k.u.k. Imperial Christmas
Market at Michaelerplatz
noble, majestic, impressive
The imperial and royal Christmas market at Michaelerplatz is as unique as its noble address.
Michaeler square deserves nothing less, being one of the most dignified places in Vienna: it is, first and foremost, near the domicile of the past monarchy, Hofburg Palace.
The architecture is appropriately impressive and majestic. Michaelerplatz is surrounded by and suffused in history. Emperors, empresses, crown princes and princesses lived in the Hofburg and celebrated sparkling Christmas gatherings in stunning splendour.
Immerse yourself in Christmas magic
Vienna’s imperial Christmas market
The market at Michaelerplatz is in striking contrast to other Viennese christmas markets.
This is due to the ambitious concept – in particular its external appearance. The stalls are tastefully designed to give a distinguished impression. They elegantly blend into the aristocratic surroundings.
They almost appear to be lovely miniatures of this stately building.
There are no brown huts, but large, white, distinguished cabins with golden lettering. They are meticulously designed to fit the ambiance of the Hofburg Palace. They almost appear as loveable miniatures of the imperial buildings.
15.11.2019 to 6.1.2020
Daily from 10 am to 8 pm
Exceptions: 24.12.2019 from 10 am to 5 pm.
31.12.2019 from 10 am to 2 am (1.1.2020)
1.1.2010 from 1 pm to 8 pm
Excavations at Michaelerplatz
Modernity and Antiquity: the Roman Camp in the City.
In the middle of the square, part of an archeological excavation is visible which was conducted in the late 80s. The remains of a Roman camp are only closed off by a hand railing and lay bare, no glass shutting them away. At night the remains are impressively lit.
Food and Handicrafts
The Kohlmarkt, which translates to coal market, leads away from Michaeler platzand has existed since the times of Roman Vindobona.
It was and still is a place of luxurious and exclusive shops. The wealthy did and still do shop here at jewelry stores or dressmakers and enjoy sweets from the world renowned imperial and royal confectioner Demel. Aside from Demel, many imperial and royal suppliers have settled nearby Hofburg Palace. In keeping with the location, the stalls of the Christmas market at Michaelerplatz offer goods inspired by the “Imperial and Royal” (k.u.k.) era.
Ginger Bread from Mariazell
The Pirker family’s ginger bread is steeped in tradition. They have been perfecting their treat for more than three centuries! Of course, the recipe is top secret. However, anyone can taste the top quality created by the ideal mixture of herbs and the natural, healthy sweetness of honey.
Figurines Made of Tin and Christmas Tree Adornments
The glinting tin catches the visitor’s eyes and holds the gaze with its intricate shapes. The typical sparkle of Swarovski gems draws everyone further in and accents the figurines beautifully. The Christmas tree adornments are definitely something special here, with a certain elegance written into every bend of the material. Just like this, one thinks, did the adornments of a Christmas tree during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy look like.
The traditional design is skillfully carved into a slab of slate. The mold is formed to create a mirror match.
A tin alloy after a century-old recipe from about 55% SN, 39% PB, SB 6% is used for the miniatures. Thus the high level of detail and subtlety of the miniatures can be guaranteed.
The most beautiful “temptations” Made with Swarovski® Elements for decorating rooms or windows. The charm of this series derives from the elegant combination of 24 Carat gold-plated metal and crystal components from Swarovski®-Elements. The series currently consists of over 160 different table ornaments in attractive modern designs, but also of window ornaments, so called Suncatchers, that fill the room with rainbow colours as soon as a ray of sunshine touches the crystal. These ornaments are ideal as small gifts for special occasions such as weddings, christenings, birthdays, anniversaries, and graduation to name but a few. The stall offers all 12 signs of the zodiac. All CRYSTAL TEMPTATIONS are presented individually wrapped in an ornamental gift box. All Items have a certificate of authenticity.
Nostalgic toys, that means first and foremost that there is no vexing plastic involved! Lovingly crafted wooden figures and sweet toys out of sheet metal can be found here. With their bright colours, they promise to let any spell of boredom disappear. Maybe one can also find toys from their own childhood, toys they would have never hoped to “encounter in the wild” again.
Candles & Lanterns
Hand-made candles just like in old times: The Landhaus candles are made the exact same way as during the Austro-Hungarian monarchy! They are of course a perfect fit for the iron candle sockets that can be bought here too. Also available are hand crafted candles that show wintery scenes – Christmas is coming! And there is also a place for little tealights: Sitting in a glass carrousel, its flame warms the air and turns the propeller round and round.
The colourful hats combine quality, elegant designs and 100% manual work. The miscellaneous ideas of the designers can be admired here at length – and tried on as well.
Apart from fashionable and new hats for ladies and gents there is also the famous emperor Franz Joseph hat. This type of hat has been worn and made popular by the emperor himself and can be bought here.
The Success Story of Emperor Franz Joseph’s Hat
The hat that rose to fame thanks to emperor Franz Joseph originally comes from Styria and is part of the traditional costume there.
In 1846, archduke Johann invited his then 16-year-old grandnephew Franz Joseph as well as his retinue for a hunt in Upper Styria. However, one condition was to wear the traditional Styrian hunting outfit. Everybody adhered to this requirement and so the basis for Franz Joseph’s preference of Styrian hats was created.
Back in Vienna, the future emperor was of course a trendsetter and apart from Lederhosen the traditional hat also became fashionable for wealthy families.
Wood Work & Tree Accessories
Christmas tree adornments made out of all kinds of natural materials can be found here. Apart from that there are table decorations, see-through images for windows and greeting cards.
Every product has an air of Christmas and vibrantly speaks of happiness – especially the scented woods create a Christmassy atmosphere.
Original Viennese Snow Globes
The world patent for snow globes is owned by the Viennese Erwin Perzy III. who decided to proffer his winter wonderlands at Michaelerplatz.
The scenes of his snow globes are as miscellaneous as his customers and for every single one of them there is the ideal globe: For example, there are dancing mice next to fir trees, the Riesenrad or a friendly snowman.
The Enormous Fascination of a Small Sphere
For more than a century a workshop in Hernals has been providing magic in miniature. This is where the world patent for snowglobes has its headquarters. Erwin Perzy I. invented the snowglobe there over 111 years ago and as most things go, it was a chance happening that brought about the prettiest invention since Christmas. Back then, Perzy I. actually wanted to improve the recently invented electric bulb. Instead his experiments led to the snowglobe!
A well-kept secret
Since then, the secret of the trickling snowflakes is passed on from generation to generation – with success. Emperor Franz Joseph had one, Bill Clinton has one and even in the era of PlayStation and smartphones snowglobes make children’s eyes gleam. “People who look into my snowglobes are happy”, Perzy explains. He doesn’t really look like a snowglobe maker, he looks more like a mechanic. This is not farfetched as some of the elements of a snowglove need serious tools, some of which look like those in a car workshop.
From Hernals to Japan
In the meantime the miniature winterlands are popular around the world. Perzy’s masterfully crafted traditional Viennese globes are even known in Japan. Unlike the museum, the manufactory cannot be visited by just anyone. Some secrecy must remain. Especially the making of the plastic snow is top secret.
Oscar for a snowglobe
One of Perzy’s snowglobes (supposedly) played a small part in the Oscar-classic “Citizen Kane”. In the famous scene where the dying Charles Foster Kane drops a snowglobe. Orson Welles, so the legend goes, got the special prop from the manufactory of Erwin Perzy I. Perzy III. then made a limited edition of 3,000 pieces of the “Citizen Kane Globe” for fans, kept all in black and white. You can buy the globe at a souvenirshop on Hollywood Boulevard near the legendary Grauman’s Theater.
The ideal world is globe-shaped
Meanwhile, the company has 150 different styles and there are always new designs. More than 300,000 original snowglobes are made here each year, produced by a handful of workers. “I feel such a globe should be an ideal, enclosed world where it snows beautifully and peace reigns supreme”, says Perzy. Sounds like the ideal Christmas present.
Pretzels were originally a Christian food for lent and are among the most widespread symbolic bread forms. A symbolic bread form represents a figure made of dough – in this case the crossed arms of a human. Pretzels in German are called Brezen. The word “brezen” derives from the latin word „brachium“, meaning arm.
Pretzels are incredibly old: allegedly the first graphic diagram of a pretzel is found in the Alsatian Encyklopädie Hortus deliciarum printed in 1160! However, the pretzels for sale at the k.u.k Imperial Christmas Market are guaranteed to be fresher than that.
Hand painted Glass Baubles
It is clearly visible that the glass baubles here are hand painted: the level of detail and elegant brush strokes can only be found on a handmade art work such as this. The rest of the craftwork of this beautifully decorated booth are equally breathtaking and invite the viewer to stay and watch a little longer. There are art works made of wood, porcelain, fabric and much more.
The Tradition of Baubles
Where does the tradition of hanging baubles come from – and why is a fir tree decorated for Christmas Eve at all?
The answer is quite simple as the fir tree is supposed to signify an apple tree – more specifically, the famous apple tree from Garden Eden which Adam and Eve ate from. When Jesus was born on Christmas Eve, Adam and Eve, along with all of humanity, were absolved from their sins. This is also celebrated on that day. At first the fir tree was consequently decorated with apples or nuts. With time, other things were hung on it as well such as chocolates and of course candles. The glass baubles appeared relatively late on the Christmas tree.
According to legend, the idea to create and hang glass baubles on the tree arose when there was an especially bad harvest in the 19th century. A creative glassblower was the first to make them and the idea was quickly adopted everywhere.
Viennese Culinary Traditions
When meals are prepared as fingerfood, you don’t even have to take off your gloves – with this in mind, the Imperial Christmas Market offers Viennese specialities in miniature. Two stalls will leave you spoilt for choice between potato fritters, Viennese schnitzel, hot sausages, spicy cordon bleu and deep-fried fish.
In 1860 the Viennese schnitzel was already so famous that „Côtelettes de veau à la viennoise“ were served to Napoleon III and his wife Eugénie. By 1905 the schnitzel was enjoyed by everyone from the Vienna aristocracy to the people, from Emperor Franz Josef to common labourers.
Salzburg’s Spice Wreaths
It smells of herbs, both sweet and spicy. Artistic wreaths are formed with fragrant blossoms and please the eye as well as the nose. Cinnamon rolls, star anise and allspice are fragrant parts of Advent and Christmas.
A Special Spice
Allspice is often used in wreath making as its scent is thought to combine the flavours of pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Its versatile fragrance also coined its name. Allspice originated in America and has already been shipped to Europe by Columbus. At the beginning, allspice was often referred to as pepper to arose public curiosity more.
Some people may not know Pignoli cookies and “marzipan potatoes” anymore. Luckily, these traditional and truly delicious sweets are offered here, together with “Pariser Spitz” and “Mohnzelten” – dough made of potatoes filled with poppy seeds. It couldn’t get any sweeter!
What Are These Things Exactly?
Pignoli cookies: In Austrian German “pignoli” means pine nut. A pignoli cookie consists of pine nuts and the usual suspects of sugar and egg whites.
Parisian peak: They are the crème de la crème of chocolate delights, in the truest sense of the word. A sweet cookie is carefully dressed with mellow chocolate cream – the Parisian crème. Later a thin chocolate coat is poured over the crème and voila, the Parisian peak is finished.
Amber has always fascinated people. Universally and at all times it was a symbol of luxury and power. Since prehistoric times, amber has been used for jewellery and artworks. Some objects found in Egypt are more than 6,000 years old.
The beauty of amber is promoted at the Imperial Christmas Market offering not only jewellery, but also lamps and sculptures made of this golden mineral.
A Variety of Punches & Schilcher Mulled Wine
Both punch stands exclusively serve the delicious punch productions of the Urbanihof.
For over 400 years the winery has been famous for its grapejuices and aromatic, fruity delights. Really special is, however, the Schilcher glühwein, that brings a unique taste to the tongue.
Viennese Fine Art Prints
Lovers of the fine art do not have to limit themselves to their four walls to surround themselves with paintings. Small articles for everyday use such as bags, silk scarves and pill boxes provide a canvas for Klimt’s Kiss or Monet’s Water Lilies.
You are in the right place, if you are looking to surprise an art loving friend with a print from a contemporary Viennese artist.
Customs and Traditions
Christmas Nativity Sets – Reconstruct the Enchantment of the Birth of Jesus.
The custom of installing a nativity set stems from the Middle Ages. A nativity set was supposed to be a realistic depiction of the miraculous birth of Jesus.
As there were no Christmas trees yet on which Catholics could vent their creative energy they created more and more opulent nativity sets instead. Public sets started to incorporate complicated mechanisms to surprise and entertain the audience.
In 1716, a Viennese newspaper reported on an installation of the Nativity that not only included a little pond with fishes but also trick fountains and angels that descended from the heavens. Even the secrets of Christ’s childhood were portrayed using shadow play. Obviously, the creators of this nativity set did their best to entertain the public.
One might assume that this set was located in the middle of a market or some other secular space – but this is wrong: it was just next to the parish church of St. Anna! Obviously the clergy chose to entertain their flock in order to both convey the Christian doctrine as well as draw their “audience” into the chapel.
With time, this secular spectacle of course began to separate from its clerical origins, especially when Maria Theresia, in 1762, prohibited the installation of nativity sets in churches. This prohibition strengthened the trend of erecting sets in a family’s own home and to decorate them more and more ornately. These nativity sets soon reached lengths of impressive two metres! To find the ideal set for one’s home, the market of nativity sets at Graben was the right address to stop by at. During the 19th century however this market was substituted for a Christmas tree market.
Choirs and Brass Bands
Traditions are an essential part of the Imperial Christmas Market
Sweet Music for Cold Evenings
Christmas carols create a festive atmosphere for our visitors, as they stroll among the stalls, enjoying their punch while shopping for Christmas presents.
Brass bands will perform several times a week, filling the Michaelerplatz with sweet music.
The tradition of tower fanfares goes back to the Middle Ages, where the tower-keeper was a standard part of city life. The tower-keeper had the responsibility of keeping a look-out from the highest tower to warn the city or castle of approaching danger.
When the job of tower keepers was no longer necessary, trumpet fanfares from the towers remained as a popular tradition. Usually they are performed by amateur musicians on religious holidays.
On December 4th, from 18:30 to 19:00 the “Vienna Chinese Choir” will perform.
Brass Band Times
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 18:30 to 19:00.
30. 11. 2019 Bläserquintett Steirisches Thermenland
01. 12. 2019 Gaishorner Bläser, Steiermark
03. 12. 2019 29er Blech, Wien
05. 12. 2019 Turmbläser der Gardemusik Wien
07. 12. 2019 Hoagåscht Musi Kärnten
08. 12. 2019 Tulbinger Bläser, NÖ
10. 12. 2019 Turmbläser der Gardemusik Wien
12. 12. 2019 Quintett Frech´s Blech, Wien
14. 12. 2019 Boku-Brass, Wien
15. 12. 2019 Sax in the Kitchen, Wien
17. 12. 2019 Bläsergruppe der Stallberg Musikanten, NÖ
19. 12. 2019 Graz Chamber Brass, Steiermark
21. 12. 2019 BlechQ[uh], Wien
22. 12. 2019 Bläserensemble der Post&Telekom Musik Wien
Michaelerplatz, 1010 Wien
You can reach Michaelerplatz from several scenic routes. For example: from the Heldenplatz you walk through the atrium of the impressive Hofburg palace. Or start at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, walk down the Graben and up the Kohlmarkt until you glimpse the Hofburg.
The bus routes 1A and 2A both stop directly at Michaelerplatz. The nearest subway station is U3 Herrengasse. You have a somewhat longer (5-10min) walk from the U1/U3 Stephansplatz stop and the U2/U3 Volkstheater stop.
We don’t recommend visiting the Christmas market by car, as there are very few parking spots. If you do come by car, we recommend using a parking garage. The WIPARK Freyung and the Parkhaus am Stephansplatz garages are closest.