With the ar­rival of sum­mer, a string of large-scale art and mu­sic fes­ti­vals are be­ing staged across Europe. Here, we high­light six worth trav­el­ing for.


Europe’s sum­mer arts fes­ti­vals.


The 57th edi­tion of the Venice Bi­en­nale ( un­til Nov. 26; la­bi­en­ is an un­mis­tak­able high point of the global art cal­en­dar. Apart from a slew of pavil­ions in the leafy grounds of the Giar­dini and the Arse­nale—the sprawl­ing com­plex where the Vene­tian repub­lic churned out its fa­mous war gal­leys—the city blooms with all man­ner of ex­hi­bi­tions and in­stal­la­tions. These in­clude bar­na­cle-en­crusted sculp­tures by Damien Hirst at Palazzo Grassi and the old cus­toms house, along with a 20-me­ter­high golden tower by late Amer­i­can artist James Lee Byars in Dor­so­duro’s Campo San Vio.


Amsterdam’s Hol­land Fes­ti­val ( June 3–25; hol­land­fes­ti­ may be the Nether­lands’ old­est per­form­ing arts spec­ta­cle, but it re­mains deeply top­i­cal, with sev­eral artists spot­light­ing prob­lems faced by Western democ­ra­cies. Per­haps more al­lur­ing is this edi­tion’s spe­cial fo­cus on con­tem­po­rary mu­sic from In­done­sia, ex­press­ing the cre­ativ­ity of its modern com­posers in Ruang Suara, and giv­ing fes­ti­val-go­ers a taste of In­done­sian nightlife with mu­si­cal col­lec­tive Jogja Noise Bomb­ing, Ja­vanese ex­per­i­men­tal duo Senyawa, and Kande, a band that com­bines clas­sic Is­lamic per­cus­sion with Western gui­tars and Acehnese vo­cals.


Clas­si­cal per­form­ers flock to An­dalu­sia each sum­mer for the Granada In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic and Dance ( June 23– July 14; granadafes­ti­ Among its many vis­ual and au­ral de­lights, vis­i­tors can soak up sa­cred mu­sic per­formed in the ex­u­ber­antly dec­o­rated Monastery of St. Jerome, trib­utes to early Baroque com­poser Clau­dio Mon­teverdi in the Al­ham­bra’s Court of the Myr­tles, and bal­let chore­ographed to the sounds of Pink Floyd at the nearby gar­dens of Gen­er­al­ife.


The UNESCO-in­scribed old town of Val­letta makes a fit­ting back­drop for the Malta In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val ( June 23–July 15; mal­taarts­fes­ti­val .org). This year, Renzo Pi­ano’s open-air theater within the re­con­sti­tuted ru­ins of the Royal Opera House will host con­tem­po­rary Ja­panese taiko drum­ming and Mal­tese cabaret, vis­i­tors can catch a fla­menco per­for­mance at Fort St. Elmo, while eight in­ter­ac­tive swings on St. George’s Square in­vite the pub­lic to cre­ate a mu­si­cal dia­logue of their own.


Opera-lovers should head to the coun­try’s sun-drenched south for Fes­ti­val d’Aix-en-Provence ( July 3–22; fes­ti­, an an­nual ex­trav­a­ganza held in its name­sake his­toric city. Apart from an en­tic­ing ar­ray of master classes, concerts, and recitals, ex­pect ren­di­tions of opera clas­sics rang­ing from Car­men’s Bizet and Mozart’s Don Gio­vanni to the Tchaikovsky li­bretto Eu­gene One­gin, based off the novel by Alexan­der Pushkin.


The Copen­hagen Jazz Fes­ti­val ( July 7–16; has been a high­light of the Dan­ish cap­i­tal’s sum­mer cal­en­dar since 1979. For 10 days, around 1,000 concerts en­velop the city in a cloud of jazz, with venues run­ning the gamut from the neo-fu­tur­ist Copen­hagen Opera House to cafés and open-air stages in parks, squares, and right along the har­bor front. The event at­tracts top-tier jazz tal­ent from abroad as well as lead­ing artists from the thriv­ing lo­cal scene.

In­side the Venice Bi­en­nale’s Azer­bai­jan Pavil­ion. Left: A con­cert at the Jaz­zhouse club, a pop­u­lar venue for the Copen­hagen Jazz Fes­ti­val.

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