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Winter Wonderland: Vienna’s Christmas Markets

On December 2, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go. We haven’t yet witnessed snow, but we’ve seen the sorts of decorations that mean Halloween and Thanksgiving are relics of the past. Vienna takes it to a whole new level. Their famous Christmas markets add just a little more sparkle to an already stunningly beautiful city.

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Rathausplatz

VIENNA’S BIGGEST CHRISTMAS MARKET

Come mid-November, collections of little wooden kiosks start popping up in different areas of the city, while crews work diligently to hang up lighted decorations throughout the city streets. We happened to arrive in Vienna just as the first of the Christmas markets opened.

Vienna features 12 official holiday markets within the city. Some markets are very large while others are smaller and more intimate. The best time to go to these markets is after dark, with the glow of the lights to guide you. There also the perfect places to pick up last minute Christmas gifts. One of the most popular is Rathausplatz, the market outside of City Hall. It features about 150 stands and plenty of games and rides for children.

Most markets have a traditional holiday feel. Wooden kiosks offer a mixture of food, gifts and a lot of holiday cheer. For those who love shopping, the market has a good assortment of crafts and toys for sale. Our favorite part of the market was the hot wine, known as glutvein (or mulled wine). It’s served to you in a good old-fashioned coffee mug. You simply pay for the drink and a deposit for the mug. As long as you return the mug to the stand before you leave, you get your deposit back. But, that means you get to walk around the rest of the market carrying a piping hot mug with your deliciously sweet drink of choice.

THE ALTERNATIVE MARKET EXPERIENCE

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Glutvein makes everyone happy!

For those who are into the more alternative holiday spirit, there are other markets throughout the city that offer a more laid-back scene with cantinas, instead of kiosks, selling hot alcoholic beverages instead. As a general rule, more glutvein is always a good idea.

The night we visited, we also witnessed “Austrian curling” for the first time. In this game – think bocce on ice – the players have two weights they must send across the ice in an attempt to be the weight closest to a marker. The weights are heavy… and the ice is slippery. People were just warming up when we were there. I’m pretty sure later that night, there was some good competition going on.

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Austrian Curling. 50% Strange, 100% Fun.

FIND YOUR PERFECT MARKET

Click here to find out more specific information about each market. Most markets continue until Christmas. Some will stay open into the New Year. If you’re in or around Vienna during the holidays, definitely make a visit to the Christmas markets a priority!

Check out our Vienna gallery.

-C.K.

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