Austria: According to the Vienna Web site, in 1298 Albrecht I granted the city the privilege of holding a December market, or "Krippenmarkt." The tradition is going strong today, with five city Christmas markets opening Saturday throughout the city. For a fairy-tale atmosphere, stop at the market by the city hall through Dec. 26 and enjoy illuminated trees, entertainment and 150 traditional stalls selling Viennese specialties. The historical Spittelberg quarter will host a market until Dec. 21. A Christmas village welcomes visitors at the Maria-Theresien Platz until Dec. 24. From Nov. 20 to Dec. 23, the Baroque Belvedere Palace is the backdrop for its market with 40 stalls, and the Schönbrunn Palace rus its courtyard market Nov. 21 to Dec. 26. See details at www.aboutvienna.org/veranstaltungen/veranstaltungen5.htm.
• Saturday through Dec. 21, the Vienna Art Week celebrates its lively creative scene from Baroque to contemporary. The "Meet Art" program includes museum exhibition openings, guided tours of art collections both private and public, discussions and a performance series. From 6 p.m. to midnight on Nov. 17, entrance to 50 museums is free. See the schedule at www.viennaartweek.at.
Netherlands: According to Dutch tradition, St. Nicholas lives in Spain and comes to the Netherlands for the holiday season beginning in October. His arrival on a ship in the Amsterdam harbor is a long-awaited day for Dutch children, and each year the city welcomes the beloved Sinterklaas with a grand procession. The event starts at 10:30 a.m. Sunday with St. Nicholas riding a white horse through the city center. He’s accompanied by 500 "Black Peter" servants (devils who climb down the chimneys to leave gifts), marching bands and other costumed participants. At the end of the parade, St. Nicholas meets with the mayor on the Leidseplein. Find more details at www.sintinamsterdam.nl (in Dutch).