Colorful tiles on the roof of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna

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Vienna Media News – September 2023 Frosty elegance, dancing and advent magic: winter in Vienna

The advent season is invariably a very atmospheric time to visit Vienna. The historic city center and shopping streets are decorated with festive lights and bathe the city in a Christmassy ambience. The Christmas markets are particularly inviting, with all manner of things to discover.

Viennese Christmas markets: Christkindlmarkt & more

From mid-November onwards, Vienna’s most beautiful squares, streets and parks transform themselves into magical Christmas markets. Each has its own unmistakable atmosphere, with culinary delights ranging from punch to roasted chestnuts, plus arts and crafts activities for children to enjoy. 

Vienna’s largest and most famous Christmas market with more than 100 stalls is the Wiener Christkindlmarkt (Viennese Christmas Market) on Rathausplatz. It is considered one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe and combines romance and nostalgia. Amorous couples often visit the popular Herzerlbaum (heart tree). There is a strong focus on families: for children, there is a Christmas world in the park with a reindeer train, a carousel as well as a nostalgic Ferris wheel and a Nativity trail, plus activities in the Kids Pavilion. Brass band players create a musical Christmas atmosphere. At the Eistraum am Christkindlmarkt, visitors can skate through the romantically illuminated Rathauspark on two ice rinks connected by “dream paths” and on a children’s ice rink.

Some of the Christmas markets attract visitors with their unique imperial flair: for instance the Kultur- und Weihnachtsmarkt Schloss Schönbrunn (Christmas Market Schloss Schönbrunn), which is already in its 30th year, offers handmade products, concerts and a range of children’s events that includes a Christmas workshop. The Weihnachtsdorf beim Schloss Belvedere (Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace) impresses with its baroque backdrop and elegant artisan craftwork in the spacious Schlosspark. The Adventmarkt beim Gartenpalais Liechtenstein (advent market in the gardens of the Palais Liechtenstein) will take place for the fourth time this year and remains an insider’s tip for all those who enjoy the finer things in life.

Fans of tradition can get their fill at the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt (Old Viennese Christmas Market) on the Freyung, at the Weihnachtsmarkt Am Hof or at the Weihnachtsdorf am Stephansplatz (Christmas Village at Stephansplatz) in front of the gothic cathedral.

Here are two recommendations for craft enthusiasts and for all those who value sustainability: the Weihnachtsmarkt am Spittelberg – relaunched in 2023 as a sustainable eco-event – and the Art Advent am Karlsplatz. The latter has been around for 30 years now, and all of its food and drink offerings are certified organic.

Another popular meeting place in the runup to Christmas is the Weihnachtsdorf am Maria-Theresien-Platz (Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz) between the Kunsthistorischen and Naturhistorischen museums. The Weihnachtsdorf am Campus der Universität Wien (Christmas Village on the University Campus) has curling rinks and is popular with families because of the children’s train and the nostalgic carousel.

On the musical side of things, the Wintermarkt am Riesenradplatz (Winter Market on Riesenradplatz) on the Wiener Prater stands out with its hustle and bustle and numerous live concerts ranging from gospel to soul to pop. The Alm Advent in front of the Messe Wien is a lively festive village of gifts, culinary treats, events and families.

A less traditional, but all the more modern experience is offered by the MQ Wintergarten in the inner courtyard of the MuseumsQuartier, which is designed as a winter wonderland with spectacular art and light effects, open beer gardens, and curling rinks.

Ring in the new year with the New Year’s Eve Trail, galas and concert

Some of the Christmas markets turn into New Year’s markets, where the festive wintry spirit continues. They are particularly known for their culinary offerings and arts and crafts. The festivities at the Christmas Market Schloss Schönbrunn, for instance, are extended with the Neujahrsmarkt until January 4 – dixie, swing and jazz ensembles provide musical accompaniment into the new year. Other venues of interest include the New Year’s Village at the Belvedere Palace, the New Year’s Village at Maria-Theresien-Platz and the Wintermarkt am Riesenradplatz (Winter Market on Riesenradplatz).

The highlight on December 31 is Vienna’s Silvesterpfad (New Year’s Eve Trail) through the city center. A party atmosphere is guaranteed between 2.00 pm and 2.00 am – and there’s no admission charge. The New Year’s Eve Trail winds its way through the most elegant streets and squares in the 1st district. A number of stages offer a variety of shows and music of every genre: waltzes, rock, pop, disco, blues, funk, soul and DJ sets. Dozens of restaurateurs serve punch, sparkling wine and culinary treats. Revellers who follow the New Year’s Eve Trail start dancing in the afternoon when Vienna’s dance schools transform the Graben square into an open-air ballroom with waltzing classes, and continue right past midnight to the sound of Johann Strauss’ “The Blue Danube” and the ringing of the Pummerin, the famous bell of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

A visit to a Silvestergala (New Year’s Eve gala) offers a stylish way to bring in the New Year and an experience of elegant Viennese ball culture, with classical dancing, a party with live contemporary music, shows, a waltz to “The Blue Danube” at midnight and a multi-course gala dinner. The atmosphere and the festive setting at the New Year’s Eve gala at Vienna City Hall and at the Palais Auersperg never fail to impress.

New Year’s eve traditions are also brought to life on the stage in the musical city of Vienna: “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss is on the program in the Vienna State Opera and Vienna Volksoper. The New Year’s Concert performed by the Vienna Philharmonic – the most famous concert in the world – takes place every year on the morning of January 1 in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Music Society. It is broadcast on TV in more than 90 countries. Viennese locals watch it too while they enjoy their hangover breakfast and some go to watch the live broadcast on Stephansplatz.

Preview 2024: Vienna Ice World and Ball Season

Every year from January to March, the Vienna Ice World transforms the Rathausplatz into a huge ice rink for keen skaters of all ages and abilities. The illuminated facade of the City Hall creates a fairy-tale backdrop while musicians accompany the skaters. The Vienna Ice World is one of the largest open-air artificial ice rinks in the world and allows visitors to skate on two levels: the Sky Rink offers a special experience, featuring a skating terrace on the second floor with a 120-meter ramp. An ice trail with countless routes winds its way through City Hall Park. Curling will also make a comeback in 2023. Culinary offerings prepared with regional and organic ingredients plus a skate rental service combine to offer an all-inclusive experience.

The city celebrates the climax of the ball season during January and February. More than 450 balls take place in Vienna every year, equating to upwards of 2,000 hours of dancing. The Vienna Chamber of Commerce set a new visitor record during the 2022/23 season with approximately 550,000 ticket sales.

There is classical dancing to waltzes in three-four time, or visitors can move to the adjoining rooms to tap their feet to disco beats for a change of pace.

Many occupations in Vienna even have their own dedicated ball, ranging from the Confectioners’ Ball (January 11) to the Doctors’ Ball (January 27). The Hofburg in Vienna hosts a particularly large number of traditional balls: guests attend the the Hunters’ Ball (January 29) in traditional costumes and the Coffeehouse Owners Ball (February 2) is considered particularly atmospheric. The Opera Ball (February 8) at the Vienna State Opera is legendary – the ball to beat all balls. It is attended by prominent guests from the art, cultural, business, social and political scenes, and is even broadcast live on television. The Vienna Music Society is the venue for the Ball of the Vienna Philharmonic (January 18) and the Ball of Industry and Technology (January 20). Vienna City Hall will be transformed into a huge sea of flowers for the 100th Flower Ball of the Vienna City Gardens (January 12).

A guide to the most attractive Christmas markets

From November 2023 onwards, ivie – the digital city guide smartphone app for Vienna – will also offer a guide to the most elegant Christmas markets in its “Walks & Guides” section.

Download the app at: 

Dates and addresses:

  • Wiener Christkindlmarkt (Viennese Christmas Market) on Rathausplatz, 11.10.-12.26.2023; Eistraum (Vienna Ice World) at Christkindlmarkt: 11.11.2023-1.7.2024 (closed 12.31.2023), Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna, www.christkindlmarkt.at
  • 30th Kultur- und Weihnachtsmarkt Schloss Schönbrunn, 11.18.-12.26.2023, Neujahrsmarkt 12.27.2023-1.4.2024, Ehrenhof Schloss Schönbrunn, 1130 Vienna, www.weihnachtsmarkt.co.at
  • Christmas Village at the Belvedere Palace, 11.17.-12.24.2023 (closed on Christmas Day); New Year’s Eve Village at the Belvedere Palace 12.27.-12.31.2023, Prinz-Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna, www.weihnachtsdorf.at
  • Advent im Gartenpalais Liechtenstein, 11.17.-12.23.2023, Fürstengasse 1, 1090 Vienna, www.adventimgartenpalais.at 
  • Altwiener Christkindlmarkt Freyung, 11.17.-12.23.2023, Freyung, 1010 Vienna, www.altwiener-markt.at
  • Weihnachtsmarkt Am Hof, 11.10.-12.23.2023, Am Hof, 1010 Vienna, www.weihnachtsmarkt-hof.at
  • Weihnachtsdorf am Stephansplatz, 11.10.-12.26.2023, Stephansplatz, 1010 Vienna, www.weihnachtsdorf.at
  • Spittelberg Weihnachtsmarkt, 11.16.-12.23.2023, Spittelberggasse, Stiftgasse, Schrankgasse, Gutenberggasse, 1070 Vienna, spittelberg.at
  • Art Advent – Kunst & Handwerk am Karlsplatz, 11.24.-12.23.2023, Karlsplatz, 1040 Vienna, www.artadvent.at
  • Weihnachtsdorf Maria-Theresien-Platz, 11.15.-12.26.2023; Silvesterdorf Maria-Theresien-Platz 12.27.-12.31.2023, Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna, www.weihnachtsdorf.at
  • Weihnachtsdorf am Campus der Universität Wien, 11.10.-12.23.2023, Alserstraße/Spitalgasse, Hof 1, 1090 Vienna, www.weihnachtsdorf.at
  • Wintermarkt am Riesenradplatz, 11.18.2023-1.7.2024, Riesenradplatz, 1020 Vienna, www.wintermarkt.at
  • Alm Advent, 11.23.-12.22.2023, Messeplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, www.alm-advent.at
  • MQ Wintergarten im MuseumsQuartier, 11.9.-12.23.2023, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna, www.mqw.at

You can find more information about Christmas markets at www.vienna.info

  • Wiener Silvesterpfad, 12.31.2023, 2.00pm - 2.00am, food served from 11.00am, wienersilvesterpfad.at
  • Silvestergala (New Year’s Eve Gala) at Vienna City Hall, 12.31.2023, Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 1, 1010 Vienna, www.silvestergala.com
  • Silvestergala (New Year’s Eve Gala) at Palais Auersperg, 12.31.2023, Auerspergstraße 1, 1080 Vienna, www.auersperg.com
  • Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Concert, 1.1.2024, starting at 11.15 am, Vienna Music Society, Musikvereinsplatz 1, 1010 Vienna, live broadcast on Stephansplatz and on TV, https://www.wienerphilharmoniker.at/en/newyearsconcert
  • Vienna Ice World, 1.19.-3.3.2024, Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna, daily 10.00 am - 10.00 pm, www.wienereistraum.com. (Previously between 11.11.2023-1.7.2024 (closed 12.31.2023): the smaller Ice World at the Vienna Christmas Market, www.christkindlmarkt.at).

Vienna’s Ball Season 2024 (selection)

Contact

Helena Steinhart
Media Relations
+43 1 211 14-364