There’s only one word for Obergurgl in August: Amazing.
Visitors to the Ötztal this month were treated to a busy schedule of exciting events that truly brought the valley to life, not possible without the wonderful spirit of the people throughout it and their splendid towns. And as usual, the village of Obergurgl played a fine host in the summer festivities.
The first week of August saw a continuation from over the end of July of the Ötztal culture weeks. Guests enjoyed exquisite forms of classical music from some of North Germany’s finest young musicians, and on other nights open dancing and yodelling, right at home in the Piccard Village Hall in Obergurgl.
The first weekend in August had every village in the valley bustling as each held some sort of event or festival captivating the minds of the all ages and interests. Längenfeld hosted the Ötztal Climbing Camp and Festival for those looking to learn the art of climbing either by trying it first hand, listening to lectures or by watching the high-calibre boulder competition. Alternatively, you could have visited the ‘Ötztal Country Festival’ in Sautens, celebrating the traditions found in American ‘Western’ films, the ‘Mountain Party’ in Solden, the Vintage Car Challenge in Oetz or live music events in the other nearby villages of Vent and Umhausen. The event in Obergurgl that weekend was its highly-anticipated annual ‘Glacier Flea March’, a race that challenges participants to complete in their best time the stunning route from Obergurgl over the Ramoljoch ridge path in to the next valley and down to the village of Vent, past the iconic Ramolhaus mountain hut.
Near the end of the month is the infamous Ötztal Cycle Marathon. Starting and ending in Sölden, and passing Obergurgl via the Timmesjoch pass, it encompasses 238 kilometres, 4 high alpine passes and a cumulative 5,500 metres of altitude gain, putting its 4000 participants through a gruelling test of both endurance and determination.
The highlight of the month, however, came on the second weekend. The public holiday festival in Austria on August 15th fell nicely on a Monday this year, allowing for a 3 day weekend and thus extending the brand new event in Obergurgl this summer, the 1st Crafts and Culinary Specialty Market in the village centre. The wooden stalls were adorned with fresh local produce and hand-made products from a variety of trades; their defining feature, they were all made somewhere in the valley. This market reached the peak of its trade during the August 15th festivities, as long tables and the tents were set up within the market space in front of the stage which quickly became filled after the morning mass and village procession. Many of the permanent residents of Obergurgl, clothed in their traditional Tyrolean garments and dresses, took part in the impressive procession around the foot of the village including singing and playing instruments, with a lucky few given the responsibility of setting off explosives on the mountain side providing resonance to the occasion. The afternoon saw a celebration of Tyrolean traditions in the form of music, food, dancing and the collective demonstration of family and friendship; all factors which have, along with its breath-taking scenery, made the experience of visiting Austria so special.
The position of Obergurgl at the head of the valley and its excellent bus service, free to all Inghams guests with the Ötztal premium card, allows visitors to be involved in as little or as much of the summer festivities as they wish. Short trips on the bus to Vent, Sölden and Längenfeld mean you can also catch the action further down the valley. However, if you come to Austria only to walk, then you can explore the high alpine trails and valleys leading straight out the village without intrusion or interruption.
If you’re looking for something special next summer on and off the mountains visit Obergurgl in August, the exciting Ötztal’s ‘Diamond of the Alps’.
Blog by Christopher, representative in Obergurgl.