It's now 200 years since priest Joseph Mohr wrote the text to the much loved carol Silent Night, in the church of Mariapfarr in the state of Salzburg. This beautiful church has been renovated for the anniversary and is worth a pre-Christmas visit - especially if you can make it on December 4th for the Advent Market (from 2pm to 7pm) which will feature handmade crafts and textiles, Christmas decorations and delicious things to eat and drink.
High in the mountains, this is a Christmas experience with little of the usual kitsch and commerce. The holiday region of Katschberg (on the border of Salzburg and Carinthia) has opened a 2km long advent trail at 1,750 meters. It's a 45 minute walk along the trail so expect to have rosy cheeks and be slightly out of breath! It opens on November 27th, and is then open every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 3pm to 10pm. The start of the trail is a lovingly restored hay barn which can only be reached on foot or by horse and carriage (which leaves from Gasthof Bacher every 15 minutes).
Lienz in Tyrol is home to a traditional and romantic Advent Market which opens on November 26th, situated on the main square between beautiful historic houses and with the Alps in the background. It has over 30 stalls, which will open every evening from 6.30pm until December 24th.
Admont Monastery market
A more contemplative Christmas experience is on offer at the Benedictine Stift Admont in Styria. From 8th-11th December local producers from the region will be selling handmade gifts and culinary delights, accompanied by live music. Children can send their Christmas list to the Christkind and make gifts. There is also a living nativity scene with donkeys and sheep and a holy family made out of hay.
Photo: Freistadt Rust
From November 18th, every Friday and Saturday (from 2pm to 7pm) Rust (in Burgenland) opens its advent trail. From Conradplatz, over the Hauptstraße, to Rathausplatz the grander houses and buildings will open their doors and invite people to enjoy their festively decorated courtyards.
Lovingly made gifts, regional delicacies and performances from a brass band are on offer at this market in Upper Austria. There are pony rides on offer for the kids, and candlelit walks through the woods. It takes place on the first and second weekends in advent. http://www.gosauer-bergweihnacht.at/
This advent market in the courtyard of Schloss Dürnstein in Lower Austria is being held for only the second time but promises to be very atmospheric. Open from 8th to 11th November and 16th to 19th December guests can enjoy the candlelit castle grounds, and shop for original gifts and Christmas food. http://www.lwmedia.at/referenzen/wachauer-advent/
Another atmospheric Christmas castle experience in Lower Austria. The castle nursery is celebrating its ten year anniversary. Open until December 24th, from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Schloss-wartholz.at