What a wonderful time of the year to be in Salzburg, where we are spoilt for choice when it comes to Christmas Markets. For the past two years, the beautiful Christmas markets have been either cancelled completely or interrupted because of lockdowns, but this year we can enjoy the wonderful atmosphere in the time leading up to Christmas Eve. In Salzburg, when you visit one of the many Christmas markets, it will certainly put you in the right mood for the festive season. Salzburg is often voted as one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe to spend Christmas, so the markets attract not only locals but tourists from all over the world.
The Christkindlmarkt in the city is one of the oldest markets and offers many stands, selling everything from handmade Advent wreaths, hand-embroidered tea towels, hand-knitted hats or hand-painted baubles and decorations. There are also delicious Christmas biscuits or local dishes to try… not to mention the mulled wine. There is an extensive programme of events including choirs singing Christmas hymns in front of the Cathedral and „Turmblasen“ on Residence Square. This market can be very overcrowded so you may prefer the quaint market in St. Leonhard, where the huts are set out at the foot of the Untersberg mountain and all the proceeds are donated to local charities.
I also love Hellbrunn Advent Magic and it never disappoints. The whole atmosphere is magical and the stalls are perfect and not full of kitsch. The market is truly impressive with 700 conifers decorated with 10,000 Christmas balls and lights. When you reach the palace itself, you will be amazed by the façade which displays a huge Advent calendar with 24 windows. The Krampus display is also amazing and ideal for people, like me, who are terrified of the real Krampus. I avoid this Christmas market when the real Krampus comes. Once again, many locals may be put off by the 6 euro entrance fee, but I think it is a brilliant idea and it is only applicable on Wednesday-Sunday. Many people complained that the organisers were making enough money out of the visitors, without charging more – but I think that they are missing the point. Hellbrunn is probably the most beautiful Advent market in Salzburg, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. Most of the visitors, including coach loads full of tourists, come at the weekend and many of them just stroll around the market without purchasing anything. The entrance fee has been introduced to spread the visitors out and encourage them to exchange their ticket for a drink. While you are visiting Hellbrunn Park, don’t forget to look at the eight-meter-tall Christmas Angel, which was designed by the Salzburg artist, Markus Anders. Needless to say, you can’t miss it. It is made out of white painted steel and the stand alone weighs four tons. It will be illuminated and water from the ponds will be sprayed into the Angel’s dress to give the impression that it is moving.
Finally, it is worth making the effort to drive to the Salzkammergut and take the boat on the Wolfgangsee to the different Advent markets in St. Gilgen, St.Wolfgang and Strobl. Where else offers such a treat? This is an unforgettable experience where you can see the enormous Light of Peace candle floating on the lake or the life-sized nativity scenes. Here you get the feeling of how Advent was in times gone by, before it became so commercialised.