Can’t get a ticket to the Wimbledon tennis tournament? Free screenings take place at several London-area locations.

Can’t get a ticket to the Wimbledon tennis tournament? Free screenings take place at several London-area locations. (iStock)

When it comes time to plan a summer vacation in Europe, there’s always that agony of choice -- a holiday by the coast, a few days’ hiking in the mountains, or perhaps even a city break? Summer in the city can be a real treat for both locals and visitors, particularly if a cultural program is happening. Here are just a few summer city freebies you don’t want to miss out on:


Salzburg: Siemens Fest>Spiel>Nächte (Siemens Festival Play Nights) are screenings of festival productions shown on large LED walls set up at Kapitelplatz. From July 26 through Aug. 31, visitors can enjoy broadcasts of operas including Romeo and Juliet, The Idiot, The Magic Flute and many others. Breakfast concerts are offered on several Saturdays at 10 a.m.; special concerts for children come into the mix on Fridays at 10 a.m. Online:

Vienna: Kultursommer Wien, or Culture Summer Vienna, is a host of open-air events and concerts across all genres, offered in venues within the city center and the outskirts. From July 4-Aug. 11, visitors can enjoy contemporary circus, puppet theater, brass band music, cabaret and much more. Some 2,000 artists perform within the scope of this event.

Another initiative is the Music Film Festival at City Hall Square. From June 29-Sept. 1, screenings of musical highlights from the world of opera, classic, pop, rock and other genres can be enjoyed. Online:


London: It doesn’t get much more English than watching Wimbledon’s tennis matches while feasting on strawberries and cream, washed down with a Pimms. Those without tickets have several options for viewing broadcasts. In addition to free screenings at King’s Cross and Canary Wharf, sports fans can watch many of the matches at The Scoop, a public viewing area along the riverbanks near the London Bridge. The Wimbledon tennis tournament takes place July 1-14. Tennis viewing is part of an even more ambitious program, Summer by the River, a series of concerts, screenings and other events, offered through Sept. 1. Online:

Another not-to-be-missed event in London is the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, a cornucopia of outdoor theater and performing arts. From Aug. 23-Sept. 9, singers, actors, street artists, acrobats and others of rare talent are set to delight and astound. Online:


Nuremberg: Music lovers will be in their element here on several occasions. Bardentreffen, scheduled for July 26-28, offers three days of free concerts in atmospheric locations. The focus of this year’s program is the music and culture of the Mediterranean. The event’s anticipated 200,000 visitors will enjoy some 90 concerts across nine stages. Online:

Open-air performances by the city’s two top orchestras are another by-now familiar summer offering, as friends and families are invited to spread out their blankets at the Leopoldhain and get comfortable to some superlative sounds. On July 21, the Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg performs twice, once for the family concert at 11 a.m. and again at 8 p.m., when music inspired by “Romeo and Juliet” is brought to life. On Aug. 3, it’s the Nürnberger Symphoniker’s turn to entertain with its program titled “All Roads Lead to Hollywood” from 8 p.m. Online:

Rothenburg o.d. Tauber: “Ambassadors of Music” is a program that gives award-winning American high school orchestras the opportunity to tour across Europe. Their final stop is traditionally this medieval walled city, with the concerts lasting about one hour. Performances are offered at the market square at 4 p.m. Choral groups also perform at the Franciscan Church and St. Jacob’s Church. Students representing the following states will be present on these dates: Florida, June 29; Colorado, July 2; Missouri, July 5; Arkansas, July 14; Minnesota, July 17; Washington, July 23. On July 20, the South California Ambassadors of Music play in a joint concert with the Rothenburg City and Youth Wind Orchestra. Online:

Munich: The Olympiapark in Bavaria’s capital city serves as the venue for the Tollwood Summer Festival, an annual extravaganza of music and performing arts, and more than 80% of the events are free. Through July 21, the 2024 edition of this festival promises an arts and crafts market, stalls offering fair trade and organic foods, an open-air museum and a beer tent and garden where 16 breweries are represented. Online:


Rome: Each year, the Estate Romana festival blesses Romans and visitors with a plethora of cultural undertakings, from concerts to markets to art exhibitions. Open-air settings featuring ages-old monuments add to the aura. Many, but not all, of the activities are free. The program runs through Oct. 15. Online:

Those moved by Catholic rites and practices would find being in Rome on June 29 particularly special. The Feast Day of the Saints Peter and Paul, a holiday in the city itself but not in the rest of the country, is marked by masses and special services, including one at the St. Peter’s Basilica. The street leading to St. Peter’s Square, the Via della Conciliazione, is decorated with flower petals and natural materials, creating what’s known as an infiorata. Festivities are traditionally capped by a display of fireworks known as the Girandola, best viewed from the Piazza del Popolo. Online:

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