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Saengerfest, a holiday-inspired choral tradition that dates back to 1849, was held over the weekend (Dec. 1-2) at six locations in Over-the-Rhine. / Image: Adam and Keli Photography 

Did You Know The First-Ever Saengerfest Took Place In Cincinnati In 1849?

In case you’re not familiar, Cincinnati is the birthplace of Saengerfest. “Wait, what’s Saengerfest?” you ask.

Well, it’s a German tradition which celebrates choral singing groups (aka “Saengerbunds”). The first one was held in Cincinnati in 1849, bringing together choirs from the Tri-state, including folks from Indy and Louisville.

The annual singing festival became so large that an 1879 New York Times article cited the event as “worthy of comparison with the Mardisgras of Southern Cities.” That’s pretty impressive.

For better or for worse, however, the introduction of the May Festival in 1873 started to take away from Saengerfest, causing a rift between the two festivals. And as the popularity of May Festival continued to rise, the interest in Saengerfest began to dwindle — until, finally, it died. Well, kinda. The last one was held in 1952.

But now, it’s back! Following the success of the World Choir Games, which Cincinnati hosted in 2012, Saengerfest has returned, celebrating its fifth year in a row. The most recent ‘fest took place over the weekend (December 1-2), featuring six locations: Christian Moerlein, Memorial Hall, St. Francis, First Lutheran, Over-the-Rhine Community Church, and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

Scroll back to the top to take a look at the gallery and the magic of Saengerfest.

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Information sourced from