Finding yourself still feeling like Scrooge with a rotten hangover while all the glittery lights are out?
The Christmas season can be a very special time if you want it to in Vienna. While the wind blows relentlessly and the temperatures drop to somewhere way below what’s acceptable for our nipples, embracing the season can inspire you to snort cinnamon and be as jolly as a big bauble.
Here are 10 things to do in Vienna that will get you in the Christmas mood:
1. Walk through the 1st district and enjoy the Christmas lights
Vienna is lit up in bling everywhere you look. Go for a wander one evening through the streets of the city centre and soak in the warmth and atmosphere they set off.
2. Eat Maroni and Bratkartoffel at a streetside stand
One of the good things in Vienna during winter is the multitude of Maroni stands popping up all around town. These small wooden huts that send out lovely scents, making it hard to pass by them, have been a tradition in Vienna for ages, and we can’t imagine a winter without them. Make a stop at one of them in the next few days and have a nibble on some nuts (Maroni means chestnuts, in case you were wondering).
3. Make a Christmas market tour
The sweet smell of Glühwein, the roasting chestnuts, the craft stands selling beeswax candles and wooden toys – it all makes you want to hug a Krampus.
Up until Christmas, you will find busy Christmas markets all over Vienna. They come in all shapes and sizes, selling different kinds of culinary treats, the famous Punsch and Glühwein, and artisanal handicraft creations. Be sure to check our selection of our favourite winter markets.
4. Go Christmas shopping amongst the international shelves of Julius Meinl
© Julius Meinl am Graben
Firstly, no we are not being paid to write this. Our fingers are TOTALLY independent when typing the following words. Over the years, it has become one of our favourite Christmas traditions to visit Julius Meinl with two goals in mind: to soak in the Christmas atmosphere of the place and to spoil ourselves with international foodie presents. At the far end of the city’s centre’s Graben, you’ll find this place – a rich person’s bazaar. With three levels full of shelves stocking food from all over the world, while pricey, this place is an experience to browse around in.
5. See Dicken’s classic on stage: ‘A Christmas Carol’
When: Various dates between December 1–22. See details.
Where: Kunst im Cafe Prückel
A small English theatre company called Open House will be performing the Charles Dicken’s classic, ‘A Christmas Carol,’ throughout December at the Theater im Cafe Prückel. We particularly recommend going to see this play if you’ve been a selfish asshole this year like Scrooge.
Be sure to reserve your seat!
6. Go ice skating in front of the Rathaus
The Wiener Eistraum is one of the most romantic things to do in a Viennese winter (or to get all of those bruises that you tell people you got in a bar fight). The winter wonderland that pops up in front of the Rathaus every year once the Christmas markets have closed, is opening a little earlier this year. The Wiener Eistraum ice skating rink is already open, well, at least a small part of it. Check out the website for details, such as how much you’ll be forking out for entry and skate rental.
7. Invite a bunch of friends over and piss off your neighbours by playing Mariah Carey’s Christmas album really loud!
What better way to pimp those Christmassy feelings than to pump the sounds of Mariah really loud for all to hear (and be sure to sing along!)
8. Meet friends for an after-work Glühwein
Grab a bunch of your favourite work colleagues, or some friends, and occupy the next best Christmas market stand offering up Glühwein and Punsch that will warm you up from the inside-out. It’s the perfect excuse to get tipsy on a school night.
9. Bake (or buy) a bunch of Lebkuchen (gingerbread), or one of the other thousands of Christmas cookies popular in Vienna, and invite a bunch of friends over to eat them
No Christmas is complete in Vienna without baking (or watching somebody bake and enjoying the sweet homey smells) and eating your fill of Weihnachtskekse (Christmas biscuits). The traditional types of festive cookies come in all shapes and sizes. And they’re best enjoyed around a burning candle with some friends, so invite some over and head out onto the town once you’ve eaten up all of the sugary treats, and you’re all buzzing on a sugar high. You can check out some Würstelstand Oma’s Christmas cookie recipes.
10. Witness an ancient tradition @ the Neustifter Krampuslauf
When: SUN, December 9, 4pm–6pm
Where: Neustift am Wald/Rathstrasse
Marching in ghoulish fashion this Sunday are the Neustifter Krampus. For those unfamiliar with the ‘Krampuslauf’, the half–goat, half–demon folklore (damn ugly) character, the Krampus, usually run through a town/area discouraging children from being naughty (if their scary look doesn’t do it, they’ll be sure to whack a couple of kids with a club) , while at the same time a St Nikolaus comes through giving them presents. This Sunday, this special tradition will start at Rathstrasse and finish at the Weinbauverein, with rewards awaiting the little ones who behave well.
11. Catch a festive film on the big screen
There’s nothing like escaping into the fantasy world on the big screens on a night when it’s cold outside, and it just so happens that a couple of cinemas around town are catering for those who like watching those same festive films at this time of year, without fail. To name a couple, for instance:
+ Filmhaus Kino am Spittelberg will be showing Time Burton’s classic, Nightmare before Christmas on a couple of dates throughout December.
+ As they do every year, Haydn English cinema will screen Love Actually on the December 11.
+ And also, playing on the 90s trend, the Gartenbaukino will be showing the classic, Edward Scissorhands
If you’re like us, and love getting deep and all gooey like into the spirit of the season, we’d suggest you check out the cinema’s programs to catch a dose of nostalgia on the big screen.