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European Delights: My Music Festival Flirtations

Jun 8, 2008
Gentle panning ariel shots of small brown people splattering about in front of a huge stage, flashing lights beside iconic figures on giant screens and illuminated, joyous faces bobbing amidst flailing elastic arms: this is how I recall televised coverage of our summer music festivals. I've been to a few festivals but have lost enthusiasm for them lately. The main events always seem to sell out before the idea even pops into my head, the tickets are always frightfully expensive and the line-up often triggers deja-vu of a rather uninspiring list of bands from a couple of years prior.

Perhaps I'm not investigating these festivals properly I thought. There must be a few others featuring a more diverse lineup of talent. But the rain! And the mud! Ptcha! Who'd live in this country? It's not like I require a four star hotel within walking distance of the venue, but dry clothes and a bit of warmth would definitely be preferable to being mud-caked and wind-ravaged.

The Eurovision Song Contest always inspires me to listen to something else. Anything else! I can't help but watch it though because I enjoy Terry Wogan ridiculing bits and pieces and because I am stupidly optimistic that there may be a song, one year, worthy of being recognised as a winner. This year I thought the French entry bucked their trend for the woefully painful and was actually quite enjoyable; surely a contender I thought. But no, apparently it wasn't as fine an example of song writing as the rest of 'europe' produced.

Credit to Russia though for presenting the genius stage combination of singer, violinist and spaghetti-limbed ice-dancer! It makes me wonder, every year, just how seriously these countries view the contest and how much listenable music is actually generated throughout Europe. There must be some classy bands hidden away somewhere beneath a beret or a fez.

This all lead me to contemplate music festivals staged throughout Europe. There are, of course, loads of them! Festival venues from Lake Geneva, the Danube River and Costa Azahar to Mediterranean beaches and nordic capitals! An 8 day extravaganza at Roskilde, Denmark, known as mainland Europe's Glastonbury? Featuring the amazing 'Mogwai' and awesome 'The Notwist' this year! Oh yes! !

I'd never even considered more local venues such as T in the Park in Scotland and the Oxegen Festival in Dublin before. I'm not sure why I limited my festival activities so severely when it's so easy to hop on a plane at Manchester airport or Heathrow airport and 2 hours later arrive in Barcelona, ready for some ear-shrivelling Death Metal! or whatever takes your fancy. So I've been hopping from country to country on the internet looking for the perfect music festival. There's a wealth of choice and plenty within sensible travel distance for a long weekend away.

Tickets for many of these festivals are also much cheaper than you might pay for the pleasure here and there are lots of money-saving deals on flights and airport parking to keep your costs downs. Definitely worth investigating in my books!
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