Summer Solstice at Innsbrucker Nordkette Mountains, © Tirol Werbung/Christian Wührer
© Summer Solstice at Innsbrucker Nordkette Mountains, © Tirol Werbung/Christian Wührer

Summer Solstice and Sacred Heart Celebrations in Tirol

When the longest day converges with the shortest night, summer is welcomed with mountain fires in the Tirolean Alps.

The custom of mountain fires stems from medieval times and celebrates a long tradition in Tirol. Numerous local clubs and associations light their own mountain bonfires on Solstice Night on 21 June to mark the longest day of the year. Shortly after nightfall, these fires illuminate the mountains and create a mystical atmosphere. In 2016 these spectacular fiery scenes with diverse motifs and symbols can be seen on 18 June.

“Sacred Heart” fires are also kindled in many Tirolean villages. Their origins can be traced back to the vow on the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1796, when the Tiroleans united in their battle against the French and Bavarians. In those days, fires were lit on the mountaintops as a sign of allegiance to their oath of devotion. In 2016 these Sacred Heart fires can be seen on the weekend of 3 to 5 June.

1 · Solstice Celebrations at the Tirolean Zugspitzarena

Solstice Celebrations at the Tirolean Zugspitzarena, © Tiroler Zugspitz Arena/Albin Niederstrasser

An impressive spectacle can be experienced every year at solstice in the Tirolean Zugspitz Arena. The wide valley around Ehrwald, Lermoos and Biberwier forms the perfect backdrop when around 8,000 individual fires light up the night sky. In 2010 UNESCO decreed this summer solstice tradition, which is well known far beyond the regional borders, to be one of Austria’s cultural heritages.

18 June 2016 · 22:00

2 · Solstice Celebrations at Innsbruck Nordkette Mountains

Solstice Celebrations at Innsbruck Nordkette Mountains, © Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen

Solstice celebrations at Innsbruck’s Nordkette Mountains are particularly spectacular. In addition to the traditional midsummer fires there are musical and culinary highlights to enjoy at all eight Innsbruck Nordkette cable car stations. Nordketten cable cars operate every half hour from 18:00.

18 June 2016

3 · Solstice Fires at the Wilder Kaiser Mountains

Solstice Fires at the Wilden Kaiser Mountains, © TVB Wilder Kaiser

The Wilder Kaiser Mountains will also be ablaze as night falls. You can admire the midsummer fire at Hartkaiser whilst enjoying a barbeque party and the Gipfelalm at Hohe Salve offers great food with fabulous panoramic views. Ascents with the Hopfgarten, Söll and Scheffau cable cars are possible until 23:00.

18 June 2016 · 21:00

4 · Summer Solstice on the Hohe Salve Mountain

© Kitzbüheler Alpen - Ferienregion Hohe Salve

The Hohe Salve offers some of the most spectacular panoramic views anywhere in Tirol. On the evening of 18th June the region's mountains come to life as fires are lit to mark the longest day of the year. The Salvenabahn I + II cable cars in Hopfgarten as well as the Hochsöll cable car remain open through until 23:00.

18 June 2016 · 21:00

4 · Solstice Fires in the Kitzbühel Alps

Solstice Fires in the Kitzbühel Alps, © Albin Niederstrasser

Countless bonfires will also light up the night skies in St. Johann in Tirol, Oberndorf, Kirchdorf and Erpfendorf. A particularly beautiful view of the surrounding mountains can be enjoyed from the top terminal of the Harschbichl lifts, accessible via the St. Johann cable cars.

18 June 2016

5 · Solstice Celebrations at Markbachjoch

Solstice Celebrations at Markbachjoch, © Wildschönau Tourismus/Tom Klingler

Summer is welcomed in the Wildschönau with a particularly beautiful festival at Markbachjoch, where it is celebrated with a giant fire, Tirolean specialities and great music. Markbachjochbahn cable cars transport visitors up to 1,500 m altitude from 18:00 onwards.

18 June 2016

6 · Solstice Tour of Lake Achensee

Solstice Tour of Lake Achensee, © Achenseeschiffahrt

The midsummer night cruise on Lake Achensee’s steam ship is incredibly romantic – especially when the magnificent mountains surrounding the lake are bathed in light at around 22:00. The two-hour trip starts from Pertisau at 21:00.

18 June 2016

8 · Baumkirchen Solstice Run

Baumkirchen Solstice Run, © SV Baumkirchen

Midsummer kicks off in sporty style in Baumkirchen, with the 13th annual 10 kilometre run in the afternoon. After all the sporting efforts, a giant solstice fire is lit and celebrations begin at nightfall.

25 June 2016

9 · Sacred Heart Fire in the Tannheimer Tal Valley

Sacred Heart Fire in the Tannheimer Tal Valley, © TVB Tannheimer Tal

This popular holiday region attracts many visitors every year with its fires in the form of ornate religious symbols, crosses, doves and hearts. At dusk, their glow lights up the mountains for around two hours.

Nesselwängle and Haldensee: 4 June 2016; Jungholz, Schattwald, Zöblen, Tannheim and Grän: 5 June 2016

10 · Brixental Mountain Fires

Brixental Mountain Fires, © WKBT

Im Brixental, mountain fires are traditionally lit in August and high summer is celebrated. Around 40,000 burning torches create impressive images on the mountains as dusk falls. This incredible spectacle can also be enjoyed from above, as the Alpenrosenbahn cable car in Westendorf operates from 19:00 to 23:00 at half price. Mountain fire festivals are also celebrated in Westendorf and in Itter.

20 August 2016 · 21:30

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