Although Europe boosts currently also with a range of high quality winter folk festivals, it is still the summer where most folkies pack their suitcases, family and instruments into the car, bus, train or plane to travel to some other part of Europe to celebrate Folk Music in the local way. We invite you on a little preview journey to some of the interesting festivals of summer 2001.
What about a little one-month round trip in the countries with the longest summer days, travelling a long July around the Baltic Sea region, visiting all in all six festivals, enjoying the special atmosphere when all the Scandinavians celebrate? Let's start at the most Northern tip of Denmark at the end of June, 28.-30. June and 1. July 2001, visiting the famous Skagen Festival. There you can see bands such as Runrig, Dubliners, Tom Paxton, Jim McCann, Fairport Convention plus lots of Danish and international acts.
In Skagen we are at the point where the Baltic meets the North Sea, and if we cross this water north, we are already in Norway, just in time to be part of the Førde Folk Festival, 5.-8. July, probably Norways biggest Folk Festival.
Driving inland and arriving soon in Sweden, the Falun Folk Music Festival, one of the major Scandinavian folk and world festivals, happens from 11.-14. July, with 100 concerts & dance events with artists from all continents on more than 10 different stages. To experience some magic of Scandinavia, visit there the Magic Night on the banks of a small lake outside Falun, when in the pale summer night in light of the lit fires ancient traditions like singing and playing on cow horns come to life again.
Crossing quickly the Baltic, we can directly keep on celebrating, as Finland's Kaustinen Folk Music Festival starts already on the 14. July (until 22.7.). This year, special attention is given there to the Quadrille dance as well as the modern French folk & world music scene. Kaustinen also takes part in the major international EC Culture 2000 project North West Link, bringing artists from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, England, Ireland, Scotland and the Shetland Islands. Additionally artists from all over the world, of course including Finland!
Being now already in Finland, we stay in the Baltic region, taking the boat from Helsinki over to Estonia, to visit the 9. Viljandi Folk Music Festival (26.-29.7.). Already well established by now, this festival offers a good reason to visit this interesting country.
This might have been the end of the Nordic folk journey, although you might feel like going back to Norway now, to join from 2.-5. August the Telemarkfestivalen.
Alternatively, head on from the Baltic to the North Sea, going to the far western Belgium, where the exciting Dranouter Folkfestival is happening for the 27th time. Having exactly the same dates as Telemark (2.-5.8.), Dranouter had also yet no names available when writing this feature.
And being now already in BeNeLux, why not head on to the Netherlands, to see the second edition of FolkWoods Festival in Eindhoven, 10.-12. August. The first edition having been extremely tastefully, also the second one seems to become a highlight in the folk calendar: In the intimate setting of a park, on high quality festival and camping grounds, the stages will be full of musical delights from all over Europe, highlights include Lunasa (Irl), Kadril (B), Kíla (Irl), The Transsylvanians (D), Helmut Eisel (D), Cian (Irl), Fenja Menja (Dk), Fluxus (B), Gjallarhorn (SF), Troitsa (Rus), etc.
If you only want to pick out one festival, there are some more recommendations available, from the Western and Central part of Europe. Back in Belgium, the Feestival Gooik, 6.-8. July, looks especially at the cultures in Greece, Hungary, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Poland and Czech Republic.
France offers the 26th Saint-Chartier Gathering, 12.-15.7., a festival in central France based mainly on music workshops and dancing. They promise even sunshine for this year...
Speaking of France, the Irish Music editor has spied a couple of times already on the huge Festival Interceltique in Lorient, offering a huge range of artists and activities from all the Celtic areas around the world. This year from 3.-12. August, the theme is "Annee de la Galice", so expect loads of Galician pipers there.
Although Southern Europe has also a lot of festivals on offer, the dates are usually not available until shortly before the festival, so if you go to the Southern parts of Europe, check out yourself shortly before your holidays. One recommendation we do have though, which is the Northern Italian Folkest, a month-long series of concerts in the whole region of Friuli, between 7.-29. July.
Going into the middle of the continent, Hungary presents the 22nd edition of the Kaláka Folk Festival from 5.-9. July, at the Miskolc-Diósgyor Castle. This year, the festival invited also the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) Folk Festival, presenting 20 bands from European countries.
Germany has not yet been mentioned, so here are two recommendations, which might even be combined to a Germany journey, starting in the West, in the Ruhr Region, that formerly industrial region which has become during the last years a rather special tourist attraction with unique sights to visit. In this setting, a folk music institution celebrates this year its 25th birthday: Folk im Schlosspark in Herten, 30.June - 1. July. This free folk festival in a park has quite an interesting mix of international folk and world music acts on offer, with 50.000 visitors per year.
Travelling from there into the East of Germany, the 11th Tanz & FolkFest Rudolstadt, Germany's biggest and best festival for folk and world, takes place from 6.-8. July. Last year they have had as focal country England, and the organisers even managed to import the cliché English rain to the open air festival. Because of visitor complaints regarding the weather, this year the focal country will be the West Indies, in the hope of better weather - let's see if that works, or if there is coming a Tornado along... "Magical instrument" is this year the clarinet. Along to that, a lot of great international folk and world bands are presented, playing throughout the town for concert and dance. On the Irish side, Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny has been confirmed - quite special actually. The festival starts already on Thursday 5th July with a special concert "25 years German folk scene". What was so special in 1976 that it is the start of the German folk scene - don't ask me (maybe because the Folk im Schlosspark in Herten started then???), but it is a reason for an interesting concert, featuring German bands and international guests (such as Dick Gaughan and Oyster Band).
Just to mention to more exciting festivals in the Ruhr Region in western Germany - although up to now, I do not have any names...
Both festivals focus on a brought spectrum of music from all over the world. The first one is Kemnade international, beautifull located at a castle (Wasserburg Kemnade) on the banks of the river Ruhr. It started as a festival to celebrate as inhabitans of the Ruhr region together with the families from foreign countries, who came to work in this region, the music and cultures of the world. It has always had a very special atmosphere. This year it takes place 22.-24. June 2001 at the Wasserburg Kemnade between Bochum and Hattingen.
The other is a excellent festival of world music is the Talklang Festival in Wuppertal on the edge of the Ruhr area. It is a very high profile festival, partly open air partly indoor.
No European festival journey is complete with probably the most important Celtic festival in Europe, the Tønder Festival in Denmark, at the border to Germany. Once again, the line-up sounds delicious: De Dannan, Danú, Mary Black, La Bottine Souriante, Karan Casey, Luka Bloom, Jerry Holland, Fiddler's Bid, Capercaillie, Ron Kavana, North Cregg - to name but a few! So as always for Tønder, book early to avoid disappointment - which is 28. July 2001, at 9 o'clock, when the box office opens. The festival takes place 23.-26. August 2001.
18 festivals picked out of a selection of 100s of European festivals. Europe boosts with festivals right now, and it is well worth to visit them!
Festival Links of this article:
Photo Credit: All photos by the Mollis:
(1) Tom Paxton, (2) Triakel, (3) Transsilvanians, (4) Danu's party in Tonder
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