Bergsilvester Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Moritz Hübner

14 Jan. 2021 · Culture | Winter Activities
Vanessa Freytag

Bergsilvester 2020 - a completely different New Year's Eve in Kleinwalsertal

In 2020, many things were different and so was the New Year's Eve in Kleinwalsertal. For the first time in decades, no guests were able to spend the turn of the year in the Alpine valley. For locals this was very unusual, many loyal fans were longing. But despite everything, those responsible decided to hold the premiere of the ‘Bergsilvester Kleinwalsertal’ (=Mountain’s New Year’s Eve). For the benefit of nature and animals, New Year’s Eve was celebrated completely without fireworks but instead experiences to pause, marvel and join in. Katrin Berchtold tells us what challenges such a special event come with.

Bergsilvester Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Moritz Hübner

As usual in the last few weeks, I greet Katrin via a video call. Due to the current situation, we both sit in our home offices and dream about how nice it will be to see our colleagues in person again.

Katrin looks relaxed and fresh to me. Last week she was on vacation - well deserved because the last few months have been very eventful for her. Not only because of the special circumstances in 2020, the planning of the Bergsilvester Kleinwalsertal was extremely exciting.

Bergsilvester Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Moritz Hübner

The creation of the Bergsilvester

A year earlier, there already was a campaign to voluntarily give up on fireworks. Since this campaign was a hit, the municipality decided not to lift the ban on fireworks on New Year's Eve, which applies all year round. Unlike in other regions, this decision was not due to Corona. Nature and animals suffer from the noise, particulate matter and waste pollution caused by fireworks, which is why we want to "set an example to protect our precious nature."

Katrin goes on to talk about the working group that was formed for this project. With people from different sectors (e.g. hotel industry and agriculture), they collected ideas about what could happen instead of fireworks on New Year's Eve. The first idea was to dance into the New Year to the Danube Waltz and to think of projections on snow. At the same time, a moment of silence was to be planned, to “press the pause button” and let the past year pass in review

Challenges and more challenges

With a smile on her face, Katrin says there were "pretty coherent ideas - especially for the Corona year 2020". By coincidence, the first concept was already almost Corona compliant. But due to contact and exit restrictions, the planned New Year's Eve party on the town’s square, unfortunately had to be canceled, as well as loudspeakers that were supposed to invite people to listen and dance in the local centers.

However, the people responsible have not had to discuss for long to carry out the Bergsilvester, despite all challenges and although no guests could visit. One of the mayor's arguments was that the locals had already dispensed so much in 2020, so a positive statement had to be made. And the countless positive feedback confirms this decision.

Bergsilvester Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Moritz Hübner

About fairy tales and laserprojections

The finished program consisted of three parts, starting with a specially written New Year's Eve fairy tale followed by a countdown and the final "dancing out of turn". All accompanied by breathtaking laser projections. Die-hard Kleinwalsertal fans and all those who could not witness the spectacle on site, could stream a live video. I also watched this video at home and smoldered in longing to watch the event myself at the turn of the year 21/22.

Katrin supervised the live video with a colleague and had the perfect view of the projections. On site, she says, this tranquility had "almost something magical". Of course, the two of them also danced along the Danube Waltz- at a distance for sure.?

New Year's eve Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Moritz Hübner

Dress rehearsal passed

Katrin was particularly impressed to see how all the pieces of the puzzle that she and the working group had put together over the months came together to form a whole. She was also thrilled by the fact that the inhabitants of the valley had almost completely dispensed with fireworks, which once again brought out the magical atmosphere of the event.

Although the organizers of the Bergsilvester had to face many challenges, Katrin draws a good conclusion: "We had the opportunity for a dress rehearsal this year. Of course, we need to tighten up some loose screws - for example, we had little time to prepare the live video. But overall, the Bergsilvester was absolutely successful to me."

And Katrin's wishes for 2021? She considers briefly, "Well, that's not an easy question, especially in light of current developments." First, the most important thing for Katrin is good health and that the valley, its locals and companies manage survive the crisis in economic terms as well. In her opinion, this can be achieved through good cooperation, mutual understanding, confidence and as we say in "ned lugg lo" (don't give in, give up – keep going).