Picture credits: Standortagentur Tirol


The people in Tirol are proud of their identity and culture. A brass band is playing here at Kirchtag, the parish fair, at the "Tiroler Höfemuseum Kramsach" open-air museum.

As consistent as the seasons

Spring, summer, autumn and winter – the customs and traditions in Tirol are closely related with the changing seasons – and have been around for years, decades, centuries.

There are still about 100 traditional costume associations in Tirol even today, 46 of them have youth groups where roughly 1,000 children and adolescents can learn the Schuhplattler dance as well as other Tirolean folk dances. The people in Tirol are proud of their identity and culture. Why? It's easier to find out by taking the traditions as examples.

The tradition-steeped year starts in spring with carnival festivities: Fasching and Fasnacht. Every area celebrates the latter differently. Initially, the goal was always the same: loud noises and costumes were supposed to drive out the cold and hard winter. This is why people make elaborate masks, put them on and dance or crack long whips. Prayers during the Easter processions are also supposed to provide protection from harsh weather conditions as well as other concerns of the people. The Passion Plays also start in May. The most famous ones in Erl have been taking place for 400 years and are now performed every six years. 600 amateur actors are on stage, which is "half the village", and enact the life and suffering of Jesus Christ. Erl will see it´s next Passion Plays in 2019, this summer it is Thiersee, which offers 25 play dates between June and October. 

In summer, 21 June to be more precise, fires are lit in Tirol on the day of the summer solstice on the mountain crests and peaks. The lights are in honour of Tirol's commitment to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1796, made to boost the morale of the Tirolean's fighting the Napoleonic troops. Towards the end of summer, in September, the cattle drives take place. The Alpine herdsmen and women return to the valleys from the pastures with their animals. The cows are decorated by way of thanks that the animals didn't have any accidents or injuries. But if an animal or family member died, they wear black flags.

You don't have to wait long for the next tradition in autumn – the harvest festival in October – a custom in Tirol that like many others originated from Catholicism. The farmers give thanks for the bountiful harvest. To symbolise this, they weave a harvest festival crown with box tree, grains and flowers. The farmers then wear them after the church service during the procession through their village.

In the Advent season in winter, not only does Saint Nicholas come to visit, but the Perchten figures are also out and about, showing their costumes at the so-called Krampus parades. The figures wear scary masks carved out of wood and are supposed to punish naughty children. But Saint Nicholas gives presents to good children. Visitors will also be able to find presents at the many Christmas markets, e.g. in front of the Golden Roof in Innsbruck, or escape the urban hustle and bustle and go to the various mountain advent markets.

Whether enjoying the pandemonium while celebrating carnival, the melancholy during the solstice fire, deep gratitude in a colourful autumn, the contemplation and cosy atmosphere at the Christmas markets – Tirolean traditions are versatile and meaningful. As the traditions have remained consistent, today's young Tiroleans know about their roots and identity – a solid foundation for innovations and new opportunities.



On the trail of Grasausläuten (processions with bell-ringing), Sacred Heart Fires, ceremonial cattle drives, Anklöpfeln (carol singers) etc. throughout the year:


The cows wear flowers, bells and bell straps when they return healthy after spending the summer on the pastures:


Honoured by www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com as the most beautiful Christmas market in Europe: