When to Visit Tirol – A Month By Month Guide: February (The Crazy One)
Carnival celebrations in the „MARTHA“ villages north-east of Innsbruck feature „Muller“ and „Matschgerer“.
Tirol in February can get cold with snow storms and freezing temperatures, however, on the flip side, blue skies and mild conditions are commonplace with February as well, making this a very popular month for ski resorts. Though you can dig into Tirol’s rich heritage any time of year, the arrival of carnival season makes February prime time to experience joyous Shrovetide celebrations and parades.
Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring
Deeply rooted in tradition, February is the time to bid a farewell to winter. The Carnival season celebrates the natural changes of seasons. As with many Tirolean carnival customs, festive parades celebrated throughout the country are symbolic of the fight between the winter and the spring. Integrate these joyous Shrovetide festivals into your February itinerary and join locals as they celebrate heritage: The small village of Axams, set near Innsbruck, is famous for its annually scheduled “Wampelerreiten”, where young men wearing black hats, latticed masks and white shirts, padded out with hay, parade across the village. The result of the fight between the so-called “Wampeler” (meaning “fat-bellied”) and the Riders, who aim at soiling the white shirts, is taken to determine the year’s harvest in advance. This year’s event takes place on March 3. The tradition of the “Muller and Matschgerer” Runs is especially popular in the greater Innsbruck Area. A huge crowd rallies to these events, often in freezing temperatures, and thousands of locals and guests sing and dance on the streets, awaiting the appearance of the first carnival floats with their dazzling lights, bright colors and electrifying energy. The most characteristic mask characters are the so-called “Spiegeltuxer”, “Melcher”, “Zottler” and “Zaggler”, dressed up in brilliant colors. This year, the tradition-conscious community of Rum near Innsbruck will organise the large Muller procession on February 24.
The “Spiegeltuxer” is one of the most characteristic mask characters in the greater Innsbruck Area. © Bernhard Aichner
In All Weathers
Winter weather doesn’t send Tiroleans indoors — they get outside and play in it! So, why not strap on a pair of snowshoes and hit the trails for a vigorous trek through the quiet landscape of Karwendel Nature Park. Trained naturalists will accompany you on guided tours and share their knowledge about the area’s hidden treasures. And chances are good that wildlife, such as chamois, stags, ibexes and eagles, will make an appearance in Achenkirch on the shores of Achensee Lake! This is as well the perfect place to start discovering winter wonderland on cross country skis: February is one of the best times to experience the true essence of high-country winter on extended cross country ski tours. With more than 80 of well-maintained trails for classical and skate skiing, cross country skiing in Tirol has something to offer everyone from beginner to expert. Seefeld’s extensive network of cross country ski tracks, for example, offers some of the best Nordic skiing in the world. And these immaculate trails will get quite busy this February, as the world’s best Nordic athletes will compete for their chance at glory here during the 52nd Nordic World Ski Championships.
From February 19 to March 3, 2019, Seefeld will host the Nordic World Ski Championships. Photo Credit: Region Seefeld/Stephan Elsler
As we move into the next month, fresh powder can still be found at ski resorts across Tirol. Combine that with longer day light hours and warmer temperatures, you have the recipe for an unforgettable ski holiday. By the end of February, ski jackets are replaced by t-shirts, sunglasses and the need for sunscreen. With the lifts spinning 30 minutes longer each day at selected resorts, such as SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser, spring skiing can be stretched into the late afternoon, allowing for a chance to take in a one-of-a-kind sunset. This time of year could be one of the best-kept secrets!
Sledding Fun for All Ages
When families with kids aren’t out skiing or snowboarding, they’re getting a giggle-inducing thrill of a different sort — one experienced while zooming down a hill on a sled at the speed of light. In between runs, or afterwards, little ones can romp about playgrounds and head on over to one of Tirol’s many quaint mountain lodges and huts, where hearty local specialties and a hot chocolate are the reward for your treks up and down the sledding run.
It’s hard for anyone not to emit a lighthearted giggle as you sail down the hill, catching a bit of air as you roll over gentle bumps on groomed natural runs. What’s best, the playful spirit of sledding doesn’t fade with the sun during winter vacations in Tirol: Night sledding offers a memorable experience under the stars on more than 50 illuminated tracks across the country. The Moon Sledding Run in Söll, for example, is well-lit so you can sled into the night. Plus, you can even learn about the starry sky above you and about lunar phases from information panels. For up-to-date sledding run conditions please check www.winterrodeln.org (German only).
Sledding under a starry sky is a truly special experience – it feels so uplifting and free to be here. Photo Credit: Casey Moore
Crazy events, varied weather and outdoor activities – each day of February in Tirol is different, providing unique experiences that leave you wanting to come back for more.