The Rathausplatz square hosts several major events in Vienna and New Year is no different. Many people go there to
- Less of a formal market and more of a place to grab a snack or drink and buy a hat you will almost certainly only wear once
- One of the hotspots for the New Year’s Eve festivities
- 2020/2021 dates: TBA (assuming it goes ahead)
- See also: New Year markets
NB: Events, etc. continue to be subject to public health restrictions in late 2020 and likely beyond. Be prepared for changes (e.g. compulsory face masks at all seasonal markets)
Whether or not this counts as a good market kind of depends on your expectations.
It’s nothing like the wonderful Christmas market on the same square, but then it’s not meant to be.
There are fewer stands, for starters, which gives you a bit of space to breathe (at least until New Year’s Eve). And the preparations for the year-end festivities take away some of the glamour of the otherwise beautiful location in front of the town hall; the Rathausplatz hosts the city’s official fireworks display and is a stop on the Silvesterpfad New Year’s Eve trail.
What will you find in the booths? Well, let’s just say many of the arts and crafts brigade obviously prefer to celebrate the New Year at home.
Most of the huts fall into one of three categories, all with the feel of the kind of booths you’d expect accompanying a funfair and in tune with New Year’s Eve expectations:
- Food stalls, with mostly fried snacks and perhaps lacking the regional diversity of somewhere like the Schönbrunn market.
There is plenty to drink, whether Irish whiskey, sparkling wine or…punch (in New Year mugs, too, shaped like a mushroom or with a lucky horseshoe design on my last visit).
One or two stands convert to covered shelters, so you can eat and drink “inside” if the weather demands it.
- New Year knickknacks: an array of lucky charms with the typical motifs of the seasons, namely pigs, clover, chimney sweeps and similar.
- Party gear, particularly garish hats and headbands
While plastic is largely missing from the Christmas market, it more than makes up for it at the New Year. There may still be a handful of stands selling, for example, cheeses or honey products or decorations, but most are there to ensure you have a fun time long into the night.
So think of the Christmas market as the refined couple, enjoying a gentle evening stroll with a dash of style and self-assurance. And think of the New Year market as the brash and gaudy teenager, with a bigger appetite for food and entertainment.
Opening times 2020/2021
I have no details yet about the event, but the previous market opened from December 29th to January 1st. Times were:
- 11am to 9.30pm (Dec 29)
- 11am to 8pm (Dec 30)
- 11am to 2am the following day (Dec 31)
- 10am to 5pm (Jan 1)
The Silversterpfad has been cancelled for this year and New Year celebrations will undoubtedly be far more muted than in a normal year. So we’ll see what this means for the New Year markets.
How to get to the Rathausplatz
It’s hard to miss if you’re touring the main sightseeing areas on foot. The park surrounding the Rathaus square glitters with lights.
Subway: Take the U2 line to the “Rathaus” station, where you emerge at the rear of the town hall
Tram and bus: The trams 1, D and 71 stop at “Rathausplatz/Burgtheater”, which is at the entrance to the market. Tram 2 also stops at “Parlament”, which is just a touch further south. Note that these trams will not serve these stops during the evening of New Year’s Eve, because of the crowds.