Category: Snow

Christmas in Austria

Christmas is undoubtedly the most important holiday in Austria.
As in other European nations, December 6th is the day Saint Nicholas, the giver of gifts, makes his rounds. Arrayed in a glittering Bishops robe and accompanied by his devilish assistant, Knecht Rupnecht, he can occasionally be seen roaming the streets giving sweets and apples to good children while his companion playfully beckons “little sinners” to feel the string of his golden rod.
On December 24th, when the city is frantic with last minute shoppers, the countryside is a refuge for quiet traditions. Farmers chalk the initials of the Three Wise Men on the archway of the stable door; C for Caspar, M for Melchoir, and B for Balthazar, to protect the heard from sickness in the coming year. Christmas trees are lit on this day and in many villages “shelter-seekers” plod through deep snow from farm to farm re-enacting the plight of Mary and Joseph as they sought shelter on the eve of Christ’s birth.
In the snow-covered Alps, families descend from their mountain homes to the valley below, illuminating the night with torches held high to light their way in the darkness. Carolers gather in church towers and village squares to guide the people to Christmas services with their melodies. All shops, theaters and concert halls close their doors for this is an evening spent with only with family.
Following church services, families return home for their more intimate celebrating. First Christmas Eve dinner is served, often with “Gebackener Karpfen” (fried carp) as the main course. Dessert may be chocolate and apricot cake called “Sachertorte” and Austrian Christmas cookies called “Weihnachtsbaeckerei” (yes, this is the actual spelling).
After the meal, the ringing of a bell signals the opening of a door long locked against the anxious eyes of the little ones. For the first time the children are permitted to witness the Christmas tree glistening with lights and colored ornaments, gold and silver garlands, candies and cookies. Beneath the tree is usually arranged an elaborate manger scene. Almost every family owns hand- carved manger figures handed down from generation to generation.
Father opens the Bible and reads of the “Kristkindl,” Christ Child. Then all sing traditional Christmas carols such as “Silent Night” and “O’Tannenbaum.” After this the presents are distributed and opened.
In Austria, there is no Santa Claus. Children are taught that their presents have been brought by the “Kristkindl,” a golden-haired baby with wings, who symbolizes the new born Christ. The story tells how the Christ child comes down from heaven on Christmas Eve and, with his band of angels, decorates and distributes trees.

christmas tree

Image by peminumkopi via Flickr

Christmas Eve at Weikersdorf Castle

Not far from Vienna, you can experience a traditional Austrian Christmas Eve celebration which the whole family will love! Get into the yule time spirit, with a White Christmas in the beautiful Austrian alps.
Christmas Eve at the Castle of Weikersdorf in Baden regularly sells out weeks in advance, so you’ll need to book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Not far from Vienna, you can experience a traditional Austrian Christmas Eve celebration which the whole family will love! Get into the yule time spirit, with a white Christmas in the beautiful Austrian alps.
Likely to Sell-out! Christmas Eve at the Castle of Weikersdorf in Baden regularly sells out weeks in advance. Book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Travel from Vienna to the distinguished Renaissance Castle Weikersdorf in Baden. Take your seat at the table to enjoy a delicious four-course dinner, including glazed Christmas-turkey ‘Viennese Style’ while a live band entertains you with traditional music.
After your Christmas dinner, take a short walk to St Christopher’s Monastery of Heiligenkreuz, where midnight mass will be celebrated. This is followed by the Austrian Christmas Eve tradition of recreating a Nativity scene.

Before the night is over you will be presented with a gift as a souvenir of your wonderful night of celebrations.

Salzburg Christmas Eve Tour to the Silent Night Chapel

The most famous Christmas carol of all time ‘Silent Night’ was written as a poem in 1816 by an Austrian priest called Joseph Mohr. The story behind this is magica itself. The St Nicholas chruch organ at Oberndorf had broken a few days before Christmas, so the priest after considering the options decided to give the poem of Silent Night (Stille Nacht) to his friend Franz Xavier Gruber and the melody for Silent Night was composed and it was composed on a guitar!!
Travel through the foothills of the Austrian Alps, along the Salzach river valley to Oberndorf, where you will have the opportunity to take part in a touching Christmas celebration in the Silent Night Chapel.

The church is small accommodating only 12 – 15 people inside, therefore the Holy Mass will be celebrated on the outside of the chapel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride from Salzburg

Take one of those excursions to take you along the Salzach river valley past many of Austria’s ski resorts. Near Schladming, location of the 1982 Ski World Championships, you will ascend up to the ‘Steirische Ramsau’ 3,281 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level at the base of one of the Alpine glacier massifs – the Dachstein. In the village there is time for a stroll in the frosty fresh air and lunch in one of the local inns. Your guide will give you advice on all of the possibilities. Then you will hear the jingling bells on the reigns as the sleighs line up across the field and your winter sleigh ride begins!

 

 

 

 

 

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Ski Megeve in the Heart of the French Alps

Ski- Megeve, France and discover its Chic and Charm!

I am one of those who never know the direction of my journey until I have almost arrived………
I spent 3months in Megeve, France taking French Language and Ski lessons, I just adore Megeve!!
Megeve is made up of a well linked collection of resorts; St Gervais, Jaillet, Combloux, Cote 2000, Rochebrune, Mont D’arbois, and Mont Joly. These are all lift connected ski areas, the lift passes allow skiers to ski Les Contamines too but this is a drive. The ski areas setup is beginner-intermediate friendly and has plenty of terrain for this, but the thing is there are great selections of terrain to move way past this level to cater to the expert skier too. Easliy accessible backcountry terrain and a great area (Mont Joly) for free ride and steeps 35-50 degree pitches. Not to mention the women’s world cup downhill course at cote 2000, which is a must, plus through a short backcountry ski route you can get into the heart of the Les contamines ski area, “you need a professional to take you on this one”

Megeve has so much to offer. It beats the Killy range, Porte du soleil, and the 3 valleys.
Michelin Guide rated restaurants, high-end shopping stores, casinos, and quaint narrow cobbled streets. The village is dominated by the traditional church belfry, and a square all in a pedestrian friendly atmosphere. Horse drawn sleighs carry tourists all over during the peak periods adding a festive and memorable experience for young and old.

There is plenty to do off the pistes. A sports center with an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor ice skating ring and curling rink, climbing wall, indoor tennis courts, table tennis, weights gym, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room. Scenic flights over Mt, Blanc, hot air ballooning, dog sledging and snow shoeing excursions, cross country skiing areas and a bowling alley. There are also numerous events such as FIS ski racing fixtures, winter polo, and winter golf cup, ball room dancing competitions, International ice hockey competitions and music festivals. There are numerous Michelin star restaurants in town and on the mountain but be prepared to pay for the privilege of being in the most entertaining and exclusive resort in the French Alps!
Also Genève, Switzerland is only 33 miles to Megeve, it is great for shopping and night clubs or if you like Milan is only 126 miles away from Megeve, not to forget the high-end shopping stores in Megeve.

Now down to the snowfall:
With the regard to the resort’s altitude and the snow fall; most of the terrain is around the 1800-2000m mark with slopes for all levels (1 week skier to expert) the skiing base station starts at 1600m and the highest point is 2380m (plenty of steeps and free ride terrain up here). Megeve has always benefited from an above average snow record for its altitude range thanks to the microclimate resulting from the proximity of Mont Blanc. Sufficient snow cover is always expected from Christmas until mid-April. Megeve also benefits from tree line skiing which provides good shelter and visibility on bad weather days so it has the luxury of always having somewhere good to ski. And a few lesser known facts that work in favor of Megeve are; because it is a lower resort the terrain underneath the snow is generally grass land and tussock as opposed to a rocky topography, this means that it takes very little snow coverage to open up all areas and keep them open! Not to mention when the winds pick up the windward slopes that get scoured will still be skiable without wrecking skis on rocks! Megeve is always open until the very last scheduled week.

What a place to ski!!!


What better way to ensure a white Christmas than to treat the family to a Magical Christmas in the enchanting resort of Megeve., Spend Christmas day skiing, sledging or having a snowball fight with the kids, listen to the children carol singing in the village, watch Father Christmas passing through on his sledge and ski Instructors skiing into the village by torchlight.