Time for a different advent
Admittedly, there are many beautiful Christmas markets to be found in the Salzburgerland in the run-up to Christmas. A special jewel that stands out from other events in many ways is the Schwarzleo Advent market in Leogang. What makes it so unique? We went ahead and found out.
Even the journey to the Schwarzleo Advent is special. Especially when it snows thick snowflakes like mid December, the valley seems almost magical. Many people probably know the Schwarzleo valley from summer as a starting point for hiking tours, but in winter the atmosphere is even more special. Many visitors walk in to the Knappenstube and then get in the mood for a peaceful break from everyday life. Others choose a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride - wrapped up in thick warm blankets making their way down the valley. Of course, it is also possible to travel to the last parking lot by car on front of the Knappenstube - however, this is only partially recommended in wintry conditions. Eventually, after the last stretch through the wintry forest, the view of the Christmas market at the Knappenstube occours. In this quiet and secluded location, next to the idyllic Leoganger Ache (stream) and the surrounding mountains, it looks like a winter fairy tale. Thick snowflakes swirl through the air, the square with the stalls is decorated beautifully and it smells of mulled wine and chestnuts. A place as if designed for a peaceful Christmas weekend!
And also the program around the Christmas market is quite special. This is due to the Schwarzleo Advent's located not far from the historic mining area which today is a show mine. Here visitors can experience a guided tour through one of Salzburg's oldest mines as part of the event, exceptionally also in winter. Equipped with helmets, we set off with two guides and head further into the valley. The approximately 500-meter-long path to the entrance of the accessible gallery has been illuminated with torches. We walk quietly through the snow and listen to the exciting stories about mining. Suddenly, beautiful sounds resound in the wintry air: brass players welcome us in front of the entrance to the Barbara tunnel. We pause for a moment and enjoy the atmosphere before entering. The path leads through narrow and partly low passages. As if in another world, far away from everyday life and in awe of the unimaginably hard work of the miners, we wander through before another highlight awaits us: a thoughtful reading in the middle of the gallery, suitable for the Christmas season - and also for the mine - about themes of silence and darkness. After the reading and the guided tour, we walk through the now quite dark forest with torches back to the Christmas market, where you can get warmed up again. The guided tour into the show mine is not the only program point that stands out: A delightfully authentic nativity play by the local youth, festive music and reflective readings as well as the ride in a horse-drawn sleigh through the Schwarzleo Valley round off the atmospheric Schwarzleo Advent.
And speaking of atmosphere - that is, after all, the most important thing and, as already indicated, particularly present and beatiful here. Naturally, there are also stands with regional crafts, food and drink at the Christmas market. Yet one thing is noticable: Here, the focus is not on consumption, but on socializing. With mulled wine, chestnuts or farmer's doughnuts in the hand, visitors warm themselves by the fire, laugh and talk, and simply enjoy this little time out from everyday life and the cozy atmosphere during this special Christmas weekend. It feels particularly genuine here - whether you really have to go to the remotest valley to experience it, is a good question. In any case, it seems to help. Back we go through dense snow out of the wildly romantic valley. Back to everyday life with a basket full of lovely memories. Those who missed the Schwarzleo Advent last year will unfortunately have to wait until next time, as it only takes place on one special Christmas weekend. Fortunately, there are other beautiful Christmas markets in Saalfelden Leogang that all have their own special features.
Photos: Michael Geißler