Christmas fairs in Vienna
Christmas Vienna

Christmas fairs in Vienna

For a festive atmosphere and timeless traditions, head to the Christmas fairs in Vienna. A month before the holiday in Austria is Advent — 4 weeks of preparation for Christmas. The main entertainment of the citizens during this time is the fairs, where handmade goods and decorations are sold and festive food is served.

Traditionally, Christmas fairs originated as a place of seasonal commerce where holiday home decorations and gifts were sold. It was also where traditional Christmas foods and delicacies were sold. It was supposed to keep the traders and shoppers warm with something hot — that’s how mulled wine and punch stalls appeared at the fairs.

Austrian fairs are among the most colorful in Europe, and Vienna Advent is consistently ranked in the top 25 best Christmas cities. In Vienna, the holiday mini markets are located in tourist spots. I suggest combining sightseeing with a stroll through the main markets. After all, it’s much more pleasant to get acquainted with history when you have warm chestnuts in your hands and warming drinks in brightly colored mugs.

Christmas fairs in Vienna

Vienna fairs in 2019 open on November 23 and run until December 26, then change from Christmas to New Year’s fairs and continue to delight until January 5—6. They are open from 10:00 to 21:00, and until 16:00 on holidays December 24—26. After 16:00 the festive illumination is switched on.

There are about 20 places with Christmas fairs in the city, and every year this number grows. Each fair has its own legend and a website with schedule and scheme. I will tell you about the most interesting and popular ones. The map shows the ones that are easiest to get to.

The Stephansplatz fair (Stephansplatz)

The fair near Vienna’s main attraction has been running since 1999. The cathedral is surrounded by 40 stalls with Austrian-made products. Evening illuminations and the aromas of spices are responsible for the Christmas mood.

Pick up Christmas souvenirs, buy festive food and mulled wine, and stop at a table by the tent. Drinks are poured into Christmas mugs, not plastic cups. There is a 4 € deposit, it can be taken away as a souvenir.

Fair tents at Stefansplatz
Fair tents at Stefansplatz

Fair on Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square)

Go to the Rathausplatz to get in the holiday spirit. During Christkindlmarkt, a large Christmas tree, merry-go-rounds and a skating rink are set up in the square. The Town Hall is lit up with illuminations.

The fair near the Town Hall is the largest and the first most popular with visitors, thanks to the scale, the large number of attractions and the impressive Gothic building in the background. There are 150 stalls — be prepared for crowds.

A special place is occupied by photo zones: a tree with hearts for those who are in love, glowing angel wings and an arch with candles, for children — fairy-tale castles and a baby nursery.

Stalls sell themed gifts, Christmas tree decorations, and handmade items. Here you can also buy Viennese delicacies, sweets and drinks, garlands of dried fruit, craft soap and even handmade musical instruments.

They pour an ice-skating rink at the town hall every year. There’s an entrance fee.

Christmas market at the Vienna City Hall
Christmas market at the Vienna City Hall
You can take a picture in any photo zone by standing in a small queue
You can take a picture in any photo zone by standing in a small queue

Maria-Theresien-Platz (Maria Theresien-Platz) Fair

A Christmas atmosphere surrounded by pompous palaces: tents stand next to the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art History, across the street the Museum Quarter. There are 70 stalls with handicrafts and original gifts, food and hot drinks.

  • Site with the program in Russian.
Maria Theresa Square with tents
Maria Theresa Square with tents

Freyung Square Fair (Freyung Square)

Vienna’s oldest fair started in 1772. Since then, there has been Christmas trading and daily events at the walls of the Scottish monastery. The biggest bretzels and chestnuts I have ever seen in this part of Vienna.

Until 16:00 there are craft demonstrations and various workshops for children, and in the evening the Christmas illumination is switched on. A choir and musical ensembles create a special, magical mood.

Fair at Schönbrunn Palace (Schönbrunn)

The second major fair in Vienna takes place in a particularly luxurious atmosphere. A Christmas and New Year’s market is held in front of the Schönnbrunn Palace. Every day there are events for visitors: programs for children, concerts, craft demonstrations and various installations.

The tents sell products from Austria labeled «eco», Christmas pastries, national delicacies, mulled wine and punch, handmade souvenirs and creches.

Map of the Christmas Fair in Schönbrunn
Map of the Christmas Fair in Schönbrunn

Fair on Michaelerplatz (Michaelerplatz)

A modest fair near the entrance to the Hofburg Palace. It suits those who can’t stand crowds but want to join in the festivities. This part of Vienna is very cozy and quiet. Stalls sell crafts (shaped candles, soap, ceramics, creches and toys) and food.

Fair stalls at Michaelerplatz
Fair stalls at Michaelerplatz

Fair in front of the Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere)

Several holiday trees are set up near the baroque palace, a mini steam train is running, and there are Christmas music evenings. As usual, the tents are filled with handmade crafts and a large selection of food and drinks.

At the fair you can combine the pleasant and useful — walk around the museum, catch the Christmas mood and take part in some master classes, which are held here daily, and in the evening listen to a capella choir and jazz ensembles.

Belvedere Palace
Belvedere Palace

Fair at the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna Opera House)

Next to the Vienna Opera House there is a culinary fair. All the main flavorful symbols of Christmas are in the stalls: gingerbread and roasted chestnuts, almonds, brezel, meat, cheese, goulash, punch and mulled wine. This fair is in the very center, it doesn’t stand out as anything unusual, but it’s impossible to pass it by.

Vienna Opera
Vienna Opera

What to try for Christmas in Vienna?

Vienna is one of the few capitals that has its own traditional cuisine. On holidays, in addition to street food, brezels, regular punch and mulled wine, you can try Red Bull mulled wine, Amaretto punch and holiday specialties.

Christmas food tents in Vienna
Christmas food tents in Vienna
Food tents in Vienna
Food tents in Vienna

Vienna sausages, braised red cabbage, schnitzels and various cheeses are sold everywhere.

Traditional food and drink at Vienna’s Advent bazaars:

  • Jagartee. A hunting tea made from red wine, schnapps, honey and tea leaves.
  • Bauerngröstl. Baked potatoes with sour cream, ham, cheese and herbs.
  • Kiachl. Patties cooked in deep fryer. Similar to belyashi without filling. Topped with powdered sugar, cranberry jam or cabbage.
  • Lebkuchen. Hand-decorated gingerbread. They keep for months, are adored by children and are a successful souvenir from Christmas Austria.
  • Käsespätzle. Macaroni and cheese sprinkled with fried onions before serving.
  • Kaiserschmarrn. A royal sweet omelette eaten both as a main course and as a dessert.
Mulled wine and punch are poured into similar mugs
Mulled wine and punch are poured into similar mugs
Gingerbread - from 3 euros
Gingerbread — from 3 euros

What you need to know about the Christmas period in Vienna:

  • At this time there is no hard frost and no snow. The average daytime temperature is +5—7 degrees Celsius.
  • On the night of December 5—6, Austrians celebrate St. Nikolaus Day. Children put their shoes outside the door to receive presents in the morning. In the daytime, St. Nikolaus and the evil demon Krampus walk around Vienna, sometimes jokingly fighting.
  • On December 24, stores are open until 2 p.m., December 25 is a day off, and restaurant reservations must be made well in advance.
  • Website with information about fairs and Fairs on the City Hall website

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