Late summer – a great time of year to get away. But where? For charm, scenic beauty and top festivals, how about trying the Austrian Tirol?
Here’s ten reasons why you should…
1. Old Tirolean Handicraft Festival in Seefeld (8th – 9th September 2012)
Take a step back in time in Seefeld where you can marvel at old handicrafts, as the old masters come together to celebrate their workmanship. With more than 100 stands and exhibitions, from basket weavers to barrel makers they will be demonstrating their skills during the festival, with plenty of traditional music, food and drink.
2. Wildschönau Almabtrieb Festival (15th and 22nd September 2012)
Celebrations begin as some 500 cattle return to the valley, after a long summer pasture in Auffach in the Wildschönau valley. The cows are decorated with wreaths of flowers and bells and paraded down by the herdsmen, dairy maids and cheese-makers. This long-standing tradition continues with entertainment, lots of dancing and age-old entertainment. The party goes on long after the cows have come home!
3. Dumpling Festival in St. Johann in Tirol (22nd September 2012)
St Johann’s Knödelfest (Dumpling Festival) celebrates one of Austria’s most popular dishes. Get ready for the largest display of dumplings the world has ever seen – 25,000 dumplings in 23 different varieties from traditional to modern, from sweet to savoury are presented on a 300m long table! Join in the festivities with live music late into the night. Entrance fee €3.
4. International Libro Balloon Cup in Kirchberg (22nd – 26th September 2012)
Set in Kirchberg in the heart of the Kitzbühel Alps, the 23rd Libro Balloon Cup fills the sky with multi-coloured balloons of all shapes and sizes. Over 30 teams from Austria, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland compete. Don’t miss the Night Glow, where crowds come to see the balloons illuminated by their gas burners against the night sky. Visitors can enjoy their own balloon ride over the Kitzbühel Alps costing €180 for an evening take-off and €220 for a morning take-off (tel: +43 5357 2000).
5. International Alpine Cheese Olympics in Galtür (29th September)
The 90 best cheese producers from all over the Alps meet in Galtür for the International Alpine Cheese Olympics. While the judges are busy assessing the cheeses, visitors can taste the different varieties and buy some to take home. After much deliberation and digestion, the top cheeses are selected and awarded the Galtür Sennerharfe – a harp in gold, silver, or bronze.
6. Sunrise breakfast
What better way to start the day than with a hearty sunrise breakfast at the top of the Kitzbüheler Horn with spectacular views across the sleeping valley. If you are not an early riser then September is the better month to try this out as the sun rises an hour later than in July. Purchase your ‘Towards the Sun’ ticket from the lift pass office for €31.50, which includes your journey up and down the mountain, breakfast at the Horngipfel Haus and guided walk.
7. Kaisermarathon in Söll (6th October 2012)
Söll hosts the famous Kaisermarathon, a popular endurance running event for mountain runners. The 42km route starts in the centre of Söll and goes via Scheffau, Ellmau, the Ski-region Wilder Kaiser towards the finish at the top of the Hohe Salve – that’s a climb of nearly 4,000ft as part of the race! Entrance fee €78.
8. Self-guided cycling holiday along the River Inn
Let the summer of cycling continue and opt for a self-guided cycling holiday along the River Inn from Innsbruck to Passau along stunning mountain scenery, through alpine meadows and charming villages and past historic landmarks such as the Reichersberg Monastery and the impressive Kufstein fortress.
9. Colourful finale of the year (October 2012)
Autumn hiking in the mountains is a wonderful experience as the colours start to change, the sky takes on that deep blue hue and the air becomes crisp and clear. As Mother Nature prepares for winter, get ready for a spectacle of colour as you discover the alpine meadows and forests of the Ӧtztal mountains.
Tirol’s hiking hotel specialists, Wanderhotels, offer unrivalled expertise and have 7 nights at the 3* Hotel Tauferberg from €329 per person, including half board, guided walks along the Eagle Walk and wildlife watching.
10. Getting ready for winter…Sölden Glacier (13th – 14th October 2012)
For those who can’t wait until the ski season kicks off can enjoy first tracks of the season at the opening of Sölden’s glaciers in the Ӧtztal. From 13th – 14th October, the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glacier is the venue for the MAXXX mountain glacier launch with two days of free ski and snowboard equipment test, live concerts and DJ.