They celebrate Christmas with such style and tradition in the Austrian capital that it can almost lay claim to the franchise. It’s a Dickensian tableau of diamond lights, fuelled by chestnuts, punch and gluhwein (spiced mulled wine). They are so purist about it all that Santa is outlawed as a tacky Hollywood import. In his place is the Weiner Christkindl, the city’s ‘Christ-child’:  Teutonic maiden with blonde locks.

The Christkindlmarkt, as the market is known, rolls up its shutters on November 15 in the Rathausplatz – the square in front of the stately town hall, with its spire soaring above the trees. Windows of the Neo-Gothic landmark have numbered curtains that are opened, one by one, throughout Advent. It’s all chocolate-box traditional: choirs warble free concerts of seasonal music in the Rathaus (Town Hall), while the nearby park is ablaze with Yule-themed bulbs, marking a midwinter celebration that dates back 700 years. There is the inevitable sprinkling of Christmas kitsch on sale, but also scented beeswax candles, handmade decorations and toys, and vats of pleasantly intoxicating warm drinks. Vienna has numerous smaller Christmas markets, from the well-heeled affair outside the Sch6nbrunn Palace to odd clusters on street corners, but Rathausplatz is unmissable. Not far away, Hotel Adlon (Hofenedergasse 4; 00 43 1 216 6788, www. adlon-wien.at) has doubles from £65, B&B. Airlines serving Vienna include BA (www.ba.com) from Heathrow and Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.ie) from Dublin.

rlrMrcbftcerts of seasonal music in the ftathaus (Town Hall), while the nearby park is ablaze with Yule-themed bulbs, marking a midwinter celebration that dates back 700 years. There is the inevitable sprinkling of Christmas kitsch on sale, but also scented beeswax candles, handmade decorations and toys, and vats of pleasantly intoxicating warm drinks. Vienna has numerous smaller ‘Christmas markets, from the well-heeled affair outside the Sch6nbrunn Palace to odd clusters on street corners, but Rathausplatz is unmissable. Not far away, Hotel Adlon (Hofenedergasse 4; 00 43 1 216 6788, www. adlon-wien.at) has doubles from £65, B&B. Airlines serving Vienna include BA (www.ba.com) from Heathrow and Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.ie) from Dublin. >