Each Advent, the forecourt in front of Schönbrunn Palace turns into a Christmas market of the more elegant sort. The palace and its outbuildings form an impressive backdrop, and the quality of the wares is exceptional, too.
- Gorgeous location in front of the Habsburg summer palace
- Perhaps the most classically stylish of all the markets
- Strong focus on arts and crafts
- Usually transitions into a New Year market after Christmas
- 2021 dates: TBA
- See also: Christmas markets | Schönbrunn Palace
It’s really, really (really) hard to beat the atmosphere at the Schönbrunn Christmas market. Silver and gold lights offer a beacon to weary travellers as the entire front of the palace glows gently in the twilight.
It’s magnificent. Might even be my favourite.
A giant Christmas tree dominates the palace side, where a small stage plays host to open-air (and free) advent concerts, with choirs and brass bands etc. usually performing daily.
The Schönbrunn market is perhaps the most aristocratic (in the positive sense) of the Viennese Christmas markets. Around 80 stalls form a giant circle around the palace courtyard, offering booth after booth of high-quality arts and crafts from the workshops of candle makers, glass blowers, wood carvers, potters, needleworkers, and other artists and artisans.
There’s gourmet food for sale, too: mustards and mountain cheeses, gingerbread and jams, honey and ham, schnapps and salamis. And not forgetting the food and drink you can consume on-site, such as steaming baked potatoes, waffles, crepes, dumplings, and much more…it’s nigh on impossible to walk around without buying something to eat.
This is a particularly good place to find unique Christmas gifts and traditional decorations harking back to a time when plastic was still a twinkle in some chemist’s inventive eye.
Incidentally, fans of Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) would have enjoyed the special mug produced for the 2019 market. Designed by ceramic artist, Sabine Berchtold, the mug’s motif featured a horse and carriage in front of Schönbrunn Palace. The two passengers were Emperor Franz Joseph and Sisi.
The surrounding buildings normally put on a program of events, too, with special exhibitions and guided tours. Kids might enjoy, for example, the advent activities at the Children’s Museum or decorating gingerbread in the “Weihnachtswerkstatt” (Christmas workshop).
Like the other markets, it gets busy. And cold; the open layout offers little protection from the wind. My tip is to go at dusk, around 4pm, on a weekday. The darkness adds a little extra to the atmosphere, but it’s not peak visiting time.
Opening times 2021
I’m still waiting on dates and times for the 2021 Schönbrunn Christmas market at the time of writing. Typical opening times are:
- 10am to 9pm
- Closes earlier at 4pm on December 24th
- 10am to 6pm on December 25th and 26th
- Transitions to a Neujahrsmarkt (new year market) after Christmas
How to get to Schönbrunn
To reach the market, follow the instructions for finding the palace. The market takes place in the huge courtyard next to the main palace building.
If the Austrian winter blesses the market with snow, then the park and gardens look particularly splendid coated in white. You might also spot some red squirrels hoping for a nut or two from passing visitors.
Address: Schönbrunn Palace, 1130 Vienna | Website