The traditional villages of Austria’s Tirol region, with their snowy streets filled with twinkling lights, are a wonderful place to spend the perfect white Christmas. Here you’ll find peaceful mountain charm sprinkled with excitement for the season’s most anticipated holiday, but deeply rooted in tradition. It’s your chance to rediscover the true sense of Christmas without the hustle and bustle of shopping malls, tinsel and hectic schedules. Oh, and enjoy some great skiing too!
Söll’s beautiful village centre is an even more enticing place in the run-up to Christmas with the resort bedecked in festive lights and Christmas specials in the restaurants. An unusual attraction in the SkiWelt – one of Austria’s biggest ski regions, of which Söll is a part – is Ellmi’s Christmas Market on the Mountain, billed as Europe’s highest Christmas market at 1,555m. Known as “Ellmi’s Zauberwelt”, it’s open from 4.30pm to 10pm during Advent. Accessed via a winter pathway through the snow-covered forest, there are many different traditional stands waiting to be discovered by the visitors. This is where to find gingerbread, roasted apples, hot chestnuts, homemade punch, mulled wine and much more. Yum!
Mayrhofen goes big on Christmas with its Scheuling Forest area designed to offer an old-fashioned festive holiday mood. A giant, handmade Advent wreath with a diameter of 3.5m illuminates the area, which is home to an Advent Market with quaint stalls selling mouthwatering Christmas specialities, such as tasty “Zillertaler Krapfen”, a local staple, and spicy mulled wine. Kröll’s Advent Bakery offers the opportunity to make your own Mayrhofen Advent Gingerbread Angel, and a special Christkind Parade will take place on 21 December. For little ones, there’s cookie baking, a petting zoo and an atmospheric Christkindl post office at the Forest Festivity Area.
Christmas is a magical time in the famous Ötztal valley too, with twinkling lights and snowy streets in the region’s villages. The Ötztal is a great choice for an early season ski holiday (and Christmas is quite early in the ski season!) as the ski slopes climb above 3,000m here, some of the highest in Europe, and Sölden’s glacier slopes are open from September and host the opening races of the annual World Cup calendar in October – almost two months before Christmas! Another Ötztal resort, Obergurgl, one of Europe’s highest villages, opens in mid-November and is one of the earliest traditional villages in Europe to start its ski season and another good snow-sure choice for Christmas.
Innsbruck leads the world when it comes to Christmas markets with no less than six to choose from with a combined 200 stalls. There’s a 14m-tall Christmas tree full of sparkling and glittering crystals plus lights which continue from the famous Golden Roof in the centre to 300m above town at Hungerburg. There are lots of Christmas events too, and it all runs right through to the start of January 2020.