Salzburg Festival (Salzburger Festspiele)
Taking place for five weeks beginning in late July, this festival actually began back in 1877 as the Salzburg Music Weeks which the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra gave. Following World War I, however, it was decided to turn the event into an annual cultural festival to be held in the city. Despite losing significance during World War II, it returned to being an international event in the summer of 1945 attracting musicians, composers and conductors from all over the world of classical music. So, if you’re in the birthplace of Haydn, Mozart and Strauss during the festival, you really should try to make it to Salzburg where you can truly immerse yourself in Austria’s most significant cultural tradition.
Vienna Jazz Festival (Jazzfest Wien)
For those of you who really don’t think you would regard a classical music festival as a highlight of your trip, then the Vienna Jazz Festival is probably a better bet. Taking place one month after the Vienna Festival, at the end of July, this event not only pays homage to jazz greats from around the world but also features leading pop, rock and blues musicians. In fact some African and Cuban bands even showed up at last year’s event showing just how diverse the festival has become since it first began in 1991. Ranked as one of the top three jazz festivals in the world, this is certainly one you don’t want to miss.
Marionette Theatre, Salzburg (Salzburger Marionettentheater)
For entertainment with a difference the Marionette Theatre is the place to visit. Operas, operattas and ballet being performed on a stage by these remarkable puppets is something you won’t see very often. In fact, this theatre is the leading of its kind in the world and while it tours to all the major cities, where better to see it than in its birthplace. The performances are so impressive that it’s very easy to forget that the characters are merely puppets on strings and if you’re worried that it sounds a little childish, don’t. The theatre attacks adults in droves so if you’re in Salzburg try to make sure you’re one of them.
Mardi Gras is now being celebrated in almost every country on the planet and Austria is no exception. What is slightly different, however, is the fact that the Austrian ‘Fasching’ actually begins on New Years Day with numerous traditional events and customs taking place from then right up until the culmination which lasts for the four days leading up to Pancake Tuesday. And, you can probably imagine what those four days are like. In true Carnival style, the streets of all the major towns and cities in the country are overrun with revellers. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the festive atmosphere, but then again why would you want to?
Danube Island Festival (Donau Inselfest)
For four days every June, the ultimate outdoor festival takes place on the River Danube. Taking place on nineteen different islands, and in existence since 1984 the festival attracts over three hundred performers annually. Numerous open-air concerts and performances take place all day every day and visitors from all over the world relax and party with the best of them. Add to this the vast array of local food and drink on offer and to top it all off, the entire event won’t cost you a thing. Yes, thought that might do the trick!
Australian Beerfest, St. Johann in Tirol
200 people attended the first installment of this festival which took place back in 1995 and over 3,000 are expected this year. This should give you just a little indication of how popular this event has become. Taking place from August 15th to 18th in St. Johann, this festival comprises four days and nights of utter mayhem. A big stage is set up in the main town square where several live bands ply the guests with their musical wares. As well as this there’s the infamous Bundy Rum Party in Bunny’s Pub, a barbecue and live music by the mountain lake – nice – and the party of parties on the 17th taking over the entire town. Aussie food and drink is in plentiful supply as is the general party atmosphere so if you’re around, join the rest of the revellers and drink till you drop just like they do. Enjoy…