In an ever-changing world, one thing remains constant:
taxes the huge Christmas tree in front of the Rathaus (city hall), an annual gift to Vienna from the surrounding provinces.
- Giant Christmas tree that sits at the heart of the Christkindlmarkt
- Supplied by a different province each year
- The 2018 tree came from Carinthia
- See also: Christmas in Vienna
As the capital and the biggest city by far, Vienna has a sometimes tense relationship with the eight provinces that form the rest of Austria.
But not at Christmas: each year, a different province sends Vienna a tree for the festive season.
Not just any tree, but a giant of a specimen…a tree fit to tower over the square in front of the city’s Rathaus and form the glorious centrepiece of the biggest Christmas market in the country. Its arrival marks the unofficial start of the Viennese advent season, with all the Christmas markets opening soon after.
In 2018, the tree was
As you might imagine, felling, loading, transporting, and erecting the Rathaus tree is a challenge. A 70t crane, special transport vehicles, and a team of thirteen men dealt with the harvesting and transport of our Carinthian tree, for example, with another two cranes involved in putting it (and around 2000 LED lights) up in Vienna. Each tree typically stays in place until early January.
The tradition began back in 1959 and has come full circle, since that first tree was also from Carinthia. In 2017, the honour fell (see what I did there?) to Vorarlberg, Austria’s smallest province. In 2016, it was Lower Austria, though the tree itself came from land actually owned by Vienna to protect the city’s water supplies. Very occasionally, the tree comes from outside Austria’s borders. In 2004, for example, it came all the way from Liechtenstein.
How to get to the Christmas tree
Follow the lights. Well, not exactly. Simply wend your way to the Rathaus and it’s hard to miss, being rather tall and tree-shaped. There’s usually a little nativity scene at the base.
Subway: The Rathaus has its own subway station – the appropriately-titled Rathaus stop on the U2 line
Trams: Lines 1, 71 and D all stop at Rathausplatz/Burgtheater, which is opposite the entrance to the Christmas market. Line 2 also stops at Rathaus
Address: Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna