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.
- Locally-produced arts and crafts
- Excellent for unique and high-quality gifts
- Organic food and drink
- Good for kids, too
- Around 80 booths
- 2023 dates: Nov 24 – Dec 23
- Book a concert experience* in the Viennese Advent
- See also:
(The Karlskirche church makes a great backdrop)
The divina art arts and crafts association organises the advent market. Among the requirements for those wishing to run a stand: they must be Austrian-based and the products on sale must be created and produced by the applicant themselves (no traded goods).
Those products must also gain the approval of a qualified jury. This selection process ensures quality, but also much more originality and diversity than at Christmas markets elsewhere in Vienna.
The range of items available covers fine art, clothing, jewellery & accessories, decorations, ceramics & crockery, fine art, gourmet 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 in other places)
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. And several covered areas with bar tables offer shelter should the weather turn nasty.
As with the arts and crafts, the fare on sale differs a little from the normal seasonal market offerings.
Almost everything is organic, and you won’t find many of the populist Christmas snacks here: I didn’t spot any pretzels, langos or chocolate-coated fruit on my 2023 visit, for example, though I did unearth sausages and roast chestnuts.
So instead of the usual, expect a more adventurous gastronomic selection drawn from Austrian and European tradition.
In 2023, booths offer such delights as Fladenbrot (flat breads), Kiachl (a kind of flat doughnut), potato goulash, Blunzengröstl (a dish involving blood sausage), buckwheat crepes, and more.
(Raclette makes a tasty snack)
I enjoyed, for example, a Raclette (melted cheese on bread, which also left a glorious scent hanging in the air around the booth).
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, 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, a children’s carousel uses discarded goods for seating and runs on pedal power.
(Expect a few farm animals among the visitors)
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.
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
Dates for 2023 are November 24th to December 23rd with 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 spiral staircase to get a lovely aerial view over the market from the panorama terrace.
For more contemporary art, pop over the road for the Albertina Modern art museum in the gorgeous Künstlerhaus (which has its own exhibitions, too, by the same-named artist association).
(One of two Wagner pavilions close to the market)
Keep an eye out for the Otto Wagner station pavilions, with their Jugendstil white, gold, and green designs. If I recall right, they offer a good view for nice photos across the market.
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