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June 5, 2013


Summer Festivals around Europe

by Julianne Mooney
Photo Credit: Camp Bestival

Photo Credit: Camp Bestival


It would be easy to move from one city to another, crossing countries and continents, taking in a festival of one kind or another every day of the year. Summer is the crest of the wave, taking advantage, no doubt, of the dry fields and grassy verges on which pagodas, tents and stages are erected in preparation of a day, weekend or even week long festivities.

Programmers vie to create the most imaginative and popular festival, lining up well-known names and seeking out new, up-and-coming artists and acts  to appease our appetites for festivals. Rain, hail or shine the festival will go on and familiar scenes of people sporting jeans, flowery wellies and rain macs, knee deep in mud, drinks in hands and smiles across their faces are testament to the fact that nothing can dampen spirits at a good festival.

Many festivals take over cities, cramming thousands of events into countless venues, others  go for a more intimate, boutique vibe, capping numbers at a thousand or so, while some open their doors to families, creating fun programmes for the little ones as well as adults. Whatever you are looking for, there’s something for everyone.

Tomorrow morning on Ireland AM, at 9.10am, I’ll be chatting about a few European festivals, but in the meantime below are just a taster of what’s out there!




Dates: 5th June – 20th July 2013

Running for 47 years, the Montreux Jazz Festival takes place in the pretty town of Montreux, located at the foot of the Alps on Lake Geneva. This is Switzerland’s most famous festival and generally features in most of Europe’s top music festival lists. The festival runs for sixteen days, has over 1000 performing artists and offers a mix of small, free events and large-scale, paid concerts with headlining acts including Leonard Cohen, Joe Cocker, Prince and Ben Harper.

While jazz is at the core of the festival, the festival has opened its doors to a whole range of musicians, from reggae to indie and rock, while music workshops, talks, film screenings and exhibitions ensure there is something to suit all tastes. Make-shift venues are erected on the shore of the lake for the duration of the festival and live music is played in the many cafes, bars, parks and theatres and the town parties till all hours of the morning.

With nearly a quarter of a million visitors each year, this is one of Europe’s most prestigious jazz festivals, integrating other music forms to make it appealing to all music lovers. Accommodation gets booked up well in advance and can be pricey, however cheaper accommodation options are available in Lausanne, only 30kms away.

Getting There Fly direct to Geneva from €50 one way

Hotel Accommodation from €150 per room per night

Ticket Prices & Special Offers are from €60 for concerts


Dates: 3rd – 10th July 2013

Running since 2006, The Garden Festival has become one of Europe’s most popular boutique music festivals. Originally set up in a stunning peninisula Petrcane on the Adriatic Coast, the festival has now moved to a new, just as beautiful location, near Tisno. The Garden Festival has its own space away from the town on a grassy slope in a pretty little bay, replete with a sandy beach. The space is bigger than that in Petrcane, but its still small enough to retain an intimate feel. There is an eclectic mix of music and the line-up features quality, up and coming bands as well as popular established acts.

The idea of the festival is for people to combine a relaxing sun holiday with a music festival. With numbers being capped at 2500, its big enough to have a party atmosphere, but not so crowded to take away from the incredible scenery and chilled out vibe. Lie on the beach listening to live music, head out on a music cruise or simply hang out at the bar making new friends!

This year extended facilities include aparments, luxury onsite camping, a campsite where you can pitch your own tent and an open air club a short drive from the festival grounds, manned by top Djs playing music into the wee hours.

Tisno lies between Zadar and Spilt both with their own airports which can be reached via London.

Getting There from €60 one way – Fly to Split via London to Zadar via direct to Dubrovnik

Accommodation is from €26 per person per night (tent accommodation sharing) or from €780 one bed apartment for one week (sleeps 3 people)

Tickets and Special Offers From €110

Croatia Tours – for packages to the festival




Dates: 2nd – 26th August 2013

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world, boasts a three week programme packed with everything from comedy, music, dance, theatre, exhibitions, operas and other events. Established back in 1959 the festival maintains its ethos to promote both well-known and new artists and acts. Every year new artists make their debut on one stage or another over the three weeks providing fun, creative and innovative entertainment.

Edinburgh’s population triples over the three weeks and the main acts and performances get booked up quickly as does accommodation, so booking in advance is essential. There are plenty of B&B’s in and around the city offering reasonably priced accomodation and the university also provides cheap accommodation, but again you need to book quickly!

Drop by the Half-price Hut each day to see what tickets you can get for that day half-price. This is a good way of saving money, but also with thousands of artists performing over the three weeks its a great way to discover new acts. Almost every bar and venue will have some sort of entertainment on, and many people will spend the evenings bar hopping which can be fun. As Edinburgh is a hilly city, it’s best to wear comfortable shoes, believe me, I speak from experience!

Getting There  Fly direct to Edinburgh From €40 one way with and

Accommodation is from €100 per room per night

Tickets and Special Offers Tickets vary in price starting from €15 up to €60 for main acts



Dates: 5th – 26th July 2013

Another of Europe’s popular arts festival is Festival d’Avignon. The festival was originally established in 1947 and was a showcase of both unknown work and modern scripts and over the past 56 years it has integrated a range of events from theatre, music, exhibitions and film. Performances by both French and international performers mean if you don’t speak French there is still plenty for you to go and see and The Off Festival happens in and around Avignon at the same time, with over 100 performances by French and international theatre companies.

The events take place throughout the city in both indoor and outdoor venues and again, being a popular festival it is important to book in advance. You can fly into Marseilles, take a bus to the train station and the train will bring you to Avignon city centre in just over an hour, otherwise it would be approximately 1 hour in a car from the airport.

Getting There Fly direct to Marseille from €80 one way with and

Hotel Accommodation is from €150 per room per night

Tickets are from €20 per performance



Dates: 17th – 21st July 2013

Established in 1990 the Larmer Tree Festival is a great festival for families, having being voted Best UK Family Festival in 2008 and a maximum of 4000 people ensures an intimate atmosphere. Running for five days, there is everything from music, dance, workshops for both adults and children, comedy, street theatre and a fantastic carnival procession where everybody dresses up in costumes they’ve made in workshops over the course of the festival.

There is a special family camping area to ensure a good nights sleep for little ones and there are great acts and workshops for children, as well as acts like Van Morrisson, Imelda May and KT Tunstall for the adults. A dedicated space for 0-10 year olds and a Youth Zone for 11-17 year olds, with lots of workshops and shows provide a safe and happy environment for children and is a great place to experience their first festival!

Getting There Fly direct to South Hampton from €30 one way

Accommodation Bell Tent from €25 per person per night (max 4 people) Tents can sleep up to 6 people

Tickets are from €170 per adult and children are €110 for 3 day pass (includes campsite to pitch your own tent)


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