Rounding out the collection of Viennese Christmas markets is the one in the Spittelberg area: a collection of narrow streets, galleries, art stores, organic grocers, and similar in Vienna’s 7th district.
- Street-based market integrated into the surrounding shops
- Eclectic mix of arts & crafts
- Added ambience through 19th-century alleyways
- Expect around 125 stands
- 2023 dates: Nov 16 – Dec 23
- See also:
The Spittelberg market
(Press photo © Reinhard Podolsky / mediadesign.at)
Spittelberg represents the classic urban regeneration success story.
In the mid-1980s, the area looked set for demolishment to make way for speculative construction projects. Timely intervention by activists and politicians brought renovation, then rejuvenation.
A thriving collection of bars, restaurants, and shops has since sparked Spittelberg to life, and the Christmas market is a symbol of this success. This somewhat bohemian location even featured in the movie, Before Sunrise.
Unlike most of its colleagues, the Spittelberg market doesn’t occupy a large square or open area.
Instead, the stalls fill narrow streets, alleyways and small courtyards, flanked by lighted doorways that lead into galleries, craft shops, busy bars
and mystical worlds filled with woodland sprites.
Many of those surrounding buildings date back to the early 1800s, and Spittelberg remains one of the best areas to see Biedermeier architecture: a kind of homely conservative style that reflected the rise of the middle class and a safety-first attitude in an era of state paranoia and censorship.
The layout gives the market a particularly cosy feel, a sense that the stands are embedded in the life of the area. It also means it can get busy at peak times.
The other distinctive element to Spittelberg is its more random, organic feel.
The booths do not all share the same design, as you typically find elsewhere. And they scatter across the area, growing out into a sprawling mini-metropolis of lights, scents, and the noise of Christmas revellers.
The market once enjoyed a particular reputation for its eclectic and extensive collection of arts and crafts, but now shares that accolade with the Art Advent market on Karlsplatz.
You’ll certainly find more variety than at most other markets.
In 2022, various leather goods and clothes stands carried an echo of London’s Camden market. And an alternative vibe manifested in, for example, offbeat etchings or a stand run by independent music labels.
(I was most impressed by the vessels at the Glaswerkstatt stand, with the glass blown directly onto coral tree roots.)
The market also carries official status as an Öko-Event, indicating it has met the numerous criteria required by the city for recognition as an environmentally-friendly event.
Food and drink booths permeate the place, of course. As well as the usual seasonal treats like roasted almonds and sausages.
I also spotted, for example, giant hams, pulled pork burgers, and a variety of arancini (stuffed Italian rice balls) on my last visit.
It might just be my perception, but it felt like the market took another leap of quality in 2022. Which makes me happy, because Spittelberg was my first ever Christmas market way back in 1994, and I have a big soft spot for the event.
Opening times 2023
The 2023 market runs from November 16th to December 23rd with these opening times:
- 2pm to 9pm (Mon-Thurs)
- 2pm to 9.30pm (Fri)
- 10am to 9.30pm (Sat)
- 10am to 9pm (Sun and public holidays)
How to get to Spittelberg
You can reach Spittelberg easily via public transport (don’t take the car – street parking is scarce):
- Tram 49 (get out at Stiftgasse)
- Buses 2A (to Stiftgasse) and 48A (to Sankt Ulrichs Platz)
- Subway: U3 (station Neubaugasse or Volkstheater)
Frankly, it’s not far from Vienna’s centre either, should you choose to walk.
And if Christmas overload starts to get to you and you want the warm drinks but without too many reindeers and Santas, then wander straight toward the centre of town from Spittelberg and into the nearby MuseumsQuartier complex for their winter event.
Address: Spittelberggasse, 1070 Vienna | Website