To Salzburg for the Christmas Markets

By | Category: Travel destinations

Horse and carriage ride through the Altstadt, Salzburg (Image copyright www.visit-salzburg.net)

Horse and carriage ride through the Altstadt, Salzburg (Image copyright www.visit-salzburg.net)

Yes, the first mention of the word Christmas but things begin earlier and earlier these days so CD-Traveller thought it time to mention it. And one of the increasingly traditional features of our Christmases is the imported Germanic Christmas market. Last year we wrote of the Edinburgh Christmas market (this year is its 10th birthday) that is on the south side of Princes Street. But what of the countries where they began? In particular, Salzburg in Austria.
The first Christmas markets open as early as 18th November and can run until the end of the year. The fact that I wrote “markets” in the plural is enough to tell you that suburbs have markets as well as the inner part of Salzburg itself. Going back to the 15th century, the market in the heart of Salzburg in Cathedral Square must be one of the oldest in Austria. Certainly it is one of the most traditional with music, roasted almonds and chestnuts perfuming the air with, of course, mulled wine and punch. The craft and food stalls are much the same wherever you go. Made of wood, this is where you go for those stocking fillers as well as the more elaborate carved toys and presents. And sweets, lots and lots of sweets. This sounds, so far, like almost any other Christmas market. The difference is the atmosphere that Salzburg and the locals bring to this time of year.
Not to be outdone in style is a newer market at Helibrunn just to the south of Salzburg. To attract visitors this market has deer and other animals to bring a stronger feel of Christmas. As the sleighs and carriages pass outside the castle there is one other sight you must see; – the castle itself. For in 24 of the windows they have placed their own advent calendar and, of course, one opens each day leading up to Christmas Eve.
Although there are many other markets nearby, Oberndorf is the other one that you must visit. This is where “Silent Night” was conceived and written in 1820. That alone is enough to make Austrians come from far and wide to listen to the combination of carols and hymns in front of the chapel which, unsurprisingly, is called the Silent Night chapel. Now the visitors come from further afield.
To get into that Christmas spirit, a weekend in late November or early December in Salzburg when the snow will have fallen will get you into the right mind.

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