Free concerts mark time of the summer solstice
How do Europeans celebrate the longest days of the year? For many, the warm weather and light-drenched evenings signal it’s time to get outside and celebrate in the company of their fellow countrymen. And when it comes to bringing out the masses, free concerts have a way of pulling in the crowds.
Come June 21, a sizable chunk of France’s population will take part in the annual “Fête de la Musique,” a volunteer-fueled initiative in which both amateur and professional musicians perform free of charge. Many concerts are given on open-air stages; others take place in churches, clubs or bars. In some cities, classical music rules the day, while in others, rock or reggae may be what’s on offer.
To find a concert near you, use the interactive map on the official event website:
While France celebrates song and sound June 21, it’s far from the only country in Europe where free concerts can be enjoyed around the time of the summer solstice. Here is a sampling of some other places to get your own free earful of glorious sound:
Austria: Veinna’s Donauinselfest, billed as Europe’s largest free entry music festival, takes place on a pretty island in the Danube June 23-25. The program includes sporting events, family activities and music across 16 zones, each with its own distinct atmosphere. The bigger names set to entertain include Mando Diao and Michael Bolton on Saturday and Max Giesinger and Sportfreunde Stiller on Sunday. Jazz, pop and heavy metal fans will also find something to their tastes here. Most concerts start around 2 p.m. and go late into the night. The island can be reached by public transportation: take U1 or U6 lines. https://donauinselfest.at.
Belgium: La Fête de la Musique rocks locations throughout Wallonia: Namur and Liege offer programs, while Brussels’ concerts unfold across a number of venues. For a real musical smorgasbord, head to the Parc du Cinquantenaire, the site of a “Village of Music” June 24-25, where the program features blues, chanson, classical, country, folk, funk, hip-hop, indie, jazz, rap, reggae, rock and more. Street artists and entertainment for kids complement the packed program. Access to the festival area is from 2 p.m. June 24 and 10 a.m. June 25.. www.fetedelamusique.be/.
Czech Republic: Prague’s United Islands festival, traditionally held in the historical center, moves to the municipal district of Karlin this year. The festival, slated for June 23-24, is known for introducing newcomers from across the European musical scene and beyond, although established acts play, too. Saturday’s program offers a children’s program, theater, crafts workshop, a zone highlighting sports from around the world and a classic auto display. Concerts start at 2:30 p.m. June 23 and 10:30 a.m. June 24. http://unitedislands.cz/en
Denmark: The Riverboat Jazz Festival, a five-day festival held in Silkeborg, takes place June 21-25. Families flock to nearby campgrounds, set up their tents and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere amidst the beautiful natural surroundings. New Orleans, Dixie, swing and gospel sounds feature here, and the majority of concerts are free. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. June 21, 10 a.m. June 22-24, and 9 a.m. June 25. http://riverboat.dk.
Netherlands: The Hague’s Parkpop, the country’s biggest free music festival of its kind, has been staged for over 35 years; with an average of 200,000 visitors, it’s one of the largest free pop music festivals in Europe. Acts taking to the stage in the Zuiderpark June 25 include Alison Moyet, Toots and the Maytals, Los Pacaminos featuring Paul Young, Joanne Shaw Taylor and a slew of others. The festival runs from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. http://parkpop.nl/en/.
Switzerland: Geneva’s Fête de la Musique celebrates summer in the city with more than 500 concerts in every conceivable genre, along with dance, cinema and workshops. The festival spills over both sides of the river and throughout the Old Town. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. June 23 and 11 a.m. June 24 and 25. http://www.ville-ge.ch/fetedelamusique/