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What the audience says: why Savonlinna has one of Europe’s best opera festivals

Ever since renowned Finnish soprano Aino Ackté turned her dream into reality and launched the Savonlinna Opera Festival way back in 1912, the event has provoked a vast range of emotions amongst its visitors. Once inside Olavinlinna, the world’s northernmost medieval castle still standing, it’s easy to understand why. Its vast walls and towering battlements sit guard over the Finnish lakeland, making a huge impression.

Countless operas have been performed in this uniquely dramatic location to 70 000 plus people annually. To find out for yourself whether Savonlinna has one of Europe’s best opera festivals, here’s what people from around the world said about their experience in our recent research.

Lakeside location has much to love

Savonlinna Opera Festival’s spectacular combination of natural beauty and historic charm will pass no visitor unnoticed. If Europe’s best opera festival were chosen based on location only, Savonlinna Opera Festival would be near impossible to beat.

“The Savonlinna Opera Festival is the best. The location is perfect, in the middle of the lake district and in the old castle. That’s why the atmosphere there is beautiful.”

“The place is fantastic, colours are beautiful. The environment enhances the beauty of the performances. The colours and the lights of nature are just overwhelming.”

“The connection with the historic site creates a truly magical atmosphere! Everything is wonderful – the venue, the organization of the festival.”

“The best performance ever – dramatic setting, dramatic and effective costuming, interval drinks on the ramparts – amazing!”

World-class performances and awe-inspiring acoustics

Many visitors also pointed out Savonlinna Opera Festival’s exceptional artistic standards, which enable us to attract high profile guest soloists year after year. International visiting artists in 2022 included Ludovic Tézier and Matthew Polenzani, while the 2023 festival will boast appearances by Lisette Oropesa and Frédéric Antoun – complemented by Finland’s top opera talents and rising stars.

“The programme is always very varied and the performance is of very high quality. The closeness between the artists and the audience is also very good.”

“In my opinion, the castle is perfect for dramatic opéras like Verdi, Bellini or some Donizetti with great voices.”

“The festival is world class and has never let us down.”

“It combines high quality opera with an unforgettable summer experience.”

Europe’s best opera festival welcomes all

While many of the best opera festivals in Europe have a strict, formal dress code, the Savonlinna Opera Festival allows each visitor to express their own style. This makes it an informal yet still festive summer event, which welcomes everyone with open arms. When unencumbered by high heels and stiff suits, it’s also much easier to combine an evening at the opera with a walk to Savonlinna’s famous marketplace or beautiful islands.

“What we like most is that there is a very normal audience there. Everyone is welcome at the Opera Festival, not just rich people. And you can feel that throughout the whole time.”

“I love the festival because of the repertoire, the performers and the wonderful Lakeland settings. I love the town because of the marketplace, the Casino Island and the blackberries.”

“A visit to the Savonlinna Opera Festival is a very emotional experience that one likes to remember for a long time.”

The Savonlinna Opera Festival is much-loved for a wide variety of reasons, from the quality of the performances to the awe-inspiring ambience, magnificent setting and friendly vibe. Just like many of our visitors, we believe this combination makes it one of Europe’s best opera festivals. But rather than take our word for it, why not book your tickets for the 2023 Savonlinna Opera Festival now. We promise you a night of magic and music you’ll never forget.