Vienna Christmas market

The Christkindlmarkt and other Christmas markets of Vienna, Austria

Early birds can get their shopping done before Thanksgiving at Vienna’s venerable Christkindlmarkt on Rathausplatz, which flings open the stall shutters as early as November 12 some years (Nov. 12–Dec. 24,

Three million annual visitors flock to this venerable market with a 700-year tradition for beeswax candles, wooden toys, and glass ornaments while snacking on cream-filled pastries, candied fruit, roasted chestnuts, and Weihnachtspunsch (a spiced “Christmas Punch” of wine, brandy, or schnapps sweetened with warm fruit juices).

This market puts a premium on tradition: there are precious few tacky stands selling plastic toys, and Santa Claus, whom many locals view as the Hollywood harbinger of a commercialized Christmas, is strictly verboten in favor of the traditional Wiener Christkindl, the official Christ Child (invariably played, following an odd Teutonic custom, by a young woman with long blonde curls).

There’s another market of classy Christmas wares in the baroque forecourt of the suburban Schönbrunn palace (, and a more intimate and sophisticated market lining the narrow cobblestone streets of Vienna’s Spittelberg district (

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More than three-dozen Advent season concerts. Book tickets now for the Dec. 21–22 “Christmas in Vienna” concert by the Vienna Boys’ Choir (

The city of Haydn and Strauss also invites choirs from around the world to perform Christmas music in the Rathaus (town hall) every weekend (Friday to Sunday) from Nov. 30 to Dec. 24 as part of the “Internationales Adventsingen” festival (

In the Rathaus's Great Hall, Children can participate in activities such as candle decorating and Christmas cookie baking. Other amusements for kids await in the elaborately decorated Rathauspark, including an old Viennese carousel, a miniature train, and pony rides.

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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.