Winter in Saalfelden Leogang
Winter in Saalfelden Leogang is rich in contrasts. From slopes to deep snow, from snow parks to the Nordic Park and from wellness hotels to family apartments, this region offers a wide range of appealing winter options. At Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn, known as “the most laid-back ski resort in the Alps”, skiers can explore 270 kilometres of slopes, cross-country skiers can navigate 150 kilometres of trails in the valleys and all visitors can savour the quality regional cooking served at the mountain huts and restaurants.
Sustainably powered cable cars at the most laid-back ski resort in the Alps
Located a mere 70 kilometres south-west of the city of Salzburg, the Saalfelden Leogang holiday region is home to Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn. The Asitzbahn and Steinbergbahn gondola lifts connect Saalfelden Leogang to the ski resort, one of the largest in Austria. Its 270 kilometres of slopes cater for all abilities, with 140 kilometres of blue, 112 kilometres of red and 18 kilometres of black pistes. Additional attractions include 70 lifts, 60 cosy ski huts, several snow parks, freeride parks, floodlit slopes and toboggan runs. With speed, race and SkiMovie courses, funcross, snow trails and snow tubing all on offer, this ski resort boasts a wide variety of full-throttle activities.
But what makes the Skicircus a truly laid-back resort is the sustainable approach taken by the cable car company Leoganger Bergbahnen. This includes participation in heating communities with neighbouring hotels in Hütten, and using heat recovery in lift motors to heat the surrounding rooms and buildings. “This has helped us reduce our energy consumption by 68%,” says Leoganger Bergbahnen’s Christian Oberlader. Since these changes were introduced, the Steinbergbahn gondola lift alone has saved around 245,000 kilowatt hours per year, amounting to €23,500. The Asitzbahn gondola lift has managed to save no less than €38,500. This environmentally friendly energy concept saw the region honoured by the state of Salzburg in 2012 and 2016. Leoganger Bergbahnen was one of a group of eight Salzburg-based companies that saved a total of 1,700 tonnes of CO2 per year and were presented with the “Umwelt Blatt Salzburg” environmental award in 2017. Comprehensive hydraulic and electrical upgrades to snow-making facilities and cable car systems have also helped boost efficiency.
Cross-country skiing and skating at the Nordic Park
Non-skiers will also feel right at home in Saalfelden Leogang. The Nordic Park by the Ritzensee lake is ideal for sports fans, with typical disciplines including cross-country skiing, ice skating and winter hikes all on offer. Extending to 150 kilometres and covering a variety of difficulty levels, the network of cross-country skiing trails in Saalfelden Leogang is groomed for classic skiing as well as skating. Beginners and experts have the chance to rub shoulders with genuine cross-country and biathlon greats such as Felix Gottwald and Simon Eder, who love to train on the regional trails. And the frozen Ritzensee lake is of course ideal for ice skating. Families with children should head for the Fun and Snow Park, where young cross-country skiers can learn the ropes in picturesque surroundings.
Snowshoe tours, toboggan runs and Flying Fox XXL
If you are drawn to the stillness of winter and the solitude of nature, you can head out into the glistening countryside or join one of the guided snowshoe hikes. With visitors able to savour an unforgettable panorama as they hike through meadows of pristine snow, this represents a truly unique experience. You can also sample the trendy sport of ski touring at the weekly ski touring evening on Asitz mountain or book a cross-country skiing course to hone your skills out on the trails. Two separate attractions offer the thrill of tobogganing: the “Leos Kufengaudi” run on the Asitz, which features gondola lift access to the starting point and floodlit tobogganing on Tuesdays and Fridays; and the six-kilometre natural toboggan run on Biberg mountain in Saalfelden. The Flying Fox XXL on the Asitz provides a further adrenaline kick, with visitors zooming down into the valley at around 130 km/h on one of the longest (1.6 km) and fastest steel rope slides in the world – open from early March. And at the other extreme, you can also opt for a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride.
Outstanding regional cuisine
After spending an active day out in the snow, you will need to rebuild your strength with a hearty meal – and Saalfelden Leogang has got this covered, with over 60 ski huts at Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn serving top-quality regional dishes. The restaurants and hotels down in the valley also pride themselves on their excellent standards. Saalfelden Leogang is famed above all for its wealth of organic meat and sausage products: Loigomer Polnische (sausage), Knappenbrät (meat speciality), Biberger (salami), Spielberger (Viennese sausage), Persailwurzerl (smoked raw sausage), Stoana Mea Wurzn (smoked raw sausage) and Asitz Bergschinken (boiled beef ham) look exquisite and taste delicious. Katharina Auer, project manager for Saalfelden Leogang Tourism, explains the guiding principle: “When it comes to culinary options, we value both regionality and, of course, the very highest levels of quality. The ‘ECHT.GSUND.GUAD’ seal of quality was introduced in 2014 to demonstrate at a glance the quality of our local products.”
Tradition, folk music, jazz and theatre – cultural events in the winter months
Culture is key to the wonderful wealth of contrasts in Saalfelden Leogang – not least in winter. The season kicks off with the Miners’ Advent at the Leogang show mine on 16 December, when harp music, traditional bands, storytellers and candlelight infuse the historic tunnels of Salzburg’s oldest silver mine with a festive atmosphere. You can then revisit the experimental jazz sounds of the summer at the “3 Days of Jazz” event from 18-20 January 2019. In addition to six concerts at the Kunsthaus Nexus in Saalfelden and two at the Mining and Gothic Museum in Leogang, a special concert at the Stöcklalm mountain hut on the Asitz links the festivities back to the free summer concerts held in the Alpine inns. Finally, February 2019 will see the “ecce” theatre bring the children’s classic The Wizard of Oz to life in the Leogang circus tent – in a production featuring live music, actors and acrobats.
Rejuvenation for one and all – in the SalzburgerLand Alpine Health Region
With so many experiences on offer, it is even more important to find somewhere to relax. Saalfelden Leogang is renowned for its first-class hotels, which make the region a true oasis of wellbeing. Many accommodation options focus on sustainable recreation and use local, natural materials such as wood and stone. Thanks to its many wellness-focused hotels, Saalfelden Leogang is also a partner of the SalzburgerLand Alpine Health Region. If you want to unwind somewhere that is both wonderfully relaxing and environmentally aware, good options include: the forest spa at the Forsthofgut Hotel & Spa; the thermal pool at the Riederalm Good Life Resort; the Alpine Holistic lifestyle programme at the Ritzenhof Hotel und Spa am See; and the top-class spa experiences on offer at the Hotel Puradies. Other particularly innovative hotels in the region include the chalets at the mountain village of Priesteregg; the Forsthofalm Hotel; the Salzburger Hof Hotel with a focus on sports and wellness; Hotel Rupertus and its organic focus; the unconventional mama thresl hotel with its blend of modernity and tradition; the 4-star superior Krallerhof Hotel; and the Gut Brandlhof Hotel which features a multi-brand car dealership that makes it ideal for auto events.
The best events in the 2018/2019 winter season
06/11/2018 Leonhardiritt procession, Leogang
16/12/2018 Miners’ Advent at the Leogang show mine
10-16/12/2018 BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup, Hochfilzen
18-20/01/2019 “3 Days of Jazz” in Saalfelden Leogang
02/02/2019 Mini Ski Marathon
03/02/2019 12th Saalfelden Ski Marathon
07-24/02/2019 “ecce” theatre – The Wizard of Oz
10/02/2019 NORDIC PARK EXPERIENCE
24/02/2019 NORDIC PARK EXPERIENCE
15-31/03/2019 White Pearl Mountain Days