The “Stoaberg Advent” in Saalfelden Leogang
Traditions play a major role in any Advent celebration – and Saalfelden Leogang is no exception. Visitors to the Christmas market can marvel at traditional foods and time-honoured handicrafts, while the St Nicholas’ Day festivities see Krampus figures parade through the streets in their terrifying wooden masks. The events marking this most magical time of year in Saalfelden Leogang are collectively known as the “Stoaberg Advent”.
Traditional Christmas markets with authentic culture
Saalfelden Leogang takes a traditional approach to Advent – free from flashing lights, kitschy Christmas pop and heaving shopping streets. As Marco Pointner, CEO of Saalfelden Leogang Tourism, says, “Our celebrations in the lead-up to Christmas are more focused on authentic culture and regional character. We like our Advent to be about traditions, old customs and specialities.” In keeping with this aim, the romantically decorated stands at the festive markets offer a wide variety of home-made goods: delicious punch, fruit bread, biscuits, hot chestnuts and Christmas tree decorations made from straw, wood and stone.
Time-honoured crafts make for special Christmas gifts
If the markets don’t have everything you’re looking for, you can find an assortment of unforgettable Christmas gifts at specialist shops in Saalfelden Leogang. For example, the Weissensteiner ceramics workshop in Saalfelden sells fantastic wine coolers with eye-catching marbling. Dirndls, lederhosen and other typical regional outfits are available from traditional outlets “Wienerroither Tracht” and “Leder Jelinek”. Visitors to the “Alpenwerk” carpenter’s shop can purchase a variety of works carved from untreated wood. And the Christmas range at “Kreativ Laden” in Leogang features a wider selection of wooden creations, including pine containers, birdhouses, birch lanterns, angels and much more besides.
Witness the march of the masked Krampus figures on St Nicholas’ Day
On 6 December, St Nicholas’ Day, the saint pays a visit to the town hall square in Saalfelden – accompanied by the wild-looking Krampus figures. The following day, he makes an appearance at the village square in Leogang. While everyone looks forward to seeing jolly old Saint Nick and his sack of presents, the Krampus hordes leave the crowds shuddering. Draped with sheepskins and goatskins, wearing terrifying wooden masks with horns and making a deafening racket with their cowbells, they parade through the streets of the town. Aimed at driving away evil spirits, this ancient Alpine custom is still observed in a great many local communities.
Traditional kitchen knife sharpening at Hüttschmiede forge
Advent is a peak period for cooking and baking, which boosts the need for sharp knives. Back in the day, the whetstone at Hüttschmiede forge was in near-constant use throughout the festive season. In return for their knife-sharpening efforts in freezing conditions, the smiths were given a helping of “Bachlkoch” – a nourishing dish comprising flour, eggs, milk and lots of honey. On 21 December, visitors to the forge can have their kitchen knives specially sharpened.
Miners’ Advent, Crib Exhibition and many more festive events
Many centuries ago, Saalfelden Leogang was also home to silver mining. The old tunnels now form a show mine that is infused with a festive atmosphere during Advent. On 16 December 2018, this historic mine in Leogang will be hosting the Miners’ Advent as part of the “Stoaberg Advent” celebrations. True to the original style, visitors travel to the event by carriage before enjoying a wonderful couple of hours in the company of storytellers, traditional bands and singers. At the Schloss Ritzen Museum, one of the most important in the state of Salzburg, a Crib Exhibition provides a charmingly festive attraction. Many of the small works on show were made by Saalfelden-based nativity-scene builder Xandi Schläffer, famed for his “Pinzgau nativity villages” featuring the manger scene in Bethlehem with the Steinernes Meer plateau depicted in the background. Last but not least, the Kunsthaus Nexus also boasts a wide variety of Christmas events.