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The small town of Bayreuth, pronounced "bye-roit," owes its fame to the music giant Richard Wagner (1813–83). The 19th-century composer, musical revolutionary, ultranationalist, and Nazi poster child finally settled here after a lifetime of rootless shifting through Europe. Here he built his great theater, the Festspielhaus, as a suitable setting for his grand operas on Germanic mythological themes. The annual Wagner Festival dates to 1876, and brings droves of Wagner fans who push prices sky-high, fill hotels to bursting, and earn themselves much-sought-after social kudos in the process. The festival is held from late July until late August, so unless you plan to visit the town specifically for it, this is the time to stay away.


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