December is when Austria really sparkles. Soak up the festive vibes (and the glühwein) at the spiritual HQ of Christmas markets, Vienna. The most iconic is held in front of the illuminated, baroque Schönbrunn Palace, with crafts, gingerbread and an enormous tree, while Art Advent on Karlsplatz has live music and an all-organic policy on the food. And while Vienna may be very good, Salzburg’s a bit subversive, too: at its folkloric Krampus parades in early December, goat-demon characters run riot through the streets. Less scarily, it’s also home to the uniquely Christmassy Salzburg Advent Singing, featuring traditionally dressed Alpine folk choirs and festive markets—the Christkindlmarkt is one of the world’s oldest.
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