Austria is everything that Christmas should be … from glistening white snow, to sparkling festive lights and the aroma of warming Glühwein and freshly-baked gingerbread to tempt you.

The colourful Christmas market in Salzburg, just a 60-minute drive from CLC Alpine Centre, is one of the most famous in Europe and is worth a visit. The merry bustle of Cathedral Square in Salzburg is festooned with decorations and quirky stalls selling home-baked pastries, sweets, decorations, hot roasted chestnuts, toys and tree ornaments.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Salzburg on Christmas Eve, join in with the carol singers who gather around the large tree in the Square and bring festive joy to the crowds. Silent Night (Stille Nacht), which was composed in Austria in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber, always features as visitors keep warm with steaming cups of hot chocolate or spicy Glühwein.

Christmas really 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.

Santa Claus is not as popular as he is in other parts of the world, and the duty of delivering presents in Austria falls to the Christkind (Christ child), who ‘brings’ children their Geschenke (gifts) on 24th December. Parents tell their children that the Christkind won’t come if they try to spot him as he is not meant to be seen. Parents will often ring a bell once the gifts have been left under the tree, and the children run in to open them. Much better than having to wait until morning!

Austria is a wonderful place to be at Christmas and the age-old traditions are alive and well! The breath-taking landscapes, combined with vibrant markets, delicious festive food and a warm welcome make Austria a wonderful place to spend the festive season.