Advent Markets in Austria evoke Spirit of Christmas
Advent markets are wonderful occasions to get you in the festive mood; particularly if they are located in villages and towns where the tradition goes back many decades. This custom began generations ago in Germany and Austria quickly followed suit. The big markets in the cities are well known but what about the smaller ones where you can really feel the emotion of this time of the year.
My favourite is St. Wolfgang (known as the Romantic Village) – quite close to Salzburg. There are several other Advent markets in the surrounding region in the villages of St. Gilgen and Strobel. Of course there is also the larger Chriskindlemarkt in Salzburg, home of the great composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I prefer the smaller ones, which are more intimate and homely; where the arts and crafts are more traditional and the culinary offerings have the edge over the bigger stalls in the bigger venues.
At the Wolfgangsee Advent Market an emphasis is placed on authentic folk customs. Christmas classics such as cinnamon stars, vanilla crescent biscuits, Linzer eye biscuits and fruity Christmas bread are in abundance along with the traditional cup of Glühwein (mulled wine). Traditional Advent wreaths braided from pine needles and adorned with candles are very popular. You will not be able to resist the temptation to buy some charming Christmas tree ornaments such as stars made from straw. This atmospheric event really does bring fairy tales to life for children (and adults too).
My recommendation for local accommodation is a gorgeous small country house hotel called the Landhaus zu Appesbach. Appesbach is only a short horse drawn sleigh ride from Wolfgangsee – if you are lucky enough to be there when it snows. My luck was in when I was there for Advent and it was a really memorable visit. The hotel has just 20 rooms and is calm and relaxing with spectacular views of Lake Wolfgang. Its classic salons are furnished with elegant wooden parquet flooring and the style is in keeping traditional values.
Airlines flying to Salzburg include Ryanair; Austrian Airlines; Luftansa and British Airways. Ryanair even have a direct flight from Dublin to Salzburg so no excuses for the Irish; after all we are a nation who loves the tradition of Christmas with all the trimmings.