Christmas Markets in Vienna
Vienna is proud that it can date its Christmas market all the way back into the 13th century.
According to local historians, that was when the rights were granted for a 'December Market', which was originally a general market for the benefit of the Viennese inhabitants.
Three centuries later, the typical Christmas market elements had already become popular - the sweets and biscuits, especially - and later the concept of giving seasonal gifts (and thus needing to buy them) helped to cement its popularity.
The market has only been held in its present location in the gardens in front of the City Hall since 1975 - previously it was held in squares in the city centre. There are plenty of other markets in different locations in the city and, this being Vienna, they almost all have a particularly scenic backdrop. Here we have listed a selection of the events that have their own Christmas market websites:
Advent Magic at the Vienna Christkindlmarkt
This is the best-known of all the Vienna Christmas markets, with the image of the illuminated city hall and the market in front of it being a popular one to illustrate seasonal news stories.
Dates: 11.11.16 – 24.12.16
Times: 10.00 – 22.00
( 24.12 : 10.00 –19.00)
Location: In the open space in front of the Vienna City Hall
Vienna Ferris Wheel Winter Market
The Riesenrad is the giant Ferris wheel in the Prater amusement park made famous by the film 'The Third Man'. The market offers live music in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday.
Dates: 18.11.17 - 07.01.18
Times: Monday to Friday : 12.00 - 22.00
Saturday and Sunday : 11.00 - 22.00
(24.12 : 10.00 - 17.00)
Location: In the Prater amusement park
Christmas Village at the Maria-Theresien-Platz
The Christmas Village in the Museumsquartier is one of a number organised by the same events agency. This one is located between the Natural History and the Art History Museums.
Dates: 22.11.17 - 26.12.17
Times : Sunday to Thursday: 11.00 – 21.00
Friday and Saturday: 11.00 – 22.00
(24.12 : 11.00 –16.00)
Location: In the square of the Museumsquartier
Altwiener Christmas Market
Although the Altwiener market is indeed held in one of the most historic parts of the inner city, the name ('Old Viennese') doesn't mean that it goes back a long way - it dates from the 1980s - but that it tries to stand out against commercialisation and for a traditional market.
Dates: 18.11.16 - 23.12.16
Times: 10.00 - 21.00
Location: In the historic Freyung square near the Schottenkirche
Christmas Village at the Belvedere Palace
One of the most popular and most visited palaces in Vienna plays host to this Advent village, located in the palace grounds to the south of the city centre.
Dates: 24.11.17 - 26.12.17
Times: 11.00 - 21.00
Saturday, Sunday and 08.12.17: 11.00 – 22.00
24.12.17: 11.00 - 15.00
Location: At Schloss Belvedere
Culture and Christmas Market at Schönbrunn Palace
This is another market at one of Vienna's famous palaces - this time a little way out of the centre of the city at Schloss Schönbrunn.
Dates: 18.11.17 - 26.12.17
Times: 10.00 - 21.00
(24.12 : 10.00 –16.00; 25.-26.12 : 10.00 - 18.00)
Location: In the ground of Schönbrunn Palace
Christmas Village at the Altes AKH
This is another of the Christmas villages around the city - this one located in the buildings which are now part of the University of Vienna but which are still known as 'the old general hospital'.
Dates: 18.11.17 - 23.12.17
Times: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday : 15.00 - 22.00
Wednesday and Saturday : 12.00 - 22.00
Sunday : 12.00 - 21.00
Location: In the 9th district buildings known as the Altes AKH
Other Things To Do in Vienna
Follow your own track through the city history. As the former Imperial capital of much of Europe, Vienna is steeped in culture and history. You can follow the traces of the battles against the Turkish invaders which left the legacy of coffee house culture; the scientific and cultural legacy of the Austro-Hungarian emperors; or track the important locations and persons in the development of pyschotherapy!
Sample the Blue Danube. Well, not literally - for a start it's probably too cold at this time of year. But there are a number of interesting sites along Vienna's main river, from the Donauinsel (the island between the two channels of the river) to the river traffic connections to Bratislava over the border in neighbouring Slovakia, to the evocative Cemetery of the Nameless (for those unknown who are found drowned in the river).
Experience Vienna's contribution to food and drink. We mentioned the coffee houses above (and they should certainly be experienced) but visitors should also try the sausage stands (an Austrian institution but especially in Vienna), the Wiener Schnitzel (a breaded pork or veal escalope) or the local pastries and cakes (possibly in one of the above-mentioned coffee houses).
Plan Your Own Christmas Market Break in Vienna
Vienna International Airport is located to the south-east of the city and has a wide range of flight options. There are two types of rail service into the city centre, the City Airport Transfer (CAT) trains or the local S-Bahn regional train service. Frequent bus services are also available.
Bratislava Airport, just over the border in Slovakia, is sometimes termed Vienna (Bratislava) Airport by the more ingenious of cheaper airlines - it is in fact an hour's drive over the border 90km away.
Vienna's main railway station is currently undergoing massive renovations (scheduled to finish in 2015). Up until that point visitors planning on using the rail network should check which rail terminal is in use for their journey to the city (currently the Westbahnhof, Südbahnhof and Vienna Meidling with the new main railway station being slowly integrated). All the local services, as well as buses and trams, are integrated into a common ticket service by the Wiener Linien.
Vienna Airport: www.viennaairport.com
National Railways: www.oebb.at
Vienna Railway Station: www.hauptbahnhof-wien.at
Local Public Transport: www.wienerlinien.at
Tourist Office: www.wien.info
Other Vienna Information: www.viennadirect.com