Summer is a popular and exciting time for music and travel. As temperatures soar and days become longer, outdoor musical events become a frequent and pleasant attraction for music lovers. However, dancing in a muddy English field all summer long isn’t always an appealing prospect. We know that some may prefer, for example, gallivanting around Europe on a school or adult music tour. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of five incredible European summer music festivals that you may not have heard of but will be an unforgettable experience for any music fan, touring party or group (no wellies or tent needed).
Barcelona Obertura Classic and Lyric Spring Festival
The Barcelona Obertura Classic and Lyric Spring festival takes place for two weeks in March. Although its spring setting doesn’t constitute a summer festival, Barcelona reaches an average of 17 degrees in March - summer in our eyes! The festival aims to hold Barcelona’s rich variety of music on a podium, hosting concerts and opera performances over three impressive music venues: Liceu Opera, The Palau de la Musica Catalana and L’auditori. This March at the Palau de la Musica you can have the privilege of hearing the baritone Matthias Goerne accompanied by the pianist Leif-Ove Andsnes giving a recital of works by Schubert whilst the Liceu hosts performances of Handel’s Rodelinda.
Lucca Summer Festival, Tuscany
If your school summer music tour takes you to the beautiful Italian region of Tuscany in July, then you might be lucky enough for your visit to coincide with the Lucca Summer Festival. Set within ancient renaissance walls, Lucca, the town which the Puccini musical dynasty called home, is charming and picturesque. Yet every July since 1998 when Bob Dylan graced the town, Lucca transforms into a rock and roll haven. Concerts are held in the main square of the city, the Piazza Napoleone, as well as in the smaller squares such as the Piazza San Martino and Piazza Ampitheatre. The likes of Elton John, Neil Young, Rod Stewart and David Bowie, have all graced the streets of this breathtaking town, and year after year the walls are nearly brought down by the sounds of electric guitars.
Gent Jazz Festival, Belgium
In the Belgium town of Gent, just a 40 minute drive from Bruges, for two weeks in July you can hear music from some of the best jazz artists in the world. Gent Jazz Festival showcases both traditional and modern jazz artists, both national and international, whilst also playing host to singer-songwriters and electronic artists. World renowned jazz artists such as Diana Krall, Gregory Porter and John Zorn are set to wow crowds this summer at the Stadmuseum Gent. If you’re unfamiliar with Gent, there’s plenty to explore outside the festival; Gent boasts a 1000 year old fortress, three medieval towers and stunning architecture throughout the city.
Histria Festival, Croatia
In recent years the popularity of Croatia amongst holiday-makers has skyrocketed. Not surprising when you consider its stunning scenery, crystal clear waters and opportunities for island hopping and discovery. For young people, Croatia is also host to a vast array of successful and exciting music festivals. However, if electronic music and heavy partying doesn’t appeal to you, the Histria Festival in Pula might. Taking place between late June and August, in Pula’s 2000 year old amphitheatre, the festival hosts a variety of programmes, from concerts, to theatre to Ballet. Once the sight of gladiator fights, in more recent times the Arena of Pula has hosted concerts by big names such as Sir Elton John. Aside from the festival, there’s plenty to do and see in Pula. Sites of interest such as the Temple of Augustus and the Golden Gate are great ways of immersing yourself in the history of Pula, whilst the popular coastline provides a good way of cooling off in the warm summer months.
Veszprem Fest, Hungary
If Hungary seems like the perfect location for your school music tour, then be sure to check out Veszprem Fest. Once set in the baroque building of the Archbishop’s palace (about an hours drive from Budapest), and now set in the equally beautiful location of the former Archbishop’s relaxation garden, known as the Historia Garden, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of music, from pop to jazz to classical. Over the years Veszpem Fest has seen performances from jazz royalty Herbie Hancock, R&B legend Craig David and singer song-writer Katie Melua. The versatility of the genres played at this festival makes it perfect for a visit from any school music tour passing through Veszprem this summer. It’s proximity to Budapest is also ideal as there is plenty to do and see outside of the festival.
So if you’re heading to a continental city this summer on a European music tour with your band, orchestra or choir and want to fully immerse yourselves in some of the best music that country has to offer, one thing you can guarantee is that you can leave your wellies and raincoat at home. There are so many festivals all over Europe showcasing some incredible and inspirational talent, making your school or adult music tour an even more unforgettable experience.