Monday, November 14, 2011


   The Christmas Market on Vienna's City Hall Square is an unforgettable highlight for visitors eager to get into the Christmas spirit. The unique backdrop of the Burgtheater and Vienna City Hall gives this Christmas market a charm all of its own. The delicious aroma of punch, traditional gingerbread, roasted almonds and honey puts everyone in the Christmas mood.
2011 open from Nov. 12 to Dec. 24, 10 a.m. – 9.30 p.m.,
Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m.,
Dec. 24 until 5 p.m.

A Short History of the Viennese Christmas Market

   The first Christmas markets were held in Vienna more than seven centuries ago, and they still hold a unique appeal for locals and visitors to this day. From the very outset these markets have been shaped by the stallholders who work there.
   In 1296, Emperor Albrecht I granted Viennese traders and shopkeepers the privilege of holding a December Market for the city’s population. In the sixteenth century the Thomasmarkt – the precursor of today’s Christkindlmarkt – took place around Christmas and New Year's Eve. Beside standard goods such as textiles and groceries, the Thomasmarkt sold delicious gingerbreads and pastries which were all the rage at the time.
   Around 200 years later the market’s name had changed to the Nikolo- und Weihnachtsmarkt or Krippenmarkt (crib market), and it was again given over to traders and retailers.

   From its inception this market has been the exclusive preserve of small traders – after all, these were the people who ensured a steady supply of goods for the city’s burghers, even in the most difficult times. The city first celebrated Christmas as we would now recognise it in the Biedermeier period during the first half of the nineteenth century). The celebration was first taken up by the Viennese aristocracy who put up Christmas trees in their city palaces, in line with the northern German tradition.
   But it was not until around 1814 and the time of the Vienna Congress that the custom of giving Christmas presents took hold. At this point the market had moved to Am Hof in the first district, and we know from contemporary invoices that it sold special Christmas goods (angels, silver-plated nuts, ribbons, lametta, candles, etc.) alongside the standard market fare.

   The market finally settled at its current location on City Hall Square in 1975. The annual Magic of Advent in Vienna, as the event is now known, has lost none of its charm and attracts more and more visitors each year. This spellbinding winter wonderland has made the transition from an exclusively Viennese event to a truly international affair with some 145 stalls. Each year more than three million visitors come to the market, including 500,000 from abroad.
   The stallholders and traders provide a direct link to the market’s humble beginnings, and ensure that it has lost nothing of its charm and beauty. Year in year out, the Magic of Advent in Vienna conquers children’s hearts. The tin soldiers of yore have given way to newer toys but one thing never changes: the little ones joyful faces!

Enchanted Rathauspark

   The Rathauspark is the perfect place for a romantic stroll - cozy little pavilions adorned with Christmas decorations and colorful trees combine to form a sea of stars at night-time and enchant young and old visitors alike. Lovers meet beneath the Heart Tree, families listen to the Talking Tree and Christmas greetings pile up at the Post Office in the Clouds, waiting to be sent to destinations all over the globe.
   Over the centuries Viennese Christmas markets have been much more than a place to stock up on supplies, also serving as meeting place and bringing together people from all around the globe. The stallholders will continue to play their role, holding visitors under their spell and drawing the crowds for centuries to come!

Vienna Christ Child 2004 - 2010

2010 – Stephanie
“The Vienna Christ Child is a symbol of Christmas joy and of Vienna’s Christmas markets. I love both and each year I am so much looking forward to it. I just love the Christmas atmosphere. Christmas and the Christmas markets bring back wonderful childhood memories and I am happy to celebrate with my family, to exchange presents, to give pleasure and to sing “Silent Night, Holy Night” together. I think that I am absolutely the right person to play the role of the Christ Child, because I am open-minded and friendly. I like to be among other people and approach them with a smile. I have often heard that my broad smile spreads good mood, that my laugh is infectious and that I am a ray of sunshine. I am a passionate stage actor and during my entire school career I took drama lessons and this will certainly help me to be a good Vienna Christ Child for kids and grown-ups alike and to make them happy with my poems and stories.”
2009 – Viktoria
“During my time as Vienna Christ Child I had the opportunity to make some of the most important and valuable experiences in my life. It was great fun and I had so many unforgettable encounters with both kids and grown-ups. Only then I was able to fully comprehend the true meaning of Christmas as a feast of love and togetherness. To convey this message was one of my most important tasks as Vienna Christ Child.”
2008 – Karina
“I have really good memories of my time as Christ Child. I made so many wonderful experiences in the Advent season of 2008. There were some very shy children who secretly whispered their wishes into my ear. And the more courageous kids even dared to take the microphone and tell their wishes aloud. It was a great joy to visit the nursery home “Haus der Barmherzigkeit” – where my grandma lives – in my function as Christ Child. It was so wonderful to make them happy!”
2007 – Amanda
“Without any exaggeration, the Vienna Christmas Market has been the best working place in the world! The Advent season I experienced there as Vienna Christ Child was a wonderful and truly magical time – I would certainly do it again!”

2006 – Gloria
“I enjoy the Advent season very much and it was a wonderful experience to share this joy with other people.”
2005 – Cathrin
“It made me so happy to see the sparkle in the children’s eyes or the smile of the elderly persons.”
2004 – Denise
“Vienna’s Christmas Market and the Magic of Advent are wonderful events. It was a great pleasure to be their ambassador.”

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