The Val Gardena Valley, in Italy’s Dolomites, casts its spell over visitors at any time of the year. With invigorating hiking in summer and superb skiing in winter, the region is also steeped in Tyrolean charm.
But in the village of Selva Gardena, although it could just be a trick of the winter light playing off the snow, it seems that around Christmas time a little bit of magic really does happen beneath the shadow of the majestic Stella Ronde.
Christmas on Ice? You may think you’ve seen it all before, but they do things a little differently in Selva Gardena. This year, on December 27th, the local Sportstadium Pranives will be transformed as some of the world’s top professional figure skaters entertain a packed house in a breath-taking icy spectacle. It’s ‘lights, camera, ice, ice baby!’ at this special Christmas production, and if past years are anything to go by, you’re in for a memorable (if a little chilly) evening.
An Old-Fashioned Mountain Christmas
Little ones will be captivated by the ‘Mountain Christmas’ display, which is open from the 4th of December to the 6th of January. The display comprises a handcrafted scene of wooden Tyrolean cabins, decked out with twinkling lights and strung together like an old-fashioned cable car – all hanging above a make-believe mountain hamlet. It’s a step back in time to what this beautiful region used to look like – in miniature.
To Market, to Market
There are a number of Christmas markets across Val Gardena, including in Ortisei from November right through to January (told you they did things differently in the Tyrol!). But the most extensive is in S. Cristina. From 4 – 30 December, local artisans display their festive wares – with candles, ceramics, wooden toys, books and, of course, the prerequisite mulled wine and Christmas biscuits! The atmosphere is joyful and festive – especially under a sprinkling of early evening snow – and the scent of freshly baked goods is intoxicating. And as long as you’re wandering the streets of S. Cristina, pop over to the Iman centre and visit the largest hand-carved Christmas crib in the world!
Ring in the New Year
If you’re still around to ring in the New Year, the magic continues…
There’s an official village party, with locals and tourists mingling in the streets eating, drinking and dancing – everybody comes out to play – even the elderly residents. But the piece de resistance is the incredible torchlight descent down the ski slopes, which culminates in a spectacular fireworks display. If you want to party on there’s a party hopping night bus that continues until 4 am between the resorts of Val Gardena.
What’s not to love about a Christmas holiday in Selva Gardena? Grinches need not reply!
How to Get to Selva Gardena
Selva Gardena is accessible from a number of airports including Munich, Innsbruck, Verona, Bolzano and Venice – the latter of which is a great choice if you’re looking for budget carriers. The best way to make the approximately three-hour onward journey to Selva Gardena is with one of Shuttle Direct’s convenient Venice airport transfers. You can pre-book your journey online, and once you land our drivers will take care of the rest – meeting you at the airport and allowing you to enjoy the spectacular the spectacular scenery of the journey in style.
If you’re planning on a road trip from the UK to the Dolomites, there are a number of factors to consider, including having to pre-book your slot for the Eurotunnel and ensuring you feel confident driving on the opposite side of the road once you emerge in Calais. You’ll also need to include the costs of road tolls in France and Germany to your holiday budget. All those aspects considered, it can be a stress-free and very pleasant trip if you allow yourself two days to get to the Dolomites – with an overnight stay somewhere in France or Germany to break the journey. Once of the most straightforward routes is via Innsbruck then along the spectacular Brenner Pass, through Fortezza and Bolzano then on to the Dolomites.
Where to Stay:
Residence Lores – Peaceful, private and extremely well located, Residence Lores enjoys a picture postcard backdrop and superb facilities for self-catering. Including free use of a fitness centre and swimming pool, and situated just 500 metres from the centre of Selva Gardena, Residence Lores punches way above its weight for a budget-priced stay in the Dolomites.
Hotel Fanes – Just five minutes from the Puez-Geisler Nature Park and with expansive views from every vantage, the elegant Hotel Fanes offers sophisticated décor, delicious international cuisine, extensive facilities, and the charming ambience so characteristic of this lovely region. Private balconies and full-length picture windows deliver the jaw-dropping Dolomite landscape to the doorstep at the delightful Hotel Fanes.
Alpenroyal Grand Hotel Gourmet and Spa – For the ultimate luxury Alpine break, the Alpenroyal Grand Hotel is without peer. Set within a stunning private park and wrapped in the picturesque embrace of the Dolomites, as one of the ‘Leading Hotels of the World’, it is a blend of traditional opulence and contemporary glamour. Featuring fine dining, extensive wellness facilities, and exquisite appointments throughout, there’s even a private helicopter upon request.