If you get to spend part of the Christmas season in Vienna, you should consider yourself lucky indeed. Christmas in Austria is a magical time. Of all the cities in Europe, Vienna has the most festive Advent and Christmas celebration imaginable. It starts with the arrival of St. Nicholas and his scary sidekick Krampus and the celebrations continue through New Year’s and roll right into January Ball Season.
Most towns will have a large Christmas tree in the town square and a Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) selling beautiful handmade items like toys, decorations and tree ornaments. While wandering through the stalls, be sure to enjoy a nice mug of Gluhwein (hot spiced wine). We made a list of our favorite things to do during Christmas season in Vienna and we hope you’ll check out as many as you can. It’s sure to be the merriest holiday you’ve had!
Advent Concert at St. Stephen’s Cathedral:
The Stephansdom Vienna Advent Concert Series is not to be missed. You’ll enjoy works by Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Hadyn as well as an assortment of traditional Christmas carols. The series runs 18 December through 22 December and the presentation is about an hour. Check out classictic.com for ticket information.
Schonbrunn Palace Christmas Market:
This is a wonderful place to buy traditional Christmas gifts and decor from local artisans. You won’t find typical flea market junk. Only the finest of materials and the most skilled craftsmen are allowed to sell their wares here and you’ll be sure to find gifts that will be treasured for years. And the food stalls are not to be missed. Roasted chestnuts, chocolate dipped strawberries, gingerbread and more will tempt your palate. It runs late November through December. For more information, see their website weihnachtsmarkt.co.at
Running from early November through 23 December, Museums Quartier Wien is a wonderful family friendly destination. They have ice pavilions, an ice curling rink, shopping and cultural events for all ages. Kids can bake cookies and adults can sample Punsch (fruit punch spiked with wine). mqw.at has a full schedule of events.
Ice Skating outside Konzerthaus:
Wiener Eislaufverein has a wonderful 6000 square meter rink right outside of the Konzerthaus. There’s a punsch stand right in the center and you can rent skates there if you don’t have your own. wev.or.at has details for times and upcoming events.
Feyung Christmas Market:
What sets this market apart is that it’s small but of the highest quality. The mornings present a “Punch and Judy” show for the kids and have daily demonstrations by local craftsmen. See altwiener-markt.at for more information.
Weiner Volksoper presentation of Hansel and Gretel:
In Vienna the kids start enjoying opera at a young age. This show is great for the whole family. It’s presented by first class singers, dancers and actors accompanied by a renowned orchestra. To purchase tickets and check times, see viennaticketoffice.com
Christmas Eve at Weikersdorf Castle:
This is definitely a splurge, but one that you’ll never forget. Begin your evening with a tour of the castle and learn about some of its history and architecture. After enjoying a wonderful 4 course dinner accompanied by live entertainment, you’ll take a short walk to the Parish Church of St. Christopher for Christmas mass and a recreation of the Nativity Scene.
Christmas in Vienna Concert at Vienna Konzerthaus:
The Vienna Boys Choir and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra will be accompanied by incredible solo performances by leading opera singers performing traditional Christmas songs.
Walk around the empty streets on Christmas:
With the businesses being closed and the locals spending time with their families, the streets will be pretty much empty on Christmas day. This is a great time to walk through the city and really enjoy the sights without any crowds or distractions.
New Year’s Eve Party:
The party doesn’t end after Christmas. The festivities continue right through New Year’s and into January’s 300 balls That’s a lot of balls. The New Year’s market extends along a mile strip linking the city squares, but the plaza around St. Stephen’s Cathedral is where all the big action is. Neuer Market has free waltz lessons so you can dance the night away.
Visiting Vienna this season is a gift no matter how you choose to spend your time. Remember to book your tickets early and keep your eyes and ears open for some of the free entertainment at the markets. We hope you enjoy your time here as much as we do! Merry Christmas!