The Tiroler Zugspitz Arena is a world-class destination for active, nature-loving holidaymakers. With 160 south-facing climbing routes, 150 hikes and 100 cycle trails (road, mountain and e-bike), as well as schools for paragliding, abseiling, rafting, high-rope walking and much more, it’s tops for active and adventure travel.
The region also takes the time to look back, respect and celebrate its cultural traditions and ancient customs. The most striking example of this is Mountains on Fire, held annually on Midsummer’s Day; the next date is June 19, 2021 at 21:30.
This celebration of the summer solstice sees fiery symbols of up to 200m in size illuminate the awesome alpine landscape around Ehrwald, Lermoos and Biberwier. Shortly after dusk, flickering chains of light start to appear on the mountain crests.
They grow into glowing depictions of deer, mythological characters and other creatures. These glorious fires are enjoyed by spectators up in the mountains and in the valley below.
Mountains on Fire takes months of preparation and involves hundreds of the region’s residents, who take part by choosing the annual theme, measuring the mountain faces, and carrying some 700 sacks of rapeseed oil and sawdust to the peaks. The most skilled mountaineers are tasked with anchoring the higher fires, some of which are situated at an altitude of more than 2000m.
The history of the Mountains on Fire custom can be traced back to the 14th century when the blaze was believed to ward off demons and evil spirits all over Austria. Since then, mountain fires have used for many purposes, such as celebrating historical anniversaries in the 1700s and warning of an enemy’s approach during 18th century conflicts.
The Tiroler Zugspitz Arena is not the only area to uphold this custom but it offers a spectacular display that merits its inclusion on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List since 2010.
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