Christmas in the center of Graz is a lovely time of year, the streets are decorated with lights, the festive shop windows and the smell of roasted chestnuts all make for a lovely atmosphere. And of course the famous Christmas markets!
The Christmas markets (also knows as Christkindlmärkte, Weihnachtsmärkte or Adventmärkte ) are officially open! There are 15 to visit in the center of Graz, including the new sustainable design themed Grieskindlmarket on Nikolaiplatz (Fridays – Sundays only).
Each market has their own theme and atmosphere so it’s worth visiting them all to find your favourite. My favourites are drinking mulled wine / Glühwein at the stylish stands in the Joanneumsviertel (usually quieter then other markets) or visiting the traditional Styrian market at the top of the Schlossberg (Friday – Sundays only). Check out the Graz Tourist website for more information, times and musical events for each market. They also have a good advent brochure you can pick up from the tourist office, download or view online.
For the kids
There is a fun market for smaller kids at Kleine Neutorgasse (unfortunately this year they no longer have the €1 Wednesday deal), also don’t miss the Wonderlend circus themed market at Mariahilferplatz, although this year the giant wheel is missing (too much electricity and not enough visitors during the week). My kids favorite are the activities (Friday – Sunday) at the Liesl bell tower next to the Schlossberg market. Inside the tower kids can bake cookies (free) and upstairs make Christmas decorations (small charge). There are also christmas singing of songs 16:00 – 18:00 on Saturdays and at 16:00 on Sundays a fairytale hike around the Schlossberg (€3, meet in front of the Lisel tower). Another fun thing for small children is take the tiny Advent train around to the different markets (starting point Hauptplatz €2 adults / €1 kids, there is a storage place to leave strollers). Or ride for free on the festively decorated advent tram Friday – Sundays 16:00 – 18:00.
Independent Christmas Markets
There are also many smaller advent markets on weekends where you can buy homemade artisan presents around Graz and in the villages ouside. For example Bohemian Soul Weihnachtsmarkt at the Seddwell center in Gries on Dec 7.
The famous Krampus parade takes place on Sunday Dec 1st 16:00 – 18:00 and over 500 evil looking costumed beasts will walk along Herrengasse. It’s quite a spectacle! (But is very crowded and might be scary / too loud for younger kids!).
The ice skating rink at Karmeliterplatz is a fun place to take break from the christmas markets. There are penguins to hold onto for beginners and you can rent skates. There is also a cafe upstairs and a cozy kids area where they can read, play and do activities. They also have a program of special events such as puppet shows.
Free Travel on Advent Saturdays!
Every Saturday up to Christmas travel is free on buses and trams (zone 101), this includes the Schloßbergbahn (Schlossberg funicular). Additionally Monday to Friday 8:00 – 18:00 with a valid bus/ tram ticket you can store your shopping bags for free at the Mobilitäts- und Vertriebscenter at Jakoministraße 1.
If you need to do some shopping without the kids, the Kinderfreunde Steiermark at Tummelplatz offers flexible childcare Tuesday to Fridays 14:30 – 18:00 and Saturday 9:00 to 18:00 for kids 3 – 12 years. You can also follow them on facebook for updates.
Or if you are shopping at Karsten & Öhler you can use their free childcare for up to 3 hours on Fridays 13.00 – 18.00 and Saturdays 09.30 – 18.00. They also have a fun program of events on their 5th floor toy area including baking, lego play, meet Santa etc.