Six Great Summer Music Festivals in Europe
Lists: Headed overseas this summer? Ben Keene surveys music festivals from Budapest to Stockholm.
07.14.09 | 9:37 AM ET
Unless you’re a serious music fan, you probably wouldn’t go to Europe just to attend a music festival. But if you’re headed there anyway, a festival can be the highlight of a trip.
With numerous ones to choose from, a ridiculously wide range of bands performing and ample public transportation, the Continent continues to be a magnet for anyone looking to give their summer a jolt of rhythm and melody. Consider any one of these six if you’re in the neighborhood this summer.
Reasons to Go: Festival organizers have made the Jutland peninsula a concert destination for the past three decades. This year international stars like Kylie Minogue and Fatboy Slim will appear alongside Danish groups performing everything from blues and classic rock covers to edgy punk.
Diversion: Visit the Elvis museum in Randers, Denmark. Graceland it isn’t, but for 50 kroner you’ll see one of his Bibles, two of his guitars, the FBI files on his rock ‘n’ roll habits, plus lots of other Kingly memorabilia.
Reasons to Go: You’ll find a world music stage that features the exuberant, old-yet-new klezmer quintet Oy Division, Beijing band Hanggai, and the intricate, polyrhythmic songs of Malian guitarist and singer Vieux Farka Touré.
Diversion: Check out Budapest’s Museum of Music History. Besides learning about musical life in Hungary from the 18th century to the present, visitors can browse an extensive collection of folk instruments and music iconography.
Reasons to Go: With the Black Sea as your backdrop, dance all weekend to the hard techno of Austrian DJ Mario Ranieri, the pulsing electric house and melodic techno of Bulgarian DJs Balthazar & JackRoc, and the schizophrenic rock of recently reunited headliners Faith No More.
Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
Reasons to Go: Swap remixes with fellow hip-hop fans by day. Then, after dark, listen to Lady Sovereign sass the crowd with her youthful attitude, enjoy the limber rapping and synthesizer hooks of Czech duo Indy & Wich and bounce along to Method Man’s Staten Island beats and rhymes.
Reasons to Go: Shout along to politically themed anthems by German punk stalwarts Die Toten Hosen, decide if the hyper rock of the Wombats makes them Britain’s next Arctic Monkeys (also appearing), or judge the music from Vampire Weekend’s sophomore album before it’s released.
Diversion: Classical music fans should take a detour to Mittenwald, Germany. Violin-making workshops as well as a newly renovated museum devoted to the string instrument attest to this Bavarian town’s long history of superior craftsmanship.
Reasons to Go: Float in one of two swimming pools or party off the last few days of summer with the slick Scandinavian pop of Name the Pet, the keyboard-driven, saxophone-spiked sound of Swedes Parken, and the lush vocals and layered arrangements of Scottish band Camera Obscura.
Diversion: To soak up a bit more of the Nordic countryside, check out the Ringve National Museum. Their collection of close to 2,000 instruments from around the world is housed in an estate just outside the city of Trondheim.