Austrian Christmas markets are well known for their traditional flair. The Hall Christmas Market in Tyrol is right up there with the big ones, but without the tourist masses. It is our favourite for a magical winter’s evening in a traditional setting. The upper town square in the medieval old town of Hall in Tirol lends itself perfectly to the occasion.
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24 November to 23 December 2017
A de-light-ful Advent calendar
The first thing that strikes you when entering the upper town square from any of the narrow cobbled lanes, are the numbers displayed in colourful light on the surrounding buildings. On the 24th of November, when the market officially opens, they are all there. Then, like with any Advent calendar, they are “opened” or disappear one by one as Christmas day draws nearer. These, and the atmospheric lights from the Christmas tree and the stall operators bathe the square in a soft glow. If this doesn’t set the mood for an evening to remember, I don’t know what will.
Christmas carols for a musical start
Our visits to the Hall Christmas Market are quite predictable. We time it to drink our first mug of steaming glühwein while listening to Christmas carols performed by a small choir or trumpeters. They perform at 18:00 every day, with an extra performance at 19:00 on Fridays and 17:00 on Saturdays and Sundays.
Children’s programme to fire things up
Christmas time is the time of the year children look forward to most. The Hall Christmas Market certainly tries its best to achieve this, with a special children’s programme starting at 17:00 daily. Not only is there an animal touch farm where they can interact with farm animals, but many other activities to keep the young ones entertained. They can ride on a pony, listen to stories, make Christmas decorations or watch a fire show. The latter is great entertainment for parents too!
On 6 December, St. Nikolaus and his angels is making an appearance with a bag full of surprises for his little fans. He gives a traditional address and sings carols with the kids before handing out sweat treats to those who “behaved well” during the past year.
Fill up on glühwein and kiachl
Numerous glühwein stands are dotted all over the Christmas market. After making the obligatory round to all the stalls on the square, we tend to retire to the corner in front of the hardware store. It’s quieter, you hardly ever queue for a glühwein, and there is room around the heaters/fires to help you keep warm.
Read more: The Riches of Hall in Tirol
A stall operator from South-Tyrol occupied a part of this corner for two years consecutively. Fortunately, he is very generous with his cheese and speck (cured ham) to taste. Much to Coenraad’s embarrassment M and I aren’t shy to help ourselves to the generous offerings. (In our defence – we do buy some to take home as well 😳 ) .
The most popular local delicacy at the Hall Christmas Market is the kiachl. This deep-fried dough basket is filled either with sauerkraut or cranberry sauce/jam with a dusting of icing sugar. M and I prefer the latter, while Coenraad finds the sauerkraut more traditional and filling. Get in line early for one of these or prepare to stand in a very long queue (the stand is usually close to the petting zoo near the old Rathaus).
If the kiachl isn’t enough to fill you up or you prefer a sit-down dinner, why not try one of the many traditional restaurants in Hall in Tirol? We can recommend the Geisterburg on the Northern border or the Augustiner Bräu Keller on the lower town square which belongs to the Hotel Restaurant Goldener Engl.
15:00 to 20:00 from Monday to Friday
10:00 to 20:00 on Saturday
13:00 to 20:00 on Sunday
(Food stalls close at 21:00)
Tip: Why not book a guided Advent walk through the old town of Hall in Tirol? A glühwein and the cup it comes in is included in the price of €9,50. Arrange it with the tourism office at 0043 (0)5223/45544-23 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org