The long-awaited year-end holiday has finally come upon us. Although we’re all for cuddling up at home all nice and warm surrounded by family and friends (and presents), December is also a prime time for travelling. Each country celebrates this festive occasion differently and travelling during this period gives you the opportunity to learn about different cultures from around the world. Here, I will discuss a few of the many reasons as to how Austria has upheld its reputation as one of the best go-to Christmas destinations.
Known to be one of the few countries with the largest and best Christmas markets in Europe, it’s no wonder Austria attracts millions of visitors each year during this holiday. The largest market located in Vienna is the Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz. To add to the wintery atmosphere, they’ve transformed their footpaths in the park into a skating rink where you can skate along instead of strolling. Situated right in front of the City hall, the 105-foot christmas tree makes any photo picturesque. There are hundreds of vendors dotted around the market selling a wide variety of products. Whether it’s stuffing yourself with warm brews and local cuisines, immersing yourself in the fragrance of countless scented candles or browsing through one of many Christmas themed gifts for your loved ones, you’re bound to find something to take away with you at these markets.
Austria is also home to many renowned classical composers so to all the music-lovers out there, Christmas concerts are abundant and easily found. Kick back and relax as you immerse yourself in the melody of classical music, the fluidity and grace of professional ballet dancers or the soothing voices of the choir. If you’re staying till the New Year, you might be able to catch the world-famous classical music concert ‘NeulJahrKonzert’ in person. It is played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and is famous for its waltz music. You may have to book early to get tickets.
Venturing out of the capital, Salzburg is another popular destination and can be reached by train. This is where the culture of celebrating Christmas in Austria can get slightly creepy. You may find yourself caught in a parade with people dressed in terrifying masks with curved horns, adorned with heavy cow bells that jangle as they half-dance, half-stamp by. These are the Krampus and Perchten Parades which uphold an ancient folk tradition. This tradition has been running since the 17th century, when Saint Nicholas would visit children during the Christmas period. It was said that the well-behaved children would be presented with gifts while the naughty children were punished by these terrifying figures. Attending these parades will certainly change the mood of your typical Christmas holiday but it will definitely be a memorable one.
Feature Image Credit: Salzburger Nockerl from Wikicommons
Last modified: 3rd December 2019