Advent and Christmas traditions

Wild characters from alpine folklore get up to mischief in shaggy costumes – the Krampus are out and about. At the same time, Christmas lights sparkle at the charming Christmas markets throughout the city and in the villages around Innsbruck. The Three Kings go from house to house singing songs and the people of Innsbruck marvel at the lovingly crafted nativity scenes located throughout the region. Read on to learn all about the Christmas customs and traditions in the Innsbruck region.

Krampus

Krampus parades in the villages around Innsbruck: watch out! Wild demon-like creatures with creepy masks parade through the streets and entertain the public. A great experience at the start of the Christmas season. 

Christmas markets

In the city, Christmas lights twinkle and the air is filled with the smell of roasted chestnuts, Kiachl (fried dough with various sweet and savoury toppings) and mulled wine. Experience the magical atmosphere at Innsbruck's Christmas markets. From a happy bustle to charming little markets – the region's Christmas markets give visitors an extra serving of Christmas spirit. 

Nativity scene building and viewings

Hand crafted Christmas scenes make their big appearance during the Christmas season. Tyrol has a long tradition of nativity scene building. The best scenes are not always displayed in museums and churches – many are found in private homes and can be admired on a nativity scene tour. 

More Christmas traditions

Children go from house to house singing songs in the dead of winter and families burn incense and fragrant local herbs at home. On the next page, we will tell you what these customs are all about and how they are connected to evil spirits.

Bumsaschießen

Where: Mutters; when: 6 December


St Nicholas is the patron saint of the village of Mutters and his feast day is celebrated on 6 December with a highly unusual custom: "Bumsaschießen", the firing of a special local cannon. The "Bumsa" is a cone-shaped sound amplifier made of wooden staves. It is approximately one and a half metres long and acts like a giant gramophone horn. The wider end has an opening with a diameter of around one and a half metres. The other end, which is used as a "mouthpiece", is only large enough to fit the barrel of the muzzleloader, which produces a huge bang when the gunpowder is ignited. The custom dictates that the "Bumsa" cone must be guarded overnight by 12 bachelors so that the youths from the neighbouring village of Natters are unable to steal it.

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