Christmas markets open in Vienna in mid-November, attracting hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists. Unlike in other European cities, there is not one market, but dozens: you will find rows of wooden stalls with souvenirs and delicacies in each district and near each attraction. At this time of the year, they are the landmarks of the city.
Vienna Christkindlmarkt is not a new tradition; in fact, its history began almost 700 years ago, when the first Christmas market was opened with the permission of the Emperor in 1296.
The main Christmas tree of the country, one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe, many times recognized as the most beautiful on the continent – it’s all about the fair on the City Hall Square. Vendors in 150 stalls offer not only food and drinks, but also various handicrafts, from the bells of alpine cows and Christmas decorations, to Vienna porcelain.
Before the Christmas Day, amateur and professional choirs from different countries perform for half an hour each in the main hall of the Town Hall. Entrance is free.
A 3,000 m2 ice rink opens each winter next to the Stadtpark. It is a great entertainment for families with children and single visitors.
If you plan to explore the main historical sights of the capital and at the same time enjoy the atmosphere of the Christmas market, head to Maria-Theresien-Platz, Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg, Belvedere, Karlskirche and the Vienna State Opera, where you will learn about the history and culture of the country and warm yourself up with aromatic mulled wine.
At this time of the year, locals attend opera performances, such as The Nutcracker, or the Christmas concert in the Schönbrunn Orangery, where the orchestra performs Strauss and Mozart.
The Spanish Riding School, together with the musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boys Choir, holds regular performances where the visitors can admire the grace of the Lipizzaner horses and the stunts of their riders.
Please note that in afternoon on December 24 all markets, restaurants and museums will be closed, as their employees will rush to celebrate Christmas in family circle. However, immediately after Christmas, you may be interested in attending the church service in Hofburg and holiday sales that will begin in all stores.
What to taste
Among all the variety of treats and delicacies at Vienna Christmas markets, you will certainly find your favorite ones. Make sure to try:
Vienna sausages with sauerkraut, served with sweet or spicy mustard.
Roasted pork with potatoes and red cabbage.
For dessert you may choose:
A sweet omelet Kaiserschmarrn.
Ginger or anise cookies.
Heart-shaped gingerbread cookies.
Christmas apple strudel with poppy seeds, nuts and spices.
Ishler cake made of almond dough.
You may want to finish your meal with a marzipan punch, hot chocolate, local or mulled wine.
Before Christmas, restaurants and hosts will serve traditional dishes – fried carp with potato salad and baked or roasted goose.