BAD ISCHL AND THE LEHAR                                         FESTIVAL

The Imperial Spa Town of Bad Ischl
and the Lehar Operetta Festival

Independent and Escorted Holidays Available.
The Lehar Festival takes place in July / August.

Wonderful Music in the Stunning Lakes and Mountains of the Salzkammergut Region

The Salzkammergut region of Austria is an area of spectacular lakes and stunning  mountain scenery.    

At the heart of the Salzkammergut is the very beautiful Spa Town of Bad Ischl - the favourite summer resort of Emperor Franz Josef.  Franz Lehar, composer of The Merry Widow and many other wondeful operettas lived in Bad Ischl for more than 35 years.  The famous Lehar Operetta Festival is named in his honour.

Each summer professional operetta productions are staged, along with numerous free concerts of music by composers such as Strauss, Lehar, Kalman, Stolz, Zeller, Millocker and many more! 

Nearby is Lake Wolfgang (Wolfgangsee) and the famous White Horse Inn.  The historic and beautiful city of Salzburg - birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - is around one hour away.  The World Heritage lakeside village of Hallstatt is around 30 minutes from Bad Ischl.

Music and Culture in Bad Ischl

Bad Ischl is steeped in musical history.  Johann Strauss, Emmerich Kalman, Johannes Brahms, Oscar Straus, Anton Bruckner and Carl Michael Ziehrer were all frequent visitors to Bad Ischl and had villas here.  Franz Lehar lived here for more than 35 years.  Lehar's close friend, the world famous tenor Richard Tauber also lived here.

The Lehar Festival

The Lehar Festival takes place in July and August each year. Fully staged professional productions are held in the Kongresshaus, which is situated in the magnificent Kurpark.

The theatre benefits from state of the art technical facilities and a very comfortable auditorium following major refurbishment.

The productions are accompanied by the wonderful Franz Lehar Orchestra, a full strength concert orchestra that specialises in the authentic interpretation and performance of works by Lehar, Strauss, Kalman and their contemporaries.

Programme for July / August 2024

In July / August 2024 the programme will include:

  • Fully staged production of Der Bettelstudent / The Beggar Student Operetta with music by Carl Millocker. 
  • Fully staged production of Marchen im Grand Hotel / Fairytale at the Grand Hotel, spectaular and fast-paced Revue-Operetta by Pal Abraham.
  • Der Sternglucker / The Star Gazer Semi-staged concert version of and extremely rare operetta by Franz Lehar.
  • Various "fringe" events including free concerts by the Bad Ischl Kur Orchestra, Brass Band Concerts and more...
The Kur Orchestra

The Bad Ischl Kur Orchestra gives regular concerts free of charge featuring music from the Gold and Silver era of Operetta with music by Lehar, Strauss, Kalman and their contemporaries.

Concerts are held in the Bandstand in the Kurpark and in the Trinkhalle (the former pump room of the Spa).

The Trinkhalle

The Trinkhalle (Drinking Hall) is the former pump room of the Spa.  Today is houses the Tourist Information Office, a Gallery where regular exhibitions are displayed and a Concert Hall where recitals and concerts are regularly performed, many of them are free of charge or by voluntary donation.

The Bad Ischl Town Band, The Salt Miners Band,
The Lauffen Band

Brass and wind bands are extremely popular in Austria. Almost every town and village has their own band and the standard of playing is very high.

Bad Ischl has three local concert bands -The Town Band, The Salt Miners Band and The Lauffen Band.  All three bands perform regularly in the Kurpark, the Trinkhalle, the Esplanade and other locations around the town.

The nearby villages of Strobl, St Wolfgang and St Gilgen have their own bands which perform regular concerts.

The Kur Quartet

The Kur Quartet performs on most days of the week in various locations, such as the Bandstand in the Kur-Park, Café Zauner on the Esplanade, the Bad Ischl Town Museum and the garden of the Lehar Villa.

They play works from the Gold and Silver era of Operetta with music by Strauss, Lehar, Kalman and their contemporaries.

The Lehar Villa

The composer Franz Lehar lived in this villa with his wife on the esplanade of the River Traun for more than 35 years. Lehar said that he composed many of his best works whilst at his beloved villa in Bad Ischl.

On his death in 1948 Lehar bequeathed the villa, contents and furnishings to the town on the condition that they retain it as he left it and open it to the public as a museum.

Lehar was an avid collector of art and sculpture, his fascinating collections are displayed along with his personal belongings and memorabilia of many of his stage productions.

Nearby, just along the esplanade, is the former villa of Lehar's great friend, the world famous tenor, Richard Tauber.  The former villa of the composer Oscar Straus is adjacent to the Kurpark (neither of these are open to the public however).

The Bad Ischl Town Museum

The Town Museum is housed in the former Hotel Austria. The young Franz Josef first met and became engaged to his bride to be Elisabeth (Sisi) in the Hotel Austria in 1853.

The museum holds a fascinating collection outlining the history of the town with particular emphasis on the Imperial past, development of the Spa and details of the many artists, musicians and composers who were attracted to the town. There are many regular exhibitions of special interest held. 

There is an intimate Salon on the first floor where musical recitals and talks are regularly held.

Other Attractions in Bad Ischl

The Kaiser's Villa and Park, the Kurpark, The Spa and much more...

The Kaiser Villa and Park

The Emperor Franz Josef so loved Bad Ischl that he spent 81 of his 86 birthdays at his beloved Villa.

The villa is more of a palace and hunting lodge.  In the Emperor's study is the desk where he signed the untimatum that led to the declaration of World War I.

In the beautiful grounds of the villa is the Marble Castle, Empress Elisabeth's private retreat.  The house is now a museum of early photography.

The great, great grandson of Franz Josef and his family still live in the Villa.

The Villa, Park and Marble Castle is open to the public daily.

The Kurpark

The Kurpark is situated in the centre of the town.  The theatre and home of the Lehar Festival are in the centre of the Kurpark.  The modern Bandstand, which has excellent accoustics, is used for many outdoor concerts and events.

In the park can be found busts in memory of Franz Lehar and Emmerich Kalman.  The former villa of the composer Oscar Straus is on the edge of the park.

Many special events are held in the Kurpark, most notably the Kaiserfest which takes place on the 15th August each year in celebration of the birthday of Kaiser Franz Josef.

The Rivers Traun and Ischl, Esplanade and Gardens

Bad Ischl sits at the confluence of the River Ischl and the River Traun.  The Traun flows through the centre of town. Beautiful villas line the banks of the Traun, including the Lehar Villa.  At the end of the Esplanade are beautiful riverside gardens.

The most popular attraction on the Esplanade is Zauner's Esplanade Café. A visit here (or many visits) should not be missed!

The Katrin Mountain and Cable Car

The Katrin Mountain can be accessed by cable-car from Bad Ischl.  From the Katrin Alm 1400m above sea level there are stunning views of Bad Ischl and the surrounding area. 

From the restaurant at the Upper Station you can enjoy a meal with spectacular panoramic views.

Café Zauner, 
Café Ramsauer and the Goldener Ochs

Austria is famous for exquisite cakes, pastries, ice creams and confectionery served with superb coffee.

One of the greatest Cafés in Austria is Café Zauner in Bad Ishl - a family run business for over 175 years.  The brigade of top pastry chefs produce hundreds of irresitable cakes and pastries and specialities every day.

If you don't have a sweet tooth their savoury snacks and meals are equally superb.  There are two Cafés, one in the centre of town and the Esplanade Café with a large outdoor seating area on the riverside.

Café Ramsauer is one of the oldest Cafés in Bad Ischl.  Once very popular with famous clientele such as Johann Strauss, Robert Stolz and many more the walls are lined with photos and memorabilia from a bygone age.

The Hotel Goldener Ochs is very close to the Lehar Villa.  The original Stuberl where Lehar used to sit can still be visited today.

Restaurants and Dining

Bad Ischl has a superb choice of Cafés and restaurants to suit all tastes.  The Hotels Hubertushof and Goldenes Schiff have particularly good restaurants and are popular with locals and residents alike.

Café Zauner on the Esplanade serves excellent meals throughout the daytime and evening.  The Wienhaus Attwenger specialises in excellent steaks and Austrian specialities.  Other options include excellent pizzerias, international cuisine and lively bars serving Austrian dishes.



Bad Ischl has an excellent range of high quality shops.  Local specialities include traditional Austrian clothing of outstanding quality, leather goods, wood carvings, decorative glassware and many different arts and crafts.  

On Friday mornings there is a large market selling local produce and quality goods.

Kaiserfest 15th - 18th August

The birthday of Emperor Franz Josef is still celebrated in Bad Ischl every year. 

The celebrations begin with the Kaiserfest on 15th August.  The "Kaiser and Sisi" arrive by royal steam train with their entourage.  A welcoming procession takes place through the town ending at the Kurpark.  The Kaiser opens the Kaiserfest - a very popular day of celebrations with brass bands playing, plentiful food and drink (especially beer and sausages), side shows and stalls.

On 17th August the Kaiserbummel takes place.  A red carpet is laid throughout the town, as in the time of the Kaiser when he would visit all of the shops and businesses.  Each shop puts on a special display or event, with plenty of food and drink available.

On 18th August a mass is held in the Church followed by a long procession of military and civilian groups in authentic uniforms and costumes from the Kaiser's time. 

A Selection of Places to Visit Whilst Staying in Bad Ischl

For guests on Escorted Holidays we can arrange trips to many places of interest.  For guests on Independent Holidays we can arrange transport if desired.  Many places can be visited by public transport from Bad Ischl.  Here is a selection of some of our most popular places to visit.

Salzburg - City of Music

Salzburg can be reached from Bad Ischl in around one hour.  This beautiful city is dominated by the Fortress Hohensalzburg (accessible by funicular).  Salzburg is a city of opulent palaces, immaculate gardens, winding streets full of superb shops, ornate churches, excellent cafés and restaurants.  Rides on horse-drawn carriages through the cobbled streets are extremely popular.

Mozart's Birthplace Museum is on the world famous Getreidegasse.  The Salzburg Festival of Opera and Classical Music takes place in July and August.

Hellbrunn Palace and Water Gardens

Situated on the outskirts of Salzburg, Hellbrunn Palace was built as a pleasure palace by Archbishop Markus Sitticus.  He loved to entertain his guests with his opulent palace and amazing water gardens full of trick fountains, grottos and mechanical automata driven by water.

The Water Gardens and Palace are still extremely popular today.  Hellbrunn is also home to the world's oldest zoo.

Hallstatt Village and Lake

The Unesco World Heritage Lakeside Village of Hallstatt can be reached in about 30 minutes from Bad Ischl. Perhaps the most beautiful of all the lakeside villages in the Salzkammergut region.  A journey on the funicular railway takes you to the ancient Salt Mines.

Boat trips can be taken around Hallstatt lake giving fantastic views of the village from the lake.

At the southern end of the lake is the village of Obertraun.  From here it is possible to visit the Dachstein Ice Caves.


St Wolfgang,  The White Horse Inn and the Schafberg Railway

Situated on the shore of Lake Wolfgang, (Wolfgangsee), St Wolfgang is an exceptionally picturesque village of typically Austrian houses.  The church is especially worth a visit.

The world famous White Horse Inn overlooks the lake.  Now a luxury hotel, the Inn inspired the Musical / Operetta of the same name with music by Ralph Benatzky and Robert Stolz.

Concerts are regularly given in St Wolfgang, including the famous Operetta Evenings.

Boat trips can be taken to other villages around the lake including St Gilgen and Strobl.  The fleet includes original steamers dating from the 1870s.

The Schafberg Mountain Railway can be taken from the lakeside station to the summit of the Schafberg mountain. Steam and diesel locomotives wind their way up the mountainside on the rack and pinion track (cog railway). Refreshments can be taken in the hotel / restaurant at the summit while marvelling at the stunning views over the Salzkammergut lakes.

St Gilgen and Strobl

Situated on the shore of Lake Wolfgang, St. Gilgen and Strobl are exceptionally picturesque villages with ornately decorated buildings decked with flowers.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's mother's family hailed from St. Gilgen.  His mother and sister, Nannerl, remained at home in St Gilgen while the young composer travelled Europe with his father, Leopold.  The house where they lived is now a museum dedicated to the Mozart family.

St Gilgen is also home to a wonderful museum of musical instruments from around the world.  The private collection is family owned.  The English-speaking curator enthusiastically delights in demonstrating many of the instruments to visitors of all ages.

Concerts are regularly held in St Gilgen and Strobl.  Both villages have a selection of high quality shops, cafés and restaurants, and both can be visited by boat.

Lake Traunsee, Traunkirchen and Gmunden

Lake Traunsee is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Salzkammergut region.  The small village of Traunkirchen has a lovely church on a promontory jutting into the lake.  From here a boat can be taken to the delightful town of Gmunden, with beautiful buildings, elegant shops and numerous cafés and restaurants. A walk along the lakeside promenade bring you to Schloss Ort, a castle dating back to 1080 that was used as a setting for a long running Austrian soap opera.  Today the castle is used for special events and concerts.

Our Specially Selected Hotels in Bad Ischl

Personally inspected for high quality standards and a warm welcome.

Hotel Goldenes Schiff (4*)

The Goldenes Schiff is a stylish family-run hotel located right in the centre of town, just 5 minutes walk from the Theatre and Kurpark.  The Hotel overlooks the River Traun.  The Lehar Villa is on the opposite bank.

The owners and staff are extremely welcoming and helpful and will do all they can to make sure that you enjoy your stay.

The spacious, modern bedrooms and bathrooms have recently been refurbished to a very high standard.

There is a range of room types available. Facilities include free WiFi; safe; HD-TV; telephone; desk; mini-bar; hair dryer. Some rooms have river views.


An extensive buffet breakfast is served.

The Restaurant specialises in traditional Austrian and International dishes. Guests may also dine on the riverside terrace.

The Thermal Spa is just two minutes away on foot.


Hotel Hubertushof (4*)

The Hotel Hubertushof is situated adjacent to the entrance to the Kaiser Villa at the edge of the town centre with a backdrop of the River Ischl and beautiful mountains. The theatre and Kurpark is about 10 minutes walk away.

The hotel is presented in very traditional Austrian style, delightful carved decorative woodwork throughout the bedrooms and public areas.

The bedrooms are very well appointed to a high standard.  Several have balconies or verandas.  Most rooms have showers rather than bathtubs.

The restaurant and coffee shop is very popular with residents and locals.  They specialise in traditional Austrian dishes.

An extensive buffet breakfast is served each morning.

On fine days guests can dine in the garden at the rear of the hotel.

There is a small heated indoor pool, sauna and fitness area.

Our Holiday Package - What is included?

Whether you prefer to travel independently or to join one of our escorted holidays each package is individually tailored to your own requirements and preferences.  

Escorted Holidays
July / August 2024

  • Selected dates in July / August 2024.
  • Length of stay to suit you.  A minimum stay of 5 nights stay recommended.  7 - 10 nights is more usual as there are so many wonderful places to visit.
  • You will be personally met at the airport or railway station on arrival and transported in comfort to your accommodation.
  • We will book your accommodation for you, either in one of our selected hotels (see above) or another accommodation type of your choosing.
  • We will carefully select and book the best available tickets to all performances and concerts for you.  For Summer 2024 the performances at the Lehar Festival are:
    Fully staged production of Der Bettelstudent / The Beggar Student Operetta with music by Carl Millocker.

    Fully staged production of Marchen im Grand Hotel / Fairytale in the Grand Hotel  a fast-paced and sectaular Revue-Operetta by Pal Abraham.

    Der Sterngucker / The Star Gazer Operetta by Franz Lehar Semi-staged concert version of Franz Lehar's rarely performed Operetta dating from 1916.

     Various "fringe" events including free concerts by the                Bad Ischl Kur Orchestra, Brass Band Concerts and                more... 

  • We can also book tickets and arrange transport to other concerts and events in the area.
  • Background information and synopses provided for your chosen Opera / Operetta performances.
  • You are invited to join us for pre-performance drinks while we outline the synopsis of the opera / operetta for you.
  • We offer a range of excursions and visits to places of interest.
  • We are personally on hand to assist you during your stay.
  • It is possible  to combine your holiday with other destinations to create a two or three centre holiday if desired. Transport between destinations is arranged for you.

Independent Holidays
Available at any time of year
(The Lehar Festival takes place only in July / August)

  • Dates of arrival, departure and length of stay to suit you (subject to availability).
  • We will book your accommodation, either in one of our selected hotels (see above) or another accommodation type if desired.
  • We book all tickets to any performances and concerts of your choice. We can supply details of all concerts and performances.
  • We provide background information and synopses for Opera / Operetta performances.
  • We arrange transport including airport transfers and transport to performances, where required.
  • We can book excursions and other visits to places of interest as desired.
  • It is possible to combine your holiday with other destinations to make a two / three centre holiday if desired.  Transport between destinations is arranged for you.

Holiday Prices
As all of our holidays are tailor-made to your own requirements your holiday price will be calculated according to your chosen options.  As a rough guide, an Escorted Holiday to Bad Ischl staying 7 nights with private airport transfers and two performances of your choice would cost from around £ 995.00 per person, based on two people sharing a standard double/twin room.

All quotations are offered entirely without any obligation on your part.

Flights and European Rail Travel
In order to give you maximum flexibility, we do not include flights in our holiday packages.  Flights may be booked separately with our Flights Agent, or you can book or arrange your own flights if you prefer.

If you prefer not to fly, we can book European rail travel for you.

All quotations are offered entirely without any obligation on your part.

Contact Us for more information.

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