Vienna is famous for its many Christmas Markets which are scattered around the many parks and open spaces of the city. They are an age-old tradition. The forerunners of the present-day events date back to the Middle Ages when in 1298 Albrecht I granted Vienna’s citizens the privilege of holding a December Market or “Krippenmarkt”. Since then, the style of these markets has changed considerably. Nowadays over 20 official Advent Markets operate and sell a vast array of seasonal gifts and foods.
The Christmas markets (called Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindlmarkt in German ) are a collection of wooden stalls on a square or open space during the weeks leading up to December 24th. They are very interesting and very well done. We haven’t seen any sign of the ‘tackiness’ that could usually be ascribed to this type of market in other places. They are certainly a good way to get one into a solid Christmas mood.
The largest, and best known one, is the market that we visited yesterday in the large grassed square in front of the Rathaus (city hall). There must be over 200 stalls which are laid out along the side of the pathways in the park. It was much more crowded that then the one that we visited the day before at Maria Thereslen Platz. We were earlier in the day then, and that market didn’t have the extra attractions such as pony rides, trains and musical activities as did the one at the Town Hall.
The markets are open from about 10:00 am to as late as 11:00 at night.
At most markets can find a mix of stands selling traditional Christmas foods, decorations, art and crafts, handmade toys, honey, candles, jewelry and so on. The weather here is cool, but when it gets really cold with snow, the stalls selling mulled wine and other warm drinks must be very popular.