close early: at 8 pm.
In terms of art and entertainment the ART ADVENT offers a really broad and interesting program. You can find the calendar here
Info about ART ADVENT at Karlsplatz:
- November 20 – December 23 | daily 12noon – 8pm
- wide range of performances & programme 4 kids
- parking: paid parking garage at Mattiellistraße 2-4, 1040 Vienna
- U1, U2, U4 Karlsplatz, Exit: Resselpark
- Loc.: Karlsplatz /Resselpark 1040 Vienna
Now we come to the next of our top Christmas markets, voted number three by the Viennese in 2017. In the same year from the platform Urlaubsguru he made it into the Top 10 of the most beautiful Advent markets in Austria. And it grows. Last year again some new stalls were added. There are already over 100. Here you have the opportunity to drink punch on the most beautiful cobblestone streets of Vienna. Or buy beautiful handmade crafts. Apart from the stalls and rows are also a lot other of places you can drop in. Like experiencing the special flair of the Amerlingbeisl for example. And shops or an art gallery. Yes, this market is again very different from the others. It also spreads a great Christmas spirit. I love the flair of the part of town simply because of the low houses and the paving stones you get the feeling that you are somewhere in a cute old town. But then you are around the corner from the Museumsquartier, the Mariahilferstraße, the lively Vienna. It is hard to grasp… For me it is almost the most special Christmas market. But I’m not objective … Also, because there is the punch of my favorite an one of the best Viennese Cocktail bars with the best name, it is called “bestens“. At the end of the “Schrankgasse” everything is best(ens)…
In 2019 the Christmas Market at Spittelberg is celebrating its 25th anniversary!
The site spittelberg.at writes about their market: “Nowhere else you will find tis unique ambience of a Baroque-Biedermeier Viennese suburb with its narrow, cozy streets.” And they are right!
Info about Christmas market at Spittelberg:
- November 13 – December 23 | Mo-Th 2pm – 9pm | Fr 12pm – 9.30pm | Sa 10am – 9.30pm | Su & holiday 10am – 9pm
- romantic flair of historical center, lots of pubs/restaurants
- parking: WIPARK parking garage Stiftgasse 5-9
- Loc.: Spittelberg, 1070 Vienna// Stiftgasse, Schrankgasse, Spittelberggasse etc
The Christmas market Am Hof (organized by Radio Vienna) offers a similar flair as the Spittelberg. They have beautiful woodwork (for example made of olive tree wood) and some special stalls, like the one that is dedicated everything around lavender. In addition, you find really quaint stalls and while being surrounded by huge historic buildings. It is famous for his pine punch. Interesting. We will try this year to tell you about it. There is also a champagne bar there. With oysters. Finally we are in the 1st district. Directly in front of the Noble Hotel Park Hyatt “Bel Etage”. And we are around the corner from Stephansplatz, even closer is the beautiful and quiet Judenplatz. It is also on our already presented “Tour on foot through Vienna“. For all those who want to experience a few attractions in Vienna before or after their mulled wine 🙂
What we want to mention is that on the one hand, the farmers Christmas market is only about 50 meters away on the Freyung. It is called “Old-Viennese christmas market”. But what is more important to us is that right next door is the charity Christmas market. Also on the Freyung, you can almost overlook it. After all, it only consists of about 4 or 5 inconspicuous huts. Directly from Am Hof to Freuyung on the left in front of the Palais Harrach. If you drink mulled wine, why not be charitable !? For me a must visit.
The entrance to the Christmas market am Hof, and as promised: the stall of the “Lavender Woman”, there you can buy everything that is to be made out of lavender
Info about Christmas market Am Hof:
- November 13 – December 23 | Mo-Th 11am – 9pm | Fr-Su 10am – 9pm
- right next to farmers´ Christmas market at Freyung
- U2 “Schottentor”, U3 “Herrengasse”
- parking: parking garage Am Hof, 24h open (€ 4.-/h)
- approach via Schottentor or Haidenschuß
- Loc.: Am Hof, 1010 Vienna
There are still a number of small and really nice Christmas villages, which are rarely mentioned in detail, because they just do not belong to the usual big, well-known Christmas markets. But they are often much more pleasant because they are less crowded. These are the following Christmas villages summarized under an “umbrella brand”- weihnachtsmarkt.at (only in German):
- Christmas village on campus – at the old AKH (General Hospital) – (PHOTO?) In the 8th district near the town hall or the Votive Church
- Christmas village on the Maria Theresienplatz – just opposite the Heroes Square with the Hofburg. Between our famous twin museums, the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Naturhistorisches Museum. This Christmas village is going on 27.12. over in a New Year’s Eve village until January 6 2020! Similar to the Belvedere Palace, but here the village closes on New Year´s Eve.
- Christmas village in front of the Belvedere Palace – small but beautiful. The scenery in the park of the Belvedere Palace is simply fantastic – the much undervalued little sister of Schönbrunn Palace. Above all, a must if you spend the night near Vienna Central Station
- the small Christmas market on Stephansplatz. It belongs to this umbrella brand of the Christmas villages, but here you will see it anyway if you are on Stephansplatz.
Finally, we would also like to mention a Christmas market, that is not in the middle of the city, but always worth a little extra excursion …
Above all, because it is so beautiful and unique in its design is the Christmas market in Hirschstetten. At the flower gardens Hirschstetten. They are worth a trip to the outskirts of Vienna in summer. But imagine what can be conjured up for a Christmas world. Magic is the right word. Because there you will be enchanted, it’s like in a Christmas wonderland. A dream for children. For the little ones and the big ones
For several years there is the “natural Christkindl” market with a huge range of organic and regional delicacies. Naturalness in the nature of Vienna. And you can drink for the good of the animals. Because there is also a charity punch stall for TierQuarTier Wien …
The programme there also contains an exhibition inside the heated glasshouses. It is called “Enchanting Sounds of Christmas”. And there is an outlet of the “48ers”. For those who do not know: the city office MA48 of Vienna is responsible for its waste management and they run a second hand market in the 5th district. They additionally sell great upcycling projects there!
!Attention: In 2o20 the Christmas market in the Hirschstetten flower gardens will unfortunately be canceled due to the prevailing exceptional situation.
With its exhibition “The Snoow Queen” the Christmas market at the flower gardens enchanted and enticed in 2018 into a Christmas fairyland! 🧚♀️
Info about Christmas market Hirschstetten:
Unfortunately, the Christmas market with the best view was canceled for 2018, which is a pity, because this scenery was / is simply unique. With the illuminated castle, the vineyards and the breathtaking view of Vienna. A reopening in 2019 was announced but we could not find any details yet …. we keep you updated!
- Rathausplatz – Winter wonderland, but rather avoided by the Viennese, because you get claustrophobia. But beautiful to pass by. See and be amazed.
- Schloß Schönbrunn – 2017 in second place among the Viennese. In our opinion, this is mainly the scenery. Attention: dogs are forbidden!
- Karlsplatz – one of our favorites, a green event with a lot of organic culinary and simply great atmosphere. Attention: does not open long – until 20 o’clock
- On Spittelberg – one of the most beautiful corners of Vienna and next to the Mariahilferstraße, with many restaurant options for those who are getting too cold …
- Am Hof - Champagne next to farmers market next to charitable market. Everything is mixed in there. Am Hof and the Freyung is the melting pot of the Christmas markets. Try a mulled wine on the charitable market opposite the Kunstforum Wien.
- The Christmas villages – small but beautiful. Especially very nice because of their village charm and because they are not so crowded. Belvedere Palace is a must for anyone arriving at Vienna Central Station.
- Blumengarten Hirschstetten – a magical fairy land for young and old with regional organic market and charity for the animal shelter 💝
Finally, we would not be Viennatickets.com if we did not have a recommendation with classical music in Vienna. An absolute highlight in our ticket contingent is the Christmas concert of the Vienna Hofburg Orchestra. on the 25th and 26th of December, at 8.30 pm at the Hofburg in Vienna. In the “Festsaal”, a hall that is not easily accessible to the public. Our tip: Before the concert, stroll through the Christmas village on the Maria-Theresien-Platz, maybe drink a mulled wine to warm up. At 19 clock the village closes, the evening box of the Vienna Hofburg Orchestra opens at 19.30. Either you walk through Burggarten. Volksgarten and over the Heldenplatz. If you are too cold on this day enjoy the culinary riches in one of the restaurants in the Museumsquartier. Or you go for a snack to the rooftop bar of the 25hrs hotel and enjoy Vienna from above…
But the concert is a real Christmas highlight in Vienna. Also a very special Christmas present. Extensive information about the Vienna Hofburg Orchestra can be found in our blog article. Detailed information on the classical Christmas concerts are available here:
We wish you all Merry Christmas!