Discover Speckfest: Mountains of Merriment in the Dolomites of South Tyrol

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Kate + Vin

Speckfest sign
speckfest icon

Speckfest is a rollicking spectacle in the Dolomites where the age-old craft of curing pork is celebrated against a backdrop of sweeping Alpine vistas. The festival offers a feast for the senses inviting you to revel in the traditions, flavors, and stunning scenery of South Tyrol.

Before your eyes, grassy hills jounce jovially from one idyllic scene to the next. They swell like a sea; cresting into rustic farmsteads dotted with carefree cattle, serene stands of evergreens and thatches of larches afire in autumn’s gold.

If you were one prone to suddenly frolic whimsically it would be here. In this Shire-like land of undulating merry. But then your eyes stretch further. They reach the horizon…where all hell breaks loose. Erupting from the earth thunders a mountain like no other. Its spearhead peaks stab the heavens like a knife thrusting a pillow.

Your heart trembles. Palms sweat. What unseen force could will these goliaths of crag and stone into being?

You ponder this lofty thought for a moment. And then just as quickly as it arose, it comes crashing down to the only question that really matters at this time: where is the bacon? Well, speck to be exact. After all, you’re here for South Tyrol’s Speckfest. The Alpine grandeur bounding all around is simply the cherry on top.

⇒ Speckfest 2023 will be at Mt. Kronplatz. Click here to learn more.

Welcome to Speck Festival

Speckfest in South Tyrol, Italy
Speckfest is the place to lose yourself in the smoky, salt-kissed bliss of South Tyrol’s most celebrated delicacy.

Sure, we admit your arrival at Speckfest may not unfold exactly as above, but we bet it will be pretty close…even despite the fact the event is taking place this year at a different mountain marvel, Mt. Kronplatz (Plan de Corones) near Brunico (Bruneck). Speckfest has traditionally been held every year in Val di Funes (also known as Villnöss), but for 2023 the Südtiroler Speck Consortium has decided to spice up the event with new alpine flavor.

Mt. Krontplatz is surrounded by a grandstand of mountains. It flaunts a 360-degree view of the Dolomites on one side and the Alps on the other. These eye-popping vistas promise an experience equal, if not greater, than Val di Funes.

So, while the venue may have changed, the celebration of this smoky, savory delight continues unabated. The festival will still be held the first weekend of October. You can count on a symphony of senses remaining on the menu. As the golden hues of October grace the sky, the slopes of Mt. Krontplatz will come alive, echoing with music, merriment, and mouthfuls of speck. It is more than an event, it’s a celebration of life, South Tyrolean style. Read on to discover why this is one culinary tradition you won’t want to miss.

A Little Bit About Speck

Speck and glass of Schiava
Speck: Mountain-smoked ham born in the Alps of South Tyrol. Cherished the world over.

Before we carve into the details of Speckfest and why you should attend, here is a quick 101 on speck if you’re not familiar with this mountain-smoked ham of South Tyrol.

Speck’s roots go as far back as at least the 13th century when Tyrolean royal records first made reference to the ham. Centuries ago, ensuring a lasting food supply required our ancestors to salt and smoke meat.

South Tyroleans’ method of preservation arose from combining traditional Northern European smoking methods with the outdoor curing practices of the Mediterranean. Today, making speck continues following these age-old principles of using “a little salt, a little smoke and lots of fresh mountain air”.

Moser Speckworld in South Tyrol
The Moser Speckworld in Naturns is a museum and butcher shop that intimately shares the history of speck and its importance to South Tyrolean culture.

Prior to smoking, farmers add their individual touch to the specialty by rubbing a mix of various Alpine herbs on the pork. After roughly three weeks of smoking, the slab of ham is dried and hung to age for four to five months where it inhales deep breaths of fresh mountain air.

The result of this long process and tender care is ham unlike anything you tasted before. Speck is delicately sweet with pleasing hints of smoke and salt. We find the texture and flavor of speck far superior to prosciutto. And contrary to its southern cousin, it is easier to enjoy as it can be cut with a knife.

Speck is savored on its own as a snack with wine and as a tasty addition to many traditional South Tyrolean dishes such as Speckknödelsuppe. We often have speck shipped to our home and enjoy it as an appetizer.

South Tyrol recognizes speck as a treasure worth protecting. To guarantee the authenticity and quality of speck, farmers must follow strict production regulations to earn the designation “Speck Alto Adige PGI”. This certifies the speck you purchase is the real deal.

⇒ READ MORE: Discover Why South Tyrol Should Be On Your Bucket List

A Whole Lot About Speckfest

Slices of speck at Speckfest

Speckfest is a two-day celebration that serves as a wonderful excuse to feast on speck, drink local beer and wine and carouse with fun-loving folks while experiencing genuine Alpine traditions. If you are a fan of autumn festivals like Oktoberfest, you will adore every minute at Speckfest.

The festival begins Saturday by honoring South Tyrol’s rural heritage. You can witness demonstrations of the region’s customs, as well as the time-honored practices of its local farmers.

South Tyrolean Food at Speckfest
You do not have to be a fan of speck to feast at Speckfest. The festival offers a variety of South Tyrolean cuisine.

This celebration of Alpine tradition continues throughout the festival. Many of its hosts, workers, and entertainers don colorful dirndls and classic lederhosen. In fact, you will even see several guests adding to the folksy vibe by also sporting traditional Tyrolean garb.

Pouring beer for Speckfest

In addition to feasting on various speck specialties such as Bauerngröstl mit Speckstreifen (a fried potato dish with speck) and Bandnudeln mit Wildragout und Speckstreifen (venison stew with pasta and speck), delectable desserts are available like apple strudel and the ever popular Strauben, South Tyrol’s take on a funnel cake.

Of course, you don’t have to eat to have a good time at Speckfest. You can simply take a seat at one of the long Oktoberfest-like tables and order a beer from Forst brewing company or a glass of South Tyrolean wine such as Sylvaner, St. Magdalener, Lagrein or Schiava.

We never attend a festival in South Tyrol without partaking in the spirit-lifting libations of the land. But rest assured, you do not have to sip alcohol to refresh your alpine soul while visiting here. The bottled water of the region is an invigorating communion with the very heart of the mountains.

Baking bread at Speckfest

If you do not bring your appetite or thirst to Speckfest, then by all means simply come for the smells. The aroma of bread baking in woodfire ovens is a grand symphony for your nose.

Walking the festival grounds, you catch a tantalizing whisper of warm, yeasty notes that soon wrap themselves all around you, prying open memories you didn’t even know you had. There’s an unassuming magic to it, the kind that seizes you by the nostrils and transports you back to simpler, sun-soaked mornings of an era gone by.

As fun as it is to welcome the smoky kiss of each loaf, it’s equally enjoyable to watch South Tyrolean bakers bring the golden delights to life (albeit a short life it is). No mortal can resist bread fresh from an oven.

Speckfest Entertainment

Live music at Speckfest

No celebration in South Tyrol is complete without music and dancing. A stage on the festival grounds hosts traditional Schuhplattler dances and revs up the crowd with musical acts that sing everything from folk to top 40 hits.

When we attended, the singer of one band decided to make the audience part of his stage. He leapt from table to table never missing a beat…and more importantly, never knocking over a mug of beer or a glass of wine.

Stalls at Speckfest selling handicrafts and more
In addition to culinary specialties, Speckfest features multiple stalls selling everything from woodcarvings to clothing to fresh mountain herbs and more.

Market stalls also pepper the festival grounds allowing attendees to not only sample and purchase speck, but also browse other regional specialties including crafts, Alpine herbs and clothing made from local sheep.

We snapped up a few mountain berry jams and a couple of small, detailed woodcarvings that were perfect for our home office. In addition, we found two traditional blue aprons that we hoped would help bring a bit of Tyrolean inspiration to our kitchen.

⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Experience an Almabtrieb Festival

Crowning the Speck Queen

The Speckfest Queen
The Speckfest Queen becomes the star of the festival on Sunday.

Sunday at Speckfest isn’t just any ordinary day. It’s the moment when the festival’s glittering peak is reached, the coronation of the “Speckkönigin” — the Speck Queen. This newly minted royalty is bestowed with a jewel-studded crown, a sash worn with pride, a basket full of blossoms and, one can only hope, a bottomless cache of speck, Schiava, and Strauben for her reign.

Post-coronation, the Speck Queen is no mere spectator; she becomes a living emblem of the festival, bouncing through the crowd in a two-decade-old ritual, spreading joy and posing for endless snaps with the jubilant festival attendees. When we were there, she was a veritable celebrity — we had to nimbly dodge and weave our way through the throng just to snap a selfie with the reigning queen of Speckfest!

⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Enjoying Törggelen – Your Guide to South Tyrol’s Most Treasured Fall Tradition

How to Attend Speckfest in 2023

speckfest kronplatz messner museum
Speckfest in 2023 will be celebrated on Mt. Krontplatz. (Photo credit: Messner Mountain Museum)

As we noted above, in 2023 Speckfest is going to be held in a new location for the first time. The festival will take place on the majestic Mt. Kronplatz which towers in the heart of Val Pusteria near the historic town of Brunico. Val Pusteria is home to some of the most astounding sights in the Dolomites including Lake Braies and The Three Peaks. In addition, the festival will not be far from some of South Tyrol’s greatest historic wonders including Burg Taufers and Abbazia di Novacella, one of the oldest operating wineries in the world.

The dates of Speckfest are Saturday, September 30 – Sunday, October 1, 2023. Speck festival details such as event hours, parking, public transportation options, musical performances, etc. will be shared once the program has been finalized by the Südtiroler Speck Consortium.

Mt. Kronplatz is a 1.5-hour drive from Bolzano, about 2 hours from Merano and just over an hour from Brixen. In addition to being a famous ski resort, the mountain is known for its striking Messner Mountain Museum Corones. This is no ordinary museum. It is a futuristic portal to the heavens, etched into the mountainside. The museum is devoted to mountain history and mountaineering and provides an eye-popping view of multiple ranges in the Dolomites.

Book Your Hotel for Speckfest 2023

If you would like to attend Speckfest and want to stay near the festival grounds, we recommend staying in Val Pusteria near Brunico or Mt. Kronplatz (Plan de Corones).

⇒ SEARCH HOTEL & FARM STAY OPTIONS NEAR SPECKFEST

24 thoughts on “Discover Speckfest: Mountains of Merriment in the Dolomites of South Tyrol”

  1. I would visit this place only for food! Speck looks delicious and there seem to be a nice restaurant atmosphere.

  2. I’d never heard of spek or Speckfest until now, but needless to say I’m definitely intrigued! Everything looks and sounds to die for – especially the deep fried potato dish. I’m also not a beer drinking so I love that they offer South Tyrolean wine. Seems like I’ll definitely need to plan a trip over soon!

  3. Look at me , while i read about Speckfest i was wondering why didn’t I know about this place existence before . And wow the place looks so much fun and there is so much to learn about the HAM history .

  4. Looks an awesome destination to spend a vacation. Thanks for sharing about the gastronomic festival through your photos and words.

  5. Speckfest sounds deliciously fun! South Tyrol surely has a great treat with speck but the surrounding landscape is equally great. What an incredible experience it would be, indulging in the treats South Tyrol has to offer while immersing in the enchanting landscape of the region. You’re a lucky hobbit! Thanks for sharing this. I feel excited!

  6. I love festivals especially if food is involved and Speckfest looks and sounds amazing!! I would totally love to South Tyrol to experience this for myself.

  7. Speckfest looks like such an interesting festival. I visited South Tyrol before but somehow I never heard about this festival before! The atmosphere looks so vibrant and I would love to visit someday. Thank you for shairng

  8. Wow! This almost looks fake – those pictures are incredible. I can’t imagine being able to experience this. Adding to my bucket list for sure. Also, the dishes look delicious!! Thanks for sharing your trip 🙂

    • Great to hear Tonya! You will think you are in the middle of a fairy tale when you visit!

  9. What a lovely virtual trip I had to the Speckfest through your words…mesmerising.And, yeah thanks for the vivid imagery! I am a vegan, so not sure if I would be indulging in food if I attend this fest but definitely would love to experience the traditional practices, the vistas and other wonderful things that this place has got to offer.

  10. This region is so beautiful and the local experience is definitely my pair of shoes. I love to immerse in local traditions, treats and beers.

  11. I’ve heard a lot about South Tyrol recently but I’d not heard of SpeckFest. The traditional smoked pork sound delicious, so much goes into the process and must be interesting to try the variation on flavours with Alpine herbs. I’m sure the meat goes well with a drop of the local South Tyrolean wine. Must be fun to get dressed up in the lederhosen to get in the real spirit of SpeckFest!

  12. I loved your poetic description of the idyllic landscape. Comparing the rolling green mountains with the waves of the sea is so perfect. It’s the first time I read about speckfest and it seems amazing. Would love to experience this for real some day.

  13. I am absolutely intrigued with so many festivals all around Europe. I think visitors should keep some special time for all these festivals if they want to come close to a country’s culture, food and meet some people. The beer the music and the people everything looks worth attending Speckfest.

  14. Honestly, I really don’t have any idea about SpeckFest not after reading. It sounds like an amazing experience for you visiting this place and gosh, that mountain view is so amazing and the food looks really delicious!

  15. I’m not gonna lie, this festival looks super fun. Though I can imagine any festival in Italy that involves food would likely be an incredible experience. I’m curious how you stumbled onto this one!

  16. I was never aware of Speck before even when I used to eat meat. I like how described the whole fest starting from when it happens, what to expect there, and how you should work your appetite up for going there. I am sure my meat eater friends will like to attend this fest when in South Tyrol.

  17. I had no idea what Speck was before reading your article, I’m delighted that I just learned about bacon’s long last cousin! I’m a foodie, so I would definitely love to travel to south Tyrol to experience Speckfest. Not only is the view impeccable where the festival was located, but all the food look divine. I loved that everything looked fresh with complex layers of ingredients. It’s definitely not the same festival food served in other Western countries. Yummy!

  18. Speckfest seems so interesting to taste good food and really beautiful backdrops. I hope to visit one day.

  19. The wonderful region of Trentino Alto Adige, I have the South Tyrol behind my house and I haven’t visited it as I would like! Thanks for the tips!

  20. Speckfest looks like a lot of fun. I love travelling in Austria and the people in the South Tyrol are so welcoming. You get a great atmosphere there at any time but I bet it was really special during this festival.

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