1. Unsound – Krakow, Poland
Former Soviet Union countries are among those that have best used music festivals as a golden opportunity to revive their tourism. Unusual scenarios combined with costs that to the eyes of Western tourists look surprisingly low, have contributed to the success of many events, such as the Unsound Festival. Born in the cellars of Krakow bars in 2003, the festival has become itinerant over time, reaching London, New York, Tbilisi, Minsk and Adelaide. However, the concept of bringing the cream of emerging electronic music in dialogue with architecture and visual arts firmly remains at the heart of its artistic direction. An example of this is one of its most famous locations, the imposing lobby of the Hotel Forum, a brutalist building dating back to the nation’s communist era. The venue is a perfect match with musical genres, like techno, that make extensive use of the post-Soviet iconography. Unsound Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary from October 9th to 16th, 2022, in Krakow, Poland.
2. Coachella Valley Music & Art Festival – California, United States
Once a symbol of the cream of indie music, Coachella has evolved into the most glamorous of music festivals, attracting the new international jet set, including influencers, models, and tycoons. The outfits of its eccentric audience and the breathtaking scenery of the Coachella Valley, in the Idaho desert, now seem to capture the attention of the gossip-thirsty media more than its hipster-chic line-up. Combining pop, indie rock and rap it can count on astronomical cachets and names including Billie Eilish, Tyler, The Creator, Maneskin and Harry Styles. Coachella is, however, also about art and design thanks to a series of installations such as that of the Architensions studio: five modular towers that reflect on the relationship between man and architecture of entertainment, subverting the trend of single-family suburban housing in the Coachella Valley.
The Coachella Valley Music & Art Festival took place between April 15th and 24th.
3. Béton – Le Havre, France
Music, food and brutalism, is there a better deal for an architecture lover who aspires to a holiday on the coast of Normandy? Le Havre, one of the main French ports, was one of the European cities most affected by air raids during the Second World War. Today, the aesthetic of reconstruction has become a force for the city that dedicates the Béton music festival to brutalism. The event explicitly nods in its name to the term ‘béton brut’, raw concrete, a neologism with which in 1952 Le Corbusier first defined the architecture of his Unité d’Habitation in Marseille.
Featuring live shows, food stalls and tours of local brutalism, Béton promises to be the ideal way to wave goodbye in style to summer during the weekend of August 26th-28th.
4. 8 Festival – Vilnius, Lituania
If rock music is traditionally associated with the idea of freedom and an epic of libertines, 8 Festival could make you reconsider these concepts. The event – which in its first edition promises to bring the best of contemporary rock to Lithuania, from Swedish punks Viagra Boys to British exciting newcomers Black Country, New Road – stands out for its decidedly unusual setting: an old prison in Vilnius. The audience will thus be enclosed within the impressive stone walls of the ancient Lukiškės Prison 2.0, enjoying hours of electric guitars under the stage erected in the prison courtyard. The building, recently restored and converted into a multifunctional exhibition and event space, was also the setting for the new season of the acclaimed Netflix series Stranger Things.
8 Festival takes place in Vilnius, Latvia, from June 17th to 19th.
5. Eden Sessions – Cornwall, United Kingdom
About twenty years ago, a group of volunteers converted a clay pit in Cornwall into the Eden Project, an ambitious environment halfway between a cultural hub and a greenhouse with the aim of demonstrating the possibility of regenerating a now sterile natural space that had been intruded and affected by human action. Today Eden Project is one of the most fascinating botanical gardens in the world and, consequently, an enchanting location for live music. The Eden Sessions, a summer music festival, bring gigs to the spectacular setting of Cornwall with legendary names that this year include Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Nine Inch Nails and Stereophonics, among others.
The Eden Sessions take place from May 16th to July 7th at the Eden Project in Cornwall, United Kingdom.
6. Terraforma – Milan, Italy
Another event that makes interaction with nature its core is Terraforma, an electronic music festival that returns after the pandemic in the bucolic setting of Villa Arconati, just outside Milan. ‘Terraforma’ is the theoretical concept according to which life on a planet becomes possible following the formation of oxygen. The festival therefore strives to be a place for the creation of new vital dimensions and artistic trajectories in harmony with nature. It is music that acts as a catalyst in an attempt to reduce – at least for a weekend – the gap between art and life. In addition to the performances of musicians and DJs, installations and workshops offer food for thought on the subject, while the sustainable philosophy of the setting is another fundamental element of Terraforma’s mission – today one of the most fascinating and important Italian festivals with a distinct international flavour.
Terraforma becomes a reality on July 1st-3rd, at Villa Arconati, Castellazzo di Bollate, Italy.
Lost, Labyrinth Original Sound Track – Parma, Italy
The festival at the base of the great Pyramid is back. It is located inside the world’s largest labyrinth, designed by Franco Maria Ricci with Pier Carlo Bontempi and Davide Dutto, selected by Domus as one of the “magical” Italian parks to absolutely visit.
This could be the perfect opportunity to do just that: there will be 28 artists from 11 countries, spread across several stages, including a “lost garden” and a courtyard at the foot of the art collection, where a hyper-contemporary soundtrack will resonate for 34 hours of music. It is the second edition of the festival, which expands after a two-year forced stop with site-specific creations throughout the maze and involving the museum spaces.
Immersed in the esoteric symbolism of the labyrinth, it begins on Friday, the 17th, which in Italy is a scaramantic day, a week before the spring solstice. Saturday and Sunday free tours of the Labyrinth's art collection.
June 17-19, Labyrinth of the Masone (Parma, Italy)
8. Snowbombing – Mayrhofen, Austria
If the idea of spending a week scorched by the Nevada desert sun doesn’t match your idea of a perfect holiday, the Austrian mountains may be the right alternative. Snowbombing is a one-of-a-kind festival, combining winter sports with DJ and band performances. Born at the beginning of the millennium in the French Alps as an après-ski party, Snowbombing has evolved into an articulated event that today brings artists from multiple genres to perform in locations ranging from ski slopes to igloos.
Snowbombing takes place in Mayrhofen, in the Austrian Alps, April 4th-9th.
9. Sea Change Festival – Totnes & Dartington, United Kingdom
In 1925, philanthropists Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst purchased a large asset of land in Dartington, just off the coast of Devon, England. A little less than ten years later the couple launched the Dartington Hall Trust, an ambitious land regeneration project based on both agricultural and artistic and educational activities. In the following decades the remote town would become the birthplace of the Arts Council and the first school of performing arts in the United Kingdom, as well as attracting a number of illustrious creatives and historical personalities such as Walter Gropius, Igor Stravinsky, James Lovelock, Aldous Huxley , Lawrence of Arabia, Bertrand Russel, Jacqueline du Pré, and Imogen Holst among others. Today Dartington and the neighbouring village of Totnes are two prolific centres for pottery workshops and galleries that heroically resist the globalization of corporate chains that otherwise dominate the British economy. Sea Change celebrates this heritage by bringing the cream of emerging indie rock to the meadows and buildings that have marked the area’s unique relationship between art and territory.
Sea Change Festival takes place on May 27th-29th, 2022, in Totnes and Dartford, Devon, United Kingdom.
10. Dalhalla Opera Festival – Rattvik, Sweden
Lake Dalhalla in Sweden is one of only three sites in the world whose conformation is the result of the impact of a meteorite with the earth's surface. This asset alone would be sufficient to make the location of this classical music festival worth the price of the ticket. Nestled among rocks, the lake is, however, also a place that combines a breathtaking view with exceptional acoustics that make it ideal and, above all, sufficiently intimate for opera performances. The location which has been used for concerts since 1991 under the initiative of Margareta Dellefors, a retired opera singer, now hosts the Dalhalla Opera Festival, one of the most renowned events in the calendar of classical music connoisseurs.
The Dalhalla Opera Festival takes place on August 12th and 13th at Dalhalla Lake in the municipality of Rattvik, Sweden.