Festival for Contemporary Circus in Salzburg, Austria

The Winterfest  is the biggest festival for contemporary circus art in the German-speaking area. Since 2001 it takes place at Salzburg Volksgarten during Advent season.

For over 100 years, Volksgarten was a place of fun and encounter. It was the vision of Winterfest founder Georg Daxner to revitalize this place with Winterfest. Since then, every year internationally renowned circus companies are invited to present their latest productions there.

The philosophy behind Winterfest is simple: To give people in the hectic time around Christmas some peace and leisure for an evening among friends. To let them listen to magical stories together, marvel at breathtaking acrobatics and laugh at bizarre circus.

Every year Winterfest brings an extraordinary world to the Salzburg Volksgarten. A world full of captivating acrobatics, quiet poetry and bizarre humor.



Georg Daxner, founder of Winterfest

20 years ago, a snowed-up car was the only thing to be seen in Salzburg’s Volksgarten. A lonely cyclist there gave Georg Daxner the idea to revive this place with art and pleasure. Winterfest is the vision made real of an extraordinary man who never gave up dreaming.

He had his first encounter with Cirque Nouveau at the Danube Festival in Krems with Que-Cir-Que. He was so moved that he simply had to take contemporary circus to Salzburg – at his own financial risk, with all the consequences that entailed.  Since then, the festival has become an integral part of Salzburg’s cultural scene.

On October 11, 2014, he had a fatal accident during a mountain tour on Salzburg’s Untersberg. Georg Daxner took on many roles in his life, but one constant in his work always represented the following principle: To make art possible – combined with the courage to fail.

“Art is only legitimate if it touches in the long term, if it makes happy, sad or dismayed. For art is what remains.”


2001 – Le Cirque Invisible
2002 – Le Cirque Invisible, The Tiger Lillies and Salzburg Comedian Harmonists
2003 – Das Lächeln am Fuße der Leiter
2004 – Cirque Lili and Le Jardin
2005 – Le Cirque Désaccordé, Le Jardin and Der kleine Prinz
2006 – Compagnie Zanzibar and Cirque Ici
2007 – La Famiglia Dimitri
2008 – Cirque XY and Cirque Rasposo
2009 – Compagnie Hors Pistes, Cirque Trottola and SAWAZI (Salzburger Waldorfzirkus)
2010 – The Tiger Lillies Freakshow, National Circus School Montreal, Cie Akoreacro, Cirque Aïtal, Escarlata Circus and the Spiegelzelt
2011 – The 7 Fingers, Cirque Rasposo, L’Atelier Lefeuvre & André, Le Boustrophédon
2012 Cie Le Cubitus du Manchot, Cirque inextrémiste, Théâtre d’un jour, Cie Circ’ombelico
2013 – The 7 Fingers, David Dimitri, Forman Brothers and the Spiegelzelt
2014 – Cie Akoreacro, Cirque Trottola & Petit Théâtre Baraque, ymedioteatro, Cirque Aïtal and the Spiegelzelt
2015 – Cirque Le Roux, Magmanus, Les Rois Vagabonds, Bêtes de Foire, MOTA and the Spiegelzelt
2016Cirque Alfonse, Gravity & Other Myths, Cie Sacékripa, Young Artists, MOTA and the Circusfoyer
2017 Flip FabriQue, Cie XY, Claudio Stellato,  Compagnia Baccalà, in_tensegrity, Ralph Öllinger und Ariane & Roxana, MOTA and the Circusfoyer
2018   Groupe Acrobatique de Tanger, Circa Tsuica, Post Uit Hessdalen, Machine de Cirque, Stefan Sing, Sebastian Berger, Arne Mannott, Elina Lautamäki and the Circusfoyer
2019 Cirque Alfonse, Cie Akoreacro, Thom Monckton, Circa, still hungry, Kaleidoskop (Maja Karolina Franke & Ralph Öllinger, Darragh McLoughlin, Paul-Emmanuel Chevalley) und das Circusfoyer
2020 – Events cancelled due to Covid19
2021 Gravity & Other Myths, Wakouwa Teatro, Cirque Barcode, Circoncentrique, Jos Houben, Open Air CIRCUS


It is our „green vision“ to organize Winterfest according to the principles of environmental compatibility and sustainability. With our activities we want to contribute to a world where people deal responsibly with our ecosystem and our natural and human resources. We intend to undertake measures that contribute to the protection of our environment and climate.

Since 2017, we heat the tents of the Winterfest by district heating, supported by the Land Salzburg and the Salzburg AG and in accordance with the climate and energy strategy Salzburg 2050. Therefore, we are able to reduce local air pollutant emissions and several tons of CO2.

In our planning phase, we already integrate multiple measures to preserve the environment and shape the Winterfest as a green event.

Our measures:

  • Promotion of a climate-friendly mobility
  • Seasonal, regional and organic food
  • Use of reusable tableware, glasses and cups
  • Purchase of beverages in deposit bottles
  • Use of big bags instead of single portion bags
  • Ecologically worthwhile waste separation and collection
  • Avoidance of single use decoration and single use giveaways
  • Economical use of resources and renewable energies
  • Accessibility