Don’t miss out on these ultimate festive experiences at the Tirolean Christmas Markets

While many people come to the Austrian Tirol for Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and tobogganing in the winter, Tirol’s villages, towns and regions are also famous for their traditional customs and celebrations – plus a home for museums and other cultural attractions of the highest quality. This is never truer than during the Christmas period, when Tirol is transformed into a winter wonderland full of feasts for all senses.

Why not visit the Austrian Tirol to experience the magic of the traditional Christmas markets that have inspired so many first-hand? With a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and centres filled with sparkling lights and Christmas cheer, the festive period is a special time of year in the Tirol with many traditions, long forgotten in other places, still celebrated here. Tirol is a place where Christmas has preserved its true meaning.

Visit festively decorated stalls, peruse locally produced gifts and trinkets, perfect for Christmas gifts. Don’t miss the haunting and rather crazy Krampus processions, marvel over the twinkling light displays, and delight in the musical sounds of the carol singers and choirs. Try local Tirolean specialities, such as dumplings or cookies, and get into the festive spirit with a warming glass of “Glühwein”.

With so much to choose from, here is a guide of what not to miss at the Tirolean Christmas Markets for the ultimate-festive experience this winter.

Krampus processions

The Krampus procession is a Christmas tradition that dates back centuries throughout the Tirol region. In early December, towns throughout the Tirol host wild ceremonies where local men dress in traditional Krampus costumes and run through the streets as half-goat half-demon characters. Whilst St Nicholas brings gifts to well-behaved children, Krampus is a Christmas demon who, according to myth, beats bad children with birch sticks and carries away the worst children in a basket worn on his back. Visit Tarrenz, Igls, Innsbruck or Kundl to participate in this exciting tradition.

Christmas concerts

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without organ music, choirs and the sound of carols drifting through the streets. Over the advent period, Tirol hosts many concerts held in churches, conference centres and at the Christmas markets. Annual highlights include the beautiful sounds of the Wilten Boys Choir throughout the region, the Advent Concert at Innsbruck Congress Centre, the Sollazzo Ensemble’s Christmas Concert “La Divina Armonia” in Merano, and the Sounds of Advent featuring Hansi Hinterseer in Seefeld.

Festive light displays

Nothing says Christmas like the sparkle of festive twinkling lights; experience the magic of Christmas with light festivals across the Tirol. City centres are transformed with strings of fairy lights, brightly lit Christmas trees, and torch-lit trails. In Innsbruck, the light festival Lumagica, transforms the Historic

Hofgarten Park in the heart of the old town, with more than 300 elaborate decorations and animated figures creating a festive display. The medieval town of Rattenberg becomes even more enchanting each Saturday before Christmas, when all electric lights are turned off and the streets are lit by candles and torches alone.

Hand-crafted products

Tirol is home to many artisan stores and unique products. Whilst forgotten in many other places, the ancient arts of purse making, shoe making, carving, engraving, and painting are very much still alive here. The Christmas markets are the perfect opportunity to browse some of the unique products created in the region. Visit Kufstein to purchase world renowned Riedel wine glasses, try some fresh honey from the Beekeeper Cooperative in Innsbruck, or browse for traditional felt slippers in the Zillertal Valley to find the perfect Christmas gifts for friends and family.

Delicious food

The Tirolean Christmas Markets are the best place to sample some of the regions finest delicacies; wander the stalls and be tempted by the various delights. Visit the Hall Advent Market to try traditional Kiachl with sauerkraut or cranberry jam, the best are said to be served at Christoph Fischler’s stall. Warm up from the inside out at the Rattenberg Christmas market with the famous Rattenberg Advent Wine, or for the beer lovers, try the Advent Beer, locally brewed by Josef Moser. A real Tirol favourite for generations – be sure not to miss the flat bread dumplings in beef broth served at the Christmas Market in the town park in Kufstein. And Lienzer Lebzelt is a traditional Christmas cake with a marzipan topping depicting “The Adoration of the Kings”, made with a mould dating back to 1644; try the Original Lienzer Lebzelt at the Lienz Advent Market from Joast Bakery’s stall.

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