The days are warm, the evenings are light, and it appears we will soon say that summer is at our door. While extended trips to far-flung destinations across Europe are always a special treat, most of us aren’t able to pull off long-distance getaways every weekend. Thankfully, the summer season means there’s no end of fun to be had right in one’s own backyard. Here is a selection of some of the highlight events taking place in the larger cities close to the places we call home. The list covers events through Labor Day weekend only.
CZECH REPUBLIC PragueUnited IslandsJune 23-26
Over a hundred bands and musicians from around the world perform all genres of music, from world to indie to jazz and pop. This free entry festival takes place across ten stages on islands in the Vltava River and historical center.
Bohemia Jazz FestJuly 11-12
The Old Town Square serves as a stage for free open-air concerts featuring top international acts. The festival also calls in at other Czech towns through July 19 including Liberec, Brno, Tabor, Pisek, Pilsen and Domazlice.
GERMANY FrankfurtMain FestivalAug. 5-8
This massive volksfest offers plenty of rides, food stands and fireworks on closing night.
Museum Embankment FestivalAug. 26-28
The city’s museums offer a rich program of special events, while outside stages brim with entertainers and live music. Dragon boat races and fireworks close the festivities.
Idar-ObersteinJazz DaysJune 3-5
Musicians play jazz and other styles across five stages. Purchase of a six-euro button supports organization of the festival.
The city’s favorite culinary treat, Spiessbraten, is a type of barbecued meat. A volksfest atmosphere prevails at this festival already in its fiftieth year.
http://www.spiessbratenfest.de/ (German only)
Street theater and live music across seven stages liven up the city’s pedestrian area.
“Swinging Lautern” – Barbarossa FestThe sounds of swing, jazz, soul and salsa ring out across stages scattered through the city center.
The longest days of the year are celebrated with a street festival featuring live acts and plenty of wine, as well as an artist’s market along the Rhine. The event closes with fireworks.
Mainzer BierboerseJuly 8-10
Countless types of beer and live music can be enjoyed alongside the Rhine. (German only)
Mainz SommerlichterJuly 29-31
This new event on the calendar offers live music, a wine village, and food stands along the Rhine. The highlight is a massive fireworks and laser show synchronized to music on July 30.
http://www.mainzer-sommerlichter.de/ (German only)
Mainz Wine MarketAug. 25-28 and Sept. 1-4
The city’s spacious Stadtpark is the setting for a wine festival starring the Rheinhessen growing region’s tasty whites and reds.
MunichStreetlife Festival and Corso LeopoldJune 11-12
Musicians, performers of all sorts, physical activities and sandy beaches bring a vacation feel to the big city.
http://www.streetlife-festival.de/ (German only)
Town Foundation FestivalJune 18-19
The city celebrates its birthday with concerts, folk dancing, a craft market and play zone for the kids in and around the Marienplatz.
The Chinese Tower of the English Garden is the setting for a folk dancing festival from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Watch the traditionally clad dancers or try it yourself. If the weather’s bad, the date moves to July 24.
500 Years Bavarian Beer Purity Law FestivalJuly 22-24
Munich celebrates this milestone in brewing with a one-off festival including music, entertainment and the best beers from around 100 Bavarian breweries. The fest takes place around Feldherrnhalle and Odeonsplatz.
NurembergKlassic Open AirJuly 24 and Aug. 6.
Music lovers pack picnics and make their ways to Luitpoldhain to hear free open-air concerts. On July 24, a family concert takes place from 11 a.m., followed by a concert of 20th century classics at 8 p.m.; both are performed by the Staatsphilharmonie Nuernberg. From 8 p.m. Aug. 6, the Nuernberger Philharmoniker performs a program titled “Freedom.”
Meeting of the BardsJuly 29-31
The Old Town serves as a stage for both up-and-coming and established musicians from throughout the world. All concerts are free.
This free open air festival on the banks of the Pegnitz River presents alternative musical acts on two stages.
http://bruecken-festival.de/wordpress/ (German only)
RegensburgBayerisches Jazz WeekendJuly 6-10
The city’s Old Town and Gewerbepark are the site of numerous free concerts by first-rate performers.
Hoehenpark Killesberg is the setting for a day or night out full of live music, gourmet treats, family-friendly activities and fireworks set to music. (Adults 18 euros; ages 7-17 pay 9 euros; six and under free.)
Stuttgarter SommerfestAug. 4-7
Visitors enjoy an elegant ambiance, live music across five stages and culinary specialties from the city’s leading restaurants.
Stuttgarter WeindorfAug. 24-Sept. 4
The atmosphere of a convivial Swabian village fete is conjured up in the heart of a bustling city.
Live music and food stalls fill the space between Porta Nigra and Viehmarkt.
The Grand Roman SpectacleJuly 23-24
A market, military camp, and battles are set up at the Imperial Baths. Entry fees apply.
WiesbadenWilhelm Street Festival / TheatriumJune 10-11
This colorful and free street festival offers walking acts, live music, culinary treats and an artisan’s market.
Rheingauer WeinwocheAug. 12-21
The city’s marketplace is the setting for a massive wine fest offering the bounty of the grapes from the neighboring Rheingau region.
ITALY PisaLuminara of San RanieriJune 16-17
Tens of thousands of candles light up the Arno River banks and historical center on June 16; June 17 brings boat racing action.
The Battle on the BridgeJune 25
Twelve teams in traditional costume attempt to push an ancient cart across a bridge.
VeniceArt Night VeneziaJune 18
Free admission to museums, concerts and live shows are enjoyed late into the night.
http://www.artnight.it/pag/11331/ (Italian only)
Festival of the RedeemerJuly 16-17
This folk and religious festival commemorates an intercession which saved the city from plague in 1577. It plays out today with parties and a massive fireworks display.