Christmas markets, shopping marathons, the first snows of winter – advent is a beautiful time of year, but it can be pretty hard work too. We have put together nine top tips to escape the hustle and bustle for a few precious moments and get back to the true meaning of Christmas.
1. Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Mulled wine on tap since October, “Last Christmas” blasting out of every supermarket, garish light shows as far as the eye can see – it’s time for a winter walk! We recommend this class walk in the villages of Lans and Igls near Innsbruck, leading around the Lanser See lake and the Lanser Moor swamp. There is a cosy café next to the lake (open Friday to Sunday) where you can warm up with a hot drink.
2. Art Adventures at the “Kunststraße Imst”
The Kunststraße is an open-air exhibition in the centre of Imst giving local artists the opportunity to present their work on the first three weekends in December. Many of the works use textiles not only as the main material but also as a source of inspiration and ideas. The perfect alternative to the stress of Christmas shopping.
3. Culinary Creations Inspired by Tirol
The run-up to Christmas doesn’t have to be an orgy of food and drink. Check out our potato recipes for some simple, regional and healthy dishes which will leave you wam inside and out on those cold winter evenings. Definitely better than standing around freezing your fingers and toes off at the local Christmas market!
4. Christmas Shopping with a Twist
Let’s be honest, Christmas shopping can be a frustrating experience. Department stores and shopping centres are packed to the rafters, full of people hastily buying presents which will most likely be returned and swapped for something else before the New Year rolls around. Why not try something different this year? The art and design market at Messe Innsbruck is a much more relaxing affair and offers shoppers the chance to get their hands on some genuinely unique items crafted by local artists and designers. The market takes place on the first advent weekend (30 November & 1 December) and features around 130 different designers and handicrafts experts.
5. Experience Innsbruck’s Best Architecture
Had enough of decorating the Christmas tree with the same old baubles and tinsel? In search of a little inspiration? The Adambräu building in Innsbruck is currently showing a retrospective of Lois Welzenbacher, one of Austria’s leading architects, who completed much of his work in Tirol.
6. Enjoy a Night at the Theatre
Christmas often contains plenty of homemade drama, so why not get away from it all for an evening with a bit of real drama at the Tiroler Landestheater? This winter’s programme includes Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” performed by the dancers of the Tiroler Landestheater as well as a musical adaptation of Green Day’s “American Idiot”.
7. Test Your Nerve in a Bobsleigh
Ever seen the Winter Olympics and thought “I could do that”? Now’s your chance! The Olympic Sliding Centre in Igls gives visitors the chance to test their nerve with a ride in a real bobsleigh on a course otherwise reserved for the professionals. Check out the Olympiaworld website for dates. An experienced driver will take the controls, meaning you can simply enjoy the ride. Oh, and if that isn’t scary enough for you then you can have a go at skeleton, which involves whizzing down head-first on what looks and feels like a reinforced tea tray.
8. Swarovski Festival of Lights
Sure, the Swarovski Festival of Lights is all about Christmas – and, after all, this blog is supposed to be about alternatives to the traditional advent activities – but we still think it’s well worth a visit. The Festival of Lights takes place from 29 November until 6 January at the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens, about 15 kilometres east of Innsbruck. Workshops and Family Sundays make it a great place for families with children. The dazzling lights set against the snowy mountains are enough to make even the biggest Ebenezer Scrooge break into a pre-Christmas smile.
9. Settle Down with a Good Book
Don’t fancy yet another bag of roasted chestnuts washed down with a mug of mulled wine? Sure, we understand. Sometimes, especially in the run-up to Christmas, there is nothing better than just being alone for a while with your favourite book. Tirol is home to a vibrant literary scene full of well-known authors, including famous crime writer Bernhard Aichner as well as the Alpbach-based author Robert Prosser, whose most recent work Gemma Habibi has received rave reviews in the international literary scene. Visit literaturtirol.at for recommendations and reviews of many of the best books from Tirol.