Salzburg Advent Festival

Stage © Salzburg Advent Festival
Kids © Salzburg Advent Festival
Hirtenkinder © Salzburg Advent Festival
back to overview


70 years ago, an idea was born of a longing and hope for a better, more peaceful world. This wish and idea that first came to Tobi Reiser (1907-1974) was followed by the birth of the Salzburg Advent Festival, when singers and instrumentalists joined together on a cold night during Advent of 1946 to commemorate fallen or missing friends in song. It was a quiet, devout ceremony, sustained by familiar songs and tunes, popular religious faith and traditions handed down from one generation to the next. Who would have thought then that this little memorial would become the seed of innumerable “Advent festivals of song” throughout the German-speaking countries?

The innermost core of the Salzburg Advent Festival is the eternal longing of mankind for harmony and peace. Even if the beginning in 1946 seems long ago, the intention of the founders has not been lost. The religious message, interwoven with elements of folk culture and current thought, still allows a very special atmosphere of fascination and retrospection to arise which one can only experience at the Salzburg Advent Festival at the Large Festival Hall. Anyone coming to the story with an open heart will experience a touching event, will laugh heartily at the childish charm of the shepherd boys and cry tears of joy at the devout yodelling.

Despite the fact that about 1.8 million enthusiastic guests have attended this world-famous Salzburg Advent Festival since 1946, and the fact that 36,000 visitors from 38 countries are added to that figure every year, this cultural event at the Großes Festspielhaus retains a particularly intimate air of noble reticence. “Anyone who has attended once keeps coming back,” say regular guests. When more than two thousand guests rise from their seats at the end of a performance, singing the devotional yodeller together with about one hundred fifty performers, the energy generated by such a large community becomes palpable.



It was in 1946…
In the 70th year of its existence, the Salzburg Advent Festival returns to its roots. In Salzburg’s historical city centre in 1946, the wounds of war are visible everywhere. The Cathedral, destroyed during a bomb raid, is already being rebuilt by industrious hands. It is early morning after a cold winter’s night. An innkeeper sends home the last musicians from the previous night’s repatriates’ ball, a refugee couple emerges from a side alley, freezing and carrying all its belongings, some children tussle for a piece of bread, an old sacristan scurries into a chapel, her head bowed. Under the ancient arcades, a man in typical, traditional Salzburg dress is deep in a philosophical discussion with an elegantly dressed lady.

An Idea is Born

What are the two discussing so animatedly? They seem to be exchanging memories. They have seen much during their lifetime. Two terrible world wars, the intervening time not easy either, and now? Perhaps inner conflicts and tension, grief in their hearts? Disappointment in a life of which they feel cheated? The newly-won freedom and appetite for life are reflected by boisterous, noisy balls held for the repatriates. Our two, however, don’t feel like joining in. During the long nights before the solstice, they are longing for quietude, for a chance to stop and remember their musician friends who failed to return home from the war. Thus, the idea for the first Advent Festival is born. They recall the ancient advent customs of their childhood, the beautiful, devout songs and airs, Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn, cheerful nativity plays and the joyful Gloria at Christmas. All their memories feed into the first Salzburg Advent Festival, and are revived at the 2016 anniversary edition of the Advent Festival.

The Magic of the Salzburg Advent Festival
“A magic dwells in each beginning.” This quotation from Hermann Hesse’s poem Steps (Stufen) applies beautifully to the Salzburg Advent Festival. This beginning has been revived annually for 70 years, and it has lost nothing of its magic to this day."




Susanna Szameit, Annette / storyteller
Theo Helm, Tobi / fowler (tenor)
Simone Vierlinger, Maria (soprano)

Bernhard Teufl, Josef (tenor)
Katrin Auzinger, Elisabeth (alto)
Johanna Dumfart, angel (soprano)
Hans Köhl, innkeeper (baritone)

Salzburger Hirtenkinder
Mühlviertler Dreier
Mühlviertler Vokalensemble
Salzburger Volksliedchor
Salzburger Saitenmusikensemble
Salzburger Geigenmusik
Bläserensemble Juvavum Brass
Salzburger Blattbläserensemble




25th, 26th & 27th November 2016

2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th & 11th December 2016


from EUR 35,00 to EUR 77,00

plus shipping and handling EUR 10,00




Large Festival Hall
Hofstallgasse, 5020 Salzburg

Our offers

Advent serenades - Advent concert Salzburg

Christmas Market in Salzburg