Where Christmas spirit meets Alpine hospitality

TEXT: JESSICA HOLZHAUSEN | PHOTOS © ALPENWELT KARWENDEL

Mittenwald, Krün and Wallgau – surrounded by snow-covered mountains, all three market towns in the Bavarian Alpenwelt Karwendel invite visitors to a festive Christmas market in their historic village centres. As one of Germany’s best winter regions, the Alpenwelt Karwendel is the ideal destination for a relaxing pre-Christmas break.

Mulled wine and lebkuchen, bratwurst and roasted almonds, the smell of Christmas hangs in the air. Snow-covered mountains and paved roads along historic farm buildings, the streets decorated with Christmas lights reflecting in the snow: what makes the all three Christmas markets in the Alpenwelt Karwendel so special is their atmospheric ambiance in the picturesque village centres. “Tranquil, traditional and typically Bavarian,” summarises Dominika Schandl, who works for the event team of the Alpenwelt Karwendel regional tourism board.

The “Adventsmarkt der Sinne”, on 1 and 2 December in Wallgau, for example, is more than just a traditional Christmas market. As the German name implies, it addresses all human senses: “Here we not only have the traditional stalls like at a conventional Christmas market, but visitors can explore the interior of historic farm houses and workshops and listen to festive music in the farmhouse parlour.” Set along the Sonnleiten, the oldest street in the village, it is a unique experience to walk along the historic buildings, breathing in the smell of Christmas food, before tasting some of the traditional dishes at one of the stalls or listening to local musicians and ensembles.

Handmade products and traditional Christmas delicacies

The Christmas markets in Mittenwald, Krün and Wallgau put great emphasis on selling only regional produce and dishes, as well as handmade products fabricated by craftspeople from the surrounding areas: arts and crafts made from clay and wood, products made from sheep’s wool, felt products or venison dishes.
The second Christmas market in Alpenwelt Karwendel is the Christkindlmarkt in Krün. It opens the second Sunday in Advent, 9 December 2018, from 11am to 7pm. Why not try one of the typically Bavarian specialities, or warm up after a long stroll with coffee and cake, punch or mulled wine? And you can even enjoy some music after shopping for Christmas presents and discovering an array of beautiful handcrafted products? The local clubs run a stall selling mulled wine in the village’s spa gardens. It is open the whole of December and attracts tourists and locals alike.

Exploring the Karwendel mountain range

The Alpenwelt Karwendel is a beautiful destination for winter holidays, especially during the Christmas season. Bavarian charm, hospitality and ‘joie de vivre’ are combined with often centuries-old traditions and customs, like the Lüftlmalerei, the local style of fresco paintings. And, of course, the Alpine landscapes invite visitors to explore: on foot, skis or by horse-drawn sleigh. Often enough, one can hear the little bells ringing already from afar, as one of the traditional sleighs approaches the villages. “Clear blue skies over snow-covered mountains, cross-country skiing trails along the Isar valley, quaint cabins in the snow, skiing or a joyful sledge ride,” Dominika Schandl names as particular highlights during the winter season. “The family-friendly ski area at the Kranzberg, for instance, is a real insider tip for skiing holidays in Bavaria.” The Alpenwelt Karwendel also lays claim to Germany’s longest ski route, the Dammkar route.

Hiking through the snow

The Karwendelbahn, Germany’s second highest gondola, transports visitors up to 2,244 metres from where hikers have the opportunity to trek along the mountain paths, cleared from the worst of snow and safe to walk, while having an outstanding view, not only over the valleys below, but also of the Upper Bavarian and Tyrolean mountain landscape. The Karwendelbahn has its valley station in the third of the Karwendel villages that is hosting a beautiful, traditional Christmas market: Mittenwald.

“40 Alpine huts around the church in the historic village centre invite visitors for a pleasant stroll,” says Dominika Schandl, about the Mittenwalder Christkindlmarkt that runs from 13 to 16 December this year. There is no round-the-clock music, “only local music ensembles play hourly concerts and create just the right atmosphere”. The smell of roasted almonds, punch and gingerbread hang in the air and while parents might enjoy the arts and crafts sold and displayed here, children will love the story times. All in all, the Karwendel Christmas markets and the mountain landscape create the ideal pre-Christmas seasonal atmosphere, perfect to get visitors into the Christmas mood.

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