Should the thought of another soft-lit wooden hut selling Christmas baubles have you reaching for the vodka, consider an alternative to the traditional Christmas market. Try the Wintergarten event at the MQ while clutching an organic cocktail and wearing an Egon Schiele t-shirt.
- Open-air cafés, restaurants, and art installations
- Held in the courtyards of Vienna’s museum quarter
- Alternative light displays worth a look in their own right
- Typically includes curling, luminous marble runs, remote-controlled car races…
- Entry is free
- 2022 dates: TBA (was Nov 4 – Jan 9 last time out)
- See also:
What’s the Wintergarten?
(Press photo © Alexander Eugen Koller)
The Museumsquartier (MQ) forms the heartland of contemporary culture in Vienna, with its modern art, innovative architecture and never-ending catalogue of performances, exhibitions, workshops, and the like.
I put “Christmas” in quotation marks deliberately, and not just because the proper title is the MQ Wintergarten (winter garden in the MQ). Consider the event a more paganistic alternative to tinsel and santa hats.
Yes, you can buy punch and sausages. And yes, it has lights. But that’s where the similarities to a traditional Christmas market end.
The various MQ cafés and restaurants open up their outdoor areas and apply appropriate decoration. But you really only find crafts and souvenirs in the MQ shop with all its interesting items.
This being the Museumsquartier, however, art and fun plays a central role in the event.
The lights! The art! The sports(?)
Last time out, for example, the Lumine artists projected huge visual images onto various surfaces, including the side of the Leopold Museum and a large, temporary “winter sky” roof in the main courtyard.
The projected images changed regularly, so you could pop around again for a new experience. The courtyard trees also received special artistic treatment.
Special projections rounded off the luminous offerings. One example was the interactive “self-portrait with ANTopolis” that turned faces into a giant collage of digital ants in the early evenings.
And sport plays a role each year, which might sound incongruous until you learn more.
Curling, for example, fits the winter theme nicely. And a luminous giant marble run sits at the interface of life and art.
Oh, and car racing (usually during the afternoons on weekends and holidays): try your hand on a “winter” course with remote-controlled cars.
All-in-all, the mix of the artistic ambience and refreshingly innovative light displays offers a spirited alternative to the more usual yuletide charms of the rest of Vienna.
This is where the younger elves might come to wind down once Santa’s left the toy factory.
I don’t have 2022 dates yet. To give you an idea of likely times, the Wintergarten ran from November 4th to January 9th in the 2021/2022 season. Formal opening hours were:
- Monday to Friday: 4pm to 11pm
- Weekends and public holidays: 2pm to 11pm
How to get to the Wintergarten
The MQ is at the bottom of Vienna’s main shopping street, so well located for some relief from credit card stress.
Subway: take the U2 or U3 lines to Volkstheater or the U2 to Museumsquartier (the two stations are at either end of the MQ complex)
Tram: line 49 stops at Volkstheater. You can also catch lines 1, 2, D, 71, 46 and 49 to Ring/Volkstheater and walk up to the MQ
Bus: take the 48A to Volkstheater or the 57A to Museumsquartier
If you want a more traditional Christmas market, then simply walk out of the main MQ entrance and cross the road to the large (and excellent) market on Maria-Theresien-Platz.
Alternatively, leave by the Mariahilfer Straße exit and turn right up the shopping street to eventually find the small Adventmarkt Mariahilf (next to the church and Haydn’s statue).
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna | Website