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5 of the best winter music festivals

Thought festival season was over? Think again. These European music festivals prove that the pro audio biz is a 365-day industry...

Live music is one of the biggest sectors in pro audio, and the list of European winter music festivals months grows each year, proving that this is indeed a year-round industry. 

Many events head indoors, some take to the slopes and other curated events take place over an entire month to make the winter months, well, a little less depressing. Here’s what’s happening over the next few months…

Transmusicales – Rennes, France (December 6-10, 2017)

Transmusicales is back in the Breton capital of Rennes this December, a city famous for its unique architecture and cider served in traditional boulees (that’s teacups, to you and me). The huge multi-room Théâtre de L’aire Libre has hosted this festival for the past 20 years, with the first year welcoming esteemed French composer and musician Yann Tiersen (who has graced the line-up twice since). The main act each year invites fellow artists to join them over a four-day residency at the theatre – a curation role that has been taken on by Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine in 2013, and, this year, South African actor and musician Nakhane.

Polaris – Verbier, Switzerland (December 7-10, 2017)

Electronic music festival Polaris takes place this winter in the ski resort of Verbier in Valais, Switzerland. The main stage le Mouton Noir is located directly on the ski slopes, 2,200m above sea level (pictured). Artists perform under a crystal dome, of which this year’s line-up comprises American producer Kenny Dope and legendary DJ Bill Brewster. Six stages make up the full programme across the resort for the weekend, and if you think the cold weather could put people off, two out of the three days have already sold out.

Rise Festival – Le Deux Alpes, France (December 16-23, 2017)

This dance festival often brings in promoters Hospitality Records, Ibiza Rocks and Rinse FM to curate its programme – and this year’s line up cites some big names. Craig David headlines on Saturday night supported by Craig Charles’ Funk and Soul Club and upcoming female artist Ray Blk. The après ski disco from days of yore is a long-forgotten concept – post-skiing entertainment has a whole new meaning, and it’s cooler than ever (excuse the pun).

Eurosonic Noorderslag – Groningen, Netherlands (January 17-20, 2018)

In the bustling Dutch university town of Groningen, a music festival and industry conference merge each January under the Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) moniker. The idea is to promote new bands from the Netherlands and across Europe, and, while music fans are in the building, they can attend a conference (4,200 people chose to do so earlier this year). It describes itself as ‘the key exchange and networking platform for European music’, hosting the conference by day and performances by night. ESNS has been responsible for kickstarting the careers of European acts such as Norwegian singer songwriter Aurora, British indie band Bastille, London-based singer and producer James Blake, and Brighton duo Royal Blood.

Celtic Connections – Glasgow, Scotland (January 18-February 4, 2018)

It’s an anniversary year for Celtic Connections – the largest winter music festival of its kind – attracting visitors from all over the world to experience a riot of folk, roots and world music. Programmed by Donald Shaw (founding member of Celtic supergroup Capercaillie), it offers more than 300 events across the city over three weeks. Indie-folk singer songwriter Kate Stables will perform under her moniker This is the Kit, alongside more traditional Scottish music, from a Royal Conservatoire of Scotland orchestral performance to a recital from pianist David Milligan – who performed at the first Celtic Connections 25 years ago. The venues are just as a diverse, taking in the Art School, the Old Fruitmarket and St Andrew’s in the Square.

Working a winter festival this season? Remember to tag us in your social media posts (@psneurope) or email them to [email protected] for your chance to feature in next month’s magazine