Over the last few years, the largest Vienna Christmas market, the Christkindlmarkt Rathausplatz, has upgraded to Wiener Weihnachtstraum (Vienna Christmas Dream). Explore where to find Christkindl now between punch, artisan decoration, a red-heart tree and an ice skating path.
NOTE: According to the Vienna City Council, the Vienna Christmas markets will take place during the Corona pandemic, appylying stringent safety and hygiene measures. Due to the second lockdown in November, the Christkindlmarkt will likely open in early December.
Traditional Christkindlmarkt Vienna
Each year, a different Austrian federal state donates a giant spruce to tower above the 150+ market stalls. From dawn, the 30-meter tall tree sparkles with hundreds of lights against the backdrop of the illuminated neogothic Rathaus.
Keeping up with Austrian traditions, a gigantic advent calendar and an advent wreath in the park complete the setting.
At the start of their visit, many people grab a mug of punch or mulled wine from one of the stalls before they explore the rows of huts selling artisan Christmas decoration, beeswax candles, traditional wooden toys and unusual creations from glass and tin. Just remember the stall where you bought the hot drinks to get back your deposit for the mug.
As for snacks, this is THE season to bite into a crispy Hungarian langos, a round deep-fried ‘pizza’ sprinkled with optional garlic sauce. Other great savoury snacks available are roasted chestnuts and Erdäpfelpuffer (hash browns). Considering the Christkindlmarkt’s sweet menu the most original choices are regional Krapfen (donuts, see photo), fruit skewers dipped in chocolate and fresh soft ginger bread.
Nativity Scene Path
Although it showcases traditional crafts, the nativity scene path in adjacent Rathauspark is quite new. Each year, about 10 to 15 hand-made nativity scenes line up, set into a contemporary context such as regional poverty, or family. If you like nativity scenes, you will get the largest choice of any Vienna Christmas market in one place at Rathausplatz.
Live Advent Music at Christkindlmarkt Rathausplatz
In December, gospel choirs and brass bands perform each evening from 6.30 pm to 7.00 pm on the stage beneath the Christmas tree (until 23rd December).
From the City Hall’s cathedral-like tower, a group of regional brass musicians trumpet Christmas songs between 8.00 pm and 8.30 pm daily from 30th November. If you prefer a warmer musical setting, find out more about indoor Advent and Christmas Concerts.
During the advent weekends in the run up to Christmas, advent choirs sing traditional Austrian and international Christmas songs in the City Hall’s ballroom. Enter for free from Friday to Sunday 3.30 pm to 7.00 pm. 24th December: 3.30 to 4.30 pm (TBC)
Highlights for Children
Because young Austrian children still write letters to Christkind listing their wishes for presents, the Vienna City Council instals a dedicated Christkindl post office at the Town Hall to expedite things. On top, the kids can use beautifully created Christmas postmarks and stamps to decorate their letters.
In the Town Hall’s large Volkshalle (public hall) at Christkindlmarkt Rathausplatz, children and young people create their own decorative presents and bake Christmas cookies under the guidance of trained staff. Usually, the activities are offered daily during the whole day, except on the 24th December, when the hall closes at 3.00 pm.
Ice Skating Rink at Rathausplatz
Just next to the traditional stalls and nativity scenes ice skaters glide on meandering paths across Rathauspark to soft advent music tunes. For beginners, Vienna’s Kleiner Eistraum (Little Ice Dream) reserves a little ice skating rink to try the first steps.
Because the Vienna City Council grants free access for schools, expect some occasional buzz on week days, which usually spreads well across the enormous skating landscape.
Both skates and helmets can be rented for a few Euros onsite. In Ice Skating Vienna I share my experience skating with my kids there.
Other Highlights at the Vienna Christmas Market
In 2018, a Viennese marketing agency created the idea of the Heart Tree (Herzerlbaum) to help decorate the Christmas market surroundings on Rathausplatz. Following a legal dispute with the Vienna City Council, the heart decorations disappeared, causing an outrage among the local public.
Luckily, the Herzerlbaum is back, and not just that. Right next to it, the small Bussiplatz (kissi square, see photo) offers dedicated space for all who like hugs and kisses, to practice a very Viennese gesture – the Bussi.
Opening Times And How To Get To Christkindlmarkt Rathausplatz
Dates: early December to 26th December 2020 (TBC)
Opening Times: Sun to Thurs 10.00 am to 9.30 pm; Fri and Sat 10.00 am to 10.00 pm; 24th December – closes at 7.00 pm;
from 29th November, advent trumpets from 8.00 pm to 8.30 pm; daily Christmas carol singing on the central stage from 6.30 pm to 7.00 pm;
Opening Times Ice Skating Rink: early December 2020 to 6th January 2021 (TBC); open daily from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm; 24th December 10.00 am to 6.00 pm; closed on 31st December;
Location: Rathauspark in front of Vienna City Hall.
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