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Salzkammergut 2024 – closest to us


The weather is a crucial factor for the opening ceremonies of European Capitals of Culture. The Austrian Salzkammergut hit the jackpot in this regard. Sunny winter weather and the picturesque landscape around the spa town of Bad Ischl lent the opening weekend a chilly yet magical atmosphere.


In the history of European Capitals of Culture, Salzkammergut is the first region where the title is shared by 23 alpine towns and villages. During the opening weekend, the emphasis on the region was evident not only in its visual identity but also in the events and interventions. An example is the special train expedition, which could be called a "bells on rails." The last wagon belonged to the artistic installation by Georg Nussbaumer, called  Der Glögglwaggon, where bells of various sizes and sounds were set in motion by the wind. The collaboration of the region was also depicted in the projection of the figures of all the mayors of the participating municipalities onto the building in the center of Bad Ischl. Additionally, internationally renowned artists from Salzkammergut performed at the opening ceremony. 

Foto: Henrieke Ibing

The celebration of unity

The opening of the European Capital of Culture was announced to the world by a 1000-member mixed choir  led by the renowned musician Hubert von Goiserna, with roots in the region. The performance was an excellent example of a community music project. The choir consisted of people of all age groups, from children to seniors. The involvement of local communities was reflected in the final moment when people in the audience and on stage greeted each other, clapped, and celebrated together that Salzkammergut is the European Capital of Culture. The atmosphere was heightened by the performance of artist Tom Neuwirth, also known as Conchita Wurst, with the song "Rise like a Pheonix" with which this native of Salzkammergut won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014. The performance by renowned choreographer Doris Uhlich, originally from Attersee in the northern Salzkammergut, also received great acclaim from the audience. The performance referred to the acceptance and integration of our differences and imperfections and also had a historical context. Bad Ischl was a favorite holiday destination of the imperial family, and the dance parodied aristocratic round dances at royal courts. 


The ceremony was accompanied by glowing beings created by artist Ise Stein, symbolizing the 23 municipalities and bringing light into life. At the end, they mingled with the thousands-strong crowd and led the frozen audience to other venues - concerts, exhibitions, and performances in the center of Bad Ischl. The Alpine region showed during the opening weekend that culture can be an enriching addition to the offering of beautiful nature in a historically rich region.    

Foto: Marc Schwarz, Henrieke Ibing, Daniel Mayer

Lucia Šimášková 

Manager Trenčín 2026 



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