For many Viennese, Freyung is their top pick of the best local Christmas markets, and for good reason – located in one of Vienna's most picturesque squares, it has managed to maintain a traditional feel and avoided becoming tacky. Seasonal decorations and gifts bear the hallmarks of local and regional craftspeople. Food has a strong regional touch, whether it's Erdäpfelpuffer, Rösti, gingerbread, or traditionally roasted hot chestnuts. Locals like to meet at their favourite mulled wine stands for after-work drinks. For spiced tea and a great, moderately sweetened, mulled wine, try Demmer's Teehaus. Enjoy seasonal music from bugles and violins, as well as carol singing on most afternoons.
From 20th November to 23rd December
Location: Freyung, 1010 Vienna
A lovely, traditional Christmas market located on the university campus of the old Vienna hospital. A highlight is the 'craftsmen's mile', where traditional craftsmen demonstrate their skills such as candle making, sewing bags, and printing artwork. You can sign up for ice curling at one of two rinks. The children's programme includes a merry-go-round, choo-choo train and live Punch and Judy (Kasperl) every Saturday afternoon.
From 14th November to 23rd December
Location: Altes AKH, university campus, Alser Strasse/Spitalgasse, 1090 Vienna
Although Spittelberg market has become more commercial in recent years, it still retains a romantic atmosphere, with a focus on local arts and crafts. Located in the historic Biedermeier quarter of Spittelberg, the two main streets to roam are Spittelberggasse and Gutenberggasse. The latter will offer an even greater selection of local food this year, turning into a 'Gourmetgasse'. Your kids will be treated to Punch and Judy, St. Nicholas (on 6th December), and Santa Claus. In a first this year, children can sign up for a workshop to make their own drums with a local music instrument maker. Christmas will be noisy!
From 13th November to 23rd December
Location: Spittelberggasse, Gutenberggasse, 1070 Vienna
If you love elegance, this Christmas market has it in spades with the imposing backdrop of Schönbrunn Palace and a spectacular Christmas tree. Most of the Christmas decorations and gifts on sale are handmade from natural materials. The market's food and drink selection includes mulled wine, Christmas cookies and warm Viennese snacks. Highlights for children are the marzipan workshop each Wednesday, St. Nicholas's appearance (on 5th and 6th December) and the historic marionette theatre next door. You can donate the deposit for your mulled wine mug to support children's charity SOS Kinderdorf. Schönbrunn is the only major Christmas market to open on Christmas Day. And remember to dress warmly, this place can get windy!
From 21st November to 26th December
Location: Entrance to Schönbrunn Palace, 1130 Vienna
Photo: Vienna Unwrapped
Vienna's most popular Christmas market scores top points for liveliness. Dozens of booths offer both traditional and contemporary Christmas gifts and decorations. Classic Viennese cuisine, mulled wine and hot chestnuts are on sale at various stands. Children can tell the Christkindl their hopes and wishes from Thursday to Sunday, and enjoy Christmas arts and crafts at the Christkindl workshop in the Rathaus (City Hall). Every evening live trumpet concerts are performed from the Rathaus balcony.
From 14th November to 24th December
Location: Square in front of Vienna City Hall
Photo: Weihnachtsmarkt Hof Porcus Tumultus GmbH Wien
This Christmas market right next to Freyung is probably the best for quality artisan gift shopping. You can choose from ceramics, glassware, delicate jewellery, hats, leather items, Trachten for children, kitchen accessories and cosmetics. As for food, this market excels in all things ham and sausage, as well as baked potatoes, gingerbread and waffles. Every Thursday, the Radio Vienna mulled wine booth donates proceeds from their mulled wine sales to support the Austrian broadcaster ORF's annual charity event 'Licht ins Dunkel'.
From 13th November to 23rd December
Location: Am Hof, 1010 Wien
More than 70 booths from local arts and craftsmen line up in front of the imposing baroque church of St. Charles Borromeo. The market also features regular live concerts, from gospel and harp solos to electronic pop music. Highlights are definitely the spectacular fire shows and the demonstrations at the arts and crafts booths that teach you everything from pottery, ceramics, and felt work to making glass beads and Tiffany glasses.
From 21st November to 23rd December
Location: Karlsplatz and Resselpark, 1040 Vienna
For exactly four decades this festive one-day Christmas market has outshone many seasonal events in the region. Set in the grounds, yard and riding school of the 19th century Grafenegg castle, you can roam through a quality arts and crafts market, listen to a brass band, Christmas carols and trumpet fanfares, and try fresh Lower Austrian snacks and Christmas cookies. Children love this market because of its baking workshops, sing-along event and not least a St. Nikolaus marching alongside a lama. Make sure you book in advance for the evening's annual Christmas concert.
Date: 5th December 2015
Location: Grafenegg 10, 3485 Grafenegg
As the seasonal whirl of decorating, buying and baking hits you with full force, why not retreat to Schloss Hof during the weekends in the run up to Christmas. Prince Eugene of Savoy's fabulously renovated baroque castle stages a beautiful Christmas village packed with booths selling regional ceramics, homemade knitwear and soaps as well as gingerbread, Kaiserschmarren and lots of Punsch. Children can visit the castle's farm animals in their stables, ride ponies and join Christmas workshops. Castle concerts take place each Saturday.
Dates: 21/22 and 28/29 November; 5-8, 12/13 and 19/20 December
Location: 2294 Schlosshof 1