Fairy lights, handicrafts, gingerbread and snow-dusted squares transport visitors into a magical and timeless world at the Christmas markets in Vienna, Salzburg and Prague.
Browse stalls selling hand-carved wooden toys, Christmas decorations, nutcrackers, Advent calendars and traditional confectionary, and enjoy outdoor concerts with a glass of glühwein in hand. This spicy red wine is not only a delectable festive beverage, but a great way to warm up during the outdoor celebrations.
Vienna’s Rathausplatz hosts 150 stalls in a shimmering mass of color, with Christmas decorations, traditional sweets and child-friendly activities on offer. Smaller markets can be found dotted around the city, including Riesenradplatz, Spittelberg, Karlsplatz, Maria-Theresien-Platz and Schönbrunn Palace.
At Salzburg’s Schloss Hellbrunn Christmas market, visitors can sample Mozartkugel chocolate pralines and enjoy a reindeer-pulled sleigh ride. Booths offer a range of Christmas decorations and handcrafted gifts, as well as fine baked goods and delicious aromatic glühwein. The city that gave us Mozart also offers popular performances by traditional Salzburg choirs and children’s school groups, which lure crowds every year. The market is opened by the Archbishop on the first Saturday in Advent right after the blessing of the Advent wreaths.
Prague’s Old Town Square hosts a red-roofed Christmas village selling decorations, a children’s workshop and an entertaining program of Christmas events alongside its enticing Christmas fare. Sample the roasted chestnuts and Christmas confectionary on offer, and take home a memento in the form of a special mulled wine mug.
Strolling through the snow-dusted stalls with hot chocolate or a hot mug full of glühwein is the highlight of Europe’s many treasured Christmas festivities, offering a refreshing change from commercialized Christmas shopping to the enchantment of a centuries-old tradition.