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Christmas in Vienna!

Experience the delights of a European Christmas when you visit Vienna in the festive season. Brian Johnston gets jolly. 

Winter is a delightful season to visit the Austrian capital. Giant trees glitter with ornaments and twinkling lights, and carols float from street corners. Shops tempt with elegant window displays, streets are decked out in holiday finery, and seasonal concerts showcase Vienna’s superlative musical heritage. 
Ginger bread ornaments at Christmas market in Vienna, Austria
A highlight of winter in Vienna is the Christmas market in front of the elaborate Town Hall, whose facade is decorated for the occasion. "Christkindlmarkt" are a feature of many German-speaking cities and have a long pedigree; Vienna’s was established by royal decree in the 13th century. Here, Christmas trees are tied with red ribbons and festooned with gilded pine cones. Carollers and musicians wander through the crowds like the minstrels of old. Cheerful wooden booths sell music boxes, pewter beer mugs and hand-blown glass ornaments. Lacework, felt slippers and objects made from deer antler are other typically Austrian goods. 
Christmas Markets Vienna, Austria
Warm your hands on a bag of roasted chestnuts and a cup of gluhwein, or sample other goodies such as nutmeg macaroons, apple strudel or thick slabs of gingerbread stuffed with marzipan. Then wander into adjacent Rathauspark, where trees are strung with lights and kids ride on the merry-go-round and the Christkindl Express train. It’s like strolling through a Christmas song, right down to sleigh bells in the snow and chestnuts roasting on open fires – or at least on charcoal braziers. 
Vienna Town Hall with Christmas tree at night.
The city’s fine illuminations brighten up winter nights. Take an evening walk (or a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride) through old Vienna to admire its Baroque architecture and the gargoyles leering from the cathedral. The Hofburg Palace looks spectacular when floodlit at night. Inside, the palace is a repository of every Habsburg excess, from glittering jewels to ornate clavichords. When the chill sets in, the magnificent Hofburg Chapel offers Christmas concerts, or you can retire to the Museums Quartier for centrally heated wandering. 
Winter in the city is also a good excuse to linger in the coffee houses for which Vienna is renowned. With a wide variety of coffees and a tempting range of cakes and desserts – from sugared pancakes to Sachertorte with whipped cream – you could happily while away an hour or two amid marble-topped tables, gilt mirrors and chandeliers. Full of imperial glamour, baroque glory, parks and pastries, Vienna is one of the world’s most enchanting cities. 
View of City Palace Concert, Austria
Mozart and Strauss medleys echo from concert halls and cafes, and the State Opera house fills with magical sound. The signature experience of an evening of music in Vienna will certainly be a night to remember. Lastly, head just beyond Vienna’s suburbs to Schonbrunn Palace, a former Habsburg summer residence. The gold and rococo rooms are a marvel, and another Christmas market, held each year in the palace forecourt, brings an extra spark of magic. Indulge in a sweet Bohemian pastry and listen to carolers sing Silent Night in its original language, against a baroque backdrop and the frozen fountains of the imperial gardens: Vienna to perfection. 
Evening Christmas markets

Need to Know

Enjoy all the magic of a European Christmas, where you'll find the seasonal pageantry and excitement of this festive time of year is contagious on a wander through bustling Christmas markets. 

Discover the video here for a virtual taste of the Christmas market you can visit along Europe's great waterways on an APT river cruise. The 15 Day Magnificent Europe with Christmas, gifts guests the ultimate festive experience!