If you like your Christmas markets sandwiched between mighty imperial buildings, then Maria-Theresien-Platz is another must on your list.
- Wonderful location between two grand museums
- Very tasteful lighting among topiary and fountains
- Best seen after dark (um, obviously)
- Excellent selection of arts, crafts, and food stalls
- 2020 dates: Nov 18 – Jan 6 (after Christmas as a New Year market)
- See also: Christmas markets
NB: Events, markets, etc. continue to be subject to public health restrictions in late 2020 and likely beyond so be prepared for (possibly significant) changes. Check with official sites.
The market itself
The setting is, of course, fantastic. This is Vienna at its best.
Which means you can feast on strudel and sausages, view the Feast of Venus by Rubens, then discover how our ancestors coped when the giant animals of prehistory objected to being turned into meat products.
After all that science and culture you might need a bracing drink (also available from the Christmas market).
And if that wasn’t enough, the market huts curl their way around the square’s beautifully-lit fountains, topiary and the centrepiece monument to Empress Maria Theresa, unveiled in 1888.
So eat your chocolate-coated fruit below the alert gaze of the lady who famously said:
While other nations do battle, you lucky Austria, you wed.
(The Empress had 16 children to exploit for her peace-through-marriage policies.)
The quality of the stands is, as usual for Vienna, high. In fact, the only stand I have ever seen there that looked vaguely like it sold cheap plastic toys turned out to be from the Natural History Museum. So we can forgive them, given the location.
You’ll find all the usual Christmas market goodies, of course, plus a few extras, as the location is one of the largest.
On my last visit, for example, one stand sold absolutely exquisite wooden models that looked as intricate as the insides of a watch, while a chocolate booth offered a host of special varieties that included organic selections from Zotter (a favourite chocolate supplier).
Another stand sold traditional snow globes, notable because the first patent issued for a snow globe was to a Viennese surgical instrument manufacturer. The family-run business still makes the globes today.
- Unlike most markets, the Maria-Theresien-Platz has a temporary toilet facility
- This is definitely one to do after dusk, with the closed-off fountains on the square decked out in Christmas lights, both museums lit up, and a ghostly Empress watching over it all
- Despite the wide layout, the market’s central location means everything gets busy when the crowds gather for an evening mug of punch. So try and get there for late afternoon, when the sun disappears but the locals are still at work
- The end nearest the Natural History Museum has the highest density of food and drink stalls. The end nearest the Kunsthistorisches Museum usually includes some covered areas with bar tables, just in case it rains or snows
Opening hours 2020
Dates and times for 2020 are:
- November 18 to January 6
- 11am to 9pm (Sun to Thurs)
- 11am to 9.30pm (Fri and Sat)
- Closed earlier on December 24th (4pm), and December 25th to January 6th (7pm)
- Closed early on December 31st (6pm)
The market converts to a New Year’s market (the Silvesterdorf) after the 26th.
How to get to the square
Subway: Take the U2 or U3 line to Volkstheater or the U2 to Museumsquartier, then a short walk
Tram: The D, 71, 46, 49, 1 or 2 lines all stop at Ring/Volkstheater (requires a short walk)
Bus: Take the 48A to Ring/Volkstheater
If you’re still up for more after visiting the Weihnachtsdorf, you have two close advent options. The huge Christkindlmarkt sits a bit further along the ring boulevard (clockwise on a map). Alternatively, if you want to enjoy a Christmas market without the Christmas bit (or much of the market bit, frankly), then wander up to the MuseumsQuartier for their Wintererwachen event.
Address: Weihnachtsdorf Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna | Website