The Austrian capital Vienna gets into the festive spirit from mid-November onwards. Its streets and alleys are suddenly filled with the smells of spiced fruits and mulled wine, its handsome Rathausplatz populated by small wooden stands, bringing the magic of Christmas to around three million visitors from near and far.
More than 145 booths appear in the square at Christmas time. They sell arts and crafts, Christmas decorations, and a range of delicious treats. Children's eyes are shining when they get to meet the Christkindl, a beautiful angel listening to their Christmas wishes. The musical backdrop of choir performances and a tower brass band makes for the perfect festive atmosphere. A walk along the nativity scene trail helps to get you in the spirit as well. Beautifully handmade nativity scenes line the parkways.
Festive Joy for Young and Old
Vienna Christmas Dream means more than just a classic Christmas market. It includes a number of attractions, especially for children. At the crafting parlour, kids get to make their very own presents for parents or grandparents, crafting, painting, and baking as much as their hearts desire.
If you're looking for more action, the Christmas World inside the park is the place to go. From a (historical) merry-go-round to a reindeer train station it fulfills your every Christmas wish. Another highlight is the Little Ice Dream, an ice rink at the other side of the park. Skate along the paths and let the festive music fill you with Christmas spirit.
Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt has been attracting visitors from near and far for over 700 years. The market has been populated by small traders since Albert I. decreed in 1296 to hold a “December market” to ensure the supply of goods to the Viennese population. In the 16th century, this market was held under the name “Thomasmarkt” over the Christmas and New Year period. In addition to traditional festive goods like textiles and food, traders then began to offer fashionable foods like gingerbread and confectionery.
In the 18th century, the market was held under the banners “Nikolo- und Weihnachtsmarkt” and “Krippenmarkt”. Traders would always attempt to offer customers a large selection of goods, even during difficult periods. The Christmas Festival as we know it now first emerged in Vienna during the Biedermeier period, when the city’s palace displayed Christmas trees according to northern German traditions for the first time. The tradition of giving gifts also emerged around the time of the Congress of Vienna in 1814. The Christkindlmarkt was held in Am Hof and was more of a general market than it is today. There were, however, some festive specialities like decorated nuts, tinsel, candles, festive textiles and much more besides.
Since 1975, the Christkindlmarkt has been held in Vienna’s Rathausplatz and has lost nothing of its original flair.
How to get there
Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt and Christmas Dream are held at the Rathausplatz and Rathauspark in the city centre.
On public transport The city’s Hauptbahnhof and Westbahnhof railway stations are a good 3 km away from the Christkindlmarkt. If you are planning to visit by rail, you’d be best advised to take the tram or subway from the main station to reach the Rathausplatz. Depending on the tram line you take, you can stop at any of the following stops: Rathausplatz/Burgtheater, Rathaus (Stadiongasse), Rathaus (Josefstädter Straße), Stadiongasse/Parlament, Schottentor, Volkstheater or Landesgerichtsstraße, all of which are in the direct vicinity of the Christmas market. You can also take the subway to the Christkindlmarkt. The Rathaus, Herrengasse and Schottentor stops are all just a stone’s throw from the market.
By car If you want to travel to the city by car, take motorways A1, A22 or A23. The city centre is accessible via the Linke Wienzeile (B1), the Währinger Gürtel (B221) or the Donaukanal Straße (B227). You would also be well advised to follow the parking guidance system to find the right car park. Luckily, the Viennese public transport network is excellent, and so parking at the edge of the city and using the “Park and Ride” option to get to the Christmas market is easy and convenient.