When it comes to Christmas time, Vienna takes its celebrations seriously. Around every corner is a Christmas market with stalls bursting with people trying to keep warm with a mug of glühwein. But to me the Christmas lights, are the real stars of the season. In December, the city centre of Vienna is transformed with an incredible array of dazzling lights, worth a visit just to see them alone. Even if you’re reading this after Christmas has passed, it’s never too late to start thinking about plans for next Christmas! Enjoy the following journey through the Vienna Christmas lights.
Centring in on Stephansplatz
Throughout the pedestrian streets in the heart of Vienna, you will find different streets adorned with their own styles of lights. This makes you want to explore about more to try and find the best ones. At Stephansplatz, Karlsplatz, Maria-Theresin-Platz and outside the Spanish Riding School, you will find markets selling traditional Viennese Christmas foods, arts and crafts. Really, no matter where you go, you’re bound to find something to you’re liking.
A good place to start is outside the Opera House on the main pedestrian street of Kärntnerstrasse as it leads you to the heart of the city at Stephansplatz. As you follow the glittering lights overhead, you find yourself standing by a large Christmas tree and the lights around Stephansplatz.
Once you’ve enjoyed all the lights around Stephansplatz, it’s best to head along Graben, Vienna’s other main pedestrian area. Possibly Vienna’s most iconic lights are the grand chandeliers that hang over Graben, totally in keeping with the imperial presence of the city. Be sure to keep your eye’s peeled, as down every side street you’ll find even more dazzling light setups. At the end you’ll be met with witness the glittery sky over Kohlmarkt, a personal favourite of mine.
In winter two of Vienna’s main palaces, the Belvedere and Schönbrunn, simply become backdrops for Christmas markets and lights. At the Belvedere, a small market sits between the reflecting pond and the palace, while star lights hover over the lake to enchanting effect. Meanwhile at Schönbrunn, the palace is bathed in a warm glow as to not distract from the large Christmas tree taking centre stage.
Home to another large Christmas market, the lights and decorations in Karlsplatz are simple but effective. Streams of fairy lights crisscross over the markets and paths, converging over the large pile of hay that is the popular children’s playground.
Rathaus Christmas Markets
When it comes to the Christmas markets and lights, the biggest and best has to be at the park in front of the Rathaus, Vienna’s majestic City Hall. There are plenty of opportunities to indulge in food and drink, plus a bunch of craft stalls at which to shop. The various lights in the trees around the park are particularly creative and fun, but the main show is the way the Rathaus itself is lit up in glorious fashion. While other parts of the city are lit up the same way each year, the Rathaus lights are forever changing.
Well there’s a taste of what Vienna has to offer at Christmas time. Together with enjoying the atmosphere and seasonal goods at the markets, the Vienna Christmas lights really transform the city. I hope that this may encourage you to consider coming to this beautiful city next festive season. It may well be the best time of year to visit.
Have you been to see the Vienna Christmas Lights during the festive season? Where are your favourite Christmas lights and Christmas markets? Please comment below.
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