If you always felt your average Christmas market needs more swords, bagpipes, and mead, then head over to Vienna’s Museum of Military History for the annual medieval Advent market.
- Historical market food and flair
- Full of medieval entertainments, too, with music, juggling, and fire shows
- 2021 dates: TBA (usually late November or early December)
- See also: Christmas markets
The Mittelalterlicher Adventmarkt
Vienna offers a couple of alternatives if you’ve had enough of the traditional Christmas markets.
Essentially, you can go in two directions…
The MQ winter event represents the futuristic alternative, with nary a wooden decoration in sight and plenty of exotic-sounding 21st-century drinks.
The medieval Advent market is the historical alternative, where the announcements come through a town crier and dragons must be kept on a leash.
The market opens for just a few days near the start of the Advent season, occupying the courtyard in front of the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Museum of Military History).
If you’re now imagining handicrafts, roast pork on an open spit, spiced mead in earthenware mugs, and rows of swords and helmets to purchase as stocking presents, then you’d actually be about right.
Think of it like a renaissance fair with added Glühwein.
Quite a few booths sell clothing and weapons for reenactments and cosplay (seems like a good place for your Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings costumes).
Other stalls sell historical-flavoured jewellery, crockery, cutlery, and crafts. Not to mention plenty of food, most with a strong rustic feel to it.
The entertainment includes regular demonstrations of sword fighting techniques and juggling skills, with each evening typically ending with a fire show. And there’s music…
Last time out, the groups Rhiannon and Abinferis made regular appearances. The former play on historical instruments in the tradition of the wandering minstrels. The latter create the sort of Celtic-inspired music that might have accompanied the Scots as they charged the English at the Battle of Bannockburn.
Many visitors and most booth staff dress for the occasion, which adds to the authenticity of the event. All-in-all, the medieval market offers something a little different to rows of Christmas baubles. But be warned…we went on a Saturday afternoon and it was packed to the rafters.
Opening times 2021
The market usually takes place across four or so days around the end of November or early December (it was Nov 28 – Dec 1 at the last market in 2019; they cancelled the 2020 event for obvious reasons). As soon as I get details of concrete dates and times, I’ll post them up.
No ticket is required. In fact, the whole museum is usually free during the advent market. So put aside a few extra minutes to browse the displays, which include such highlights as the bloodstained uniform of Franz Ferdinand or the coat worn by Napoleon on his way into exile.
A visit to the museum means, of course, you also get to see the real historical versions of some of the items sold at the medieval market.
How to get to the Advent market
The market takes place right in front of the main entrance to the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum. Which also means no convenient parking spaces like at other times of the year.
You reach the area relatively easily via public transport, though it involves a little bit of walking. Check the main museum article for tips on which trams, buses and subways to take.
If you want to combine the visit with a more conventional Christmas market, then nip down Arsenalstraße and keep going to reach the wonderful Belvedere one.
Address: Arsenal, Objekt 1, Ghegastraße, 1030 Vienna