14 things you need to do to make the most out of December in Vienna

14 things you need to do to make the most out of December in Vienna

December 1, 2019

14 things you need
to do to make the
most out of December
in Vienna

December 1, 2019

Vienna Würstelstand's , and say

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

This Human World film festival 2019

When: November 28 – 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 13 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

Tis’ the season of Glühwein and kissing when your nose is dripping

Go to a Christmas market!

When: mid-November until December 26
Where: Various locations
Entry: Free!

Tis’ the season, and in Vienna this many people’s favourite season simply thanks to those charming Christmas markets! A wonderful vibe spreads around town as markets bloom all over Vienna, and the smell of cinnamon, mulled wine, and sweet desserts fill the air. Be sure to get some Beeren Punsch in, get in the spirit and enjoy every chance this season to get drunk at the market. And it just so happens that we’ve put together a list of our favourite Christmas markets.

Recommended if you like: the smell of gingerbread cookies, waking up with gifts waiting for you, being jolly, celebrating christmukkah, overcoming the cold by drinking hard spirits hidden in tea, Glühwein, meeting friends at Christmas markets

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of Punsch!

Wiener Adventschiff

When: every SAT+SUN, November 30–December 22
Where: Schwedenplatz
Entry: 32€/16€ for kids

Have you ever considered that the Advent season could use a maritime touch? Then change your Santa hat for a captain’s hat and hop on board the Wiener Adventschiff! This is some ship that will be going up and down the Donaukanal up until Christmas, and hosting a Christmas soiree inside. Instead of rum, there’ll be Glühwein and instead of scurvy, you’ll get Maroni. Enjoy the sight of the urban scenery passing by while yelling ‘Land ahoy!’ every five minutes like the proper sailor you are.

Recommended if you like: being a hobby pirate, the vast openness of the sea, the cozy atmosphere of Christmas, boats, using phrases like “Arrrrr!” and “Full steam ahead!”

Get your Christmas presents and guzzle some Glühwein at a pop-up store or market

Catch a pop-up Christmas market or store 

When: Check out where the various markets and pop-up stores
Where: various locations in Vienna

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 Socks again this year with this list of markets happening.

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
Where: various locations in Vienna

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:

+ As they do every year, Haydn English cinema will screen Love Actually on the 10th and 11th of December.
+ Playing on the 90s trend, the Kino am Spittelberg 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 programmes 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

Get in the Christmas mood with this unique experience: the Krampuslauf

Witness an ancient tradition @ the Perchten- & Krampusläufe in Vienna

When: SUN, December 9, 4pm–6pm
Where: various locations in Vienna
Entry: Free

Marching in ghoulish fashion at the beginning of December are the Krampus and Perchten. For those unfamiliar with the ‘Krampuslauf’, and 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 special tradition will take place in various locations in Vienna, and sometimes with rewards awaiting the little ones who behave well:

+ Großer Perchtenlauf at the Wiener Prater on December 1
+ Krampuslauf at the Adventmarkt in Wien Mariahilf on December 6
+ Krampuslauf Wien Simmering at the Schloss Neugebäude Adventmarkt on December 7
+ Perchtenshow at Donaufelder Platz on December 14

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 practiced

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

Amateur production of the Christmas Classic

Get in the festive spirit with A Christmas Carol

When: December 5–22, 7:30pm–10pm
Where: KIP, Kunst im Prückel
Entry: 10–30€, buy a ticket

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. 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). 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

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.

Have fun in the snow, if there is any…

Let’s all say it together: Dear weather-gods, be good to us and let it snow! Even though this ancient spell has worked for years, in this city we can never be sure how long the white wonder will last (approximately three hours). So our advice: If you see snow, let everything else be and run outside for some of that fantastic winter wonderland fun. Even though you don’t really need an excuse for behaving like a kid during the rest of the year – in those rare occasions even strangers might join in on running around in the snow, building snowmen, and making snow-angels. We love it! Also head out to the ski spots nearby, or go ice skating!

Recommended if you like: going numb in your bum, ice skating, skiing, any kind of sport in the snow, how you look in a ski suit, days in the mountains

Performances galore at this small theatre’s festival

Wintertainment 2019

When: December 6 – December 22
Where: Theater am Spittelberg
Entry: varies per show, get a ticket

Wintertainment is all about winter and entertainment (who would have guessed?). To get you in the Christmas mood – in case you’re not overflowing with it already – an array of artists will be performing onstage as part of this festival at the Theater am Spittelberg. It’s going to be a colourful mixture of music, theatre and comedy, so there’s something in it for everybody. Shows are happening throughout winter, so be sure to check out the program. 

Recommended if you like: winter, entertainment, something light-hearted to distract you from the Christmas stress, laughing your butt off, clapping your hands off, intimate concert locations

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the right music

Catch a Christmas Concert

Christmas without music is like Punsch without the berries. It just adds that extra little bit of atmosphere to the whole festive season. And we’re not talking about having to listen to ‘Last Christmas’ for the billionth time since mid-November. There are actually a bunch of different concerts happening during this season in Vienna, which all present you with the opportunity to revel in the finest festive tunes to get you in the perfect mood for the big holiday. Check them out below:

International Advent Music 2019

When: every weekend in the Advent season, 3:30pm–7pm
Where: Rathaus
Entry: free!

Choral groups from all over the world will gather inside the pompous halls of the Rathaus to perform a wide array of Christmas carols. From classic folk songs to gospel – it’ll be a polyphonic potpourri. And it’s completely free, you can come and go as you please.

Der musikalische Adventkalender

When: December 1 – December 23, 7:30pm (8:30pm on December 1)
Where: various locations
Entry: varies, buy a ticket

It works just like its namesake, every day a different door will open, but instead of chocolate, there’s going to be a different performance behind each one. On the first of December, the performance will be happening in the first district, on the second in the second district,…and so on.

Klingender Advent – Sound of Christmas

When: November 29 – December 30, 7:30pm (8:30pm on December 1)
Where: Kapuzinerkirche
Entry: 25€–30€, buy a ticket

If you want to listen to some Christmas tunes while hanging out with members of the Habsburg family, check out this concert. In case you are confused, the Kapuzinerkirche houses the Kaisergruft where over 100 royals have been buried since the 17th century. Festive with a touch of spooky!

Adventkonzerte im Stephansdom

When: November 29 – December 30, 7:30pm (8:30pm on December 1)
Where: Stephansdom
Entry: starting from 17.70€, buy a ticket

This one’s for the classic lovers; let’s be honest, a Christmas concert inside maybe the most iconic sight in Vienna is probably the pinnacle of kitsch. But you know what? Sometimes this is exactly what you need and what better time is there to do the things you’d normally deem as too touristy than during the holiday season.

Recommended if you like: lovely festive tunes, getting in the Christmas mood, concerts in special locations, doing something that couldn’t be more Christmassy, clapping your hands off, treating your ears to something other than the same three playlists you always listen to

End the year with a bang!

Go to one of the awesome New Year’s parties

When: TUE, December 31
Where: all over town!
Entry: varies, check out the events!

That last one wild night of the year will be here again at the end of the month! Vienna’s got many possbilities for you to end the year in whichever way you want it to end, and we’ve selected the best parties out there for you. Check out our Ultimate New Year’s party guide!

Recommended if you like: clubs that look like some crazy shit has gone down there, crazy parties, wearing silly hats, kissing strangers on the streets, taking a waltz on Rathausplatz, fireworks