The idea of the Festival came after World War II, as a proposal to revitalize the economy of the city. It was between the 29th and 31st January 1951 that the first edition of the show was held, after an agreement between the administrator of the Sanremo Casino and the conductor of the RAI orchestra. The first edition was held at the Sanremo Casino and broadcast by one of RAI´s radio stations. It wasn´t until 1955 that the show appeared on television, broadcasting in Italy (always live by the TV station Rai 1), Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In 1977, the Festival was transferred to its current location: the Ariston Theatre.
Over the years, big names in Italian television have presented the festival, with Pippo Baudo on the podium for 10 editions between 1987 and 2016. In the last 10 editions of the festival, the presenter registering the highest audience share was Michelle Hunziker, the Swiss-Dutch naturalized Italian model, actress and television hostess. Not all editions of the show have been the same length, but since 2015 the Festival has lasted five nights, including the opening and closing nights.
For the city of Sanremo, the Sanremo Music Festival is a source of income and good publicity for tourism. International tourism in the province of Imperia, of which Sanremo in part, is the highest of the entire region of Liguria. Looking at the budget shares of the Sanremo Music Festival for 2017, about 32 percent of the budget will be given to the Sanremo municipality.