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Bah Humbug - James Cove, Innsbruck
Saturday November 28, 2015 - Email this article to a friend

The Innsbruck Christmas Market is an Austrian tradition stretching back through the centuries. The only trouble is our content editor is not so fond of Xmas cheer or Xmas markets.

According to the promotional blurb the Christmas Markets at Innsbruck are rather special.

"A wonderful part of the Christmas celebrations in Innsbruck are its six fascinating Christmas markets with some 200 stalls. The markets are a lively combination of Alpine flair and vibrant tradition and, from 15 November to 6 January, they provide an impressive range of items.

From the "Goldenes Dachl" (Golden Roof) in the Old Town glittering with Christmas decorations up to the heights of the majestic Nordkette mountain range, there's an enchanting pre-Christmas mix of art, culture and food."

I was promised rather a lot:

"fragrant aroma of almonds, lovingly carved nativity figurines and brightly coloured felt hats," through to "Exciting attractions and the cosy traditional atmosphere."

There was to be:

"An avenue of sparkling lights, glass and crystal...all aglitter with its lavishly illuminated trees and exciting light installations."

And then:

"The Old Town's narrow winding streets provide a wonderful opportunity to explore the world of fairy tales."

As I strolled into the first of the world-famous Christmas markets it didn't quite look so.

The Xmas trees were small and unlit, the crowds nowhere to be seen.

There was just a man strolling around with his rucksack drinking a cup of tea.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketHardly bustling with Xmas fun
















One person had made the effort to get in the mood, but it didn't seem to have worked.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketInnsbruck Xmas Market
















The local Tirolean artefacts on sale consisted of candles from Africa.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketUp in smoke
















A pony-tailed and dreadlocked Santa had arrived by bike, rather than sleigh.

And he seemed to prefer challenging people to a sword fight rather than dispensing Christmas cheer.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketHappy Christmas one and all
















There were, of course, people taking the obligatory selfies on sticks (with more people having a cuppa).

Innsbruck Xmas MarketLook at me
















Though the background of the Innsbruck Xmas markets for the selfie was hardly as it looked in the promotional brochures.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketWhere are the other stalls?
















There are 6 Christmas markets in Innsbruck:

The Old Town - the traditional market,  Marktplatz - the family market, Maria-Theresien-Strasse - the modern market, Wilten - the arty market, St. Nikolaus  - the contemplative market and Hungerburg - the panoramic market

I decided to head to the one at Hungerburg that overlooked the city.

The so-called panoramic market.

There were more people drinking mugs of tea and my mood remained distinctly un-festive in the rain.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketBah Humbug
















So, I decided to have a cup of tea along with everyone else.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketThat's better
















It was perhaps the best gluhwein I had ever drunk. 

Warm and refreshing with just a hint of cinnamon. 

So, I had another one and looked at the view.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketTea for two















And then the rain turned to light snow.

Darkness descended and the Xmas lights began to twinkle.

The views over the city were spectacular as the sun set over the city.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketInnsbruck, the capital of the Tirol
















Back below in town the Xmas spirit had arrived and no more so than at the centre of the Old Town where the brass bands played traditional carols and music to young and old alike from a minstrel's gallery.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketThe Christams Spirit  arrives
















"I have been coming here for more years than I care to remember to wander around, have a few gluhweins and chat to strangers like yourself. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a great evening in our wonderful city. In the run up to Christmas the Tirol is the best place on earth," one elderly man said to me as I munched on some roasted chestnuts.

He had a point.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketInnsbruck Xmas Market
















Innsbruck Xmas MarketThe crowds are out
















I entered the crowds below for another gluhwein and more chance encounters.

A group of students asked me for a light for something that resembled more than a cigarette, but I was unable to help as I don't smoke.

So they gave me a shot of a drink that was slightly stonger than the gluhwein.

I ended up talking with a total stranger and telling him how I wished London had a ski resort linked to the city like Innsbruck does.  The Nordkette ski area is above the Hungerburg Christmas market and overlooks the city.

It would be like having a ski lift starting in Trafalgar Square.

See here for my report on Nordkette when I visited last year.

I helped a young mother through the crowds with her baby crying its eyes out in a pram.

She just wanted to escape the crowds and have some space for herself and her baby.

I felt like Moses parting the Red Sea as people stepped sideways to my shouts of "Excuse me please, baby coming through. Move along everyone, Happy Christmas!"

She couldn't stop thanking me once we made it to space and safety and gave me a peck of a kiss on my cheek.

"It was nothing, have a lovely Christmas!" I said as she headed to the less-crowded Children's Market.

I felt like Superman with a halo.

Perhaps I had judged it all too soon.

The stalls suddenly had an Xmas feel and I noticed all the kids having the time of their young lives.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketChristmas is coming
















Innsbruck Xmas MarketJust for the kids
















Innsbruck Xmas MarketIt's Panto Time!
















Laughter and jollity rolled around the narrow streets of perhaps the most beautiful city in the Alps.

The tradition of the Innsbruck Markets stretch back through the centuries and in 2015 I was part of it - making my own little contribution.

And in Innsbruck at this time of year it isn't just the markets that have a Christmas feel - it is everwhere to be seen.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketInnsbruck, The Tirol
















Innsbruck Xmas MarketInnsbruck, The Tirol
















Even the more modern Golden Arches of that well know fast-food outlet didn't look too out of place next to the city's famous Golden Roof.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketInnsbruck City Centre
















So, is it worth going?

My answer is a resounding YES - high praise indeed from an old grump like me.

I even bought a few decorations for my Xmas tree at home.

Innsbruck Xmas MarketHappy Christmas one and all
















Bah, humbug.

Who says I can't get into the Christmas spirit?

For a related PlanetSKI feature on the other markets in the Tirol then see here.

While for more on the Innsbruck Christmas Markets then follow this link.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

For the spirit of the mountains

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