Elegant Vienna shines as winter descends on the city. Strings of white light draped like pearls shimmer on its cobblestone streets, as the sound of classical music and scents of freshly mulled wine drift on the air. Christmas in Vienna is a time of warmth and celebration, enhanced by the city’s charming sensibility.
Vienna’s identity is entwined with classical music: Mozart, Strauss, Beethoven, and Schubert have all left their mark on the city. During the Christmas season, music is a key part of the city celebrations. The main concert hall hosts an annual televised “Christmas in Vienna” event with choirs, an orchestra and sing-alongs to Christmas carols, pop songs, famous arias, and more. You could also join an evening advent concert at St Stephen’s Cathedral or Minoriten Church, or visit St. Peter’s Church for organ concerts, choir recitals and intricate nativity scenes.
The music continues around the local Christmas markets, with the Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz featuring choir singing and brass bands. Here the air is rich with the scent of roasting chestnuts, and you can also taste sticky-sweet toffee apples, juicy grilled sausages, and cream-filled pastries, all washed down with weihnachtspunsch, a sweet and potent Christmas punch. The Christkindlmarkt is surrounded with sparkling Christmas trees and an ice skating rink in the shadow of the illuminated City Hall. If you want to buy a gift, the wooden vendor stands are brimming with blown glass, handcrafted wood and festive decorations.
The Christmas market at Karlsplatz in front of the gleaming white St Charles Church is a little less busy and popular with locals. Here you’ll find products made by the vendors themselves, often while you watch. There are all kinds of handicrafts, including candles, hats, bags, scarves leather, and pottery items. The focus is strictly on artisanal crafts and high quality goods, and don’t be surprised to see art installations dotting the area. If you’re looking for special edible treats, all the food at this market is organic.
When it comes to Christmas parties in Vienna, there are no better venues than the city’s ornate coffee houses. Cafe Central is noted for its famous patrons of the past, who included Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky, and Stefan Zweig. Located inside the palatial mansion house Palais Ferstel, Cafe Central offers classic Viennese cuisine and desserts, with ample space for a large gathering beneath the marble staircases. Cafe Landtmann, on the Ringstrasse, dates to the 19th century and has plenty of elegant and traditional space for groups. If you’re interested in a more contemporary twist on Viennese cuisine, try the modern restaurant Skopik & Lohn.
Christmas parties in Vienna offer a memorable celebration for the senses, from beautiful sights to sweet music and delicious tastes. It’s hard to resist the city’s warmth and festive charm, and you might well find yourself singing along.