Music is a good reason enough to venture to new territories across Europe this year.
EVERY year there are more festivals around Europe offering a range of music and activities, from tango to indie rock to folk with a Celtic flavour, and much more. Here are a selection highlighted by Reuters journalists.
IN Music – Zagreb, Croatia, June 23-25
The only major festival in the Croatian capital, on the shores of the Jarun lake, IN Music caters for all tastes with an eclectic mix of global and local stars. Headliners include The Black Keys, currently the hottest blues-rock attraction from the States, and 1980s alt-rock stars Pixies, as well as a host of local stars.
The festival will have its own campsite, ideal for visitors on a budget. Others may seek out some of the modern hostels in the city or hotels. Tickets are available from official vendors all over Europe. Zagreb is very accessible, with a host of flights from most European capitals and it also has good road, train and bus connections to most of Europe. – Zoran Radosavljevic
Glastonbury Festival – Worthy Farm, Somerset, England, June 25-29
Glastonbury may be the granddaddy of British music festivals, but putting Metallica at the top of the bill shows the 44-year-old event can still surprise. Some tickets holders are petitioning to remove the US metal group from the Pyramid stage, saying frontman James Hetfield’s support for bear hunting does not fit Glastonbury’s hippie ethos, but founder Michael Eavis has never just booked safe options. Festivalgoers who want to avoid Metallica can opt for Jake Bugg, Bryan Ferry, Mogwai or MGMT, while Friday and Sunday headliners Arcade Fire and Kasabian tread familiar alt-rock territory.
For many, however, the appeal lies in wandering around 900 acres of countryside, catching a new band, dancing, chilling out in Green Fields or experiencing an atmosphere that rain and mud, always a possibility in the English summer, cannot dampen. Tickets costing £210 (RM1,150) are sold out. – Paul Sandle
Open’er Festival – Gdynia, Poland, July 2-5
In summer, Poland is filled with music events, but the four-day Open’er Festival in Gdynia, not far from the beach, is one of the most exciting. It is held in a vast green area, at the Gdynia airport Kosakowo, with a campsite, a Ferris wheel, stands by Polish independent designers, and five stages. This year features a heavily indie-rock line-up with The Black Keys, Foals, Lykke Li, Rudimental, Pearl Jam, Jack White, Metronomy, MGMT and Bastille.
A four-day pass costs 550 zloty (RM581) (630 zloty (RM666) with camping), a weekend pass for Friday and Saturday is 350 zloty (RM370) or a one-day ticket is 207 zloty (RM218). Free buses run from the Gdynia train station. For a break from the beats, Gdynia offers a beach on the Baltic Sea, coastal walks and good connections to nearby Sopot, with the longest wooden pier in Europe, and the beautiful old town of Gdansk. International/domestic flights reach the Gdansk airport which is connected to Gdynia by bus (40 minutes). See more at: http://opener.pl/en. – Roberta Cucchiaro
Tangomarkkinat – Seinajoki, Finland, July 9-13
Tango comes alive in Seinajoki, which hosts the annual festival for the 30th time this summer. To celebrate the milestone, there is a special concert with 40 Tango Royals – the winners of the singing contest are crowned Tango King and Tango Queen. You have a chance to check out not only the Finnish variety of the dance – Morley Safer from US news show 60 Minutes once called it “a sad shuffle in minor key” – but also the more passionate Latin American version, as Sexteto Mayor from Argentina and Tabare Leyton from Uruguay perform.
You can also check out Alvar Aalto architecture. Tickets range from 35 euros (RM153) for a day pass to 265 euros (RM1121) for a VIP ticket. There are free events around the town of 60,000 in western Finland. Be sure to book lodging in advance as beds can be hard to find with tens of thousands of tango fans swarming around. See www.tangomarkkinat.fi/en/index.html. – Sakari Suoninen
Cambridge Folk Festival – Cambridge, England, July 31-Aug 3
One of England’s best-known folk events, the Cambridge Folk Festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and has already sold out. This may not be surprising given the headline acts on the main stage are Sinead O’Connor, Rosanne Cash and Van Morrison. Peppered in between are acts such as Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. There are three stages and the whole event is held in parkland and features street theatre, music workshops, ceilidhs and other side attractions. See www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk. – Jeremy Gaunt
Interceltic Festival – Lorient, France, Aug 1-10
This annual gathering of the tribes from Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Ireland and the north of Spain began 44 years ago and only seems to get bigger and more artistically inventive every year. Some 700,000 visitors turn up for 200 events and shows with some 5,000 performers. This year American folkie Suzanne Vega is a headliner along with French master of the topical song Bernard Lavilliers and the young Irish group sensation The Strypes.
But any day you show up the air will be filled with the sound of bagpipes and harps and the port city of Lorient in the oyster-rich Morbihan area of northwestern France has plenty of great restaurants and cafes to cater to every taste. More details at www.festival-interceltique.com. Ticket prices vary from about 10 euros (RM43) or less up to 30 euros (RM131). – Michael Roddy
Off Festival – Katowice, Poland, Aug 1-3
Off Festival is the place for alternative music lovers. Held in the southern city of Katowice, the heart of the Polish coal region, it features artists such as Jerusalem in My Heart and Hatti Vatti who may not ring any bells with the broader public but are poised for fame among sensitive music lovers. Kids can play in a children’s zone with lots of creative workshops and in between festival days you can visit an old coal mine, easily reachable by bus.
Three-day ticket costs 250 zloty (RM264), a one-day pass costs 120 zloty (RM126). Tents are welcome but there are dormitories, hostels and hotels at prices starting from 88 euros (RM385) for three nights for two people in a decent B&B. – Anna Koper
FM4 Frequency Festival – Green Park, St. Poelten, Austria Aug 13-16
The FM4 Frequency Festival draws a young crowd for open-air concerts. This year’s headliners include Queens of the Stone Age, Skrillex, Placebo and Blink 182. Tickets costs range from 90 euros (RM394) for one-day entry to 322 euros (RM1410) for a four-day pass with a camper van parking permit. St Poelten is 60 km west of Vienna and accessible by car and train. More details at www.frequency.at/?language=de. – Michael Shields
Sziget Festival – Obuda Island, Budapest, Aug 11-18
The weeklong Sziget is the biggest and perhaps most famous of what is essentially a never-ending string of summer festivals in Hungary. Situated on a leafy island in one of Europe’s hippest capitals, it is accessible from the Budapest city centre by light rail or a boat service. The line-up, as always, is a mash of all styles: headliners include Deadmau5, Queens of the Stone Age, Placebo, Bonobo, and a plethora of acts in world music, blues/folk, electronic and hard rock styles.
Leave space in your agenda for the city nearby, which is a riot in its own right come summertime. The central Budapest area is emerging from a facelift and is a treat for foodies, art lovers and architecture buffs alike. Weekly passes 74,000 forints (RM1053). Discount for early birds. Plus 9,900 (RM140) forints for a joint two-week Budapest transit and museum pass. More details at www.sziget.hu. – Marton Dunai
Green Man Festival – Glanusk, Wales, Aug 14-17
This festival of music and arts takes place in the Brecon Beacons mountain range in South Wales, guaranteeing a beautiful setting for a long August weekend away from it all. Among the headliners this year are the Philadelphia indie rockers The War on Drugs, the venerable Irish mod-trad band The Waterboys and the Grammy-nominated alt-folk American singer Neko Case. Adult tickets £159 (RM870), students £135 (RM738), teens £85 (RM465). More details at www.greenman.net.
Bestival – Robin Hood Park, Isle of Wight, Sept 4-7
Anyone looking for a four-day end-of-summer party could do worse than take the short ferry trip to the Isle of Wight, off the coast of southern England, for the Bestival extravaganza hosted by Rob da Bank and wife Josie. With headliners including Hey Ya stars Outkast and dance music cheerleaders Chic, the fancy-dress theme this year is Desert Island Disco, guaranteeing a host of dressing-up aficionados sporting a combination of glitter balls and grass skirts for Saturday’s grand parade.
Legendary Studio 54 DJ Nicky Siano is one of those spinning the discs at the event, which will be decorated with characteristic flair, everywhere from the banner-strewn main festival arena to areas dubbed the Wishing Tree Field and the Magic Meadow. Word of warning – anyone looking for a peaceful and sober few days in the company of a few ageing hippies should probably give this a wide berth. Also make sure you know the route – signposting is sparse to non-existent. More details at www.bestival.net. – David Holmes