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Posts tagged ‘Rathaus’

Celebrating Life in the “Garden of Earthly Delights” at Vienna’s 2014 Lifeball

A couple of years ago I had to catch a 6 am train to Budapest. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I boarded the subway expecting nothing but a quick ride to the train station. But when I boarded the U-4, I noticed that the only other person in my wagon at such an ungodly hour on a Sunday morning, was a handsome young man sitting in the next set of seats sharing his bench with a rather large plastic pink flamingo. Austrians might like garden gnomes but I have never witnessed them escorting them on outings via the U4. And a flamingo? This is Vienna, not Miami. Pigeons and magpies but no flamingos.

Vienna Lifeball 2014 Entrance Bracelet

Vienna Lifeball 2014 Entrance Bracelet

Baroque Couple

Baroque Couple with stunning body paint, gorgeous costumes and bashful smiles

By the time we had reached Schwedenplatz, I started to worry about them. Was this city worldly enough to tolerate a a lonely guy, with only a plastic flamingo as a companion?

At Stadtpark, a group of two girls and a guy, also in their early twenties, boarded our train. I determined then and there that if need be, I would exhibit the civil courage necessary to defend my fellow passenger and his fine feathered friend. Thus, we’d be three against three. First a smirk, then a shameless smile, and before we’d even reached Karlsplatz, the three of them were barreled over in laughter. At 5:15 am on a Sunday morning mind you. The young man played it cool and politely feigned obliviousness. But then one of them had the audacity to address the elephant in the U-4.

Me and my friend at the Lifeball 2014

Me and my friend at the Lifeball 2014

“What’s up with the flamingo?”

And this past Saturday evening, as I made my way, slightly self-conscious, to the Vienna Rathaus donning a sparkly grassy green ballgown, flowered heels and tights, white-feathered, garden party hat and discreet fairy wings, I feared there may be a person or two who, at the worst, would question my state of my mental health, at best, my fashion sense. But as I reached the barriers, a group of  about 20 guys standing beside the security guards cheered and high-fived me with a, “Hey!!! Way to Go!!! Lifeball! Yeah!”

Some charmingly mischievous Lifeball Guests

Some charmingly mischievous Lifeball guests who I thought may have walked in from Alice in Wonderland

Fascinating Creatures at Vienna's Lifeball

Fascinating Creatures at Vienna’s Lifeball – they looked intimidating but smiled (only one time) when I asked for a photo with them

Because nowadays, everyone in the city knows the annual event of the Vienna Lifeball and everyone welcomes its. Once a year, Bill Clinton flies into town to get together with the founding father and “face of the Lifeball”, Gery Keszler. Together they work to increase AIDs awareness while raising money to battle HIV and AIDs. The red ribbon event is one of the biggest and most spectacular of its kind in the world. And IT WAS SPECTACULAR.

This year’s theme was, “Garden of Earthly Delights” and the costumes were extraordinary. The stairs and rooms of the Rathaus were over-flowing with peacocks, baroque couples, walking lawns, snakes, flower-pots with legs, Medusas, swans, farmers, gnomes, butterflies, bird cages…If you could find it in a garden, it was there too. Live music in the courtyard, (remember Erasure?), discos in countless rooms, pole dancing, massage parlors, and a “Oops!-your-costume/hair-needs-a-quick-fix” room. Amazing. Fun. Prominent people, famous people, politicians, costume designers, singers, actors, actresses, and ordinary people like me. All getting together for a great cause and a wonderfully unforgettable time.

Me and Peacock Man

Me and Peacock Man in his wonderfully gorgeous golden and blue costume.

Garden Gnome from the other side of the fence

Black Leather Garden Gnome from the other side of the fence –  Hitler had forbidden gnomes

Which brings me back to that flamingo. The athletic young man with the bird? A dancer who had delicately balanced his flamingo atop his head while opening the Lifeball that year.

Now it sat tamely by his side. But his night of partying was not yet over. The group invited him and his feathered companion to a bar at next stop. They disembarked together, talking, laughing and enjoying themselves and I smiled. No longer about the flamingo, but about living in a place tolerant and worldly enough where  flamingos, Lifeballs and Conchita Wursts can not only be possible but celebrated.

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Vienna's Lifeball welcomes prominent guests from around the world

Former US Pres Bill Clinton and US Ambassador to Austria, Alexa Wesner, were amongst the VIP guests who attended to 2014 Lifeball at Vienna’s Rathaus

Lifeball 2014 with Conchita Wurst

Lifeball 2014 with Conchita Wurst

Can you find Conchita Wurst in this photo at Vienna's 2014 Lifeball?

Can you find Conchita Wurst in this photo at Vienna’s 2014 Lifeball?


Vienna’s Christmas Markets – It’s Time for Glühwein!

Here it is – KC’s List of Vienna’s Christmas Markets


Vienna’s Biggest Christmas Market – Rathaus (City Hall) photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Reading from the US? Click on some of the links and imagine the smell of pine, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, sausages and cotton candy. Feel the tingle on your cheeks as the crisp winter air nips at your nose, and enjoy the bright warm glow of colored lights and sparkling reflections of Christmas tree ornaments and angels’ wings. Then sulk a bit that you are not in Vienna because this is the Christmas Market Season and we are not lacking choices, here folks. Yes. In the States you can boast about your 101 choices of orange juice and aisles upon aisles of Mexican food. True. Austria has none of that. But Jolly Ol’ St. Nick do we have Christmas.

You can always bring a bit of the Christmas Market home to you by brewing up some Glühwein (see Nov 23 post for the “how to” of Glühwein: Also, here is a great video of the Rathaus Christmas Market I found on youtube that you might want to check out. The music is somber but fitting. The blonde woman in white getting her photo taken with the kiddies is the Austrian “Christkindl” – Christ Child – who comes Christmas eve instead of Santa Claus and for reasons beyond my comprehension is a young blonde woman (oh do we ever escape mantasies?) — I always imagined her as Tinkerbell to be honest. :

Rathaus Christmas Market

Vienna City Hall (Rathaus) Christmas Market

In Vienna? Then do what the Austrians do. Meet up with everyone you’ve been meaning to get together with all year but haven’t managed. Now.  Quick! Before the bell of Stephansdom rings in a new year. Go for a Punsch with colleagues after work (maybe even during, the markets open early and the Rathaus is all so close). Or Auntie Emma who you keep promising to visit. She is always much more entertaining with a Glühwein one or two.

Christmas Market

Christmas at Maria Thereseian Platz – Museum of Natural Hist. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

 Meet up with friends at one or — what the heck – all 21 or so markets and 1131 stands– so many choices and so little time and you have oh so many friends!

Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market - photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market – photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

And if you don’t there are plenty of folks hanging out at these markets so maybe you are only one Glühwein away from a new lifelong friend or two.

Important – the place to meet at the market is none other than the Glühwein stand. Suggest somewhere else and you are a hopeless foreigner. But same rule here as for the Sturm outing (see Sept. blog post: – no singing until the Austrians whip out their lighters and break out into the first verse of Stille Nacht (they rarely know the second). Once that happens, Unsilent your Night till the Fiakers roll home (or return).

Baked Goods

Baked Goods at Christmas Market in Vienna. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina.

I will post photos as I make my rounds. The KC challenge – how many will I manage before the Christmas markets become New Year’s stands. And if you have photos help me cheat by sending me some and I’ll try to post if they’re civilized.

Where’s Santa? Christkindl? An indoor market? Candle light parade? Krampus? Abba? Middle Ages market? Gospel music? Light of Bethlehem? Check it all out here:

Altes AKH (Allgemeines Krankenhaus) – Old General Hospital Adventmarket
Old AKH, Alserstr/Spitalgasse, Universitätscampus – Courtyard (Hof) 1
Start: Nov 16 Mo – Fr 2pm – 10pm; Sat, Sun, Holidays 11 am – 10 pm
Public: take U 2 to Schottentor and then tram 43 or 44 to Lange Gasse; trams 33 or 5 to Lange Gasse; Bus 13A to Skodagasse

Am Hof Adventmarket
Next to the Golden Quartier

Am Hof Christmas Market

Am Hof Christmas Market

Start: 15 Nov daily Mon – Thurs 11am – 8 pm; weekends: 10 am – 9 m
As they say in German “Klein aber fein”[item]=6
Public: U3 to Herrengasse, 2 minute walk over Haarhof and Irisgasse; U1 to Stephansplatz then 10 minute lovely walk over Graben towards Meinl, then the Bognergasse; U2 to Schottentor then walk up Schottengasse, past (or first at) Freyung Christmas Market, further up road and hit Am Hof.

Belvedere Castle Adventmarket
At the Upper Belvedere directly in front of the pond
Start: Nov 22; Mo-Fr 11-9pm and Sat & Sun 10 – 9pm
Public: U1 to Südtirolerplatz, tram D to stop Schloss Belvedere, 18/O stop Südbahnhof, or buses 13A or 69A Stop Südbahnhof (south train station)

Columbusplatz Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1100 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 22

Favoritenstraße / Quellenstraße Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1110 Vienna
Start: Nov 15

Favoriten (Pedestrian Zone) Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)

Ornament Stand at Christmas Market in Vienna

Ornaments at Christmas Market. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

1110 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 15

Franz Jonas Platz Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1210 Vienna
Start: Nov 15

Freyung Adventmarket
Start: Nov. 22, daily 10 am – 9 pm
Celebration at opening on Friday, Nov 22 at 5 pm.
Make an advent wreath on Satuday, Nov 30 from 10 am – 3:30 pm

Freyung Christmas Market

Freyung Christmas Market. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina
Public: subway: U2 to Schottentor and walk down Schottengasse into town, or U3 to Herrengasse and walk past Café Central towards Schottengasse,  or bus 1A or 2A,

Heeresgeschichtliches Museum Adventmarket
Arsenal 18, 1030 Vienna
From Nov 29 – Dec 1. Punch Happy hours 2 pm – 10 pm
Nikolaus AND Krampus will be there.
Highlight: Middle Ages Christmas Market
Public: trams 18, D, O, Buses 13A, 69A, Subways U1 (Südtirolerplatz) or U3 (Schlachthausgasse) or Express Train (Schnellbahn) to station Südbahnhof Address and Info How to Get to Heeresgeschichtliches Museum via Public

Hirschstetten – Garden and Glass House of the Vienna City Gardens Adventmarket
“Christmas Dreams” (This is a market I’ve never been to but will try to visit this year — sounds cool)
In the warm cozy glass houses of the flower gardens of Hirschstetten
Flower Gardens Hirschstetten, South Entrance, Quadenstrasse 15; North entrance: Oberfelgasse across from O Nr. 41
Start: as of 21 Nov, Thurs-Sun 10-8 pm
Public: subway U1 to Kagraner Platz and then Bus 22A 10 minutes to Hischenstetten, Süßenbrunner Str

Karlskirche Advent Market
Resselpark, 1040 Vienna
This year’s motto: “Fiery celebration” Stand after stand in front of the always lovely Karlskirche (
Start:  22. Nov, daily from noon – 8 pm
Highlight: On Friday, Dec 13 at 5 pm they will have a candle light parade through the market to mark Santa Lucia Fest
Public: U4/U1/U2 >Karlsplatz, exit Resslpark, Trams 1 & 62, Buses 4A, 59A or walk from trams 1,2,or D from Kärtner Ring, Oper or bus 3A

Kirche (Church) Maria Hilf – (neighborhood market)
1010 Vienna

Ornaments at Christmas Market

Ornaments at Christmas Market

in front of church, 1060 Vienna
Start: Nov 16


Landstraßer Hauptstraße near Invalidenstraße Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1030 Vienna
Start: Nov 15

Mahlerstrasse Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1010 Vienna
Start: Nov 15

Maria Theresien Platz  Adventmarket
Between the Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum) and Museum of Natural History (Naturhistorisches Museum)
Start: Nov 20 Daily 11am – 10 pm.
Public: U2 or U3 stations Volkstheater or Museumsquartier, trams along the Ring D, J, 1, 2 as well as 46 and 49 – Station: Dr. Karl Renner Ring or Bus 2A to Burgring, or 4A to Dr. Karl Renner Ring

Meidlinger Hauptstrasse Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1120 Vienna
As of Nov 16

Museumsquartier Adventmarket

Sausage Stand at Christmas Market

Sausage Stand at Christmas Market

Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 8
Public: subway U2 to Museumsquartier

Naschmarkt Adventmarket
Schleifmühlbrücke, 1060 Vienna
Start: Nov 29

Prater / Riesenrad Adventmarket
In front of the Giant Ferris Wheel – Live Shows and Hot Punch
Every Thurs – Sat starting at 7 pm – live concerts with gospel, pop and soul music.
The Coco Cola Santa will be present with his igloo and waiting to have his photo taken with big and little kids
Start: Nov 16, Mo-Fr 12 – 10 pm, weekends 11 – 10 pm
Public: U2 or U1 to Praterstern

Rathaus X-Mas Tree

Rathaus X-Mas Tree. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Rathaus / Vienna City Hall Adventmarket
Highlights: See Vienna’s biggest market and official Christmas Tree – this year from the Styria – over 100 years old and 30 meters high
Start: As of Nov 16, Sun – Thurs 10 am – 9:30 pm, Fri & Sat: 10 am – 10 pm
More Highlights: Lighting of the Christmas Tree: Saturday, November 16 at 5:30 pm with over 1000 energy efficient lights.
Starting Nov 18, Vienna’s high society will be reading Christmas stories at 6 pm almost every day at the “Himmelsbühne” (Heaven Stage).
And even more Highlights: The Christkindl (Christ Child – blonde girl) will be present Thurs – Sun 4 pm – 7 pm;
Christmas Post office with Christmas stamps for letters
Public: trams 1 or D directly in front of Rathaus or take U2 subway to Schottentor or Rathaus and walk over

Schloss Hof Adventmarket
(A bit outside of Vienna in Gänserndorf)
Over 100 stands, musical concerts Saturdays at 5pm
Entrance: 5€ adults, 2€ kids or family tickets for 12 €
Start: 23. Nov.; weekends only, Saturdays 10am – 8pm; Sundays, 10am – 6pm
Public: trains and buses – see info in German here:

Schloss Neugebäude Adventmarket
Otmar-Brix-Gasse 1, 1110 Vienna
Thurs Dec 5 2 pm – 8pm; Fri Dec 6 2 pm – 8 pm, Sat Dec 7 10 am – 9 pm and Sun Dec 8 10 am – 8 pm
Highlight: Saturday, Dec 7 at 5:30 pm – ABBA show “Christmas Program” and at 7 pm Krampuses come a huntin’ – all you bad kids better hide!
Public: subway U3 until Simmering and then with the bus 73A to Hörtengasse

Schloss Wilhelminenberg
Savoyenstrasse 2, 1160 Vienna
Kids can also ice skate next to the castle
Start: as of Nov 15
Public: bus 46B or 146B

Schönbrunn Christmas Market

Schönbrunn Christmas Market. Photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Schönbrunn Castle  Adventmarket
Beautifully situated in the front of Schönbrunn castle.

Start: 23 Nov; Daily 3-7pm
As of 6 Dec 2 – 6 pm
Public: Subway U4/green line to Schönbrunn stop (for park) or Hietzing stop (for zoo)

Spittelberg Adventmarket
For crafts lovers and everyone else. One of my all-time favorite markets. The cobblestone lanes and little houses just feel like you are on the scene of Christmas train set.
Start: Nov 15, Mo – Thurs 2pm – 9pm; Fridays 2 pm – 9:30 pm, Sat 10 am – 9:30 pm and Sundays and Holidays 10 am – 9 pm.
Public: tram 49, subway U2 to Volkstheater, bus 49A

Stephansplatz Christmas Market

Stephansdom Christmas Market in Vienna

Stephansdom Christmas Market in Vienna

Start: Nov 16, daily from 11am – 9pm
Public: U1 / U3 Stephansplatz

Stift (Monastery) Schotten  Adventmarket
Breitenleer Strasse 247, 1220 Vienna
Start: Dec 1

Türkenschanzpark Adventmarket – (neighborhood market)
1180 Vienna
Start: as of Nov 15

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