The Museumsquartier (MQ), for example, is the heartland of contemporary culture in Vienna, with its modern art, innovative architecture and never-ending catalogue of performances, exhibitions, workshops and the like.
And the MQ has its own “Christmas market” in its main courtyard, between the Leopold and MUMOK museums. The quotation marks are important, and not just because its proper title is Winter at the MQ and its theme is entirely secular.
Yes, there are pavilions. Yes, you can buy punch and sausages. Yes, there is music. And yes, there are lights.
But that’s where the similarities end.
The 2016 pavilions, for example, resembled something you might see at an Arctic research station, each featuring a unique artistic design. In 2017, they are LED-lit geometric forms. You can go inside them to better appreciate the modern ambience (and get out of the cold, if necessary).
They’re all essentially bars, so it’s just food and drink for sale. The only souvenirs you can buy here are memories (though the MQ shop has plenty of interesting items).
As you might expect by now, the food and drink has its own twist. A brief tour around the bars in 2017 revealed such delights as Yeti glühwein, Low-Carb Apple punch, organic beer, Cranberry & Elderflower punch and much more.
The music is also less Silent Night and more Party Night, thanks to a roster of DJs and FM4 (a national radio station for the alternative music and culture scene).
So not a Christmas market at all, really.
And this being the MQ, the surprises don’t stop there. Each year, for example, the Lichttapete group of artists project huge visual images onto the facade of the Leopold Museum and courtyard floor:
The cubicle for the DJ also features a “360° 3D-mapping video” around its exterior:
2014 – Winterlicht – DJ House 360° 3D Video-Mapping, MuseumsQuartier Wien from Lichttapete on Vimeo.
The projected images change every day, so pop around again for a new experience.
All-in-all, the mix of raw colours, raucous sounds and refreshingly innovative light displays offer a spirited alternative to the gentler yuletide charms of the rest of Vienna. This is where the elves would come to wind down once Santa’s left the toy factory.
Opening hours 2017
- November 9 to December 23
- 4pm to 11pm (Mon-Fri)
- 2pm to 11pm (Sat, Sun, public holidays)
Subway: U2 or U3 to Volkstheater or U2 to Museumsquartier
Tram: 49 to Volkstheater
Bus: 48A to Volkstheater, 57A to Museumsquartier
Address: MuseumsQuartier Wien, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna
Website: http://www.mqw.at/ (check the “program” listings)