Scottish Gaelic: Dreamer, Visionary

Month: December 2012

Christmas Markets Part 13 – Altes AKH

Onto the last of the Christmas market reviews – at least for this year. If you want to go back and see all the reviews, just klick the Tag Christmas Market.

The Altes AKH is the campus of the University of Vienna. The university is spread out all over the city, but this building complex is maybe one of the bigger ones. During the semester it is full of students. In the middle is a big square where you can find shops, restaurants, bars… and around Christmas, a market. The clientele is mostly the same students who spend the time after and in-between lectures huddled around mulled wine. It is located in Vienna’s 9th district, only a short walk away from the main university.

Here you can get a wide array of market weirdnesses. From the Christmas roundabout and the ponchos to tons of mulled wine and hand crafted items. If you go only to this market, you might find many interesting things. You should try one of the sweet “Snowballs” (Schneebälle) as well, but they can also be found at the Belvedere. This market belongs to the same crowd as the one at the Belvedere and the Maria Theresien Platz. When you go to those three, some of the stalls and items will look familiar. Because this market isn’t in the city center, you will not just come across it if you don’t study or live nearby or go there specifically. The Altes AKH is a nice enough market which might drown a bit in the masses of markets if you visit many. Just because it’s nice but not special.


Website: Weihnachtsdorf Altes AKH

More Photos at: Flickr

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Christmas Markets Part 12 – Spittelberg

For someone who grew up in a region with proper mountain, calling the Spittelberg a Berg (mountain) would be quite the understatement. Nevertheless, the Christmas market on the Spittelberg was maybe one of the first that didn’t just sell glitter and decoration for the christmas tree. Whenever I think of it, I think of that one stall that sells a ton of chocolate and hot-chocolate bars in many different flavours which dissolve in hot milk and not of the less-christmasy alternative looking South American ponchos in bright colours. But the latter is maybe more normal for that particular Christmas market. Don’t be mistaken, the market and the tiny shops that stay open around it, don’t just offer alternative things to get. In that corner of Vienna, a lifestyle called BoBo “Bohemian Bourgeois” has evolved, which might be conceived hipster, but really it is a crowd of young people who make decent money but at the same time spend that money on organic and local products as well as crafts. It gets obvious when you see what seems at first glance like a whacky oriental furniture shop selling a 4000€ side table.

The Christmas market isn’t much different. Some people go there after shopping on one of Vienna’s biggest shopping streets, the Mariahilfer Straße, but there are mostly locals who go there after work for a drink. It is worth the detour and no matter if you were out Christmas shopping – or watching people stressed out whilst they were shopping – you might need some punch afterwards.

Like most Christmas markets, the food part is fantastic. On the Spittelberg Christmas market I can warmly recommend the stall from the Suppengalerie, which serve fantastic soups! If you need something (much) more substantial, the restaurant Centimeter is right in the middle of it. Be sure you are REALLY hungry if you go to eat there.

Another nifty thing at the Christmas market is that a lot of small stores are open during also outside their usual hours including Sundays which is almost unheard of in Vienna. There is a massive chocolate shop and a lot of smaller gift shops you can visit if it gets too cold outside.


Website: Christmas Market Spittelberg

More Photos at: Flickr

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Christmas Markets Part 11 – Türkenschanzpark

Outside the city center, in Vienna’s 19th district, can be found the Türkenschanzpark which hosts a Christmas market in December. Before I go into reviewing the market, a few words on the park. I really like the Türkenschanzpark and have spent a bit of time there in autumn as well and it’s really nice for lengthy walks. The park is rather large in size and also hilly. There are ponds with ducks and an old tower.

The Christmas market might not be worth a trip on its on, but the park is. If you are out for a winterly walk in the Türkenschanzpark and you need a warm drink, it’s a great opportunity. Or if you need a new South American poncho. Most stalls aren’t terribly noteworthy and the merry go round is weird. Why any kid would want to go round in fast circles when its winterly cold outside is unclear to me. There is also one of those lit-up Santas that doesn’t really spread the Christmas spirit.

One can just hope that over the years the Christmas market in the Türkenschanzpark will adapt to the beautiful district around it.

Also noteworthy, the website. All you need to know.

More Photos at: Flickr

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Christmas Markets Part 10 – Wilhelminenberg Castle

In Vienna’s hills, outside the Schloss Wilhelminenberg, can be found a small Christmas market. The castle is now a hotel and is reachable by bus and (probably easier on weekends) by car. Even though it might be only a small market, it has also an ice skating rink with a fantastic view over the city. There are only about a dozen stalls, which are neither particularly special nor weird. As always, there is mulled wine and punch which you might need after skating around for a while.

What the random South American stall was doing there – and they seem to have to appear in all Christmas Markets – I don’t know. Mick was happy, because he got a new instrument there.

Website: Hotel Schloss Wilhelminenberg

More Photos at: Flickr

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Christmas Markets Part 9 – Stift Göttweig

Stift Göttweig is an old monastery situated on a hill about 45min north west of Vienna. It can be seen from afar and it looks quite majestic and stunning. Most of the monastery can’t be accessed during the year, but for the Christmas market many beautiful rooms have been opened up for the public.

The entrance fee is €2,50 per person and is certainly worth it. The market as a whole offers more traditional arts and crafts than many others. There is a wide range of handmade wooden nativity set, angels and mangers, often very beautiful and delicate. Many other convents and monasteries have stalls there as well and you can get the goods they produce – which is mostly wine and Schnaps. The other less religious crafts you can get are not the cool things you can find on other markets – but that doesn’t mean they are any less beautiful.

Being inside the monastery gives you also the option of discovering it a bit better – you can visit the stunning rooms in the Emperor’s Wing as well as the church and the courtyard. The monastery is very well kept and tastefully decorated for Christmas. A walk around the monastery to enjoy the view is also to be recommended.

We visited the monastery on our way to Grafenegg castle, which is in the same neck of the woods. It is also worth going there for itself, if only for the view and getting a look into the monastery.

Website: Stift Göttweig

More Photos at: Flickr

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Christmas Markets Part 8 – Schloss Grafenegg

This time, we are leaving Vienna, to check out Christmas markets a short drive outside the city. It is situated north west of Vienna, about a 45min drive by car away. Around the year, you can hear concerts there and on Christmas, there is a market on the grounds as well as in the vast castle. The sheer choice of shops and foods is amazing there. Many farmers sell there products and many artists their craft. The castle itself is a fantastic place to discover, so it is even more amazing that the trail of stalls leads you through the different floors and rooms, inside and out.

I have to mention that you need to pay to get into the market – the adult ticket being about €7. Considering the size of the place – and that you often pay that amount for “just” a castle, it’s worth it. When you first enter the premises, you see the restaurant and the concert hall. Across the meadow leads a line of stalls towards the castle itself. For some reason there are lamas and alpacas there for kids to pet – the weirdness of that is made up with the fact that you can buy alpaca socks inside. Some stalls offer local delicacies like apricot marmalade, poppy seed rolls and many more. The market is partly farmers market with local products, so you should be prepared to buy some food to take home with you as well as the odd gift and deco item.

Once inside the castle, there are more stalls in the courtyard and the rooms leading away from it; probably stables. When you go inside the castle, there is a “right” way unless you want to bump into a lot of people. The stream carries you through a bit, but there is enough space to stop and look at the things that are for sale there. The market inside spreads out over three floors, so you need to be prepared to put your scarf and gloves away because it might get too warm. Whilst the sheer extent can be overwhelming, you cannot stop to ravel at the beauty of the castle as well as the wonderful things you can buy there. You also get the chance to watch many crafts people at work and thanks to Mick, you’ll have a video below as well.

I can warmly recommend it if you want to go to a Christmas market and buy fantastic things, this is probably the one with the biggest range of things. Even though the Karlsplatz one might be a bit more extraordinary, at Grafenegg you can find TONS of things.


There is also a gourmet restaurant on the castle grounds, by one of Austria’s most famous chefs, Toni Mörwald.

Website: Advent in Grafenegg

More Photos at: Flickr



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Christmas Markets Part 7 – Maria Theresien Platz

This is another Christmas market which you can find along the Ringstrasse. The Maria-Theresien-Platz is situated across the ring from the Hofburg and sits between the Museum of Art History and the Museum of Nature History. Both are wonderful old buildings and it is worth visiting them as well when you check out the Christmas market.

As far as tourist attraction is concerned, this might be one of the most swamped markets. Most of the tourist buses which drop off the people at the Hofburg park right in front of it. This leads to swarms of people checking out the market and making it almost impossible to see the stalls or even get something to eat or drink. If its empty it’s worth checking out, but it’s not pretty or special enough to get squeezed, punched and shoved for it.

Website: Weihnachtsdorf Maria Theresien Platz

More Photos at: Flickr


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Christmas Markets Part 6 – Karlsplatz

The Christmas market on the Karlsplatz in front of the big church might be one of my absolute favourites. This is not just because of the most awesome hat shop ever and the hot pita bread with bacon… well yes, those are actually some of the reasons. If you add the most wonderfully crafted wooden bowls and a bunch of sheep and even wooly pigs (!!), you are an awesome Christmas market in my book! I mentioned a church earlier and the Karlskirche is really pretty – especially in the evening – but this is not the market you go to for the nice setting. This is the one you go to because on every other stall you want to buy something hand made or see something so awesome you seriously question how you have lived without so far. Feel free to come hungry, too!

It calls itself arts and crafts market, because it’s so much more than just a Christmas market. I need to mention the website too, because it classifies the sellers there by material! No matter if metal, glass, wood, wax, or something completely different… you’ll find it there! You can get crazy hats, handmade musical instruments, wonderful wooden bowls, leather books or jewellery made out of coconuts.

This year, we went there with a plan to buy a few things. When we visited the Christmas market for the first time, we were a bit overwhelmed. Handmade crafts are seldom cheap but often a bargain. We stood there flabbergasted by all the fantastic things we wanted but couldn’t buy them all. So we came up with a plan of things we wanted, needed and a budget. We still had some wedding money which we had received for the purpose of buying one of those fantastic wooden bowls. There was also the food aspect, but that wasn’t too costly. On top of that, we had to figure out if we needed hats, jewellery or other awesome things for ourselves or the flat as well. What we ended up buying was the wooden bowl we went out to get, but I also got a bracelet and for Mick a handmade “stirring drum” and a walnut flute.

Website: Karlsplatz (Christmas) Arts and Crafts Market

More Photos at: Flickr


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Christmas Markets Part 5 – Am Hof

If you walk through the inner city (first district) of Vienna, you can hit a lot of Christmas markets in one go. Some are on the Ringstrasse that forms a ring around the first district and some, like the Christmas market on the Hof, are more in the city center. On this Christmas market I discovered a wonderful gold and silversmith, Josh O’Shea but there is much more to see. Compared to some it is relatively small, but they have mulled wine, tons of bacon and some antique shops. It’s just around the corner from the one on the Freyung, so most people visit both when they come by.

Many Christmas markets nowadays are very artsy and crafty, because being kitsch and touristy is not what any of them want to be. Like this, it gives local artists a chance to show their craft to a wider public. Some have stalls on more than one Christmas market, and some ideas aren’t really new, but in most you will find something you hadn’t seen on the others. But you might find a stall full of Christmas tat as well. In reality, you don’t often just go to a Christmas market specifically, you do them whilst you are out and about in the city. There are only a few which are a bit further away from the city center so that you’d have to go there intentionally. If you are planning a winterly walk through Vienna’s first district, chances are you pass by the Hof and check out the Christmas market. There are plenty possibilities online where you can plan ahead where all the markets are – or you just use the Viennese Christmas Market App  for that – and you might check out a few which are on your way.

Website: Christmas Market on the Hof.

More Photos at: Flickr


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Christmas Markets Part 4 – Freyung

The Old Viennese Christmas market on the Freyung is probably one of the smaller markets. But that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the prettiest ones. The Freyung is a well known spot for Saturday farmer’s markets and also an easter market. For some reason, the crafty things there seem just a bit more old school, a bit more Old Viennese, and it’s not just the name. Some kind of back-in-the-day distinguished normality seems to be going around there. The first thing that makes you stop in your tracks and wonder is the sign-maker whose signs show professions that have been around a century or more ago. The farmer’s market is also there, it just gets more Christmasy.

Much like the market on the Hof (review up next), which is right around the corner from the Freyung, the chances are big that you end up walking past it anyway. But you shouldn’t just walk past it, it’s really worth being checked out more thoroughly.

Website: Old Viennese Christmas Market

More Photos at: Flickr


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