Christmas in Germany & Austria is like living in a fairy tale, except nobody gets eaten at the end. It’s incredibly enchanting.
Of course, you’re probably thinking, “Why the hell would I want to go somewhere cold at Christmastime?”
- The holiday decorations and markets are beyond magical.
- There are about 1/10 the number of tourists verses summertime.
Munich and Vienna are the starting and ending points for our 2019 Christmas Markets cruise, and there are tons of special events in these two fabulous cities during the holiday season – Christmas markets, concert events, and Oktoberfest-size festivals.
Here are some of the most memorable:
[Christmas market in Vienna]
- Munich’s Christkindl Markt dates back to 1642, and it’s huge. Presided over by a ten-story Christmas tree, it features crafts like Bavarian wood carvings, handmade toys, and glass crystals.
- The Kripperlmarkt (its younger cousin, at a sexy 263 years old) is walking distance from the Christkindl Markt and specializes in nativity and other religious and spiritual-themed souvenirs.
- Vienna’s Karlsplatz Christmas Market is run by Divina Art, an association of art and crafts professionals, and everything sold there must pass a committee and be made by the artist. So, you’re assured of both the quality and heritage of the crafts, and you’ll find super cool designs.
- The Belvedere and Schonbrunn Palace Christmas Markets in Vienna don’t offer goods you can’t find at other markets; but their locations, in front of these two magnificent palaces, make for a magical setting, especially at night, when the palaces are lit up.
- Both Munich and Vienna feature Pink Christmas markets – gay versions of the traditional Christmas market, with more sophisticated, stylish versions of the traditional crafts, along with live music and a super-festive atmosphere. (Vienna’s is larger and also offers party events.)
- The Tollwood Winter Festival in Munich is held on the same grounds as Oktoberfest (so imagine the size), with an international Christmas market that offers crafts from around the world, plus music, theatre and circus performances.
- Winter in MQ – This extravaganza in Vienna’s Museumquartier (the area that houses most of Vienna’s amazing museums) includes ice pavilions, lights shows and live music.
[Vienna Opera House]
Although Munich offers concerts in venues like the Church of Our Lady, Vienna is the real standout, here, with music events across the city, and in some amazing venues:
- Advent Concert at Stephansdom – This concert, held on various dates in December, is held in the spectacular setting of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (which is located in the city center, right next to Vienna’s fabulous shopping area, the Golden Quarter. It features classical music and Christmas carols by the Wiener Kammer Orchestra.
- The Musikverein and the Konzerthaus are two prestigious concert venues that feature an eclectic array of events, including a “Swinging Christmas” with a big band, and a “Traditional Christmas” concert with musicians and performers from Vienna University.
- And of course, there’s the famed Vienna Opera House, which doesn’t have a particularly holiday-influenced schedule, but is a can’t-miss venue in and of itself, given its reputation and splendor. Their December schedule includes ballets, and operas like Madame Butterfly. Seats are expensive, but you can also do same-day standing-room tickets for only about $5. Worth it just to be in the room!
So, pull out that fur muff you’ve been dying to premiere and get ready to experience one of the most enchanting Christmas seasons you’ll ever have!