So cold you can see yourself breathing. Dark at 4:30. Yup, Winter’s a bastard. But here’s a few ideas on how to make the most out of the cold and the Christmas magic that is December in Vienna …
A film with a unique focus: Human Rights
When: November 29 – December 10
Where: various locations, check the programme.
Entry: Varies per location
This is Vienna’s 2nd largest film festival and one that comes with a plenty of powerful messages in powerful films that will have you thinking about the big wide world. This Human World presents more than 100 documentary and fictional feature films, short films, animations and experimental films dealing with human rights issues, in 11 days. Films that aim to encourage people to scrutinise and re-examine their views and raise awareness about human rights and our responsibilities as fellow humans. Don’t keep going on about how the world’s turning to shit on your Facebook feed – get educated at this fascinating festival.
Recommended if you like: trying to understand issues bigger than you, being an active and responsible world citizen, being a film fanatic, watching documentaries
Give a child a Christmas to remember…in a shoebox!
When: SUN, December 9, 4pm–8pm
Where: Das Möbel cafe
Every year around Christmas, many of us consider how we can be a little bit better at being a human being. You know… how we can help others more and be a little more compassionate. Christmas in a Shoebox is probably the simplest and most fun way to make someone happy this season. Meanwhile, you will be giving a gift to a child who grows up on much less than you probably did.
Christmas in a Shoebox is a project that sees ready made presents (packed in a shoebox) collected and sent to orphanages and under-privileged villages in Romania. This initiative is all about making sure that as many children as possible can experience the joy of unwrapping a present on Christmas Eve.
Year after year, at the initiative of the organiser, Iulia Muntean, and her friends, more and more people get involved and help with everything from preparing gifts to mobilising others to joining in on this unique project. They organise all the logistics and transport involved in getting those precious little presents to the kids in Romania. Can you imagine the smiles your personal little gift will give that little guy, or girl?!
The drill is simple: take an empty shoebox (or any box) and fill it with goodies you think would make a little guy or girl happy eg. crayons, pens or notebooks, little toys, warm clothing, or sweets. There are no rules, here! Then write on the box who it’s best suited for (boy or girl, and the approximate age). Then turn up at Das Möbel cafe in the afternoon on the 9th of December, and drop off your shoe box gift.
Recommended if you like: giving, creating new Christmas traditions, making others happy without asking for anything in return, putting a smile on a stranger’s face, making the world a better place, meeting like-minded people, towers of colourful boxes, kids
Wine tasting for the modern youth
When: FRI, December 7, 4pm–10pm
Entry: 18,90€ early bird or 25€ available here.
With over 20 different wineries being showcased (plus a local craft beer brand) and food from Pastrami baby and some caterer, this may sound like your typical wine tasting event kind of snobbery. However, this Friday evening, the tasting will be happening in one of Vienna’s most popular clubs, HORST, with the ‘Sound of Wine’ DJs on the decks. Doesn’t sound so snobby now, does it? This is one funky event organised by one funky crowd. As you might imagine from an event hosted at Horst, it is bigger and brasher than ever this edgy wine event, and its a great way to get the weekend started with a very classy bang.
Recommended if you like: wine tasting without the obnoxious pretence, wine tasting in odd locations, pastrami sandwiches, wine tasting for millennials, starting the weekend off right, throwing wine back like shots
Amateur production of the Christmas Classic
When: December 1–22, 7:30pm–10pm
Where: KIP, Kunst im Prückel
Entry: 10–30€ check tickets out, here
Keeping up tradition this December is the Open House Theatre, who take on the mantle of performing the classic story from Dickens on stage, A Christmas Carol. Kicking off this Saturday, but running for a few weeks, the Dickens classic has been on the Vienna calendar for 30 years and acts as the perfect thing to get you in the mood for Christmas (if the snow and the Christmas markets failed to do so), especially as on the 7th and 8th there will be carol singing and Punsch beforehand! Oh, and did we mention the play is in English?
Recommended if you like: going to the theatre, classics on stage, British Classic books, Dickens, the Muppet Christmas Carol, all them ghosts, small theatre productions, doing something a bit different, family nights out, entertaining the little snot factories
Get in the Christmas mood with this unique experience: the 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.
Recommended if you like: wearing fur and horns, being devilish, runs where you don’t actually have to run, scaring the kids, harking back to your childhood to get in the Christmas mood, doing something a little different on a Sunday, dressing up in costumes, ancient traditions still being practised
Defrost your nipples with a mug of Glühwein at a Christmas market
Imagine this: you’re so cold your nipples (that have formed icicles on their tips) could poke out the eye of the person across from you, then you wrap your frozen hands around a cup of Glühwein while standing amidst the lights and smells of one of Viennese kick-ass Christmas markets (See our list for our favourite Vienna Christmas markets). Whether Punsch or Glühwein is your choice of poison, this is a must for December in Vienna.
Wiener Werkstätte heavyweight hits up the MAK
When: December 18 until April 22
An exhibition dedicated to Koloman Moser can be found in the MAK – woot, woot! If you have no idea why this fact would be exciting, have a look at this impressive artists work (Google it, right now!) and have a read of how the MAK describe it: ‘As a universal artist Moser masters the disciplines of painting, graphic art, arts and crafts, and interior design as well as fashion and scenography. To an impressive extent, Moser embodies the Gesamtkunstwerk or total work of art as advocated by the Vienna Secession.’ His graphic work is enchanting, while he was the co-founder of one of Vienna’s most significant art movements, the Wiener Werksttätte. This exhibition dedicated to this multitalented artist is worth an afternoon of gallery strolling.
Recommended if you like: the art you see on your every day walks around the streets of Vienna, sighing and shaking your head to express your amazement when standing in front of a painting, the shape of your nipples, getting inspired in galleries
Get your Christmas presents and guzzle some Glühwein at a pop-up store or market
When: Check out where the various markets will be happening, here.
Where: Various locations
From traditional, to medieval, to young and hip markets, as well as charming Christmas pop-up stores –check out our guide to help you find the fleeting shopping or Christmas market experiences happening in Vienna throughout December. There’s no way you’ll get away with just getting everybody Happy Socka again this year with this list.
Recommended if you like: draping yourself in Christmas lights, shopping for a Christmas tree, being a big kid, snorting the Christmas spirit up like it’s a white powdery substance, the smell of cinnamon and homemade chicken soup
Escape on a cold night into another world on the big screen
Catch a festive film on the big screen
When: Check out our list of our recommended cinemas for more details, here.
Where: Various locations
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 11 December.
+ 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.
Recommended if you like: draping yourself in Christmas lights, shopping for a Christmas tree, being a big kid, snorting the Christmas spirit up like it’s a white powdery substance, the smell of cinnamon and homemade chicken soup, Die Hard
Take a nap … (wait for it) … IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY!
Fuck it! Why should daytime naps be the luxury of the unemployed, the students, those wearing dark sunglasses in front of their computer at work. On one of those dark, depressing afternoons, take a daytime nap in December. You’re worth it! Even get into your pyjamas if you feel like it. There’s nothing to feel guilty about.
Avoid shopping and the U-Bahn at all costs!
This one is pretty simple – Avoid the shops and the U-Bahn in December as much as you can if you want to keep your faith in the good of humanity intact. People (and tourists) in their big jackets squeezing in on the U-Bahn, waiting an hour in line in shops. Just give up already. We’re sure that’s not what the big man upstairs had in mind when he thought up Christmas.
Go ice skating!
There’s no other feeling like it – the cold on your face, a red nose, gliding over the ice, and on occasion falling in a puddle of melted ice.
Get your skates on and visit one of the ice skating rinks around Vienna. We especially recommend checking out the ice skating rink at the Wiener Eislaufverein in the center of the city or the famous rink at Rathausplatz, Wiener Eistraum. The atmosphere is perfect for winter.
Recommended if you like: doing pirouettes on the ice, floating instead of walking from A to B, making a fool out of yourself and not caring one bit, trying your cray dance moves out on ice