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Beacons, NFC Showcase 200 Years of 'Silent Night'

The Christmas carol's anniversary is being celebrated in the Salzburg area of Austria, with a beacon- and NFC-based solution from Xamoom to bring exhibits and points of interest to life for those with a smartphone and an app.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 12, 2018

When Austria's Salzburg State Tourism Board launched the 200th anniversary celebration of the first public performance of "Silent Night," it employed Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon technology to bring the Christmas carol's story to smartphone users. The system now in place consists of 100 beacons, as well as NFC and QR labels, and an app from Austrian location-based solutions company Xamoom.

The lyrics to "Silent Night" ("Stille Nacht" in German) were written by Joseph Mohr, a young priest stationed at a church in the village of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, who'd hoped to put those words to music for the Christmas Eve Mass in 1818. Moore then took his lyrics to Franz Xaver Gruber, who composed accompanying music to be performed by guitar.

A beacon at the new Silent Night Chapel in Hintersee
Since then, the song has become one of the most popular Christmas carols. Oberndorf bei Salzburg, located approximately 17 kilometers (10.6 miles) north of the city of Salzburg, has been visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists as the song's birthplace.

Gregor Matjan
This year, the anniversary is being celebrated in 13 towns throughout upper Austria, as well as in Oberndorf bei Salzburg and the Tyrolean Ziller Valley. Nine museums in the area are taking part in the program, while each town also has between two and six "Silent Night"-related points of interest, such as churches, chapels and houses.

Every year, the advent season serves as a high period for tourism, says Gregor Matjan, the Salzburg State Board of Tourism's director of digital media and online marketing. In December 2017, 630,000 tourists visited SalzburgerLand (with at least a one-night stay-over), in addition to single-day visits. Visitors are mainly domestic, while others hail from Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Italy.

This year, SalzburgerLand expects to receive up to 700,000 overnight visitors. The "Silent Night" anniversary will include a new musical, titled "My Silent Night," as well as museum exhibits, advent singing and theater plays of the "Silent Night" story.

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