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News: Mozart madness

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Recent visitors will have found much of the city under wraps as preparations and renovations are made for the coming year. From mid-February, special "Best of Mozart" concerts will be staged in the main concert hall of the Mozarteum Academy. Prices for reasonable seats cost around €35 (£25).

The concerts will run for 30 weekends during the Mozart Year, and you are promised "the loveliest melodies from Mozart's best-known divertimenti and symphonies as well as overtures and arias from his most popular operas". Tickets from Salzburg Ticket (00 43 662 84 03 10; www.salzburgticket.com).

No concerts are planned for the second half of July nor all of August, presumably because the city will be heaving with visitors during those six weeks. However, some excellent tourist attractions will be open all through the year. The Mozart Museum, admission €6 (£4.50), will feature music-inspired light installations. The Viva! Mozart exhibition opens on 27 January, the anniversary itself, in a Renaissance palace. It will use multimedia effects to explore the composer's work. Admission will be €8 (£5.75).

You need not worry too much about prices in the city being inflated to cash in on the event. The local tourist board, Tourismus Salzburg (00 43 662 889870; www.salzburg.info) is promoting two-night weekend packages in a five-star hotel from €229 (£164). The deal includes breakfast, tickets to a Best of Mozart concert and a 48-hour Salzburg Card (covering entry to, among others, the Viva! Mozart exhibition).

This price does not include air fares, but you can fly direct from four English cities aboard one of three low-cost airlines.

Ryanair (0906 270 5656; www.ryanair.com) flies to Salzburg from Stansted; SkyEurope (020-7365 0365; www.skyeurope.com) flies from Manchester; and Flybe (0871 700 0123; www.flybe.com) flies from Birmingham and Southampton.

In Vienna the highlight of the celebration will be the opening of the refurbished Mozarthaus at Domgasse 5 - the only one of the composer's dozen residences in the city that still stands. It too is due to re-open on 27 January, Mozart's 250th birthday. In a bid to trump Salzburg, Vienna's mayor asserts that Mozart's decade in the capital represented "the high point of his creativity". A good source of events news is www.mozart2006.net.