Salzburg Christmas market

The Christkindlmarkt Christmas market in Salzburg, Austria

There are documents from the fifteenth century describing the fine crafts being sold by old women in front of the Salzburg cathedral during Advent season (Nov. 22–Dec. 24,

This Christkindlmarkt is a sight smaller and more intimate than the others I'm covering, just 85 stalls ranged under the floodlit baroque stage set that is downtown Salzburg, its fountains snuggled under avant-garde glass casings for the winter, church bells echoing off the buildings, and the medieval castle glowering down from the cliff above.

Up here in the Alps you have a fighting chance of getting that winter wonderland dusting of snow (bonus: squeeze in a bit of holiday skiing, or go skating on Mozartplatz).

It’s a perfect postcard backdrop for browsing the stalls of wood, glass, and pewter crafts, furry slippers, and loden coats while keeping warm with Lebkuchen (gingerbread), roasted chestnuts and almonds, sausages, and some of that sweet mulled Glühwein.

If you see a stall selling wooden masks of horned animals, grab one. These are the signs of the Perchten, pagan Alpine winter demons that the church never quite managed to stamp out in mountain valleys surrounding Salzburg (they still cavort around villages on long winter nights; look for them especially on Dec. 4-5).

Salzburg also boasts a seasonal musical calendar that would make native son Mozart proud: daily evening concerts in the cathedral and choral recitals on its steps, Advent serenades in the Gothic Hall (, folk and Mozart music in the Hohensalzburg fortress (, nativity plays sung in dialect at the Adventsingen (, and Advent concerts in St. Peter’s monastery (

Look for...

The world’s largest Advent calendar, just south of town at the Schloss Hellbrunn. This a 17th century pleasure-palace built for Salzburg’s archbishop-princes that today celebrates Christmas with a crafts market and a living Nativity and just so happens to have 24 windows on its façade—perfect for an Advent calendar (

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in August 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.