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Advent in Austria

Celebrate the season the traditional way!

Spend the days leading up to Christmas in a magnificent alpine setting where the advent customs of its regions, towns and villages are the perfect antidote to the pre-Christmas rush. Be part of authentic advent traditions whilst visiting the Christmas markets in the picturesque lakeside villages of St. Gilgen, St. Wolfgang and Hallstatt as well as the magnificent baroque city of Salzburg and Oberndorf, the home of the famous carol Silent Night.

Witness the Krampuslauf, also known as the 'Horned God Run,' although Pagan, this was assimilated into Christianity and since the 11th century, Krampus has slowly morphed into a creature who works with St. Nicholas to capture children who misbehave. Visit Oberndorf, learn the history of the famous carol Silent Night that originated here and worship in the church of the composer Franz Xaver Gruber. Spend Maria’ Conception Day, a holiday in Austria, amidst the scenery of Hallstatt voted Europe’s most beautiful lake. Then, one evening enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride though local villages and forests to an alpine hut to enjoy a traditional meal in a wonderful snowy setting.

With so many extras included you will be able to enjoy the sounds of church bells, traditional carols and festive brass band music with the smell of fresh cinnamon from Christmas treats and bubbling gluhwein as you wander the traditional Christmas markets. The emphasis is more on traditional clothing from local woolens, handicrafts, wood carvings and nativity scenes reflecting the true meaning of Christmas. We invite you to join us for our unspoiled celebration at this special time of the year.


  1. Travel to Austria (D, DR)

    Morning: check-in for your direct flight to Salzburg’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart International Airport.

    Afternoon: you will be met on arrival by your Tour Manager and escorted to your coach for the scenic drive to the Hotel Brückenwirt in St. Johann im Pongau for a seven-night stay on a half board basis. They will assist you with check-in and familiarising yourself with your resort.

    Evening: get to know your fellow advent companions over a welcome drink reception and a warm greeting from the Nocker family followed by optional worship. After, enjoy a three-course dinner with an included drink and tea or coffee.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  2. St. Gilgen & St. Wolfgang Christmas Markets (B, D, DR)

    Morning: drive to beautiful St. Gilgen on Lake Wolfgang, the birthplace of Mozart’s mother. Wander at leisure the lakeside Christmas markets and visit a wonderful display of handmade traditional nativity scenes with ornately carved figurines.

    Afternoon: we board a ship and take a scenic cruise across the lake to St. Wolfgang and visit the parish church with its wonderful Gothic altar for an optional private worship. We learn of ‘Holy Wolfgang’ and this pilgrimage site. Enjoy time for the Christmas markets and maybe visit the famous White Horse Inn, the setting of the famous operetta.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with an included drink.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  3. Salzburg Cathedral & Christmas markets (B, D, DR)

    Morning: Salzburg - the birthplace of Mozart, home to The Sound of Music and one of Europe’s finest baroque citiesyour visit includes a guided tour including a tour inside with an organ recital in the cathedral.

    Afternoon: wander the Christmas markets set in the so-called ‘Rome of the North’ due to its stunning baroque architecture. Try a visit to the Mozart’s Birth-house Museum or take the funicular (at own cost) to the fortress for views across the city and surrounding mountains.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with an included drink and tea or coffee.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  4. The Krampuslauf and a visit from St. Nicholas (B, AT, D, DR)

    Morning: relax in your hotel, explore the town of St. Johann, its shops, boutiques, bakeries and cafes with traditional advent cookies, stollen and fruit breads or ascend one of the town gondolas or ski lifts to take in the stunning local scenery.

    Afternoon: enjoy a warming glühwein and traditional festive stollen in the hotel before witnessing an age-old tradition of the two horned devil parade or Krampuslauf in German, in the streets of St Johann with a fireside dance in front of the hotel. Originally thought to have come from the old pre-Christian myths involving beasts from the forest, the Krampus became linked with St Nicholas in the Middle Ages. To those who have been good St. Nicholas will also pay a visit!

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with an included drink and tea or coffee.

    Do note that dinner may be earlier this evening if the Krampuslauf is moved to 19:00 as being discussed and to be decided by the local organisers.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  5. St. Nicholas Day - St. Johann and a mountain sleigh ride (B, L, D, DR)

    Morning: enjoy your resort with an included tour of The Pongau Cathedral followed by worship. Overlooking the Salzach Valley, the two-towered parish church with Gothic woodwork was first mentioned in 924. After, enjoy the towns shops and boutiques as well as the various gondolas and ski-lifts for magnificent views.

    Afternoon: included lunch in the hotel with a drink and time to relax and enjoy the hotels facilities.

    Evening: in the late afternoon you will take a drive to the mountain village of Filzmoos, where we change to horse drawn sleighs. The hour-long ride will take you to the remote Hofalm, an original rustic Alpine hut where you will be served a traditional dinner with a drink included. Afterwards enjoy the atmosphere of the Hofalm, take a walk in the snow and then enjoy the sleigh ride back…dashing through the snow!

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  6. Oberndorf – The Silent Night village (B, L, D, DR)

    Morning: it was Christmas Eve of 1818 when, in Oberndorf, the carol “Silent Night” was originally performed. We visit the place of its origin, museum and memorial chapel, surrounded by its Christmas market. See how this carol travelled the world to become the most famous Christmas tune of all time.

    Afternoon: enjoy an included lunch at a local inn in nearby Arnsdorf, where the composer Franz Xaver Gruber worked as a school teacher. Just next door is the pilgrimage church ‘Maria in Mosl’ where we join for worship before a mid-afternoon return to the hotel to relax and enjoy the hotels facilities.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with an included drink and tea or coffee. As today is the first Sunday in Advent, you will join with the hotel owner and her family to witness the lighting of the Advent Crown with a short reading on Advent traditions.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  7. Maria Conception Day - Lake Gosau & Hallstatt (B, D, DR)

    Morning: a scenic drive through the Lämmertal to stunning Lake Gosau to enjoy views of the Dachstein Glacier amidst beautiful unspoilt scenery. After, continue to the lakeside town of Hallstatt with a cruise. This region has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 and the only lake in Europe to make the list of the world’s top ten outstanding lakes. Visit the local church renowned for its Bone House and huge handmade, ornate and highly detailed nativity scene.

    Afternoon: after free time for lunch and time to enjoy the Christmas Market we return to the coach with a private scenic cruise on the lake.

    Evening: a farewell drink reception and a toast from your host family followed by dinner in the hotel with an included drink and tea or coffee. After dinner take the chance for a short walk through the town to see the “Light Advent“ with lots of colorful projections on houses and on the cathedral.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

  8. A local Christmas market and flight home UK (B)

    Morning: bid a fond farewell to your friendly hotel team and depart for a local small town for its traditional and local Christmas market atmosphere.

    Afternoon: head to Salzburg Airport and check-in for the flight back to the UK and bid farewell to your Tour Manager.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink

Essential Information

Included excursions

  • St. Gilgen and St. Wolfgang Christmas markets
  • Cruise on Lake Wolfgang
  • Guided tour of Salzburg
  • Guided tour of Salzburg Cathedral with organ recital
  • Guided tour of St. Johann im Pongau with cathedral tour and optional worship
  • Sleigh ride in Filzmoos with dinner at the Hofalm
  • Oberndorf – Silent Night village, chapel and museum
  • Arnsdorf – Optional worship in the church of the Silent Night composer Franz Xaver Gruber
  • Lake Gosau and Hallstatt
  • Cruise on Lake Hallstatt

Optional excursions

None! – all excursions and extras as listed above and below are included!

Included extras

  • Hotel Porterage
  • Personal audio guiding system
  • Krampuslauf (two horned devil parade) and a visit from St. Nicholas
  • Tea/coffee and stollen on one afternoon
  • Services of our resident and knowledgeable Tour Manager
  • Optional worship from our accompanying faith leader

Included meals & drinks

Meals: a full buffet breakfast each morning, two lunches and all evening meals. Five three-course dinners and a traditional Austrian buffet evening in the hotel. On one evening you will take a horse-drawn carriage ride to an alpine hut for a traditional dinner. On one afternoon we also include traditional Christmas stollen with bubbling gluhwein.

Drinks: welcome and farewell drinks. Beer, wine or soft drink and tea or coffee with all evening meals and both lunches.

Our team in Austria

Our dedicated and knowledgeable McCabe Tour Manager is there solely for our guests. They will escort all excursions and be available in the hotel for any queries and offer local advice, hints and tips for you to get maximum enjoyment of your time with us. A faith leader will also escort this experience and offer optional worship on some occasions, for those who wish.

Your journey

The flight is direct to Salzburg with easyJet from London Gatwick. Regional flights to Gatwick from some UK airports can be arranged at a supplement. An overnight stop at Gatwick may be required which we can assist you with. Please enquire at time of booking.

Outbound Flight

Flight departs Gatwick : 12:40               Arrives Salzburg: 15:35

Return Flight

Flight departs Salzburg : 14:05               Arrives Gatwick: 15:10

Length of flight to Salzburg: two hours

Flight times maybe subject to change and are confirmed with your final paperwork.

Your resort

The well-known Pongau Cathedral is a two-towered parish church with Gothic woodwork and is the landmark of Sankt Johann overlooking the Salzach Valley. It was first mentioned in 924. After the market fire of 1855, the church was rebuilt from the ground up (1855-1861). The Neo-Gothic altars feature a number of late Gothic figures.

The resort of St. Johann im Pongau has a wide range of shops, unique gift boutiques and coffee houses as well as a bank and a supermarket. During December there is also a small number of traditional Christmas market stalls. There is a small mountain gondola up from the heart of town to gain great views of the area and free buses operate to the nearby selection of ski-lifts for further magnificent vistas.

Your hotel: Hotel Bruckenwirt

Seven nights’ accommodation in the four-star, family-run Brückenwirt Hotel in St. Johann im Pongau in a double or twin room based on two sharing. Double rooms for sole use are available for a supplement.

The Nocker family pride themselves on offering a home-from-home, with a personal welcome where they regale the history of the hotel, local area and family traditions during Advent and Christmas.

Hotel facilities: a year-round outdoor heated pool (30 degrees Celsius), which is entered from the warmth of indoors, sauna, steam room, gym and an aroma therapy spa. There is a lounge area and cosy stube for socialising after dinner. Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the hotel.

Your hotel room: double or Austria twin bedded rooms furnished in the local style. Most rooms have balconies. There will be a bathrobe for your use during your stay.

Hotel bathrooms: most bathrooms have a walk-in shower. There are only four rooms with a bath which may be available on request. All bathrooms are equipped with a hairdryer, bathrobe, soap, shampoo and shower gel. Ample towels for both bathroom and the hotel pool will be provided.

A note about twin Austrian beds:  the distinction between double bedded and twin-bedded rooms in Austria is sometimes not clear. A traditional twin-bedded room consists of one bed frame with two separate mattresses and separate duvets and the beds will not necessarily be separated.

Single rooms available (limited availability)

Double rooms for single use for a supplement of £299

Single rooms (one single bed) for a supplement of £149



Practical information

Entry requirements

British Citizen and EU Citizen Passport holders can currently enter Austria freely with no restrictions or other documentation required. Stays within the EU can be up to 90 days (can be spread over multiple visits) within any 180-day period.

Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your return from Austria.

Full details of entry requirements and any required vaccinations will be detailed in your final paperwork 14 days before departure.

For the latest and most up to date travel advice including entry requirements please consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office travel advice website.

Health & wellbeing

For travel within the EU you should ensure that you have the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is free of charge.  You can apply for the GHIC card by calling 0191 218 1999 or applying on line at…

The level of cover offered by the GHIC card varies by country visited and is only applicable in state-run health facilities. In some countries coverage may just be a partial contribution.

Adequate insurance cover will be required for all hospital emergencies and doctors’ visits.


In Austria the average temperature during your stay should be around -5 to +4 degrees centigrade. It is advisable to bring some warm clothes and layers for the days as well as a winter hat, gloves and a scarf. In the mountains weather can change rapidly for worse or better and a misty start often leads to a glorious afternoon. We never can see what is the other side of the mountain and the weather is often difficult to predict so please be prepared.


Dress is casual throughout the holiday. You may wish to take one or two smarter items for the evenings. Warm casual clothing is recommended in the day time with evenings being smart/casual. As the sightseeing visits require a certain amount of walking, we suggest you take a pair of warm lined shoes or boots with decent grip to walk in the snow or the occasional icy surface are a must. Austrians often wear real fur which are family heirlooms handed down from generation to generation and not seen as taboo as they are in the U.K.

Please bring a hat, scarf and gloves to keep warm as well as a pair of sunglasses as the glare of sunshine (hopefully) on snow can be quite strong.


There is a certain amount of walking (and stairs) involved on a daily basis on this holiday so please make sure you pack comfy footwear for this so that you are prepared. Your Tour Manager will keep you updated on a daily basis with what to expect the following day. If you are finding it difficult to keep up then please make sure you tell your Tour Manager who can help you to find places to rest and relax and then you can re-join the group at a later stage.

Some streets in towns and villages that you will visit will be cobbled. We suggest you take a pair of comfortable shoes with good grips or trainers. For your guided walking tours in Salzburg and Oberndorf you must be prepared to be on your feet for up to 90 minutes.

The McCabe Educational Trust

The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on some of our pilgrimages. As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other.

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £20 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Travel insurance

Ensuring that your holidays are appropriately protected is one of our main priorities. That’s why we have specifically chosen Holiday Extras as our *preferred travel insurance provider to ensure that you are protected before and whilst you are travelling. Holiday Extras offer McCabe Travel guests favourable rates for single trip, multi-trip and annual policies.

For more information or to obtain a quote click below for their website

Or call them on 0800 083 3551 to speak to a friendly advisor.

Please quote AG628 upon calling to receive the best rates

Full financial security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme. If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

You can read McCabe reviews on the AITO website here


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