Championing everything from jazz to literature, 2020 is shaping up to be one big party in Europe. Whether you’re savouring an intimate acoustic gig in snow-blanketed Switzerland or grinning at the extravagant parades of Munich’s spring jamboree, the continent comes up trumps in the culture game. You’d be hard-pressed to find more dramatic backdrops, impressive line-ups and unique hotels than at this year’s high-energy happenings…
Vienna International Accordion Festival: Vienna, Austria
When is it? 22 Feb – 22 March 2020
Where to stay: Close to the festival, in the heart of Vienna, Hotel Stefanie delivers 17th-century charm in spades.
What’s on? Celebrating its 21st birthday this year, Vienna International Accordion Festival, or ‘Akkordeon’ is a timelessly youthful celebration of the instrument and those who play it. Expect plenty of dancing and an atmosphere you’ll want to jar up and keep forever.
Lisbon Fish and Flavours Festival: Lisbon, Portugal
When is it? 4 April 2020
What’s on? This celebration of Portuguese cuisine is a seafood-lover’s dream. Savour gastronomic fish dishes in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere with live music and entertainment – this European food fair is a genuine delight.
Where to stay: Once you’ve washed down some of the best fish in the country with your fair share of fine wine, sleep it off in luxury at one of our spectacularly preserved Lisbon-based hotels. Just alongside the Avenida da Liberdade is Hotel Lisboa Plaza, while Solar Do Castelo sits within a medieval castle village in the Alfama district.
Zermatt Unplugged: Zermatt, Switzerland
When is it? 14 – 18 April 2020
What’s on? A combination of acoustic gigs and soft spring snow, intimate music festival Zermatt Unplugged is back this year, with four days of open-air performances and fire pits here you can grill your own Swiss cervelat sausages over. The 2020 line-up features Dido, James Morrison and Kaiser Chiefs – although it’s arguable that the true star of the show is the world’s most recognisable mountain looming in the background.
Where to stay: After a day of low-key gigs and off-season skiing, seek out Belle-Époque beauty Hotel Monte Rosa to elevate your stay entirely. The first hotel ever built in Zermatt, it miraculously retains its antique alpine charm without forgoing modern comforts.
Cork International Choral Festival: Cork, Ireland
What’s on? Bringing extraordinary voices together from all over the world, Cork International Choral Festival is a glorious celebration of choral music. This year, you can expect world-class performances, competitions and eclectic programme that promise to bring the city to life.
Where to stay: Make The Metropole Hotel in Cork your historic home-from-home during the choral festival. Based in the city’s Victorian Quarter, the luxurious stay has welcomed stars of the screen, art, stage and literature. See why for yourself here.
Roßleithner Bergklänge: Roßleithner, Austria
When is it? 1 May 2020
What’s on? A art-fuelled bonanza of history, music, dance, acrobats, animals and handicrafts, Roßleithner Bergklänge is perfect for culture vultures who don’t want to dedicate themselves to a week-long festival. In just one day, the organisers pack in a programme that entertains and delights – all within the intimate, mystical and traditional setting of the Pyhrn-Priel area.
Where to stay: Roßleithner-based Villa Bergzauber combines everything the modern traveller would expect – heated outdoor pools, sauna, infra-red cabin, flat-screen TVs and superior rooms – all within a unique historic building from 1900.
Latvia Beer Fest: Riga, Latvia
When is it? 22 – 30 May 2020
What’s on? Beer – and lots of it. The largest beer festival in the Baltics – Latvia Beer Fest – is a feel-good festival with more than 500 craft beers and local brews. It’s a dream-come-true for beer buffs – but even if you’re not a craft beer connoisseur, the festival promises a day of refreshing fun with the ones you love – all within the rich history of Riga itself.
Where to stay: From the moment you arrive, you’re made to feel at home in the laid-back Metropole – the first-ever-operated hotel in Riga. If you can tear yourself from the sophisticated rooms and luxurious suites, a city brimming with culture (and beer) awaits.
Jim Dowling Festival: Glengarriff, Ireland
When is it? 18 – 21 June 2020
What’s on? From pipers to harp players, traditional Irish tunes are at the heart of this traditional festival. Jim Dowling Festival lights up the village year after year with its unique sounds, mouth-watering food and plenty of craic to boot.
Where to stay: Built in 1745, Eccles Hotel is a light-filled, time-travelling stay on the ethereal Wild Atlantic Way in West Cork. It’s the perfect base to explore Glengarriff – especially when Jim Downling is in the village – and even offers luxury spa treatments (perfect if you’ve overdone it on the Guinness).
Cactus Festival: Bruges, Belgium
When is it? 10 – 12 July 2020
What’s on? Bruges knows how to put on a party. Located in the fairytale Minnewater Park, with giant trees and healthy food trucks, Cactus Festival has won awards for its dedication to eco-friendly festival-ing. Its motto: “Small is beautiful”. But while the carbon footprint is small, the musicians playing are big. Previous acts include: Gnarls Barkley, Massive Attack, Patti Smith, Paul Weller, Elvis Costello, Bryan Ferry and Tracy Chapman.
Where to stay: Forget tents and portaloos -let Hotel Flanders pamper you during the feel-good festival. Just a short distance from the festival – and the rest of the UNESCO-famed sights of Bruges – it’s the ultimate base for in-the-know travellers.
Ljubljana Jazz Festival: Križanke Summer Theatre, Ljubljana, Slovenia
When is it? 16 June – 20 September 2020
What’s on? For more than five decades, Ljubljana Jazz Festival has wowed and entertained locals and tourists alike. Bringing in magnificent musicians from Europe, Japan and America, the festival’s vibrant spirit, carefully chosen performers and old-age charm make it one of the world’s leading jazz festivals.
Where to stay: Let charisma and culture flow into your festival stay. Reaching Antiq Palace from the jazz festival is easy: soon you’ll be immersed in 16th-century luxury in the beating heart of Old Town Ljubljana.
Ansbach Rococo Festival: Ansbach, Germany
When is it? 3 – 7 July 2020
What’s on? For those who like their festivals with lashings of flamboyance, Ansbach Rococo Festival will deliver. This Venetian-carnival-esque party delivers days of high-energy fun: think music, magic, juggling, dancing and big Baroque fireworks.Where to stay: Pair your festival theme with your stay – Schwarzer Bock is a Rococo match made in heaven. First built in 110
Galway International Arts Festival: Galway, Ireland
When is it? 13 – 26 July 2020
What’s on? Culture from all walks of life, in the European Capital of Culture 2020. Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF) is a place where people come together for an extraordinary infusion of music, theatre, comedy, literature and all kinds of other art forms. This year’s line-up includes musical performances from the Pixies and Sinead O’Connor, as well as John Gerrard’s thought-provoking art installation, ‘Mirror Pavilion’.
Where to stay: Keep the culture flowing by surrounding yourself in the charm and luxury of Gregans Castle Hotel. A little more than an hour’s drive from GIAF, this 18th-century castle is rumoured to have influenced writer J.R.R. Tolkien for his Lord of The Rings novels.
Umbria Jazz Festival: Perugia, Italy
When is it? 10 – 19 July 2020
What’s on? Italians love their jazz, too. Umbria Jazz Festival is another goose-bump inducing jazz-a-thon with an all-star line-up: the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Veronica Swift, Stefano Bollani and the San Francisco Jazz Collective.
Where to stay: From smooth jazz to sweet silence, former monastery Relais San Biagio is conveniently located in Perugia, at the slope of the natural park of Mount Subasio. The peaceful haven will steal you from the chaos, so you can take time out for peace, serenity and natural wellness treatments.