Culture is the new Salt in Austria’s Alpine Region

Bad Ischl is European Capital of Culture 2024

Culture is the new Salt in Austria’s Alpine Region
Lake Traunsee / Upper Austria / Gmunden. Photo Credit: Ruedi Homberger

Singapore – 30 January, 2024 – The charming alpine town of Bad Ischl has been awarded the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture 2024. The award is significant as this is the first time in the 39-year history of the European Capital of Culture that 23 municipalities in Austria* have joined together to form a Capital of Culture. Two other cities Tartu (Estonia) and Bodø (Norway) will also be hosting the European Capital of Culture in 2024 alongside Bad Ischl.

Culture is the new Salt in Austria’s Alpine Region
Kaiservilla. Photo Credit : Cross Media Redaktion

Crystal clear lakes and panoramic alpine views characterize the natural scenery of the Salzkammergut. In the 19th Century, Bad Ischl was home to Kaiservilla, the Imperial summer residence. A popular holiday destination, Bad Ischl was historically a thermal spa town, where many holidaymakers, including Austria’s longest reigning monarch, Emperor Franz Joseph I came for the healing effects from the natural hot springs. The popularity of the spa town amongst the Habsburg royal family and other European monarchy, including England’s King Edward VII, led to it being named “Emperor’s city” and in 1853, Emperor Franz Joseph proposed to Empress Sisi in Bad Ischl.

Culture is the new Salt in Austria’s Alpine Region
Altaussee Salt Mines. Photo credit :Christoph Oberschneider

After Graz in 2003 and Linz in 2009, the title of European Capital of Culture comes to Austria for the third time with Bad Ischl Salzkammergut. Bad Ischl, in collaboration with 22 other municipalities in Upper Austria and Styria, will collectively form a cultural region that reimagines itself through the intersection of art, culture, business, and tourism.

Culture is the New Salt

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Salzkammergut region boasts a diverse cultural history dating back 7,000 years to the salt mines of Hallstatt, which are the oldest in the world. Surrounded by salt, water and air, Salzkammergut has become a destination for many seeking wellness holidays, drawn to the region’s unique combination of mountains, lakes, forests, picturesque towns and natural hot springs. Bad Ischl continues to be popular as a spa and wellness destination as it offers a great diversity of spa facilities, numerous hiking paths and activities for active relaxation. The picturesque Salzkammergut is also known as Austria’s lake district as 76 bathing lakes are located within the region.

Bad Ischl Salzkammergut 2024 program will run from 20th January to 30th November 2024. Revolving around four core themes – POWER AND TRADITION, CULTURE IN MOTION, SHARING SALZKAMMERGUT – The Art of Travel, and GLOBALOCAL – Building the New, different events will showcase the region’s history, navigate cultural evolution, harness the potential of tourism, and develop strategies for sustainable growth and global collaboration.

Salzkammergut is envisioned to be a place of encounter and dialogue, promoting a foundation for an open civil and democratic society where cultural differences are supported for social coexistence. Of noteworthy mention is the GLOBALOCAL approach to tap on creative and culture aspects of the region to enrich the labour market and counteract the emigration of young Austrians who live in the rural countryside.

Covering aspects across mobility, digitalization, agriculture, and sustainability, the heart of the year-round programming aims to showcase the region’s wealth of traditional and contemporary art, extending across music and crafts to theater and literature.

Foodies can look forward to a revitalisation of the tavern culture and a unique culinary experience with renowned chefs, ambitious apprentices and artists. Tavern Lab is conceptualised by cooking collective Healthy Boy Band and agency to showcase traditional regional gastronomy alongside art and culture events in unique pop-up venues and will take place in February, April, June and September 2024.

From March 2024, train-lovers can ride the Regional Express rail route from Gmunden to Bad Aussee Salzkammergut for an acoustic and visually immersive experience. The Regional Express by Ella Raidel (Singapore), Marlene Rutzendorfer (A) and Petra Ardai (NL/HU) creates memories through a docu-fiction narrative of the cultural and natural heritage of the region. With an augmented reality app, passengers hear the conversations of the train, the mountain and the Traunsee mermaid, paired with real interviews with people from the region.

Bad Ischl Salzkammergut 2024 will feature over 180 projects that span the intersection of regional influences and international artists. With a focus on reflection, sustainability, and the future, Bad Ischl and its partnering municipalities are set to showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage while embracing the challenges and opportunities of the modern world.

Visitors to Salzkammergut should consider purchasing the KulturCard 2024 available at €49 from the tourist associations of the Salzkammergut and online. The card allows users to enjoy discounts of up to 50 % off admission to museums, concerts and exhibitions in the region, as well as to the various Capital of Culture events. The KulturCard also includes the SalzkammergutCard with numerous discounts on popular attractions, sights and leisure activities in the Salzkammergut.

For more information, please visit or refer to the programme booklet here.

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