The city first hosted a festival in 1904, for the Neue Bachgesellschaft, and then formally, since 1908. The festival was sometimes referred to as the Bachwochen (Bach Weeks) or Bachtage (Bach Days). Since 1999, the festival is organized by the Bach-Archiv on behalf of the city of Leipzig, each year under a different theme.
Each year there are approximately 100 individual events during the Bach Festival, beginning with an opening concert conducted by the serving Thomaskantor (currently Georg Christoph Biller). The final concert is traditionally a performance of Bach's Mass in B minor in the St. Thomas Church.