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One of the most beautiful times of the year in Vienna is Christmas time. There are tons of different things to see and do in the city that create an amazing atmosphere! I found myself mesmerized by the lights and the smell of chestnuts all over the city, along with feeling of Christmas, despite the lack of snow.

Krampus

Jessica posing with a masked Krampus

Meeting Krampus was a little intimidating.

Krampus is held on December 6 every year all over Austria and marks the beginning of the Christmas festivities and holidays. This is the day that the evil monster “Krampus” comes out and torments everyone, especially kids that were bad all year. This is a very old tradition in Austria that used to be celebrated by people dressing up as Krampus and hitting people (quite viciously) with bundles of sticks and chains. Today it is tamer. People don’t get terrorized, but it still involves people dressing up. I was able to go to a small town an hour outside of Vienna called Reichennau to see a real Krampus celebration with people from Austria.

There was a small Christmas market in an old Nobel’s house to enjoy before the celebration really began and then at 8:00 p.m., a wagon full of people dressed in monster costumes drove by and all of the Krampus’ jumped out. They ran around, banging pots and pans and fake chains, and took people’s hats and tried to frighten people by running after them. I was even able to get a photo with one! It was a really cool celebration to see and experience since we don’t have anything like this back home.

Skating

Jessica with a group of friends on the ice

Skating at the WEV.

One of the things to do during this festive time of year is to go skating. I went skating with a few friends of mine at a local outdoor rink in the middle of December. You can rent skates, learn to line dance while skating and watch some good ol’ hockey! There are numerous outdoor skating places in Vienna during the winter months – the most famous ones being the “Ice Dream” in front of the Town Hall that opens at the end of January and the “Wilhelminenberg on Ice” that allows you to look over Vienna from the palace garden of Wilhelminenberg. The one I went to was called “Wiener Eislaufverein (WEV)” and was located by the Vienna Concert Hall. It was great to go skating, something I hadn’t done since the Rideau Canal was open, and enjoy that Christmas-y feeling with my friends.

Christmas Markets

Christmas markets lit up at night with lots of people in the streets

Christmas markets at the Town Hall.

Starting at the beginning of November, there are numerous Christmas markets located all over the city selling things from food and drinks to homemade tree ornaments. There are Christmas markets that replicate what it would be like to visit one back in the baroque times, like the one at the palace of Belvedere. Some are very modern, like the Funky Christmas one in Museums Quarter. I visited the one in front of the town hall the most often, but I also saw the one at Karlsplatz, another one in Museums Quarter, Schönbrunn palace, and one in the center of the city near Stephansdom.

Christmas markets lined up in the museum quarter

Enjoying Museum Quarter and Christmas markets

My favourite one was the one located between the natural history museum and the art history museum because it gave everyone lots of space to look around. Others were very cramped; there were many stalls that were placed in a way that you couldn’t get lost; while others caused me a lot of confusion.

Jessica with 2 friends holding mugs of Sissi punch at Schoenbrunn

Enjoying some Sissi punch at Schoenbrunn.

The stalls look like little wooden cabins and all of them sell different things. When visiting a Christmas market, you must try Punch or Glühwein! The more popular one in Vienna is Punch. Get something to eat too, most commonly soup in a bread bowl or some kind of sausage. Visiting markets was my favourite thing to do during the Christmas season in Vienna and I wish that it would have lasted longer so I could have seen more of them.

Jessica posing on a balcony in front of a Christmas tree wearing a Canada toque and scarf

Looking over the beautiful Christmas market

Walking Through the City

a tree made of lights goes up the corner of a building.

The biggest Christmas tree in Vienna.

Everywhere I went in the city had lights hung. Buildings were covered and giant chandeliers hung in the very centre of the city around Stephansdom. When I walked to school, angel decorations hung from lampposts, and people walked around dressed as angels and handed out chocolates and cookies to people walking by. Combine all of these things with the lights that are lit all year round, I was able to see why Vienna is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The palace of schoenbrunn lit up at night with a giant christmas tree in front of it.

The Palace of Schoenbrunn by night.

Coca-Cola Christmas Truck

a collage of photos that show the sides of the coca-cola christmas truck

Coca-Cola Christmas Truck at Prater

There are numerous other events in Vienna besides the ones I mentioned above, but it is very difficult to get to see them all. I was able to go and see the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck that was at the local amusement park “Prater”. Prater had its own Christmas market, so I enjoyed some local Punch and the Christmas decorations. The Coca-Cola truck drove in with lights strung across it and Jolly Saint Nick sitting shotgun, throwing merry greetings to everyone. It was a very short show, but it was nice to get out for one last Christmas event before I went home for the holidays.

Jessica and two friends crouched down in the snow next to the snowman they built.

Using the little bit of snow we did get to build a snowman.

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I loved being able to see all of these wonderful things that Vienna had to offer and I was sad to see it come to and end, but I look forward to starting the New Year and continuing my year abroad in Vienna.

Until the next post!

-Jessica

Thursday, February 4, 2016 in , ,
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