PLANETSKI VISITS XMAS MARKETS IN TIROL’S CAPITAL
5th December 2019 | Kisia Cove, Innsbruck
Last modified on January 7th, 2020
A Christmas market has always been on our radar. We’re in Innsbruck for perhaps the best Xmas markets in the Alps.
We’re in Innsbruck for a cheeky pre-Christmas break.
Our editor, James, is here for some early season skiing… and me?
Well, I’m here for some skiing too, PLUS some added Christmas sparkle and magic.
By day we skied using the new City and Ski pass:
While by night I was keen to get stuck in to the Christmas Markets hoping to buy some Chrismas gifts and to drink in the Christmas spirit, literally.
As Christmas approaches there are dozens of markets across the Tirol, but since we’re only here for a very brief visit, I decided to focus on the Innsbruck markets.
There are six Christmas Markets in town with around 200 stalls – enough to keep me busy for a while.
One of the larger markets, on Market Square, stretching along part of the River Inn, features a stunning 14 metre Christmas tree made entirely of thousands of dazzling, sparkling Swarovski crystals.
It’s so big we spotted it from the plane as we came in to land at Innsbruck airport.
It’s opulent but stunning.
The colour of the tree changes from pink to silver to blue, offering a light show befitting the dazzle of Swarovski.
For me, though, the hub of the Christmas market was in the picturesque medieval town centre.
Dozens of traditional chalet-like stalls packed the cobbled streets beneath the building with the famous Golden Roof.
It’s a 500-year-old building that sits in the heart of the city.
The Golden Roof was decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles for Emperor Maximilian I to mark his wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza.
It was a focal point back in 1500 and it remains so today.
Hundreds of people were milling around with cups of hot gluhwein while casually shopping.
Vendors were selling local handmade soaps, confectionery, decorations from Eastern Europe, wreaths and highly scented cinnamon balls, wooly hats and scarves, delicate porcelain votives, jewellery, hand crafted wooden Christmas decorations and so much more.
I was spoilt for choice.
It was like a treasure trove.
Along with a set of traditional wooden soldiers, I chose a pair of tiny wooden santas on skis – perfect decorations for our tree.
At 5.30pm I was lucky enough to be in the old town to see the band of minstrels appear on the balcony of the Golden Roof and listened to them play Christmas Carols.
People gathered to listen to the music, some sipping hot cups of gluhwein, while others simply drank in the charming Christmas atmosphere.
It was a magic moment.
One of the main pedestrian streets, Maria-Theresien Straße, was decked with golden trees, and giant golden domes.
Down the sidestreets of the old part of town some of the buildings were decorated with fairy tale characters.
One house epitomised an advent calendar with windows numbered from 1 to 24 marking off the days until Christmas.
Taking a break from the shopping we ventured to one of the the smaller markets north of the river at Hans Brenner Platz, where we were tempted by hot wine and Austrian doughnuts localy known as Kiachls.
The doughnuts came in three flavours.
I had to choose between a lightly sugared Kiachl, a cranberry (Preiselbeere) Kiachl or a cabbage Kiachl.
Guess which one I went for?
My instinct was to go for the cranberry flavour.
However, I was forced to try the cabbage flavour… . and I found it surprisingly tasty.
And then … we heard the hullabaloo and commotion of Krampus.
It’s a traditional celebration in Austria that takes place on the 5th December, on the eve of St Nicholas’s Birthday.
Long haired ugly demons parade and dance through the streets to a cacophany of clanging bells and shrieks and screams.
The idea is to persuade or rather scare the children to be well behaved, so they’ll get a gift from St Nicholas.
Good children get sweets from St Nicholas as a reward, but naughty children get nothing.
We came across Krampus and, boy, was it a noisy old rumpus.
It was a crazy frenzy of noise and excitement attracting a huge crowd.
I spotted a girl being playfully dragged off by a hairy Krampus monster.
… and then I made friends with one of the ugly demons.
And the verdict?
In my view the Innsbruck Christmas Markets were a fabulous experience set with an incredible backdrop of snowy mountains.
Sadly though, we didn’t have enough time to visit the lovely Christmas Market at Hungerburg, that sits 300 metres above Innsbruck.
It’s Innsbruck’s highest Christmas Market and boasts a panoramic view across the town.
My intention is to return again next year.
And I’m going to make sure we have enough time to head up to Hungerburg.
Market Opening Times:
Old Town and Market Square: Nov 15 to Dec 23, daily 11:00am to 9:00pm;
Maria-Theresien-Street: Nov 25 to Jan 06, daily 11:00am to 9:00pm;
Hungerburg: Nov 16 to Dec 23, daily 1:00pm to 7:00pm; opening at noon on Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays;
Wiltener Platz: Nov 25 to Dec 21, 4:00pm to 8:00pm, Saturdays 2:00pm to 8:00pm;
St. Nikolaus: Nov 22 to Dec 23, daily 4:00pm to 9:00pm
Innsbruck Christmas Highlights:
- Fairytale performances on the Fairytale Stage (Old Town): Nov 15 to Dec 23, daily at 4:30pm and at 5:30pm
- Wind playing from the Golden Roof (Old Town): Nov 15 to Dec 23, daily at 5:30pm
- Play to celebrate the 200th anniversary of “Silent Night, Holy Night” at Hungerburg: December 21, 2019 at 2:00pm
- Saint Nicholas will visit Innsbruck’s lovely old town on December 05 at 5:00pm (from St. Nicholas Church through the Old Town to the Cathedral)
- Senior & Kids Afternoon with great savings (Market Square): Nov 15 to Dec 23, Wednesdays from 2:00pm to 5:00pm
- Performances given by students of the Innsbruck Music Academy: Nov 15 to Dec 23, daily at 5:30pm on the Fairytale Stage at Old Town and at 6:30pm on Maria-Theresien Street
- Crafts demonstration and market (Hungerburg): Nov 18 to Dec 23, Mondays to Thursdays
- Innsbruck Christkind Parade (from Maria-Theresien-Street to the Tirol Provincial Theater): December 22, 2019 at 5:00pm