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Festivals in Salzburg

A City for Music Aficionados

Salzburg's interplay of architecture and music provide an excellent introduction to European culture. Churches feature elaborate musical services. The former court riding school and horse stables have been transformed into three spectacular Festival Halls with a total capacity of more than 5,000.

Europe's oldest tavern, St. Peter's Wine Cellar was founded in 803 A.D. In its Baroque Great Hall, dinner is accompanied by musicians in 18th century costume. At Christmas time, we have enjoyed a brass band playing carols in its courtyard.

There are even concerts in concert halls. For example, the 1910 art nouveau Mozartium Music Academy has two auditoriums and several recital studios. The adjoining Marionette Theater offers puppet operas and ballets in a rococo jewel box setting.

Festivals supplement the dozens of concerts regularly held each week:

  • Mozart Week celebrates the composer's January 27 birthday with ten days of opera and concerts.
  • Easter Festival features religious music and themes for ten days in April, beginning Palm Sunday.
  • Baroque Festival, Pentecost weekend at the end of May or early June, has four days of music from 1600-1750.
  • The Salzburg Summer Festival is the oldest and largest event with six weeks of opera, concerts and theater from mid July through August.
  • Culture Days lasts two weeks in late October, featuring dance and ballet.
  • Fall Jazz is a long weekend in early November.

Holidays such as Advent, Christmas, and New Year's have scores of concerts and street markets.

Tickets for festivals and special events can be expensive or difficult to obtain. But we have had good luck dealing directly with the Summer Festival through www.salzburgfestival.at or in person (the box office is near the Festival Hall at 11 Karajan Platz). Agencies charge a 30 percent fee. Salzburg Ticket Agency has a useful website at www.salzburgticket.com and sells tickets by email.

The Salzburg Tourist Bureau calendar lists as many as 25 concerts a day, many free or at nominal cost. One Sunday, for a few dollars we attended six music events: a Beethoven mass with full orchestra and chorus at the 9 a.m. Franciscan Church liturgy, a band concert in the Mirabell Gardens, a harp recital at a mountain top hotel, a concert on 18th century instruments at the home of composer Michael Haydn, and an organ and trumpet concert in the University Church, followed by operetta favorites at a café facing the moonlit Franciscan church, where we had started our day 15 hours earlier.

To plan your visit to Salzburg, visit its tourist bureau website at www.salzburginfo.at. Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door, published by Avalon Travel Publishing, is also filled with practical advice and tips.

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