Lots of Christmas markets in Vienna have great settings. The Karlsplatz version is no exception, nestled in front of the imposing baroque 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
- Excellent for unique and high-quality gifts
- All food and drink stalls are normally certified organic
- Good for kids, too
- Expect around 80 booths
- 2023 dates: TBA (was Nov 18 – Dec 23 in 2022)
- See also:
(The Karlskirche church makes a great backdrop)
The divina art arts and crafts association organises the advent market. One of their 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 quality, but also more originality and diversity than at Christmas markets elsewhere in Vienna.
The range of products available covers clothing, jewellery, ceramics, fine art, household items, and much more. And all tend to have a particular flair or uniqueness to them.
(Dozens of stalls sell a greater range of arts and crafts than you find elsewhere)
You also find art studios, design workshops, and perhaps even a blacksmith among the booths: another indicator of the quality available.
As a bonus, the artist or craftsperson might run the stand themselves, perhaps making new items as you watch and happy to discuss their craft and processes with you.
A generous sprinkling of food and drink booths also means you won’t miss your mug of Christmas punch or mulled wine. But the fare on sale also differs a little from the normal seasonal market offerings.
You won’t find all the populist Christmas snacks: we didn’t spot any pretzels, langos or chocolate-coated fruit on our 2022 visit, for example, though we did unearth sausages and roast chestnuts. (All organic, of course, as with every food and drink stand.)
So instead of the usual, expect a more adventurous gastronomic selection drawn from Austrian and European tradition.
Booths offered such delights as Fladenbrot (flat breads), Kiachl (a kind of flat doughnut), potato goulash, Blunzengröstl (a dish involving blood sausage), buckwheat crepes, and more. We enjoyed a Raclette (melted cheese on bread, which also left a glorious scent hanging in the air around the booth).
(Raclette makes a tasty snack)
The market follows a more open plan design than most others, with an area directly in front of the church typically reserved for children’s activities: piles of straw to muck about in, animals, art and craft workshops, etc.
All of this happens under an umbrella of sustainability, recycling, and a shared responsibility for this world. For example, the children’s carousel we saw used discarded goods for seating and ran on pedal power.
Consider Art Advent a greener, more diverse variation on the traditional Christmas market experience. As such, you might best appreciate it in combination with a more conventional alternative, such as the Christkindlmarkt am Rathausplatz or Schönbrunn.
(A name with meaning)
In summary, the Karlsplatz market is the Montmartre of the Viennese Christmas landscape and an excellent location if you’re seeking something high quality and unique gift-wise (we buy a lot of presents here).
Opening times 2023
I don’t have details for 2023 just yet. Come back nearer the time or check official websites. Dates for 2022 were November 18th to December 23rd with broad opening times of midday to 8pm.
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).
Consider nipping into the Karlskirche church for a dose of Baroque finery and perhaps a classical concert after an early-evening browse of the market. Alternatively, go up the church’s panorama lift and look out the window to get a lovely aerial view over the market.
For more contemporary art, pop over the road for the Albertina Modern art museum in the gorgeous Künstlerhaus building. Keep an eye out, too, for the Otto Wagner station pavilions, with their Jugendstil white, gold, and green designs.
This area is also music territory.
Brahms, for example, lived one street away and his statue guards the market. Vivaldi is buried on one side of the park (under the Technical University). And the world’s greatest (possibly) concert venue is a neighbour.
Address: Resselpark, Karlsplatz, 1040 Vienna | Website