When Febby, Noni and I were talking about the next theme for #CeritaJalanAsik (that’s “Fun Travel Stories” for you non-Indonesian speakers) and the theme “Concert and Festival” was suggested, my mind actually went blank. For some reasons, I immediately thought of “music festivals” and images of a band playing in a huge stage with thousands of screaming fans flooded my mind. I don’t hate these festivals, in fact the thought of dancing around with friends to my favourite music sounds pretty amazing – but the truth is I’ve never really been to one.
I guess this makes me a little but uncool, unlike Noni of Nyonya Sepatu who has obviously been to some cool concerts/festivals herself. Don’t forget to read her recommendations on must see concerts and festivals.
When I lived in Europe for my study, I knew I wanted to see concerts and festivals as there seem to be many interesting ones in this continent. However I was a little skeptical, I mean, could I really see concerts and festivals with my student budget? I was especially impressed with the answer as I soon found out that there were SO MANY options.
For example, when summer comes, there is an endless list of choices. If you’re into summer festivals, you can check out Febby of Jalan2Liburan’s post on the festivity of summer festivals – she has a lot of experiences on them!
Here are some of the concerts and festivals that I’ve been to that are also affordable on a student budget in Europe.
La Folle Journée in Nantes
La Folle Journée is like the coolest thing EVER. It is the largest classical music festival in France and it is held in Nantes every year. During its 5 days duration, you can see all sorts of things from free piano recitals to paid classical concerts. I went to the free ones of course, and it was amazing to be able to enjoy all these concerts for free. If you are in the area during this festival and is a fan of classical music, I completely recommend it. Check out its website to find out more of its programmes.
Carnaval de Nantes
This is a yearly carnival in Nantes, usually between the end of March until the beginning of April. During those carnival days, Nantes is transformed into a vibrant and colourful city. There are different carnivals going on, I went to the day carnival and also the night carnival. These are for free as you can just see the map of the carnival and wait for them in the street. It was such an exciting experience was for me seeing carnivals in the cool Spring weather, in Indonesia watching or taking part in a carnival always meant swimming in my own sweat and gasping in the hot and humid weather.
Angers Nantes Opéra
I have never watched an opera before living in Nantes but I do love the idea of it. So when I heard that La bohème was playing in town, I could not miss the opportunity. Angers Nantes Opéra is a festival held in Nantes and Angers and is dedicated solely on opera – how cool is that?! I dragged my friend and we chose the “semi” cheapest seats (which was near the aisle, and it was kind of more like an “additional” seat that folded up when you didn’t use it). The price of the ticket goes as low as €5, so you can choose which ever suits your budget. I have to be honest though that the seats I chose weren’t the most comfortable but when you’re a student, you make it work and I had a fantastic time watching La bohème (although it was in Italian with French subtitle, and I could only translate the opera in my very limited French) – I never knew an opera could be so intense and so much fun at the same time.
Cirque Du Soleil in Nantes
OK, so you can actually see Cirque Du Soleil almost anywhere in the world, but my first ever time seeing this amazing “circus” was in Nantes as suggested by a friend. I went with a group of friends and was completely amazed by all the acrobats flexing their super stretchy bodies, doing mind boggling acts. Like for real, are their muscles made from elastic bands?! I remember the tickets being quite expensive (for a student) but still affordable. The range is €30- €80, again depending on the seats. The show was held at Zénith Nantes Métropole in Nantes and the place is absolutely massive. I paid for the cheapest tickets but there were lots of empty seats in front of me and at almost the end of the show, some of my friends moved to the empty seats to take a closer look – not sure if you are allowed to do this but no one kicked us out. See here for the official website for Cirque Du Soleil in Nantes (and also other cities too).
For more information on concerts and festivals in Nantes, you can check the Nantes Tourism Calendar and see what’s going every month.
Ludovico Einaudi in Lyon
I love listening to Ludovico Einaudi, it is always so calming and my goodness that guy can play the piano. The pianist regularly holds shows all over the world and when he came to Lyon I practically jumped up and down. I made my way down to Lyon from Zurich just to see him live. It was so cool! He performed some of his famous works mixed with modern instruments (even some electronic music) and you’d think a piano concert would be so sleepy and boring but on the contrary, the vibe was phenomenal that I stayed excited the whole time. I guess for this concert it was a bit pricey, I paid around €44 but it was SO worth it plus this can be your “once in a while student splurge” (yes there is such thing!). On Einaudi’s website you can see all the concert dates and cities.
“How to Become a Parisian in One Hour” in Paris
If you’ve ever lived or visited Paris, then you’ll realize there are certain characteristics that define the Parisians. These characteristics are ever so popular and often confusing to tourists and new comers to the city that people started making books (my favourites are Stephen Clarke’s books, they are ridiculously funny and light to read), movies and even jokes to explain them. Olivier Giraud is a French comedian who does stand up comedy on “becoming a Parisian”. When I went to see this show, I couldn’t stop laughing. The prices ticket for this show is around €20-€37 (depending on the seat, naturally I chose the absolute cheapest one) which is actually not all that bad. Don’t forget to choose the Etudient Prix which gives you discount as a student. Oh, and the show is in English, which means non-French speakers can actually understand the jokes. Here is his official website if you want to see the show.
There are a few websites selling official concert and festival tickets in France, one of them is FNAC. You can check their website for current concerts/festivals.
Züri Fäscht in Zürich
Züri Fäscht is the city festival in Zürich and it is only held once every three years. I was lucky enough to experience this festival and the quiet Zürich suddenly turned a little chaotic and streets were filled with people. It was really a complete change of scenery. Note this, if you are in Zürich during the first weekend of July, check if this festival is on and join in the fun (not that you could miss it anyway). There were music and food stalls everywhere but the best thing about the festival is its firework shows. It is absolutely free for anyone to watch BUT you have to come early and find a spot where you can see the fireworks. My spot was at ETH university and as I couldn’t come early, it was packed but I did get to see the spectacular show.
Sechseläuten in Zürich
This is a Spring and a very unique Zürich festival. Basically this is the day when everyone in Zürich takes a day off and enjoy the turning from winter to spring (and eventually summer). They have parades all day long and at the end of the day people will gather near the lake at Bellevue and burn a huge snowman which they call “Böögg” and is a symbol for winter. At 18.00, they will start burning the Böögg, filled with firecrackers, and wait for it to explode (don’t worry, very safe, Swiss style). The quicker the Böögg explodes, the sooner spring will come and the better the summer will be. It’s all very exciting! Again, it gets super crowded, so secure a spot early at Bellevue. You can read all about this festival here.
Open Air Film Festival in Barcelona
Every summer (usually July-August), there is an open air film festival at Montjuïc in Barcelona. My friends who were living in Barcelona suggested the idea, and I agreed to it. It was an amazing experience, watching a film outdoor in the most amazing city in the world with my friends. The ticket for this event is super affordable, €6.50 and it starts at night, around 20.00 but perhaps it’s better than you come early to secure the best place to sit. For more information, you can visit the website here. Knowing Barcelona, I bet there are many more festivals all year round.
Edvin Marton in Bucharest
I have never actually heard of Edvin Marton until my friend suggested it when I was in Bucharest. The concert was amazing and I can’t remember the price, but knowing me, I wouldn’t exactly go if it were a super expensive one. Unfortunately I didn’t go to a lot of concerts in Bucharest as I was too busy doing assignments but I was told that there are operas and ballet performances held regularly at the National Opera House, you can see the list of performances here.
After writing this, I realized that I did go to some awesome concerts and festivals, and a few of them are even free. So if you are currently or planning on studying in Europe, use your free time to see these concerts and festivals!
This week’s theme: Concert and Festival