Skip menu

For the latest information on COVID-19 travel restrictions in Italy. Click here.

Shopping and markets


In Bressanone, a Christmas market with millenary traditions

14 September 2022

2 minutes

Strolling through the historic centre of Bressanone, also known as Brixen, is always a pleasure, but doing so in the Advent season is a true delight. Against the backdrop of the magnificent cathedral square and in the arcaded alleyways of the centre, the wooden and light boxes of one of South Tyrol's most beautiful Christmas markets transform a city where ancient Advent traditions are still very much alive among the locals.

The noblest of Christmas markets

In the oldest and most noble city in the Tyrol, you will find a charming Christmas market that winds its way from the cathedral square where a Christmas tree is lit up in the large flowerbed decorated like a large Advent wreath, with four torches that are lit on the four Sundays leading up to 25 December. 

At the market stalls, visitors can buy wood carvings and nativity figurines, terracotta objects, hand-painted glass globes, fabrics, cloth jackets, leather goods, the ubiquitous felt slippers or woollen slippers, and organic cosmetics, all exclusively produced or crafted in South Tyrol

There are also typical gastronomic specialities from the Isarco Valley, from dumplings to speck, from Barbiano plums to chestnuts and medicinal herbs. 

And then of course the beeswax candles, a classic feature of Brixen market, where on 7 December St. Ambrose, the patron saint of beekeepers and wax workers, is celebrated: to mark the occasion, visitors are offered the chance to make a beeswax candle with their own hands.

On 4 December, St Barbara's Day, or Barbarazweige, the branches of St Barbara, are distributed. According to a local custom, on 4 December each family cuts a cherry tree branch and keeps it at home in a vase filled with water: if the branch blossoms at Christmas, it is a good omen for happiness. 

If you are an early riser, here you can take part in a collective rite that has been celebrated continuously since 1606: at 6.15 a.m., the cathedral bells call the faithful to the 6.30 a.m. morning mass (here called “rorata”), by candlelight, with choirs and carols. The pre-Christmas masses are attended by hundreds of people before going to the office or school: after the service, tradition holds that people have breakfast together with friends and relatives.  

Brixen's collection of historical nativity scenes

In the galleries of the Hofburg, the sumptuous bishop's palace in Brixen where the German emperors were hosted, among the many art treasures, there is one of the world's most important nativity scene collections. It consists of a series of very valuable nativities from all over Europe, starting with the two large nativity scenes commissioned by Prince-Bishop Franz Graf von Lodron with about 5,000 figures. On display are nativities in ivory, terracotta, wood and papier-mâché, also from Naples and Sicily.


Related articles

Shopping and markets

In Brunico, at the most beautiful Christmas market in the Puster Valley

Shopping and markets

Merano's Christmas market in South Tyrol's chic living room

Shopping and markets

Vipiteno and its fairytale Christmas market

Shopping and markets

Bolzano is the queen of Christmas: and its market is the most irresistible


In the mountains with children: 8 toboggan runs in South Tyrol


Trentino-South Tyrol is home to Europe's longest zip line

Photo by: Alex Filz

Alto Adige's bathing lakes, a spectacle of nature


The South Tyrol Ice Sculpture Festival is the perfect excuse for a January ski holiday

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Tre Cime di Lavaredo: heart of the Dolomites and UNESCO Heritage Site


Alta Badia: sport, fun and good food in South Tyrol


The secrets of the sunken village of Curon in South Tyrol

Relax & Wellness

Forest Therapy, a regenerative bath in the green South Tyrol

Food and wine

South Tyrol wine tourism: the Wine Route


South Tyrol: in Bressanone, between the past and modernity

Relax & Wellness
Kneipp therapy spas in South Tyrol

Free Kneipp trails in South Tyrol where you can enjoy wellness in complete freedom

Food and wine
south adige discovering torggelen

Experience Törggelen in South Tyrol to savour the true taste of autumn

Art & Culture
Photo by: Hansi Heckmair

South Tyrol: underground adventures in mines


South Tyrol, Plan de Corones: fun, food and relaxation

Ops! An error occurred while sharing your content. Please accept profiling cookies to share the page.