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Sounds of the city: European music festivals for 2019

From Bilbao to Berlin, Europe’s alive with the sound of music. We pick some of the best festivals, concerts and events to inspire some tuneful travels of your own this year

Published 8 Apr 2019, 23:57 BST
Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine performs on stage during BBK Live Festival
Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine performs on stage during BBK Live Festival
Photograph by Getty

Multi-genre: Bilbao BBK

Where: Bilbao, Spain
When: 11-13 July
Held amid lush Basque scenery, the setting’s as remarkable as the music, which spans a diverse range of genres, from indie and electronica to pop to hip hop. Expect huge acts from across the music world — last year saw Florence + The Machine and Gorillaz on stage — with Hot Chip, The Strokes and Weezer already confirmed for what’s set to be a stellar 2019 line-up.
Or try… NOS Primavera Sound, Porto, Portugal
Portugal’s hottest festival set in the costal Parque da Cidade with Solange, Jarvis Cocker and J Balvin set to appear. 6-8 June.

Jazz: Dixieland Festival

Where: Dresden, Germany
When: 19-26 May
Springing up at venues all over the city, this old time swing festival is a must for jazz fans. Highlights include the flotilla of decorated paddle boats sailing down the Elbe River; an open air concert and a parade through the historical old quarter on Sunday featuring Papa Piders Jazzband, The Bowler Hats and the legendary Ural Dixieland Band from Chelyabinsk.
Or try… Umbria Jazz 2019, Perugia, Italy
One of Italy’s most beautiful hill towns hosts an eclectic ensemble of musicians on outdoor stages in cobbled piazzas. 12-21 July.

Classical: Salzburg Festival

Where: Salzburg, Austria
When: 20 July-31 August
Mozart’s birthplace attracts music lovers year-round, but the summer sees more than 200 performances of classical concerts at three main concert halls and numerous smaller atmospheric venues throughout the city. This year, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will be in residence.
Or try… Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, France
Just a short hop from Marseille, venues across the city will come alive with a multitude of magnificent performances, from Mozart’s Requiem to Puccini’s Tosca. 3-22 July.

Opera: Arena di Verona Opera Festival

Where:  Verona, Italy
When: 21 June-7 September
Catch one of five spectacular performances under the starry summer sky in the awe-inspiring setting of the city’s Roman amphitheatre. Every performance will dazzle, but tickets are selling fast to see the great Spanish artiste Plácido Domingo conduct Verdi’s Aida and Bizet’s Carmen, while Anna Netrebko’s debut in Il Trovatore is certain to be a crowd-pleaser.
Or try… The Granaries, Floriana, Valletta, Malta
Get tickets to see tenors Joseph Calleja and Andrea Bocelli perform with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. 24 August.

Country & Western: C2C Country to Country

Where: Europe-wide
When: March 2019
Held in London, Dublin, Glasgow, Amsterdam and Berlin, this is the biggest country music festival this side of Nashville. Performances come largely from the biggest stars in country, including Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum, as well as emerging talent from across the world.
Or try… Cambridge Folk Festival, UK
Folk legend Ralph McTell kicks off proceedings in the university city on the Thursday evening, while José González graces the stage on Friday. Saturday’s headliner is the multi-Grammy-winning Lucinda Williams. 1-4 August.

Published in the National Geographic Traveller European Cities Collection

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