The Danube Island Festival is Europe’s biggest open air festival with free entrance. This year the festival runs from the 27th to 29th of June. The 4.5km festival area will host 11 stages offering rock, pop, alternative indie, punk, hiphop, electro-music, Schlagermusik, folk and caberet.
Hilton has completed its refurbishment of the Hilton Vienna Danube Hotel located 20 minutes from the airport and 7 minutes by metro from the city centre. The hotel has 367 rooms and guests can enjoy Austrian and international dishes made from local ingredients at its Waterfront Restaurant.
The hotel has a spacious terrace and the Pier 269 Bar & Lounge. There is also a new Hilton Fitness by Precor, sauna and outdoor pool.
For more information visit Hilton Vienna Danube Hotel.
From 26th March to 17th May the 20th Viennese Spring Festival will take place including 70 concerts in Musikverein. The highlight will be the opening concert with the unveiling of a new organ built by Rieger, the fourth organ for the Golden Hall.
During the festival there will be eight organ concerts with top casts such as, Vienna Philharmonic and Dame Gillian Weir, ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, Vienna Boys’ Choir, Michael Schade and Robert Holl. Star tenor, Thomas Hampson will perform with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. Violinist Gidon Kremer and the Saxony Staatskapelle will be conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. Finally, Rudolf Buchbinder will play and conduct five Beethoven piano concertos. Finally, the Vienna Symphonic will perform Mahler’s 2nd Symphony and other works.
20th Viennese Spring Festival
26 March – 17 May 2011
Tel. (+43 1) 505 81 90
I recently visited the Ice Bar in London’s West End but was bitterly disappointed. However, when I came across Austria’s coolest bar at Hotel Alpina in Obergurgl, I realised that the Austrians really know what they’re doing. What may look like a big snowy hill turns out to be a wonderful world of ice! In front of the spa area of the Hotel Alpina in Obergurgl, a team of civil engineers from the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have built a superb ice dome of 10 metres diameter, using an ingenious construction method.
The research group, supervised by Prof. Kollegger of the Institute of Structural Engineering, is looking into ways of building large-scale, stable domes made of ice. Following a thorough preparation and research phase, a new ice dome construction method is now being put to the test in Obergurgl – a world first.
There’s a lot of technical stuff I could tell you about but to be honest, if you’re that interested, you’ll find it elsewhere. What is important to know is that this unusual venue is the best place to head after a day of skiing for a lovely cocktail. Although, be warned, it is probably wise to leave the cocktail dress in the hotel wardrobe!
Last week Vienna’s council transformed City Hall Square into a giant ice rink and paradise for ice-skating enthusiasts of all ages. The fabulous and illuminated façade of Vienna’s City Hall is the perfect backdrop for Vienna Ice Dream, a 6,000 square-metre outdoor ice skating rink. So what’s it all about? It’s simple really! Every day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. wildly groovy and sweepingly elegant loops can be cut to disco hits of the 1980s and 1990s. Plus, a 600 metre-long dream path leads through the fairytale illuminations at City Hall Park, where four curling lanes await enthusiastic ice-sport fanatics.
When you’ve busted out your final move head to the large, heated marquee with a glazed lounge area where culinary experts indulge guests with Tyrolean Gröstl, farmhouse bread, crispy waffles, Käsespätzle and baked potatoes. Warming drinks – from aromatic punch to hot tea – are also available. I’m famished just at the thought!
Vienna’s Ice Dream
20 January to 6 March 2011
1010 Vienna, City Hall Park
Daily 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Curling lanes Mon-Fri 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Skates can be hired on site
For more information visit www.wienereistraum.com
Love Christmas Markets but looking for something slightly different this year? Why not visit Kubik lightroom installation in Votive Park in Vienna. At this truly exceptional location, architecture, light and sound merge into an unique Advent attraction. Featuring electronic music by DJs, punch and Christmas gift ideas there really is something for everyone. This installation has been hosted by several other European cities but is now open in Vienna until the end of December. The Kubik consists of tanks, filled with water and illuminated from inside, creating a spectacular light effect. Video artists can control each tank individually to create a light performance to the music. Then there is the particuarly novel interpretation of the traditional punch bar! This is definitely THE alternative Christmas Market to visit in 2010.
Open now until 31 December 2010, daily from 5pm to 10pm (closed between 24 and 26 December)
Sigmund Freud Park / Votive Church
Christmas Markets are a true highlight of the advent period and are sure to get everyone into the festive spirit. Head to one of the many markets in Eastern Europe to enjoy some real festive fare including local wine, beers, sausages and artisan crafts. Here’s our top ten…
During Advent Vienna is a city of nostalgia and romance with many concerts, nativity displays and traditional Christmas markets taking place throughout the city. The most renowned markets include the Viennese Christmas Markets on Freyung, at Spittelberg, at Am Hof and in front of the church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche).
Prague, Czech Republic
Christmas is a special time of year in Prague and the Christmas markets (Vanocni trh) are a key ingredient in the Czech festive magic. The Prague Christmas markets bring visitors and locals together to share the holiday spirit in a true ‘winter wonderland’ setting. The main markets can be found at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square with smaller ones at Namesti Republiky and Havelske Trziste. Open 9am to 7pm daily.
The Festive Fair, held in the Town Centre (Breg and Cankarjevo nabrežje embankments, Prešernov trg square) is well known for its vibrancy and cheerful atmosphere. Festively decorated green stalls, designed specially for the fair, sell a fine choice of products suitable for giving as gifts including food and drink, clothes and fashion accessories. Open from 10am to 10 pm daily.
Each festive season Nuremberg’s Old Town is decorated in its Christmas regalia and the tempting aromas of mulled wine, sweet roasted almonds, sausages and gingerbread create a truly unforgettable atmosphere. The Christkindlesmarkt is situated in the heart of the city which is steeped in more than 400 years of tradition providing an international showcase for all Franconian and German Christmas Markets. While younger visitors can enjoy the Kinderweihnacht (Children’s Christmas Market) where historic steam-powered merry-go-rounds and other activities are waiting for them. Open from 9.30am to 8pm Monday to Thursdays, 9.30am to 10pm Fridays and Saturdays, 10.30am to 8pm on Sunday.
Cologne holds an impressive seven Christmas Markets. The four largest Christmas markets are located at Cologne Cathedral, on the Alter Markt (Home of the Heinzel Christmas Market), on the Neumarkt and on the Rudolfplatz (Fairytale Christmas Market). Every year these four markets attract almost 2 million visitors. Open every day from 11am to 9pm.
With well over 50 Christmas Markets and advent bazaars every year, Berlin features prominently on Germany’s calendar of Yuletide events. A popular market is situated next to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church amidst the bustle of shoppers on the high street between the Kurfüstendamm and Tauenzien. The Berlin Christmas Market shown on the map on the left is WeihnachtsZauber situated on the Gendarmenmarkt. This is probably one of the most popular markets in Berlin and is well sited in terms of nearby hotel accommodation. Open 9am to 9pm daily.
One of the most popular Christmas fairs in Europe awaits the lovers of winter programmes this year again in the heart of Budapest, in Vörösmarty Square. There are more than 100 wooden pavilions, which sell unique high quality folklore and applied arts products. Christmas decorations, small presents, candles, gloves, woollen hats, wrought iron and woven products are also sold here, as well as other special articles that cannot be found anywhere else. You can experience the real wonders of winter while enjoying traditional products that have been evaluated by a jury, and satisfying your appetite at typical Hungarian buffets, which offer mulled wine, kürtoskalács (sweet Hungarian pastry), roast chestnuts and other market snacks. Open 10am to 8pm daily.
Sibiu Christmas Market is one of the most popular events of the year in the city. Being the first traditional Christmas Market opened in Romania, it was first held in 2007, in the Little Square located in the downtown area, with a total number of 38 wooden cabins. In 2008 and 2009, Sibiu Christmas Market took place in the Large Square, one of the best places to be visited in the historical center of the city. Open from 10am to 9pm daily.
Cologne in London, UK
Once again Londoners and visitors to the city can enjoy a taste of Cologne this Christmas at the London Southbank Christmas Market. While wandering about, look for and find unusual Christmas presents such as amber and silver jewellery, hand-crafted toys, fragile glass ornaments for your Christmas tree, hand tatted laces, tin toys, candles in all shapes and sizes, hand-made ceramics and creative metal design. Sip on a glass of glühwein or bottle of Kölsch” and nibble on some gingerbread hearts, roasted almonds and candies or even a delicious crepe. Open 11am to 8pm Mondays to Thursdays, and Sundays, 10am to 10pm Fridays and Saturdays.
Estonia’s medieval capital is inherently festive and though temperatures do dip quite drastically this time of year, the city’s celebratory atmosphere does well to dispel the cold. Tallinn’s Christmas Market may be one of the most recently established but it is now among the most well-loved in Europe. December’s darkness is dispelled with colourful lights, music and an abundance of activity. Head to Tallinn’s Town Hall Square, Raekoja Plats, and visit more than 50 merchant stalls featuring products by local artisans. These stalls surround a beautiful Christmas tree. Open daily from 10am to 6pm.
Gastronomic tours are more popular than ever before. What could be better than exploring a country’s culture through its best-loved food and drink? That’s why I was excited to hear about SalzburgerLand’s Via Culinaria, a truly fabulous trip for foodies. Via Culinaria offers a wonderful pathway to culinary enjoyment whatever your taste, from fish lovers to those with a sweet tooth. There are seven mouthwatering trails offering a total of 184 select culinary addresses of which 12 have Michelin stars and 63 are internationally acclaimed. Other delicious billets on the trails include 21 alpine huts and farms, 15 patisseries and cafes, 10 breweries, six schnapps distilleries, 36 food producers and 21 traditional inns serving hearty regional dishes.
Each of the 7 culinary pathways are taste themed. There is one for dedicated fish fans, one for gourmets, one for those with a sweet tooth, one for serious meat eaters, one for cheese freaks, one for beer and schnapps aficionados, and finally one that is perfect for skiers visiting 16 of the regions best ski huts along the ski slopes including:
Karkogelhütte in Abtenau
Rottenhofhütte in Annaberg-Lungötz
Treff 2000 and Schi-Alm in Mauterndorf
Kösslbacher Alm in Unternberg
Burgstall Hütte in Flachauwinkel
“Zur Brennhütt’n” in Flachau
Oberforsthofalm in St. Johann/Pongau
Gehwolfhütte in Grossarl
Weitmoser Schlossalm in Bad Hofgastein
Panorama Alm in Hollersbach
Areitalm mountain terminal in Zell am See
Wieseralm in Hinterglemm
Panorama Alm in Saalbach
“Alte Schmiede” in Leogang
Bürglalm in Dienten am Hochkönig
So if you are looking for a trip to liven your taste buds visit www.via-culinaria.com to find out more!
I was lucky enough to visit Iscghl for the first time this summer. However, the resort is most renowned for its fabulous ski opportunities, not to mention its opening ski season concert for a staggering 20,000 people. It has been announced that this year, on Saturday 27 November, indie rock band Gossip will take to the stage to kick off Ischgl’s ski season. The concert will take place in an outdoor arena in the shadows of the Silvretta mountains. Gossip will join the Hall of Fame for Ischgl’s Top of the Mountain concerts, alongside Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Kylie Minogue, Elton John, Rihanna, The Pussycat Dolls and Lionel Richie, all of whom have performed at previous years’ concerts. Entry is by valid lift pass.
However, that’s not the only exciting news to come out of Ischgl this winter. There are two new chairlifts on the mountain: the first is the 8 million Euro Lange Wand chairlift, a luxurious black framed six-person heated chairlift with weather hood that will transport skiers and boarders up to Ischgl’s highest point of Greitspitz; the second is a replacement of the Muller-Bahn with a six-person chairlift with weather hood.
Ischgl boasts more than 41 lifts accessing 238kms of groomed piste. A one-day lift pass for 27 November costs 55 Euros. Special season opening packages are available via www.ischgl.com and a taster of what’s on offer is three nights’ accommodation and breakfast, with a three day liftpass (including entry to the concert) from 183 euro.
Make the most of a winter break by sipping cocktails in Salzburg by night and skiing in a different nearby resort every day with advice from the latest pithy Frommer’s Day by Day Guide written by Nick Dalton who promises to help travellers plan a trip in the smartest and most efficient way.
Dozens of ski areas are less than an hour outside Salzburg and a daily snow shuttle can connect skiers to resorts such as Obertauern which was made famous when the Beatles capered around on skis for their movie Help! Frommer’s Salzburg Day by Day is the first travel guide to explore Salzburg’s nearby ski areas. The book gives useful tips on the best slopes for families such as Gastein and warns of possible overcrowding in Kitzbühel.
To make the most of a city-stay the guide is also usefully split into themed sections with clear maps and top tips of what to see in a short time. There are practical listings of best locations for Christmas markets, or how to spend a break immersed in Mozart, from visiting his birthplace to finding concerts.
Fans of the Sound of Music are presented with an entirely different picture of the city with recommendations for visiting iconic scenes from the films such as the Mönchsberg Terrace, now the terrace of the Museum de Modern, where the Von Trapp children sang Do-Re-Mi with panoramic views of the city. Frommer’s tip for die-hard Sound of Music fans is to hire a car to visit them all because the iconic scene locations are so far apart that most organised city tours don’t take them all in.
Frommer’s Salzburg Day by Day Guide by Nick Dalton, RRP £8.99, available nationwide in all good book shops