No marksmen, no party!
When you see a multitude of artistic hats featuring tufts of chamois hair and feathers, it’s a clear sign that the marksmen are back in town. If you happen to come across a horde of Tyrolean men wearing lederhosen and traditional Austrian dress and carrying firearms, there’s no need to worry! The Tyrolean shooters form an integral element of every folk festival and are VIPs at every celebration. They parade through the streets, give gun salutes and bring traditional Tyrolean charm to every event. Virtually every village in the local region has its own marksmen’s club. This tradition dates back hundreds of years, back to when the shooters were actually responsible for defending the land. This was also the case in the Battles of Bergisel, a key location connected to the legend of Andreas Hofer. Nowadays, you can discover the story of the famous freedom fighter in a historic setting: the Giant Panoramic Painting at the Tirol Panorama Museum shows the Battle of Bergisel in an impressive piece of 360° artwork. In the present day, the rifle company’s traditional dress, hats and firearms are no longer a sign of being ready for battle but instead being ready to celebrate. The shooters have a party spirit like no other and you can enjoy it live at a multitude of marksmen’s festivals, church celebrations and ceremonial parades. The rifle companies tend to be rather male-dominated groups but are always joined by a few women dressed in beautiful Dirndl dresses. These female helpers work as sutlers, selling shot glasses of schnapps to the crowds to keep up their energy.
The sounding of the bells – the music of the Alps
Every day, the church bells ring out over Innsbruck. While their melodies are music to the ears of many local residents, they often surprise visitors. Be sure to take time to listen to the chimes that are so familiar to the Innsbruck locals: in the morning, at midday and in the evening. In rural locations, the bells normally sound out at as early as 6 o’clock in the morning while in the city, it's a bit later at around 8 o’clock. This tradition stems from the calls to prayer of times gone by. When the bells rang in the past, people would always stop what they were doing and say a prayer before returning to work. You can also hear the church bells ring every Friday at 3 pm, when they mark the hour of death of Christ. If you consider the significance of such bells, it comes as no surprise that church bells have been cast in Innsbruck for many centuries. In fact, the famous Grassmayr Bell Foundry produces these melodious creations for customers all over the world. If you’re lucky enough, you might even get to witness the birth of a bell up close and in person.