Most horses make do with a wooden stable and a bit of hay. But most horses aren’t the Spanish Riding School’s Lipizzaners. They live in a Renaissance arcade court and former art gallery. And the stable forecourt turns into a little Advent market in the period leading up to Christmas.
- Gorgeously lit covered courtyard
- A handful of stalls selling (mostly) gourmet food and drink
- Large central bar also serves light meals
- The horses watch on from the sidelines (and Pegasus watches over you from the ceiling above)
- 2021 dates: TBA if it goes ahead (not sure if an annual event)
- See also: Christmas markets | Spanish Riding School tickets and info
Adventmarkt in the Stallburg
The stables go by the name of the Stallburg. Now part of the Spanish Riding School, the building dates back to the middle of the 16th century. The future Emperor Maximilian II had it built as a multipurpose facility (which included accommodation for the imperial horses).
Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria stored around 1400 paintings there in the 17th century, so royal mares and stallions essentially lived beneath an art gallery for over a hundred years. You can see many of Leopold’s masterpieces in the picture galleries of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Normally, the Stallburg remains off limits to the general public, notwithstanding guided tours. In 2019, however, the courtyard hosted a small Advent market in cooperation with the same folk who put on the lovely equivalent in Palais Niederösterreich.
I hope they repeat the exercise in 2021. (No Christmas markets at all opened in 2020 for reasons that need no explanation.)
When you’ve been to as many Christmas markets as I have, you get a little blasé about new ones. But the 2019 Stallburg market made an excellent impression on me.
Reds and oranges lit up the whole courtyard and stacked arcades, while a giant Pegasus hung from the ceiling. This divine horse even made a reappearance in 2020 to provide a bit of mythological cheer for those passing by during a rather drab advent.
The overall effect was quite wonderful, enhanced by a small ring of tasteful stands mostly selling the kind of gourmet food and drink that make excellent gifts. Examples included little bottles of schnapps, handmade chocolates, and even a Lipizzaner-themed cake.
All of which is jolly nice, but possibly not the actual highlight because the arcades edging the courtyard house the famous Lipizzaner stallions. And these remarkable animals were all at home.
So, every now and then, a white head popped out above a stable door to cast an elegant and superior eye over proceedings. You couldn’t go right up to the horses, but you could get within a yard or three.
2021 opening times
As mentioned earlier, I’m not sure if the event repeats in 2021 (watch this space). For reference, the 2019 dates were:
- December 1st, 2019 to January 6th, 2020
- 4pm to 10pm
- Closed December 6th, 24th, 25th, 26th, 30th and 31st, and January 1st
How to get to the Stallburg
They conveniently located the Stallburg near a subway station (or perhaps it was the other way around). Heerengasse station (on the U3 line) is a short walk away.
Otherwise, the 1A and 2A buses stop nearby (Habsburggasse or Michaelerplatz).
Of course, the Spanish Riding School sits in the heart of the Hofburg palace complex in the centre of town, so you may well pass it on foot anyway. And another Christmas market (the K.U.K. Weihnachtsmarkt) is almost next door.
Address: Stallburggasse 4, 1010 Vienna