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As the classic Salzburg-set musical reaches 50, this spectacular part of Austria is gearing up an influx of UK visitors.
It’s been 50 years since The Sound of Music first came out in cinemas, kick-starting a global obsession with the stunning Salzburg scenery. Little Gretl and Marta von Trapp are no longer cherub-faced children learning their do-re-mis, and Liesl is 16 going on 66.
Yet year after year tourists still flock to the Austrian city to find out if the hills really are alive with the sound of music. “It is a beautiful story of a family brought together through music and love. The hurdles they have to overcome still resonates with audiences today,” explained Gerhard Leskovar, head of marketing for the Salzburgerland region of Austria.
“We find that many visitors come to Salzburg from all over the world to discover more about the land behind the musical and to relive the von Trapp’s extraordinary story.”
Between January and October 2014, 140,000 Brits visited Salzburg, and Leskovar anticipates “a marked increase” in 2015 to celebrate the anniversary.
Salzburg’s tourism industry has done a fantastic job of keeping the five-time Oscar-winning film’s memory alive. Visitors “can climb ev’ry” mountain on a range of tours – these include daily bike tours between May and September, walking tours with singing guides and coach tours around the film locations. Puppet shows and dinner shows are also on offer. Visitors can watch the musical itself at Salzburg State Theatre, with English language performances available on selected dates.
A special gala event will be held on October 17 at the Felsenreitschule, with the Mozarteum Orchestra performing songs from the musical and special guest appearances.
Clients who want to find out the true story behind the musical should visit the Appearance, Reality and the Third Reich exhibition at the von Trapp’s family home, Villa Trapp. The exhibition dispels the myths of the Hollywood version of events and explains why Captain von Trapp resisted joining the Nazis.
Fans can mark the anniversary afloat with Titan’s special anniversary package. Guests on the Enchanting Danube river cruise will be treated to performances from Elisabeth von Trapp, the real-life granddaughter of Maria and Baron von Trapp, on selected departures from May until September. Edwina Coppock, agency sales manager at Titan, told me the anniversary has led to “even greater demand for summer bookings”.
Meanwhile Sarah Black, marketing executive for Osprey Holidays, says she hopes that the anniversary will help draw attention to Salzburg’s other tourist attractions, such as Mozart’s birthplace and the Salzburg Festival of music and drama (July 18-August 30). “It should increase the overall awareness of what the city has to offer as a great short-haul destination for years to come,” she said.