With over 20 official Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) scattered around Vienna this year, it’s pretty hard to live your day to day life without bumping into one on your daily route, not to mention ending up at one, or two, several times throughout the festive season.
As it’s become such big business, and such a big part of the city’s identity at this time of year, we thought it might be interesting to research a few facts behind the sweet smell of Glühwein and ga-zillion fairy lights. And we weren’t wrong.
Here are 13 facts about Vienna’s Christmas market scene you can casually drop into conversations with friends while warming your hands with a hot Punsch, or Glühwein.
1. The first sign of a Christmas markets in Vienna was around 1722
It’s not really clear when the first Christmas markets were held in Vienna, however, there were mentions of the likes of a Christmas market happening at the square, Freyung, in 1722. It was called, the “Nikolo-, Weihnachts- und Krippenmarkt.”
It was moved to the square, Am Hof, when disputes broke out between the Christmas market crowd and the stand owners from the market, which was regularly held there.
When the First World War broke out, it obviously became more difficult for Christmas markets to be held in the city. However, the Nikolo-, Weihnachts- und Krippenmarkt became a nomadic market around Christmas time, during the years between 1923 and 1946. The market moved around a lot from Stephansplatz, to Am Hof and on the Neubaugürtel (close to where the main library of the city is located today).
3. Annually, around 3 million people visit the Rathausplatz Wiener Christkindlmarkt, including around half a million foreign tourists
4. The Christmas tree in front of the town hall at the Rathausplatz market is about 30 meters high, and has been erected every year here, since 1959
5. Every year, the Christmas tree at the Rathausplatz market is given as a gift by an Austrian state to the federal capital.
6. Up until the 1980s, Vienna didn’t have the dozens of Christmas markets setup around the city like it does today.
It only had a couple of main Christmas markets. It was through the 1980s, when smaller Christmas markets were established at other points in the city other than the Rathausplatz.
7. Christmas markets are a phenomenon out of the German-speaking world. The first ever ‘Christkindlmarkt,’ as their known as in the German-speaking world, was in Dresden, Germany.
8. The Christmas markets make more than double as much as Amazon and Mariahilfer Straße around Christmas time in Vienna
The Christmas markets were expected in 2018 to drag in a whopping…wait for it…390 million Euro, according to a report by Der Standard.
9. Each year, without fail, there is a price increase at Vienna’s Christmas markets.
In 2018, there was a price increase of about 2%. So you weren’t just imagining it – getting your Christmas cheer at the markets seems to be getting more and more expensive each year.
10. The Rathausplatz market is the biggest Christmas market in the city, while the Spittelberg market is the 2nd largest.
According the the City of Vienna, the Rathausplatz market hosts 155 stands, while crammed in to the romantic narrow streets of the Spittelberg market, there are approximately 146.
11. Glühwein at the Vienna Christmas markets is (on average) sweeter than Red Bull and Coca-Cola
Vienna’s consumer magazine, Konsument, examined 14 Glühwein from Viennese Christmas markets for their alcohol and sugar content in 2018. They discovered that Glühwein contained more sugar than a can of Red Bull and Coca Cola.
12. 30,000 litres of hot drinks are sold over the stand counters at Vienna’s Christmas markets, per DAY!
According to a report in 2018, every day, up to 30,000 litres of hot drinks are served up at Vienna’s Christmas markets. The hot drinks include Punsch, Glühwein, and cocoa – with or without rum.