The winter market on the square outside Vienna’s giant Ferris wheel is sort of a Christmas market. And sort of a New Year market. But actually neither.
It’s more of a gathering point for chasing away the winter blues with a glass of something alcoholic and a spot of fun.
- Food, drink and entertainment at the Prater funfair complex
- Lots of things for the kids to do
- Dates: Nov 16, 2019 – Jan 6, 2020
- See also: Christmas markets | Vienna at New Year
If you imagine a Christmas market and take away most things but the food and drink stalls, then throw in music and dodgems, you’ve pretty much got the Wintermarkt am Riesenradplatz.
It’s a little more down-to-earth than its seasonal siblings nearer the city centre. More rock and roll than Silent Night. A pint of ale to the others’ glass of Chardonnay.
The square in front of the giant Ferris wheel is a welcome area to the Prater giant funfair and ringed by restaurants, shops and entertainments. In December, it fills with stalls and bar tables, with pop and soft rock piped in over the loudspeakers.
Around 20 stands sell a mix of traditional winter market fare and more usual snacks and drinks.
So you’ll find all the weird and wonderful varieties of punch, plus Glühwein, Schnapps, and hot chocolate, but also beer and wine. Waffles, oven potatoes, crepes and spätzle, langos, roast chestnuts and chocolate-covered fruit, but also pizza, chips and toasted sandwiches.
In the spirit of the Prater, the Wintermarkt distinguishes itself through more “action”. For example, there are live acts every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7 pm, featuring a range of musical styles: Austropop, funk, soul, blues, gospel, rock, etc.
The location also means there’s plenty else to do once you’ve eaten your waffle or toasted the season with a mug or glass of the good stuff.
For example, there’s a mini train that takes you through the Prater (requires a ticket). The Chocolate Museum and Madame Tussauds are on the same square, too. Some Prater rides also remain open through winter, such as the bumper cars. Not to mention the giant Ferris wheel itself, which looks wonderful at night.
As in 2018, there’s a Winter Circus on the nearby meadow.
On New Year’s Eve, a DJ typically begins their work at 8pm, with live music later, and a synchronised firework and music show at midnight.
Is it a place to soak up the Christmas atmosphere? Kind of. Is it a place to warm yourself with snacks and drinks while the kids have fun? Definitely.
Opening times 2019
The 2019 dates and times for the Wintermarkt are:
- November 16, 2019 to January 6, 2020
- Midday to 10pm (weekdays)
- 11am to 10pm (weekends and public holidays)
- 10am to 5pm on December 24th
- Opens longer on New Year’s Eve (midday to 2am the next day)
At the time of writing, the adjoining Winter Circus has performances from November 30 to February 23, 2020:
- Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (November 30 to December 16)
- Daily from December 20 to January 6 (closed on December 24 and 25, plus January 1)
- Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (January 10 to February 23)
- Daily from January 31 to February 9
Check the circus website for up-to-date performance times.
How to get to the Wintermarkt
The Prater and the square are just a short walk from the Praterstern subway station (look for the giant Ferris wheel when you exit the station – it’s impossible to miss). The station is served from the centre by the U1 and U2 subway lines. Trams 5 and O also stop there, as do the bus lines 5B and 80A.
The S1, S2, S3, S4 and S7 city train lines also stop at Praterstern.
Address: Prater Riesenradplatz, 1020 Vienna | Website