Every year on the 2nd Sunday in September, Hollenzen, a usually quiet village on the outskirts of Mayrhofen, host their annual village festival. It is a vibrant community celebration of the last weeks of summer and a tradition that goes back over 30 years. Although it remains a very local affair, in the true spirit of Mayrhofen hospitality, visitors are also made very welcome – the more the merrier!
An idyllic location
The festival takes place in a small, sunny field of fruit trees in the village centre. The rows of festival tables are surrounded by wooden stages for the live music and the many food and drink stalls. Generations of villagers work together to keep up traditions; parents and grandparents lovingly prepare their parents and grandparents recipes whilst local children often help serve tables. For me, much of the charm of the festival lies in its modest size and family spirit; it is very much still a village festival although it is certainly not lacking in atmosphere!
Entertainment for young and old(er!)
Walking towards the festival, it is the lively music that draws you in and puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Various live bands play upbeat ‘Volksmusik’ (Tyrolean folk music) throughout the day, keeping the dance floor packed from the ‘Frühschoppen’ early bird festival opening (10am) to the ‘Ausklang’ finale in the late evening.
There is no bouncy castle or face-painting at this festival, but these aren’t missed! The many children of all ages are much too busy frolicking (there is really no other word!) in a huge pile of hay with crates and wooden planks to build with and jump off. Honest, traditional, countryside fun!
Freshly prepared local delicacies
When attending a Ziller Valley festival you should leave your diet at home! The local delicacies are hearty farmers fare made with lashings of the best dairy products of the region – the Zillertal dairy is, after all, in Hollenzen.
One very local treat is the traditional ‘Melchermuas’, a rich, thick pancake served with cranberries. There are no longer many people who can cook ‘Melchermuas’ in the traditional way and great pains are taken in Hollenzen to preserve this tradition. Open fires are even set up to give the ‘Melchermuas’ its distinctive flavour.
Another local festival favourite not to be missed are the ‘Zillertaler Krapfen’, parcels of cheese and potatoes wrapped in pastry and fried until golden brown. The light pastry casings and fillings of these melt-in-the-mouth snacks are painstakingly handmade by the local Hollenzen ladies and cooked to order to ensure a crunchy pastry and a warming, gooey filling.
Trays of home-baked fruit and cream cakes offer a sweeter option and ‘Krugs’ of Zillertal beer or ‘Radler’ (shandy) keep revellers well refreshed.
A true highlight of summer
The Hollenzen Dorffest is always a highlight of my summer; a relaxed, informal day with good food, good music and good company. As an ex-pat in Austria, it epitomises for me my ‘Austrian dream’: community spirit and a traditional way of life where the simpler pleasures are appreciated and celebrated.