Friday, January 4, 2013

Contest Entry: VIENNA

Published: December 11, 2012, 1:02 pm
Updated: 24 days ago
Vienna must be the Christmassiest city on earth.
I admit, I say this without having visited Santa’s hometown in the North Pole, but I think even the HOH OHO postcode would have a hard time competing with Vienna, which springs alive with golden light just when you think mother nature has sunken into a grumpy, menopausal depression.
Vienna Lights
As though Vienna didn’t already have a reputation for jump-starting one’s romantic inclinations – in December the magnificent streets are crowned with canopies of light. And we’re not just talking about Wal-Mart’s basic tri-colour string of bulbs, here. About 40 of Vienna’s prime shopping streets seem to have their own unique lighting design. Thus, the entire city becomes a free, luminous art installation.
Vienna Market 2
And the markets – oh, the markets! I had a vague notion of the existence of traditional Christmas Markets in Germany and Austria (and it would be a shame not to mention the excellent euro-inspired market in Toronto’s Distillery District), but I had no idea how many markets you could find in Vienna alone. At one point, I got lost and stumbled across no fewer than three markets within a small area! According to the tourist board, the official tally is 10-15 markets in Vienna.
Vienna Market 3
The best part is, every market has its own personality. Sure, they’re all spiked with glühwein (mulled wine) and punsch (more hot alcohol), and the tiny wooden hut is the unanimous choice for architecture, but the underlying character of the market varies from district to district. The largest market at theRathaus, for instance, was teeming with tourists and – quite frankly – too chaotic for my taste. The market at Schönbrunn Palace, however, was far more civilized and offered a better experience overall.Spittelberg Market, tucked away and spread throughout a few narrow streets, was another favourite – it seemed like a secret market where hip locals might choose to go.
Other intriguing options are the Old Viennese Market on Freyung, where a Christmas Market has been held since 1772, and its opposite, the modern design market at Looshaus.
SnowmanThe beauty of the markets, apart from the delicious foods (gingerbread, baked apples, potatoes, sausages) is how ardently they’ve clung to traditions. These markets could have so easily become crassly commercial – picture a portable dollar store, hawking cheap plastic ornaments and tacky presents. Instead, handmade, wholesome gifts abound. Things like baskets, shadow-puppets and dense loaves of stollen. I bought some felt ornaments from a middle-aged guy. Before leaving his stall, I asked if they were made here in Vienna.
“Hah!” he laughed, and continued in hesitant English. “I make every night. No sleep!”
One felt snowman: tiny.
Customer satisfaction: huge.
This is the first in a series of posts about Christmas in Vienna and Berlin. Tomorrow, check in to learn about the home of the snowglobe! 


  1. This seems so amazing. It would be really fun to visit the markets.

  2. I want those chandeliers in my room.

  3. Es ist ein Traum von mir Wien zu besuchen!! Es sieht soo schoen aus fuer Weinachten.

  4. Vienna sieht sehr schoen aus! Die Bilder sieht fast zauberhaft aus! Ich hoffe, dass ich eines Tages besuchen kann.

  5. Vienna sieht sehr schoen aus. Ich will Vienna um Weihnacht Zeit besuchen. Das scnheemanchen ist zu suss! Weihnacht ist meine Lieblingstag und ich liebe alle die schoene bunte lichten. Ich koche viele Kuchen für Weihnacht. Sie schmeckt sehr gut.

  6. Das sieht so kuhl aus, ich wuensche, dass ich koennte nach Wien gehen. Ich liebe nur nichts die Weinachtsbeleuchtung, aber die Architektur auch!

  7. Wien sieht so schön aus auf Weihnachts zeit. Die Weihnachtsgeschenke, Brote & Lebkuchen, Tee & Punsch sieht immer traditional und wondershöne aus.

  8. Ich wollen Weinachtsgeschenke flieg! Das ist wunderbar!

  9. Ich will nur einmal in Deutschland sein waehrend ein Weinachtsmarkt. Ich will das nur sehen! Ich will das nur einmal riechen! Wir machen immer nur shoppen in der USA bei Weinachtszeit. Ich will ins Deutschland gehen wo es nicht nur ein Rennen fur die beste Preise ist! Wir mussen ein bisschen mehr langsam gehen, damit wir Weinachtszeit echt schaetzen konnen.

  10. Das ist so schon! es ware gut zu besucht dort.

  11. Das ist so schön! Ich wünschte, ich könnte eine echte Deutsch (oder österreichischen) Weihnachtsmarkt zu sehen!