Events & Festivals in Tyrol (Tirol)
Once rural and remote, Tyrol is now one of the most modern and economically confident regions of Austria. Traditional customs, events and festivals that were rooted in pagan and later Catholic rituals have been replaced by tourism-friendly events. Tyrol sells more than 40 million over-night-stays a year - to tourists that need to be entertained. Like no other area in Austria, the once rich culture has been transformed into tacky folklore, especially during the skiing season after Christmas and the summer season after July.
Nevertheless, folk culture is still an important aspect especially of small communities in Tyrol. Beyond that, the theatre and music scene of Innsbruck stands out as not necessarily "typically Tyrolean" - but at least authentic in the sense of "appealing to locals, not tourists".
Kaiserlauf: A ski parade at the Hoher Kaiser mountain in Tyrol. One of the rather touristy events, takes place in late January.
Fasching or Carnival is a big deal in Austria, including some local specifics in Tyrol. For example, the "Blochziehen" - a pagan fertility ritual in which a branchless tree is carried around the village by the young men (rather obvious symbolism). Takes place on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and is held only once every four years - 2010, 2014, 2018 and so on. Another Fasching custom is the "Schellenschlagen", held in villages such as Lans in an attempt to get rid of evil spirits. Done on Thursday before Ash Wednesday. In Nassereith, a similar custom is done with wooden masks and ritual dance, held on Sunday before Ash Wednesday once every three years - 2010, 2013, 2016 and so on.
In late February, the Hahnenkammrennen near Kitzbühel takes place - the most famous ski race of Austria.
Gauderfest in Zell am Ziller: A festival with very strong beer (15 percent) is sold. Happens during the first week of May, for details, please read my article on the Zillertal.
In Brixen, there is a parade on Corpus Christi (well, actually there is a procession in every village in Austria, but the one in Brixen is different) that commemorates the victory of the Tyroleans over the Swedish troops in the 30-Years-War.
June, July, August
Plenty of small events take place in Summer - often done in an attempt to fill the enormous capacities of the skiing hotels in Tyrol. Classical music is offered in the Ambraser Schlosskonzerte near Innsbruck, lots of sport events take place, too. Note also the many "Schützenfest" celebrations, the rifle unions parade in their villages. Rifle Associations are a big deal in Tyrol.
Europäisches Forum Alpbach (European Forum Alpbach) is held in the small village of Alpbach towards the end of August; scientists, politicians and businessmen put their heads together and discuss serious matters. Afterwards they go drinking. Pretty good excuse for important people to go to a hiking holiday with their secretaries, but not their wives (it′s business, you see?).
September & October
Autumn is dominated by the "Almabtrieb" ceremonies, when decorated cows are guided down to the valley for the winter. Thanksgiving celebrations and various religious customs take place, but you can find details on these in my article on "Customs and Traditions in Austria".
Plenty of Christmas traditions and markets in Tyrol - like elsewhere in Austria. A Tyrolean specific are the "Klaubauf" ("Pick Ups"), masked men in fur coats that accommodate St. Nicolas when he visits children. Whilst St. Nicolas rewards the good ones with sweets and toys, the Klaubauf takes the nasty children away (speaking of that - see also my article on the Natascha Kampusch incident).
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Festivals & Events elsewhere in Austria
Vorarlberg - Tyrol (Tirol) - Salzburg - Upper Austria (Oberösterreich) - Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) - Vienna - Carinthia (Kärnten) - Styria - Burgenland
Traditions & Customs of Austria
Best of Fest: Most Popular Festivals of Austria
Ministery for Education, Culture and Science (includes folk culture)
Austrian Tourism Council for current events