The Christmas Markets in Salzburg are truly magical. Especially if you are lucky enough to have snow during your visit.
They run from the end of November (21st in 2019) to December 26th. Opening times vary but they are usually open from 10:00 to 20:30. If you are from outside of continental Europe you may have experienced so called “German Markets”, but they cannot compare to the real thing. Everything is of a high quality and tasteful, not a Santa in sight!
Where to Find Them
In Salzburg there are 3 main Christmas Markets:-
• The main market is around the Dom in Residenzplatz and Domplatz and is dominated by a huge Christmas Tree
• A smaller, but equally nice market is in the squares around Sternbrau
• Finally there is a small market in the precincts of the Fortress
There are other markets but these are the main ones that are worth a visit, especially if you are a little short of time.
So what makes these Christmas Markets special? Well, apart from being in the wonderful City of Salzburg and the fantastic festive atmosphere, they sell a variety of goods together with traditional Austrian food and drink to keep you going.
What Can You Buy?
Broadly speaking the merchandise on offer is:-
• Christmas decorations, floral arrangements, candles, incense etc
• Clothes, gloves and scarves
• Crafts and toys – especially traditional wooden toys
• Jewellery, handbags etc
• Food and drink (of course Gluhwein!)
If you are able, the best time to get there is around dusk as all the lights come on but if not, don’t worry you will not be disappointed. Be aware that at the weekend it can get pretty crowded but even then it is still convivial and good natured.
During the course of the markets there are special events with Advent singing on the steps of the Dom. In early December there is the famous Krampuslauf (the Krampus Run). The Krampus are traditional Austrian mythical creatures that are half goat and half demon. Whereas good children and rewarded by St Nicholas, children who have misbehaved during the year are punished by the Krampus. This is usually with small branches gently whipped around the legs. If this all sounds horrific, don’t worry; it is all good natured and the children absolutely love it (if not a little scared).
If you have time on your visit to Salzburg there is another Christmas Market that is absolutely wonderful. It is at Schloss Hellbrunn on the outskirts of the City and can be reached by car, Taxi or bus. It is held in the grounds of the Palace and is magical, but it can get really crowded, so much so they introduced an entrance fee of €5 per person during peak times in 2018. In addition to the Market, you can also walk around the grounds and the Italian garden.
One final thing to point out is to wrap up warm. In December it is usually very cold in Salzburg and the temperature drops dramatically after dark. Good shoes, warm clothing and a hat, scarf and gloves are essential.
Enjoy yourself and take in the atmosphere. The memories from the Salzburg Christmas Markets will make your Christmas and keep you going well into the New Year.