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Austria embodies everything that Christmas should be – crisp white snow, bright and bustling markets filled with the aroma of gingerbread and mulled wine spices, and an air of merriment.

Christmas markets (Christkindlmarkts) are a long-standing tradition with most towns boasting one; Salzburg’s is one of the most famous in Europe. Only an hour from CLC Alpine Centre, the Cathedral Square in Salzburg is filled with picturesque market stalls displaying their festive wares, such as gingerbread and beautiful wooden tree ornaments. To keep the shoppers warm, cups of sweet, warm Glühwein are on offer. On Christmas Eve the large tree in the square will host carol singers. One of their carols will undoubtedly be Silent Night (Stille Nacht) which was written in Austria in 1818.

Christmas truly starts on Christmas Eve, around 4pm, and the main Christmas meal is eaten that evening. The traditional dish is fried carp, but roast goose and turkey are becoming more popular. However, Santa Claus is not as popular as in other parts of the world, the duty of delivering presents in Austria falls to the Christkind.

The Christkind (Christ child) is let in through open windows on the evening of 24th December. Once children have heard the sound of a ringing bell they can enter the room and discover their presents. A lot better than having to wait all night for the sound of sleigh bells!

The old traditions of Christmas are alive and well in Austria which, along with the “Christmas card perfect” landscape, makes it the perfect destination for a festive break.