Advent is often referred to as “the fifth season” in Austria. Nowhere else is the custom of Advent markets – or Christkindlmärkte – lent more love and attention. Today, we’re going to show you some of the loveliest Christmas markets from Innsbruck to Vienna, which you can also fly to directly.
Marching from stall to stall, browsing, rummaging about, trying out all those Christmas treats, admiring arts and crafts, getting to know traditional handiwork, shopping for Christmas tree decorations and gifts. Savouring burnt almonds, chestnuts and gingerbread, baking biscuits yourself or learning something about a handicraft, viewing a petting zoo or drinking punch! Enjoying the slight rush the mulled wine gives you on the way home. Freezing to death – just so you can warm up all over again. What could be lovelier than visiting one of the countless beautiful, romantic Advent markets with family or friends during the pre-Christmas season?! And if it begins to snow as well, then it just couldn’t be lovelier! Here’s a list of some of our favourite Advent and Christmas markets in Austria…
Winter wonderland. The strongest points of the Christmas markets in Tyrol’s regional capital are their amazing mountainous backdrop, atmospheric lighting, festive music and great ambience. Innsbruck is proclaimed a ‘Christmas market zone’, so to speak, during Advent. The city hosts a total of six impressive Advent markets as part of the Innsbruck Mountain Christmas programme, with over 200 stalls offering visitors a range of charming attractions. The oldest of these, and particularly lovely, is the Christkindlmarkt in the Altstadt (“Old City”) district, in front of the Goldenes Dachl with its huge, twinkling Christmas tree. At five-thirty in the afternoon every day, festive tower music rings out from the balconies of the landmark of the city – the Goldenes Dachl. Arts and crafts and Christmas tree decorations can be bought at more than 70 stalls here, while mythical figures carry visitors off into another world on Märchen- und Riesengasse.
A few streets further on, the most impressive things at the Christkindlmarkt on Maria-Theresienstraße are the light installations and products from around the world. Anyone wishing to go up, up and away should definitely pay a visit to Innsbruck’s highest Advent market, the Christkindlmarkt on Hungerburg mountain. The market is open from Friday to Sunday. From up here, visitors can enjoy an amazing view of the twinkling city and surrounding mountain world, which may well already be twinkling white with the season’s early snows. The journey up the mountain, using the cable car stations designed by starchitect Zaha Hadid, is an experience in its own right!
The oldest, largest and most famous Advent market can also be found in the heart of Salzburg’s Altstadt district. Salzburg Cathedral, the Dom, and the Residenz have provided a Baroque backdrop to the atmospheric Advent hustle-and-bustle for some 525 years now. Visitors can explore and enjoy a variety of stalls, with arts and crafts, culinary delicacies, punch and mulled wine. Directly opposite, meanwhile, on Mozartplatz, is Salzburg ice rink, where you can rent skates for just a few euros. Then there’s nothing to stop you set out on a (wobbly) round, glass of punch in hand while enjoying some pre-Christmas pop music and the view of the city’s Hohensalzburg fortress.
The Christkindlmarkt Advent experience is at its most romantic, atmospheric and lovely, however, just in front of the gates of Mozart’s home city. The slogan of the Hellbrunner Adventzauber market surrounding the magnificent summer residence of the Archbishops, Schloss Hellbrunn palace, seems to be “Schöner geht´s nimma” – “As good as it gets”. As well as the obligatory mulled wine and punch stalls, this market features every imaginable kind of Advent tradition and arts and crafts. After taking a walk through the park surrounding the famous Wasserspiele fountains, where you can bake biscuits, fry sausages and pat animals, you can take another extended foray through the rambling Hellbrunn Park.
Bigger, more imposing – just more impressive all around, in fact! Advent markets in Austria’s national capital boast incredible grandeur, beauty and atmosphere – like the city itself. The Christkindlmarkt outside Vienna Rathaus presents a veritable sea of lights – and is our own personal highlight. The market’s 150 or so stalls offer Christmas gifts, Christmas tree decorations, arts and crafts, culinary delicacies, sweets and warming drinks. Particularly good fun: you can rent ice skates and glide through the romantic park and enjoy the Christmassy atmosphere.
visitors to this market can glide through the park on ice skates or go curling on the two huge ice rinks and countless paths which are set up every year. The Kinderwelt section of the park offers a carousel, reindeer ride and wonderful light installations thematising Christmas stories for children. What more could you possibly want?
Art Advent at Karlsplatz offers something for art-lovers in front of the imposing columned portal of the Baroque Karlskirche. The focus here – alongside a petting zoo and organic cuisine – is on authentic arts and crafts, and the techniques used are demonstrated in a show workshop. So you can look on as glass is blown live, candles are made, glass pearls are turned and leather is processed into book covers!
The Weihnachtsmarkt at Museumsquartier is hip, young, trendy and seriously worth a visit. This market lets you combine a visit to a museum nicely with winter delicacies like punch, chestnuts, curling and the ever-popular ‘Winterraces’. These are the races held here on Saturdays and Sundays which are popular amongst fans of remote-control cars everywhere. As if all that weren’t enough, meanwhile, there are also DJ acts on from Thursdays to Sundays!
The entire Altstadt district of Graz becomes an ‘Advent market zone’ in the run-up to Christmas every year. Nowhere else in Austria will you find 14 (!) Advent markets which can be reached quite so quickly and easily on foot, truly giving you the agony of choice! Graz Hauptplatz is home to a whole Advent village, including delicious food, punch and arts and crafts. Then, as evening draws in, artistic light installations mean the Rathaus – City Hall –is transformed into a vast Advent calendar. Another Graz highlight every Advent is the Eiskrippe, or ice manger, at the Landhaushof. This year, ice artist Kimmo Frosti will be conjuring up this unique – even if fleeting – work of art out of crystal-clear ice.
The designer Advent huts on Mehlplatz ensure some welcome variety. The emphasis here is firmly on the artistic side of things, and particularly on creating reinterpretations of traditional handiwork. In the event, the stylish huts make Mehlplatz a huge field of glistening crystal.
Fancy the idea of warming up your heart and hands to a glass of mulled wine somewhere cold, sometime soon? Well, there’s no time like the present – so get going to Innsbruck, Salzburg, Graz or Vienna right now! And you can book your flights here straight away, of course!