The first mention of Christmas markets in Salzburg dates back to the 15th century. At that time, winter markets weren’t held for the sake of entertainment. Their main goal was to give people the opportunity to buy everything they needed before winter came. This has changed over the years. Modern Christmas markets held in Salzburg as well is an other cities around Europe are designed to entertain and create a festive atmosphere. Besides, they are major tourist attractions.
The Salzburg Christmas market features several dozen stalls and booths where vendors offer a wide range of merchandise. All stalls are divided into six color-coded sections: Christmas decorations, floral arrangements, candles an incense; food and drink; textile and natural products; toys and crafts; coffee and sweets; jewelry and knick-knacks. Due to color coding, the market is very easy to navigate.
Of course, the market experience isn’t limited to shopping and holiday treats. There are about 80 entertaining events held during the market. The include live performances by local choirs and children from Salzburg schools, Advent brass concerts in Residence Square, and spectacular events featuring traditional Christmas characters such as the Christkind, Krampusses, and Perchten.
The Christkind (“Little Jesus”) is the traditional Christmas gift-bringer in some European countries. Salzburg’s own Christkind is a girl with blond hair and angelic wings who appears at the market every Saturday evening, accompanied by angels.
Krampusses are demon-like creatures who punish children who have misbehaved, in contrast to Saint Nicholas who gives gifts to well-behaved children. Perchten look very similar to Krampusses, they are associated with midwinter and embody the souls of the dead. Despite being ugly, they are quite entertaining and make the market just a little bit wild.
The Christmas market in Cathedral Square is the city’s biggest and most popular holiday market, but it’s not the only one. You can also visit the Advent market near Hohensalzburg Castle, the Advent market in Mirabell Square, the Advent celebration in Hellbrunn Palace, the Christmas market at Sterngarten, and the Advent market in St. Leonhard.