Sonnwendfeuer im Montafon | © Montafon Tourismus GmbH Schruns, Norbert Span

Mountain summits in Flames

Fires light up the Montafon mountains for the summer solstice

On 21 June – when the longest day and the shortest night meet – mountain fires are lit in many places.

On the weekend around the longest day of the year, 21 June, the solstice is traditionally celebrated. On Saturday, 18 June, mountain lovers will hike up to the heights with torches and large quantities of wood to celebrate the tradition of the solstice fires at nightfall.

Shining peaks and burning mountain
In the Middle Ages, the people celebrated big festivities and hoped for happiness, blessing and healing while observing the fire. In former times, however, the summer solstice was not so significant. On the contrary, St. John’s fire was lit on the night of 24 June, St. John’s Day.

Tradition lived sustainably
The custom remains, but the materials used have changed. While traditional fires used to be lit with different materials such as paraffin, today the focus is on the ecological variant. Today's fuel consists mainly of wood, and sometimes even entire bonfires are lit. Furthermore, so-called "hollow wax torches" or "torch pots" made of natural wax are also used. These burn without residue and thus do not cause any residue on the mountain.

Sonnwendfeuer im Montafon | © Montafon Tourismus GmbH Schruns, Norbert Span

Banned or forgotten for decades, the custom has been very popular since the 1970s.

As in other Austrian regions, the summits are again ablaze for the solstice in the Montafon. Shortly before nightfall, the first solstice fires are lit and light up the mountain scenery. A lot of work goes into this unusual spectacle. All burning material, ranging from wood to torches, are laboriously brought up to the summits and ridges. Many privately organised initiatives and organisations ensure a breathtaking spectacle every year.

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