14 December 2022
Post originally written in: Deutsch Information An automatic machine translation. Super fast and almost perfect.

"Once upon a time ..." - that's how fairy tales begin, and fittingly, that's also how I would like to begin the story of Märchengasse. Once upon a time there was a decorator named Margit Riedmann, her heart beat for art and her head was full of ideas. That's how it came about that back then, 25 years ago, she was instrumental in the creation of Märchengasse. The pre-Christmas hustle and bustle took place mainly in the Herzog-Friedrich-Straße at the Christkindlmarkt. Only a few tourists strayed into the Kiebach- or Seilergasse. Of course, the merchants there were not happy about that. But how could they lure people into the small, winding alleys away from the punch and Kiachl? Margit Riedmann, who was already responsible for decorating the Tyrler bedding and home textiles store, had the perfect idea: she wanted to hang up life-size fairy tale figures. The mayor at the time, Hilde Zach, and Dr. Karl Gostner, who was responsible for the Christkindlmarkt at the time, were enthusiastic about the plan, and so in 1998 the Märchengasse.

New residents in the Kiebachgasse

The Frog Prince, Frau Holle, Max and Moritz, and Rapunzel were the first fairy tale characters to decorate the facades of the houses. The idea quickly took off. In the second year, the initial four fairy tales had already grown to 28. Entrepreneurs who saw how well the figures were received by their competitors now wanted their own figure to match their business. This is how the fairy tale sponsorships came about

How it all began ...

Markus Riedmann, husband of the artist Margit Riedmann, who sadly died of leukemia in 2016, tells how much work and heart and soul went into the project: "The first few years were the most stressful," he recalls. "In the beginning, our apartment served as a workshop." At some point, of course, that no longer worked, space was limited, and Ms. Riedmann moved into a room at the Waldorf kindergarten. The figures were made from wooden boards, wire frames and papier-mâché, among other things. They were weatherproofed by boat paint. "Margit was a trained decorator, but mainly self-taught. She spent hours in the Tyrolia and browsed through books, always looking for inspiration. Even on our vacations we were on the lookout for new ideas," explains Mr. Riedmann.

An artist with a big heart

Mrs. Riedmann was not only a decorator and "mother" of the fairy tale figures, she also worked as an art therapist. In addition, she was committed to charitable causes and initiated aid projects. For example, well-known artists, people with disabilities and dementia patients painted pieces of fabric, which were sewn together to make a patchwork quilt. The quilt was auctioned off, and the proceeds benefited the oncology department of the Innsbruck Women's Clinic. Mr. Riedmann describes his wife as a true artist who lived for her passion and was bubbling over with ideas and drive.

Entertainment is provided

For 25 years now, Märchengasse has been a "must-see" in the pre-Christmas season and the venue for a wide variety of events and functions. Culturally, there has always been a lot going on. In years past, for example, there was a fairy tale office with a craft room and a storyteller who led tours through Kiebachgasse. Today, you can easily download the fairy tales. Quite practical, in my opinion. Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't tell my kids all the fairy tales off the cuff, so I have them on my phone with just one click. Little artists can take part in the drawing competition again this year. The most beautiful drawings will be rewarded and displayed under the Christmas tree in front of the Goldenes Dachl.

Fairy tale magic on the theater wagon

But if you prefer to look at fairy tales rather than read them, you are in the right place at the Märchenbühne at Kiebachgasse is exactly the right place. For some years it is now already a firm component of the Märchengasse and enjoys large popularity. The Westbahntheater abducts the spectators there twice daily into the world of the brothers Grimm. You can find out which fairy tale is being played and when here.

The Riesengasse

Another highlight - and no less impressive than the Märchengasse - is the Riesengasse. As the name suggests, visitors can expect to see somewhat larger creatures there. The idea to expand Märchengasse came from Klaus Plank of the Gasthof Hotel Weißes Rössl. The goal of the Riesengasse is a similar one: to bring the Christkindlmarkt visitors into the side streets of the old town. However, they wanted to make the Riesengasse a little different. The artist and decorator Michaela Kammeringer Karbon, after she convinced with her prototype, was commissioned to build the figures of Riesengasse.

"Initially, there was talk of three grand," recalls Ms. Kammeringer Karbon, "however, it was to become four." Considering that this was decided in the summer and they didn't have much except a prototype and sketches, the project seemed almost impossible. "We first had to go in search of legends, because apart from the giant Haymon and Frau Hitt, we didn't know any giants we could have built," the artist smiles.

Thanks to many helpers, however, the project could be implemented and all four giants were finished on time. Particular importance was attached to the stability of the figures, because after all - unlike the fairy tale figures - they stand directly on the ground and are thus exposed to drinking and partying Christkindlmarkt visitors. Pigeons, which "attack" the giants from the air, also pose a major problem. But the giants withstood all these dangers, and they have been delighting tourists and locals for 18 years now. "In the meantime, people come to me and tell me that they grew up with the giants and the stories that go with them," explains Ms. Kammeringer Karbon, who herself can hardly believe that the Riesengasse has now been a fixed part of Innsbruck's pre-Christmas season for so long.

Christmas like back then

For me personally, the Märchen- and the Riesengasse belong to Advent. I find them a bit of a retreat from the nevertheless very busy Christkindlmarkt and a place of nostalgia. Here, Christmas is still a bit like it used to be. The story of Märchen- and Riesengasse will definitely continue. What the future will bring is still written in the stars. We can remain curious about who will follow in Margit Riedmann's footsteps.


Angerzellgasse 4, 6020 Innsbruck
Phone: +43 664 860 22 20
E-mail: info@christkindlmarkt.cc
Program on the theater wagon

All seven Christkindlmärkte at a glance

Similar articles