There are many opportunities to attend lectures, musical demonstrations, and concerts throughout the city during the Festival. Unfortunately all of the lectures and demonstrations take place on each day of the opera from 10:30 to noon, forcing one to select from very attractive alternatives.
The New York Wagner Society sponsors English-language lectures – usually the final cycle of the season.
Arvena Kongress Hotel – Lecturer and dates to be announced. €12
Stefan Mickisch Einführungsvorträge (in German)
Evangelisches Gemeindehaus, Richard-Wagner Str 24. €12.
Mickisch has quite a following for his German-language piano demonstrations and his own transcriptions of Wagner’s operas. Arrive at least 30 minutes before the demonstration for a good seat. One need not know German to appreciate his performances. His CDs are available for sale.
Behind the scenes talks by Dr. Sven Friedrich – Curator of Wahnfried, The Liszt Museum, the Jean Paul Museum & Wagner Archives (in German) Festspielehaus Chorus Rehearsal Room 10:30 a.m.
New for 2011 – Dr. Freidrich will probe into more than plot and history of each opera – He will give the attendees detailed explanation of the production and set design. This just started in 2011 in order to assist viewers in gaining deeper understanding of the complex productions now staged in Bayreuth – GERMAN ONLY. One WSNC Member attended in 2011 and found it helpful.
Check the internet calendar or pick up brochures at the Tourist Bureau for concerts at various venues around the city.
The Young Artists Festival has numerous events; check their calendar. They always have an orchestral concert at the Stadthalle on August 28.
Also look for announcements of concerts at Villa Wahnfried, Jean-Paul Museum, Markgräfliches Opernhaus, and various churches throughout town. Various book stores, particularly those in the pedestrian zone, sponsor artist-signing times throughout the Festival, not all of which are advertised in the official calendar.
There is usually one concert scheduled at the Markgräfliches Opernhaus on an “off” Festspiel night. Purchase tickets well in advance at the box office in the Neues Rathaus.
What to do in Bayreuth
One can easily keep occupied right in Bayreuth for the length of the Festival, taking advantage of the many concerts, lectures, and local sites. What one does is predicated upon just how deeply one wants to become immersed in the Festival Experience. Difficult as it seems to believe at times, Wagner was not the only famous person who lived in Bayreuth. The Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth got here first and left his mark. Prices are current for 2006.
€11.50 – price not verified as of 2011
Three-day pass which covers public transportation, a city tour, and free entry into nine museums (Historisches Museum, Richard-Wagner-Museum at Haus Wahnfried (in 2011 Haus Wahnfried closed for renovations and is due to re-open in 2013), Jean-Paul-Museum, Franz-Liszt-Museum, Masonic Museum, Fayence Museum, Maisel Beer Museum, Urwelt Museum in Oberfranken, and Art Museum). A steal of a deal and worth every pfennig.
Margravine Wilhelmine Palaces Combination Ticket
Neue Schloss, Opera House, Eremitage, Sanpareil, Zwernietz Castle, Garden Museum Fantasie Palace.
Guided City Walk
Daily 10:30. Departs Reisebüro Bayreuth, Luitpoldplatz 9
Audio Tour of Bayreuth – new 2011
Enjoy an entertaining walkingtour of Bayreuth. Markgravine Wilhelmine of Bayreuth and the famous composer Richard Wagner will share fascinating information and their own personal experience with you, ensuring you a truly extraordinary visit to Bayreuth.
The rental-fee for this electronic guide is 8,00 € for 3 hours.
Please bring Your ID Card as a security deposit.
Bayreuth Tourist Information Office – Opernstrasse 22
Festival Theatre – Tours
Festspielhügel 1 – 2
Tel: +49 (0) 9 21/7 87 80
In the Festival Theatre on the Green Hill the world famous Richard Wagner Opera Festival is held every year in summer. The Festival Theatre – unique in architecture and acoustics – ranks among the world’s greatest opera houses.
December – April: 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
September, October: 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
closed on Mondays, during rehearsals and in november
during the Festival (end July and August) only if festival activities permit
adults: 5,00 €
groups (min. 12 persons): 4,00 €
Richard-Wagner-Museum in Haus Wahnfried (closed from 2011 to reopen in 2013)
Should top any list of visits. Musical performances are scheduled in the main hall. And don’t overlook Wager’s simple grave in the back garden, usually overflowing with floral tributes during the summer. Wagner’s dog Russ is also buried here.
Liszt’s house right next door to Wahnfried where he spent his last years and died.
Tours begin at 9:15 and run through the day. You will see what Wagner was objecting to in theater design and audience deportment. Depsite those objections, the baroque theater is fabulous. The “sound and light show” is only in German, but you can pretty much get the idea and it is the only way to visit the venue. Also see “concerts” above.
Historic Churches in town
Stadtkirche, Schlosskirche, etc. Pick up brochure at Information center.
Stadtfriedhof at Gottesackerkirche
City Cemetery (1779) where Liszt, Winifred, and Siegfried Wagner are buried.
Museum “Das Bayreuth der Markgräfin Wilhelmine” im Neuen Schloss
Town palace of Margrave Friedrich and Prussian Princess Wilhelmine (1753).
British American Tobacco’s Historical Collection
Altes Rathaus, Maximilianstr. 33
Tel: +49 (0) 9 21/7 64 53 10,
Fax: +49 (0) 9 21/7 64 53 20
The British American Tobacco’s Historial Collection is located in the former city hall
Tue. – Sun.: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
July/August: daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Museum of Fine Arts (20th century works). This year’s exhibit displays works by Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, and Karl Hubbuch.
Museum of the town of Bayreuth. This year’s exhibit, Sommer in Bayreuth vor 100 Jahren, is an overview of Bayreuth in August, one hundred years ago.
19th century German writer and poet.
Deutsches Freimaurer Museum
History of Freemasons in Germany. Surprisingly interesting and quirky museum in a 19th C. building that is still used as a Masonic Temple. The staff is efficient and helpful.
Sammlung Fayence Museum
Bayreuth porcelain, in ante-room of Neue Schloss.
Memorial museum to Wilhelm Leuschner, trade union leader and resister to the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 40s.
Maisel’s Brauerei-und Buttnerimuseum
Kulmbacher Straße 40
The most extensive brewery museum in the world (Good beer!).
For the Luddites in us, there is the
Schreibmaschinemusuem (Typewriter Musuem!)
Bernecker Straße 11 (entrance Inselstraße), an appointment must be made ahead of the visit; call Herr Hans Gebhardt at 0921/23445 or 0921/31879.
Complete list and more information on the Bayreuth Museums can be found at the following website:
The streets behind the Festspielhaus
This area was a post-war planned development, and most of the streets are named for Wagner operas, characters, and key people in his life. It must be quite a treat to tell people that you are staying on Wotanstraße.
And, as they say, many more too numerous (or specialized) to list.
A Bus Ride Away
- Kurpromenade 5 Telephone: 0921/792400
- Bus #3 (Seublitz) to Lohengrin-Therme, 17-minute ride, every 20 minutes.
- Wonderful spa, with a collection of pools, saunas, and wellness center. One can spend a full day here, but if you want a specific combination of treatments, call for reservations as they book up in the morning. No reservations needed for the pools or saunas. 9:30-21:45
- Altes Schloss Entrance fee 4,50 €
- Bus #2 (Eremmitenhof) right to the entrance, Eremitage; or #3 (Seulbitz) to Eremmitenhof stop at the south parking lot. 15 minute ride, every 20 minutes. Both buses return from the Eremitage lane entrance.
- Margravine’s Summer Palace (1715-35), Inner Grotto, Park, and New Palace Sun Temple; Restaurants(€3)
- Bambergerstraße 3, Eckersdorf/Donndorf 5 km west of Bayreuth.
- Local bus #5d; Regional buses 8231, 8446, 8449.
- Rococo palace built for Margravine Wilhelmine’s daughter, Elisabeth Friederike Sophie. Garden Museum is an overview of the history of landscape gardening in Germany.
- Bus from Bayreuth to Wonsees.
- Sanpareil Rock Garden and Oriental Builidng (1744), Haus Nr 29 – Baroque garden art.
- Zwernitz Castle (1156; 1338-1810) belonged to Hohenzollern family.
Excursions from Bayreuth
Heretical as it may sound to some, there comes a time when you might need to break out of the Wagner intensity and into the very beautiful Bavarian Countryside. The German train system makes this very easy for most sites. Check here for schedules. Others, however, really require renting a car or hiring a driver.
- Rudi Schroeder, a personal friend of a WSNC member, drives and provides pickup service at Nurmberg and also gives day tours to Prague and closer sites. His two taxibus vehicles seat six each. Email. Telephone 0171-77-22333. Fax 0921-6-9099.
- 22 km NW of Bayreuth. Trains every 30 minutes; 30 minute trip. Also via bus #8354 from Bayreuth to Kulmbach Busbanhof. About 20 minutes by car through beautiful countryside.
- More beer is produced here per capita than anywhere else in Germany.
- Plassenburg Fortress (1560-70): in the Hohenzollern family since 1340; Schöner Hof, arcaded courtyard of German Renaissance style.
- Deutsches Zinnfiguren Museum: German pewter figures; huge dioramas of hundreds of battles.
- Landschafts Museum Obermain: Museum of Upper Main Region, archeology of the area of Kulmbach.
- Deutsches Dampf Lokomotiv Museum (German Steam Train Engine Museum) is celebrating its 30th anniversary!.
- Trains hourly (some with no change at Lichtenfels); hour trip via train; 50 minutes via car. Cross the river and park on the “Old Town” side in a car park.
- UNESCO World Heritage Site. Established in 902 AD and became a Medieval ecclesiastical center. Not damaged during WWII. Highly recommended, easy day-trip; wonderful town to wander aimlessly in. Ask for a very good, self-guided walking tour map at the Bamberg Bahnhof. Rauchbier (smoked beer) is a favorite local brew.
- Domplatz: Fine late Romanesque/early Gothic Cathedral with double apse; Bishop’s Palace and Neue Residenz (museums).
- Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael (1121) and Ristorante Francesco, a delightful restaurant overlooking the city.
- Old City: Charming pedestrian areas and squares , particularly Grüner Markt and St. Gangolf’s (1400) for afternoon beer or ice cream.
- Klein-Venedig (Little Venice) is a center for occasional festivals, general merriment, and river boat trips.
- E.T.A Hoffman House, Schlillerplatz 26.
- Trains hourly via Lichtenfels (RE and RB), 75-110 minute trip.
- On the River Itz; former residence of the Wettin family.
- Veste Coburg dominates the town, one of the largest fortresses in Germany (11th C; remodeled 16-17th Centuries). Refuge to Martin Luther in 1530. Now the art museum of the city.
- St. Maurice Kirche (late Gothic) and Schloss Ehrenburg remodeled after fire of 1693 in Neo-Gothic style.
- Direct trains hourly (IC & RE), 40-60 minute trip.
- Nürnberg has a weekend unlimited transit card for families. (€ 3,60)
- Medieval trading center for goods moving between Black Sea, Hanseatic Cities, Venice, and the east. Its 20th Century history was less illustrious. However, Nürnberg is a wonderful place to visit and even spend time before and/or after the Wagnerfest or an overnight on a night off from the opera. It takes several days (or multiple visits) to do justice to the history and art this city provides. Amazingly restored following massive WWII destruction.
- Southern town (Lorenzer Seite)—Marthakirche (14th C; Meistersinger);
- St. Lorenz-Kirche (1270).
- Town Center—Heilig-Geist Spital (1332), Hauptmarkt, Frauenkirche 1352), Rathaus (1332; 1616), Kirche St. Sebaldus (1230).
- Upper Town—Albrecht Dürer Haus (1509-28), Kaiserburg (1040; 12th C) – wonderful vistas, great castle; Egidienkirche (1696).
- Germanisches Nationalmuseum, across from Hauptbahnhof: Wagner’s autograph score of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is on display here; the museum is also one of Germany’s principal museums, strong in German medieval & Renaissance art.
- Fembo House, 15 Burgstraße: Nürnberg City Museum in a town mansion; portrait of Hans Sachs; medieval town model.
- Hans Sachs-inspired “Ehekarussel Brunnen,” Ludwig Platz by White Tower Fountain with six interpretations of marriage.
- Justizgebäude (War Trials), Fürtherstraße 110, several blocks west of the Bahnhof.
- Nazi Party Conference Rally Site, now a fabulous museum; complete with a photograph of Winifred in Hitler’s balcony at the First Party Rally (Tram #9 from Bahnhof to “Doku-Zentrum”; 9 minute ride).
- Trains frequently; direct (2 hrs) or via Nürmberg (2¼ hours or with an additional ½ hour).
- UNESCO World Heritage Site. Center for art, architecture, and wine.
- Residenz Schönborn (Balthazar Neumann, 1720-44). Prince-bishops Johann Phillipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schönborn. One of the best examples of German Rococo; stairhall decorated by Tiepolo; Room of mirrors.
- Dom St. Kilian (1045-1188), Germany’s fourth largest Romanesque church.
- Bürgerspital (founded 1319) and Juliusspital (176; remodeled 17-18th C).
- Festung Marienberg (founded 707; 13th C), Museum of the city of Würzburg.
- Rathaus (13th C; expanded 15-16th C).
- Alte Mainbrücke (1473-1543), oldest bridge over the Main.
- Guided city Tour in English 11:00 daily (except Mon.).
Touring By Car
- Tuechersfeld A picturesquel village of timbered houses, built into and around strange, cone-shaped rocks.
- Pottenstein Castle Close to Teuchersfeld.
- Teufelshöhle “Devil’s Cave”, a series of interesting limestone caverns (south of Pottenstein)
- Goessweinstein Famous for its beautiful pilgrimage church built by rococo master builder, Balthazar Neumann.
Luisenburg Another nice trip northeast of Bayreuth
- Pilgrimage Church of Fourteen Saints (Balthazar Neumann, 1741-72), one of the most famous masterpieces of South German Baroque, with Rococo furnishings. 2011 – two WSNC members made the trek – it is a little far but worth the effort! Along the route you will see many devotional stops along the way – used by the pilgrims on their way to Vierzehnheilignen.
- Waldsassen Basilica (1682) and Cistercian Monastery Library (1726).
- Near Waldsassen. Pilgrimage church built by Georg Dientzenhofer.
- Drive through the beautiful Bavarian Woods; both towns are on the Danube. Near Regensburg is Walhalla, a famous temple-like structure modeled after the Parthenon in Athens with a rogue’s gallery of busts of prominent German personalities.
Passau has much of its old city still intact from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Frequent trains, but the trip requires careful timing to catch the fast trains (2¼ hrs); others can take up to 4 hours. The main tourist attraction along the “Romantische Straße”. Walled city granted Free-Town status by the Holy Roman Empire in 1274; little has changed since, with its well-preserved walls and towers.
- Reichstadmuseum: Former Dominican Abbey (Rothenburger Passion).
- St. Jakobs Kirche (1373-1464).
- Mittelalterliches Museum (torture instruments).
- Rathaus (14th C).
- There is a walking tour with the Town Crier; daily 13:55, meet at Markt.
- Frequent trains, but the trip entails multiple transfers and takes between 3½ to 5 hours each way. It’s best by car.
- City of humanistic traditions: Cranach, Bach, Wieland, Schiller, Herder, Goethe, Liszt, Nietzsche, Gropius, Kandinsky, Klee, Bauhaus, et al. Current center for architecture, music, and medicine.
- Herderkirche (1500): Cranach altarpiece.
- Schlossmuseum: Cranach, Dürer, etc. Former residence of the Elector of the Duchy of Saxony-Weimar.
- Neues Museum Weimar: Contemporary and modern art.
- Historischer Friedhof (Historical Cemetery): tombs of Goethe and Schiller.
- Cranach Haus (1550s).
- Bauhaus Museum.
- Goethe and Schillermuseum. The great baroque library suffered terrible fire damage 2005.
- Liszt Haus and the Altenburg
- Buchenwald Memorial and Museum: 7 km NW of Weimar; Bus #6 via Goetheplatz & Weimar Hofbahn, every 40 min.