The German/Austrian Weihnachtsmarkt has spread all across the globe in recent years, from Birmingham to New York. The reason is obvious: Because Weihnachtsmärkte are incredible incubators of the Christmas spirit. Delicious foods, good company, Gluhwein and sprinkle of Christmas magic; there’s something for everyone, from zesty students to burgeoning families.
Despite the diffusion of the Weihnachtsmarkt to all kinds of far flung regions, any settler in Austria will know that you can’t beat the original. Austria has a wide variety of beautiful markets that will seize your heart–even if Vienna's Christkindlmarkt came only third in a Europe-wide quest for the best.
Photo: Hannah Swithinbank
In the opinion of this humble reporter, this is the best Weihnachtsmarkt in Vienna. It’s a beautiful location that brims with handmade items, delicious foods and, naturlich, Glühwein. It’s a little pricey (then again, what is Christmas if not a prolonged assault on our finances and waistlines?) but the items for sale are beautiful and ornate. The atmosphere among the quaint cobbled streets also adds to the magic.
Photo: Hannah Swithinbank
To co-opt the old estate agent's truism: Location, location, location. This market has it in spades. There are few places in Vienna that can match the fin-de-siècle romance of Vienna’s famous Schloss. Perfect for a date with a special someone.
Photo: wien.info / http://www.wien.info/en/lifestyle-scene/winter-mq
The Winter in MQ market is quite busy — but what it lacks in quaintness it makes up for in long opening times. The market only concludes at 23:00, seven days a week. So it’s an ideal place for just “one more Glühwein”.
Photo: Tyrol Tourism
The Seefelder Advent and Weihnachtsmarkt is a shot of Alpine magic. Taking place in one of Tyrol’s most scenic and picturesque towns, the market is a mélange of warm christmas lights, handmade crafts and delicious, waist line expanding delicacies.
Photo: Paul Gillingwater
Vienna's newest market, the Pink Christmas is a LGBT-friendly take on the old tradition. It's something of a cliché, but it seems that gays really can put on a show, as the stage is often occupied with excellent singers and dancers, and the occasional fashion show, all in the aid of charity.
Photo: Tourismusverband Mariazeller Land/www.mariazellerland-blog.at
A truly traditional market, launched at the beginning of advent, and the attraction of a special ceremony as each new light in the giant advent candle holder — 12 metres in diameter and weighing six tonnes — is illuminated. The scent of fresh-baked gingerbread and traditional vanilla cookies combines with orange punch and cinnamon stars to create a feast for the senses.