One of my favourite cities, Vienna is always elegant, but never more so than during Advent. Beginning in mid-November, the city puts on some of the best Christmas markets anywhere – just like she has for hundreds of years.
Main Christmas markets venues are Rathausplatz (City Hall), Schloss Schönbrunn (childhood home of ill-fated French queen Marie Antoinette), the baroque palace Belvedere and the cosy, narrow alleys of Spittelberg.
I adore the Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz. It’s so colourful, vibrant and lively. It’s also full of children. During Advent, City Hall hosts the Christkindl Werkstatt, a workshop for children aged 3 – 18. About 80 000 children stop by here in the weeks before Christmas and entire school classes reserve time. With rosy cheeks, all flush with excitement and anticipation, they queue outside.
Inside, happy children dressed in aprons and high hats are covered in flour, baking – or playing with rolling pins. Others make animal pictures and wooden frames, key rings, leather bracelets, candles, ceramic cups – all sorts of wonderful, self made Christmas presents.
If you’re considering a city break with kids before Christmas, Vienna is the natural choice. And if you’re thinking of enjoying a weekend sans kids, Vienna is also an excellent option. At night, the Christmas markets look especially bewitching. It might be a bit of a chill in the air, so try a mug or three of lovely mulled wine or Weinachtspunsch. A designed-for-the-occasion mug in one hand, the love of your life in the other… very romantic.