Salzburg Festival

Pomp, Pageantry and Patrons

Salzburger Festspiele Hofstallgasse Foto: Neumayr/MMV 6.8…
Salzburg Festival goers this summer in the historic Austrian city. Photo: DPA
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Salzburg Festival is one of the most important music and opera events in Europe. But as its loyal audience ages, organizers find themselves challenged to attract new visitors and fresh sponsors.

  • Facts


    • The Salzburg Festival is a 41-day music and theater event in Austria.
    • A new study has found that the festival brings in some €215 million ($243 million) each year.
    • The festival is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2020.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

The president of the Salzburg Festival is annoyed. Deafening firecrackers echo through the historic city center around the festival hall. “Such a thing in times of terrorism fears!” Helga Rabl-Stadler says.

The Austrian city of 150,000 is bursting at the seams in the midst of the 41-day music and drama festival, considered to be among Europe’s most important annual cultural events. Crowds push their way down the narrow streets flanked by expensive shops, and traffic slows to an agonizing pace through the labyrinthine old town. Finding a last-minute hotel room is almost impossible.

But the crowds are too much for some locals, who fear the city may become a terrorist target. “I only go into the city if there is no other option,” says one resident.

These crowds who come for the city’s opera, music and theater productions are the fuel that keep the picturesque city’s tourism business booming, though. This past weekend, the Salzburg Chamber of Commerce released an economic impact study that analyzed data from more than 3,000 festival visitors. The study found that the festival brings in €215 million ($243 million) to Austria each year, creates some 3,400 jobs and contributes to €77 million in taxes to the state coffers.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.