It’s a lovely place in every season, but Salzburg does Advent especially well! And that’s because, one day in mid-November, the Christmas market suddenly comes to life!
The Salzburger Christkindlmarkt (Salzburg Christmas Market) has been been open since November 17 and will continue until the day after Christmas. It’s a little kitschy, but it’s fun! You can walk beneath the golden lights humming German Christmas carols. You can buy some hot roasted chestnuts. You can even sip a mug of hot spiced wine (Glühwein) as you stroll from booth to booth, admiring handcrafted Christmas ornaments, woolen sweaters, Austrian crystal, baked goods, and all kinds of other wonderful Christmas gifts.
Here is a quick video clip of the marketplace tonight. It’s not my very best cinematography, but I think it will give you a sense of the ambiance:
One of the most fun musical traditions is led by Salzburg’s Tower Brass Band (Salzburger Turmbläser). Every Saturday night in Advent, at exactly 6:30 PM, the sky above Residenzplatz fills with music as the band plays Christmas carols from the rooftops. Imagine hearing a solo trumpet play the first phrase of Silent Night from one church tower, and then being answered from across the square by a quintet of horns and trombones in another tower. It’s a magical thing.
Now, if you really need to hear some Christmas carols played by an Austrian brass band, and yet you can’t get all the way to Austria, fear not! The city of Graz also has a tower brass band, and you can download the music of the Grazer Turmbläser on iTunes.
No matter where you are in the world tonight, I wish you a very happy Advent season!