City Lights: Vienna Celebrates the Holidays

Vienna may not have invented Christmas, but it certainly knows how to honour it, with markets, décor, hot drinks and tempting aromas it's hard not to catch the holiday bug

Vienna Christmas Lights

Decorations adorn the Rotenturmstrasse in Vienna during the holiday season | Photo: APA

With the city all aglow, Christmas markets appear at every turn, and the smells of cloves, roasted chestnuts, sugary treats, mulled wine and cinnamon permeate the air. Even for those who don’t celebrate the holiday, the Wunderland that is Vienna has lots in store.

We take you behind the scenes, into the mechanics of the magical makeover Vienna gets every year, readying it for the throngs of shoppers, tourists and revellers. We’ve visited some out-of-the-way Christmas markets, uncovering their well-kept secrets, as well as the inner-city priority Punsch stands that provide live entertainment. We’ve gone to the rehearsal hall for a new production of A Christmas Carol, and have even included the greatest-ever recipe for Glühwein.


Creating Christmas

Long before most of us begin Christmas shopping, the City of Vienna is hard at work making the inner city streets glitter and glisten.

In the story “Let it Glow” (p. 5), we take a look at the project of dressing Vienna for the holidays from several angles: First, the means and the money it takes to make the finery possible; second, the psychology of lighting-up this dark time of year; finally, how Vienna is sharing the wealth and exporting the ideas, and even lending some of the chandeliers to give other cities the chance to shine.


Enjoying the Season

No wonder so many choose Christmastime to visit Austria’s capital. Few other cities make this season so warm and inviting. So, to avoid the crowds downtown, take a look at our coverage of two lesser-known Christmas markets: at Schloss Wilhelminenberg in the 16th and in Türkenschanzpark in the 18th District (p. 4).

Downtown, the markets are each unique, and as some only go for Glühwein and Punsch we’ve selected destinations with entertainment and individual flair (p. 27). Also a do-it-yourself Glühwein recipe can be found in our wine column, “Through the Grapevine” (p. 30).

We’ve peeked behind the scenes of the Open House Theatre Company’s production of A Christmas Carol to see how rehearsals are going (p. 17).

For the sports-starved the “Keys to the City” (p. 5) has a list of prime ice-skating venues around town, and Christian Cummins gone to Kitzbühel, for an insider’s view of Tyrol’s famed resort (p. 28).

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