Lots of Christmas markets in Vienna have great settings and the Karlsplatz version is no exception, nestled in front of the imposing Karlskirche church.
However, this market differs from its city siblings in significant ways. Its formal title is Art Advent, which gives you a decent clue as to where the emphasis lies.
- Very focused on arts and crafts with a slightly alternative feel to it
- All available food and drink is organic (I think)
- Good for kids, with a straw area and rides
- Excellent for unique gifts
- 2021 dates: Nov 19 – Dec 23
- See also: Christmas markets
The divina art arts and crafts association organises the advent market. One of the requirements for those wishing to run a stand is that the products on sale must be made by the applicant themselves (no traded goods) and must gain the approval of a qualified jury.
This selection process ensures a certain quality, but also more originality and diversity than at Christmas markets elsewhere in Vienna. The range of products available covers clothing, jewellery, ceramics, household items, and much more. As a bonus, you often find the artist or craftsperson running their stand themselves, perhaps making new items as you watch.
A sprinkling of food and drink booths also means you won’t miss your mug of Christmas punch or mulled wine. But the food and drink on sale also differs a little from the normal seasonal market offerings. So you won’t find all the usual populist Christmas fare, but a more adventurous selection drawn from Austrian and European tradition.
We didn’t spot any pretzels, langos or chocolate-coated fruit on our visit, for example. Instead, a waffle stand had long queues, and other stands offered such delights as Fladenbrot (flat breads), Kiachl (a kind of flat doughnut) and Raclette (melted cheese on bread, which also leaves a glorious scent hanging in the air around the booth).
As far as I know, all the food is organic and free of palm oil.
The market follows a more open plan design than most others, with an area directly in front of the church reserved for children’s activities: piles of straw to muck about in, farm animals, art and craft workshops, etc. A central stage normally hosts live music.
All of this happens under an umbrella of sustainability, recycling, and a shared responsibility for this world. So, for example, the children’s carousel we saw was built from discarded goods and ran on pedal power.
In summary, the Karlsplatz market is the Montmartre of the Viennese Christmas landscape and an excellent location if you’re looking for something unique gift-wise (we buy a lot of Christmas presents here).
Consider Art Advent a greener, more diverse variation on the traditional Christmas market experience. As such, it’s perhaps best appreciated in combination with a more conventional alternative, such as the Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz or Schönbrunn.
Opening times 2021
Dates for 2021 are November 19th to December 23rd. Typical opening times are 11am to 9pm.
How to get to Art Advent
The market adjoins the Karlsplatz subway station, one of Vienna’s main transport hubs. Take the U1, U2 or U4 subway lines (look for the Resselpark exit and just follow the crowds).
The contemporary art theme continues just over the road at the Albertina Modern art museum in the gorgeous Künstlerhaus building. Keep an eye out, too, for the beautiful Otto Wagner station pavilions, with their Jugendstil white, gold, and green designs.
This area is really music territory, though. Brahms lived one street away and his statue guards the market. Vivaldi is buried on one side of the park (under the Technical University). And possibly the world’s greatest concert venue is just over the road.
Oh, and don’t forget to nip into the Karlskirche church for a dose of Baroque finery (inevitably, they hold concerts there, too).
Address: Resselpark, Karlsplatz, 1040 Vienna | Website