In Vienna, it's Advent rather than simply Christmas, that is celebrated with a pure magical passion. First there are all the little markets selling crafts and knick-knacks and home-baked goodies that blossom all around the city, straight from the pages of a story book; the thousands of lights that glitter and sparkle along the main shopping streets and commercial areas – Mariahilfer Strasse, Hauptstrasse and Landstrasser; and then, of course there's music, music everywhere. Take note, then, as Advent starts this coming Sunday (November 27th) and the programme of concerts in the Austrian capital is set to begin on the 25th.
On December 17th, the Weiner Konzerthaus will provide the setting for a grand gala concert with over 150 artists from the Vienna Academy, the Vienna Boys' Choir and the Radio Symphony Orchestra of ORF, the country's official broadcasting company. In addition to traditional carols and classical arias, the event will close with the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.
The International Advent Cantata is a traditional annual event in the Austrian capital, hosted in the glorious Neo-gothic buildings of the Ringstrasse. The series of concerts is performed by visiting choirs from different European countries and the United States, and runs for a full month from November 25th through till Christmas Eve on December 24th. The added incentive is that admission is free.
Another marvellous monumental scenario that echoes with the sound of Christmas music is the magnificent St. Stephen's Cathedral. On November 25th and 27th, and in December on 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th and 18th, a variety of music will ring out: chamber music, Advent music and selections offered by soloists of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Vienna Girls' Choir. The programme includes works by Mozart, Schubert and Bach. And in St Anne's church, in the heart of the city, the regal magic of the trumpet will herald the coming of Christmas with an extensive programme that includes classical music and internationally-popular Advent carols.