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Christmas Highlights in Graz

Christmas is one of the most magical times in Graz, when the city dresses to impress in full holiday splendor. Enchanting Christmas Markets open their gates in the historic city center a week before the first Advent Sunday.
The old town of Graz, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, is the perfect backdrop for the season’s markets and festivities. Narrow, cobble-stoned streets and squares flanked with medieval houses set the tone for the charming markets and wintry displays.

Throughout the old town, 14 unique, lavishly decorated Christmas Markets welcome visitors and locals alike. The heart of Graz’s festive activity is the Christmas Market on the Hauptplatz in front of City Hall. Treat yourself to roasted chestnuts, mulled wine or tea. The angel pavilion serves as a stage for music groups and choirs. When night falls, the facade of City Hall comes alive with a giant advent calendar, basking the entire square in a festive glow.

 

Christmas souvenirs to bring home


What better Christmas gift than something lovingly made by hand? Graz’ Christmas Markets sell lots of local handcraft and, depending on where you go, will surprise you with thoughtful, unconventional souvenirs.

On Färberplatz square, you can find a colorful collection of arts and crafts, some more traditional, some eccentric and artsy. Tummelplatz square is home to a multi-cultural, Bohemian market that emanates a cloud of frankincense and myrrh. Browse colorful fabrics, and handcraft made from smooth wood, silver, and other earthy materials.

For a more traditional market, head toward the Altgrazer Christkindlmarkt on Franziskanerplatz square, which is the oldest in the city. A smaller collection of stands sell local crafts like Austrian Christmas tree ornaments and of course fragrant Glühwein and other Advent specialties. The market inside the courtyards of Graz’ Joanneumsviertel brings you a curated group of regional artisans that put a creative spin on wood-carving, textiles, jewelry, and more. If you’re looking for an unconventional gift with a Styrian touch, this is a great place to find it.

Be sure to visit the "Aufsteirern" Christmas Market on the Schlossberg, the small mountain in the heart of the city. The Schlossberg funicular takes travelers directly to the market. Here, you will find stands selling local arts and crafts, as well as mulled wine and regional specialties. Enjoy the idyllic atmosphere paired with views over the city. The market is open from Friday to Sunday.
 

Some markets focus on giving back to the community, such as the Charity-Market at Eisernen Tor. All the income from this market is donated to various charity organizations.

 

A different kind of nativity scene
 

One of the most spectacular seasonal sights in Graz can be found tucked away in the courtyard of the historic Landhaus, the seat of state government: Each year, ice carving artists build a larger-than-life Nativity Scene out of 50 tons of clear ice. Backlit with beautiful colors, the crib is a magnificent work of art.

On the topic of ice, there are several outdoor ice skating rinks strewn across the city. Maybe the most festive is on Karmeliterplatz square, where a 7,534 sq-ft (700 m2) rink invites young and old to skate and explore the Children’s Winterworld, which features biscuit-baking studio, creative workshop, and playground.

The Adventzug train carries young and old through the historic city centre from one Christmas market to the next. The Adventbim, a vintage tram, intricately decorated to fit the occasion, also circles Graz during the lead-up to Christmas.

 

Bring Graz’ Christmas scents to your kitchen


Some of Graz’ Christmas market classics are easy to make at home. Try these two recipes that fill the inner city, and now your kitchen, with a constant whiff of cinnamon and vanilla.
 

Glühwein

This Christmas classic is also called mulled wine, and it's a staple at Graz' festive markets. Spices like cloves and cinnamon give it a warm, home-y aroma. Here is the recipe...

Vanillekipferl

Every Austrian grandmother has her special recipe of these vanilla Christmas cookies. They are sweet, soft, and disappear faster than any other dessert. Here is the recipe...

Christmas Highlights in Graz

  • Christmasmarket at Graz Main Square © Graz Tourismus  / Harry Schiffer Christmasmarket at Graz Main Square © Graz Tourismus / Harry Schiffer
  • Nativity scene in Graz © Harry Schiffer Nativity scene in Graz © Harry Schiffer
  • City Hall Advent Calendar © Graz Tourismus  / Harry Schiffer City Hall Advent Calendar © Graz Tourismus / Harry Schiffer
  • Shopping at the Christmasmarket in Graz © Graz Tourismus  / Max Wegscheidler Shopping at the Christmasmarket in Graz © Graz Tourismus / Max Wegscheidler
  • Christmas lights at Herrengasse in Graz, Styria © Graz Tourismus  / Manfred Lach Christmas lights at Herrengasse in Graz, Styria © Graz Tourismus / Manfred Lach

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