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This June, Mayrhofen will host Europe's biggest paragliding competition, the Yahoi Mountain Festival. It's an event that's designed for observers as much as for the participants. The tourist office claims that during last years competition there were 211 paragliders in the air at once.

In addition to paragliding, there is a national kayaking competition, a farmers festival and handcraft presentation, and of course plenty of Tyrolean food and live music.

Night Life

Apparently, a day of fresh mountain air isn't enough to tire the majority of visitors. Contrary to what one would expect of a secluded mountain town, Mayrhofen has a night life that should please most anyone. Many of the upscale hotels offer live music: the Elisabeth Hotel has a Tyrolean Day on Saturday afternoons, piano music on Tuesday evenings, and a live band on Fridays; the Neuhaus provides music it describes as "evergreens" songs not Tyrolean, but also not too modern; and the Hotel Strass invites local bands to play in its lounge. In addition, Mo's Esscafe & Music Room (Hauptstrasse 417, tel +43 5285/63435) is an American pub that features karaoke.

Exploring the Region

A recommended excursion from Mayrhofen is to leave the valley and drive east on Route 165 over the 1,507 meter (4,944 feet) high Gerlos Pass and across the northern edge of the Hohe Tauern National Park toward Zell am See. This 1,786 square meter park is Europe's largest, and contains both Austria's highest peak, the Grossglockner at 3,797 meters (12,458 feet) and Austria's tallest waterfall, the Krimml.

In the summertime, there are spectacular views of the triple level falls from the road. Visitors can walk up a four km (2.5 miles) path to get a closer view. (Entry costs 10 AS/$8 between May and October. The trail does get steep in some parts.) Unfortunately, in winter the Krimml is just a large slab of ice and visitors then may wonder what all the fuss is about.

After the falls, Route 165 continues east toward the town of Mittersill and the start of the Felber Tauern road, which runs south toward Lienz. (More information on Lienz and the Hohe Tauern National Park will appear in a future issue.)