The perfect Christmas scene
Tall green pine trees sparkling with fresh snow, a thick carpet of crunchy snow beneath your feet, warm lights shining from inviting wooden huts, chestnuts roasting on open fires, the potent smell of mulled wine in the crisp, cold air, brass bands and choirs playing Christmas carols, people wrapped up warmly, laughing merrily together: it is the perfect Christmas scene. And, exactly this scene awaits visitors to Mayrhofen’s advent market. For some people it is hearing the first Christmas song on the radio, lighting the first candle on the advent wreath or decorating the Christmas tree which gets them in the Christmas spirit, but for myself and many other Mayrhofen locals and visitors, the first visit to the advent market deep in the forest on the outskirts of Mayrhofen, heralds the true start to Christmas.
Classic and traditional
In contrast to so many other Christmas markets, Mayrhofen’s advent market shuns anything which is gaudy or commercialised in favour of classic tradition. There are no flashing Christmas lights, none of the latest ‘must have’ toys and gifts and certainly no Father Christmas. Instead simple white fairy lights, candles and small bonfires light the market. The wooden stalls sell local farm produce such as smoked hams and salamis, fresh bread and cheese as well as organic teas, wine and spices and Ziller Valley schnapps ad liquors. Handmade art, decorations and jewellery as well as knitted clothing and traditional ‘Doggln’ (felt slippers) make unique and personal Christmas presents. Children can visit the ‘Christkindl’ (Christ child) to write a letter asking for a Christmas gift as well as do arts and crafts in a special hut and visit the sheep in the market’s small petting zoo.
Local culinary specialities are a further highlight of the market. ʻGroiggnʼ (a kind of pork crackling), ʻZillertaler Krapfenʼ (fried parcels of cheese and potatoes) and ʻKiachlʼ (a type of pancake served savoury with sauerkraut or sweet with cranberry jam) are delicious, warming fare best enjoyed from a bench around the central bonfire.
A full programme of events and music makes every evening unique. Expect local brass bands, choirs and traditional family events such as the procession of St Nicholas on 6th December where children are given a small bag of fruit, nuts and sweets. This year a special feature of the market on the 4th and 5th of December will be a blacksmith demonstration and art exhibition.
If you are lucky enough to be in Mayrhofen during the advent period, don’t miss your chance to shop, eat, drink and be merry in this quintessential Christmas event.