Lifestyle & Culture

Dispatches’ Advance Notice Event Guide for Europe: Early November 2017 Edition (updated)

Our Advance Notice Event Guide, published every Friday with updates has proven to be a hit. Thank you, expat readers across Europe.

This week, we’ve added the start of Karneval in Cologne (Köln), which is a huuuuge event; the Charles Dickens Festival, not in London, but in Deventer, Netherlands and Sthlm Food & Wine for a total of the 30 best events, festivals and parties in Austria, Germany, Netherlands, France, Czech Republic, Finland (deep breathe) Sweden, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Poland and even Monaco. (Like we know anybody there.)

Let’s go!


Amsterdam – Amsterdam Light Festival: Start your Christmas season right with the sixth annual Amsterdam Light Festival 30 November 2017 through 21 January 2018. The canals and city streets in the heart of Amsterdam will come to life with over 40 light sculptures from Dutch and international artists — including a light object by Chinese artist and activist Ai WeiWei — all evoking this year’s theme, “Existential.”

Whether on foot or on a canal cruise, you’ll definitely see the Netherlands’ most famous city in different light as the sun sets on 2017. More information about the Amsterdam Light Festival will come soon.

Berlin – Christmas Garden Berlin: Inspired by the annual Christmas garden in London’s Kew Garden, Berlin’s Botanical Garden Berlin will host its second annual Christmas Garden Berlin from 16 November 2017 to 7 January 2018.

Thirty light installations dot the 2-kilometre circular route, creating a magical Christmas wonderland for all to enjoy. A cozy fireplace with concessions and an ice skating rink with skate rental only add to the festive atmosphere.

Tickets to Christmas Garden Berlin are €17 for adults 15 and up, €19 Friday through Sunday and on public holidays. Children between 6 and 14 can enter for €14.50, €16.50 during the weekend and holidays.

Cologne – Karneval kickoff: The main Karneval (which is the run up to Easter) events don’t start in earnest until next February, ending at the stroke of midnight on Shroud Tuesday – often referred to as Fat Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday). But the official start of Karneval in Cologne is 11 November at 11:11 a.m., to be precise.

Those wild and crazy Germans do it right, with about 70,000 people turning out in costume for concerts, food and beer.

At 11.11 a.m. the Street Carnival is officially opened at the Alter Markt by the three principal Carnival figures: the Prince, the Peasant and the Virgin. Explaining Karneval is a long and complicated story … just get a crazy outfit and go with the flow!

We couldn’t find a dedicated website, but this has a some detailed info.

Eindhoven – GLOW: GLOW is a light and color festival held near the end of every autumn in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, which has a history of lighting innovation and electronic technology dating back to the 19th century.

Artists and designers from home and abroad present light art and design applications at GLOW by using new media technologies, such as computers, sensors, animations, and also the well-known projection techniques. The light art festival stretches from the city centre to Strijp-S, featuring at least 25 different displays to dazzle the eyes.

GLOW runs from 11 November through 18 November, concluding with the GLOW Run 6-kilometre fun run through the entire festival.

Europe – Global Spirit Tour: Right now, British legends Depeche Mode are close to wrapping up the first leg of their Global Spirit Tour, in support of their new album, 2017’s Spirit.

Starting 15 November, though, the Basildon Boys will kick off the European leg of their tour at Dublin, Ireland’s 3Arena, then hopping across the Channel to Frankfurt’s Festhalle 24 November; they’ll come to Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome in early January. The months-long leg will wrap up 25 February 2018 at Moscow’s Olyimpski, then it’s on to Latin America.

Want to see the trio in person? Click the link above to purchase your tickets now.

Helsinki – Slush: The sun may have gone down early, but don’t let it go down on your startup dreams. Take them to Slush in Helsinki, Finland 30 November and 1 December.

Despite the ice and snow bound to be around when you land in the Finnish capital, more than 2,300 startups, 1,100 venture capitalists, and 600 journalists from over 120 countries came to Slush in 2016 to drive business, and to experience the phenomenal atmosphere (and not just the northern lights).

This year, 17,500 people are expected in Helsinki for Slush, demonstrating that Europe is bumping up against The Valley as the dominant tech center. There will also be some heavy, heavy hitters giving speeches at the startup extravaganza, including: author, filmmaker, and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore (who will open Slush 2017); Mood Rowghani from the original Sand Hill Road VC Kliener Perkins; Trivago founder Rolf Schrömgens; Mark Pincus (Zynga); Illkka Paanenen (Supercell); Nicholas Brusson (BlaBlaCar); Monique Woodard from 500 Startups; and Kat Manalac from Y Combinator.

With that kind of star power, this ain’t gonna be cheap; tickets to Slush 2017 start at €395 euros for startups.

London – Bonfire Night: “Remember, remember, the fifth of November.” This line is to commemorate the time Guy Fawkes and his crew attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I in what came to be known as the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605..

Today, the day is remembered with tonnes of fireworks and effigies of the failed bomber going up in flames. There are plenty of places to celebrate the madness a few men attempted to bring to fruition a few centuries ago; click the link above to know where to go.

London – Christmas at Kew: Celebrate the holiday season under the sparkle of over 1 million lights draped over heritage trees and buildings during Christmas at Kew at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew from 22 November 2017 to New Year’s Day 2018.

This year, the annual display has a new mile-long trail through the garden, where trees will sing to you while lights dance under the ethereal waters of the garden’s lake. Little ones can also see Santa and his elves hard at work, while the adults can warm up with some mulled wine or hot chocolate.

Tickets to see this magical wonderland range from free for those under four, to £60 (€68) for a family ticket.

Munich – Tollwood Winter Festival: For 10 years, the biannual Tollwood Festival has been bringing concerts, performances and exhibitions to the center of Munich, one of Europe’s most exciting cities. The music and arts festival occurs in the summer and winter, the latter occurring from 23 November through 31 December.

This year, the festival topics focus on mobility and a sustainable culture of mobility. The Tollwood theme is “Culture for all”; as a consequence, about 70 percent of all events at each Tollwood Festival has free admission, including entrance into the festival grounds.

This year, one of the big attractions is Cirque Èloize from Montreal; tickets can be purchased here. Their show iD is about the fight against the anonymity of megacities, according to the Tollwood website. The show is a mashup of West Side Story,hip hop, ballet, breakdancing, and poetry.

There are a ton of other events, many of which are in German only; check the calendar here.

Prague – Transmission Festival: On Saturday, 25 November 2017, the new edition of Transmission festival is coming. It is going to be the 12th edition and will take place again in one of the most modern multi-functional venues in Europe, the O2 Arena in Prague, where the magical dance music will be combined with a spectacular visual show.

Line-up (in alphabetical order)

  • ALY & FILA – One of the most popular DJs will represent both energetic and uplifting melodic side of trance.
  • COMING SOON!!! – The psytrance duo coming from Israel will follow up the big success of the last year’s Vini Vici set and they will heat up the O2 arena at the end of the night.
  • DRIFTMOON – Slovak DJ and producer will open the night with a very special ‘Ceremony of the Warriors’.
  • FERRY CORSTEN PRESENTS GOURYELLA 2.0 – The classic trance project of Ferry Corsten – Gouryella will open the new chapter exclusively prepared for the Transmission festival.
  • MARKUS SCHULZ PRESENTS DAKOTA – This audiovisual show of the Dakota project titled ‘The Nine Skies’ will be presented by the resident of Transmission festival.
  • PURPLE HAZE – The legend of dance scene Sander van Doorn ressurects his progressive alias which only the world’s biggest festivals have the honour to witness.
  • SIMON PATTERSON – The great return of the tech-trance banging set after seven long years.
  • SUPER8 & TAB – An expected premiere of the Finnish duo at Transmission festival.
  • THOMAS COASTLINE – Czech DJ and producer will warm up the crowd for the fourth time in a row.
  • VISION IMPOSSIBLE – This Dutch award VJ team will prepare the amazing visuals and the Transmix – one of the highlights of the night – with the perfect mix of music, lights, lasers and pyro show.

Stockholm – Sthlm Food & Wine: Yes, the spelling is correct. Sthlm Food & Wine bills itself as the biggest foodie festival in Scandinavia with 250 exhibitors, more than 35,000 visitors and 300 media representatives. All this to see the latest pickled herring dishes!

We’re kidding … the Nordics, especially Denmark, have been where the actions is since René Redzepi opened Nomo in Copenhagen all those years ago, completely revolutionizing the restaurant experience, along with how we view cuisine in the Nordics.

Sthlm Food & Wine, which runs from 9 November to 12 November, is another of the increasingly popular public/industry events, with celebrity chefs and TV personalities and a huge range of cooking clinics and food- and wine-tastings.

You can see the full schedule here.

Tickets start at 175 Swedish krona (about 18 euros) and you can get them here. (There are kids’ tickets for about 3 euros.)

Of course, you can get complete food & wine experience packages for up to 530 krona, or 55 euros. Which sounds amazingly affordable considering this is Sweden we’re talking about.

Utrecht – Le Guess Who?: This year marks the 11th year of Le Guess Who? in Utrecht, a unique festival held in a picturesque city. If you are looking for experimental, out-of-the-box music, then LGW? is the festival for you 9 through 12 November.

Fresh new talent and legendary acts combine to bring this lively city even more alive. A cool feature of Le Guess Who? is the fact the organization doesn’t fill in the line-up. They appoint bands to do it for them. Which means you’re going to see a lot of bands that musicians know, but are debuting to the broader public. Or more eclectic performers you won’t see at Glastonbury.

From the website:

During four days, Le Guess Who? takes over the city center of Utrecht with 100 performances set to electrify churches, galleries, theaters and pop venues. Side programs with music, film, art, photography and markets appear at cafés, hotels, restaurants, wharf cellars, de Neude square and the hidden corners of the city.

Out of 100 acts, we recognized … not one (this writer did recognize Thurston Moore and Prurient, though)! Okay, maybe The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda performed by the Sai Anantam Ashram Singers.

Tickets to Le Guess Who? range between €35 and €40 for a single-day ticket, €130 for a full four-day pass.

Vienna – Vienna Red Cross Ball: Vienna is known for its classical music, its art, and its ball season. From November through April, over 450 balls happen through out the City of Dreams, reaching its peak in January and February.

The first ball in the 2017-18 season is the Vienna Red Cross Ball at Vienna City Hall 17 November. The ball benefits a different charity every year; this year’s beneficiary is Holidays in Vienna, which provides summer and therapy camps to children with special needs.

The year’s host country is Italy, “which will be highlighted by a unique cultural program and rich cuisine.” The ball’s theme is “Baroque Venice,” and in keeping with both the theme and the ball in general, it will be a masked ball (for the women, anyway; men simply need to wear their best tux or gala uniform).

A ticket to the Vienna Red Cross Ball is €60. Doors open at 20:00, the ball runs from 21:15 to 4:00.


Amsterdam – Valhalla Electronic Music Parade: Need some wubs in your life? Looking for a way to enter Valhalla without fighting a horde of fierce warriors? Want to start your Christmas a bit early? Then head over to Amsterdam’s RAI Amsterdam 23 December for the 2017 edition of Valhalla Electronic Music Parade.

Take a journey through the “Circus of Myths” the night before Christmas Eve with a lineup of 37 headlined by: Fritz Kalkbrenner; Hot Since 82; Kölsch; Paco Osuna; Speedy J; and Yellow Claw.

Want to see your friends and loved ones in Valhalla? Tickets to the EDM carnival are €52.50.

Bad Goisern am Hallstättersee – Krampuslauf: In Trumpvania, naughty children become President, their stockings filled with “clean” coal, toy Minuteman missles bound for North Korea, and delusions of grandeur.

In the Netherlands, a racist caricature whisks naughty children off to Spain to prevent Catalonians from bidding adios to Madrid… and maybe attend foam parties in Ibiza, too.

But in Austria, Czechia and Germany, naughty children are condemned to burn in Hell for all eternity WHEN THE KRAMPUS COMES TO TOWN ROOOOOOOAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!!!!

Every December, roving bands of Krampus — half-goat, half-demon, all-blackened death metal eldritch abominations… or just drunk people in costume, usually — follow behind St. Nicholas to flog and snatch every naughty person they can find (well, not snatch, but scare the little ones while flogging the adults with birch twigs) in many an Austrian, Czech, and German town, including Austria’s own Bad Goisern am Hallstättersee, home of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hallstatt Dachstein Salzkammergut.

The festivities begin 17:00 on 7 December, the terror follows at 18:30.

Brussels – Be Film Festival: If you want to see the best in Belgian cinema, the 13th edition of the Be Film Festival is for you.

Taking place at Palais des Beaux-Arts and La Cinémathèque Royale in Brussels from 19 through 24 December, the annual film festival “offers a cinematographic and festive meeting in the company of some of the leading lights of Belgian cinema.” A number of the films on the programme have already been seen at some of the biggest film festivals in Europe, including Cannes, Berlin, and Venice, so you can see them again or catch them for the first time.

A pass to the Be Film Festival is €20 through 12 December, €28 from 13 December onward; tickets to the opening ceremony and individual screenings will be available soon.

Deventer, Netherlands – Charles Dickens Festival: Expats in the Netherlands know about this. For the rest of you, the Netherlands has this obsession at Christmas time with the author of “A Christmas Carol” We went to a festival in Thorn last year and guess what … there was an entire village of people dressed up as characters from the Christmas classic greeting visitors. Cool!

You can experience the Dutch Dickens 16 and 17 December in Deventer, which is about 60 miles east of Amsterdam. This is about more than “A Christmas Carole.” This festival encompasses the whole charming town of Deventer. About 900 characters from Dickens’ novels come to life including from “Oliver Twist” and “The Pickwick Papers,” his first novel.

This is a huge deal, with a Dickens Museum and big celebrations in several locations including a theater. And about 125,000 visitors show up each year for a bit of the Christmas spirit. And if this doesn’t do it for you, nothing will!

One tiny detail: You can expect to wait about an hour in line to get into the village at the height of the festival. It’s that popular.

There are dinner and hotel packages if you want to make it a weekend.

Eindhoven – Sushi Festival Eindhoven: Bayonetta once said it wasn’t Christmas without caviar. Would my favorite Umbra Witch consider sushi as a Christmas delicacy, as well?

You might after attending Sushi Festival Eindhoven in Eindhoven, Netherlands 23 and 24 December. Sushi stands, workshops, chefs, and more await your senses a mere 48 hours before Sinterklaas and/or the Krampus come to visit your house!

Tickets to Sushi Festival Eindhoven range from €9.50 to €25, depending on how much you love your sushi.

Essen – Christmas Beer Festival: Need some good Belgian brews to get you through the last bit of Christmas shopping this year? Why not head up to Essen, Belgium for the 2017 edition of Objectieve Bierproevers Essen Regio’s (O.B.E.R.) Christmas Beer Festival 16 and 17 December.

Last year’s festival saw 2,200 beer lovers from 30 countries partake of around 178 Belgian winter and Christmas beers, as well as some hot Gluhkriek (cherry beer, either sweet or sour). This year is expected to be the same, with 150 brews available, including 22 on tap.

Tickets to the Christmas Beer Festival are €20 for a single day. For that, you receive seven drink tokens, a bottle of water, a guide to the festival, and a tasting glass.

Don’t delay, though, as only 900 tickets will be sold for each day, and 16 December is already sold out.

Saalbach-Hinterglemm – RaveOnSnow Festival: The RaveOnSnow Festival bills itself as the “ultimate mountain-top party,” occurring near Salzburg, Austria in Saalbach-Hinterglemm from 14 through 17 December.

The music is non-stop EDM from around 50 acts, headlined by DJs Sven Väth, Ben Klok, Boris Brejcha, and Extrawelt.

To get to the snow-covered rave in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, you must first fly into Salburg, then board a train or flag a taxi; or head over to Munich to hitch a ride on RaveOnSnow party bus.

Weekend tickets to RaveOnSnow start at €85, while the weekend and Thursday will set you back an additional €10; single-day tickets are also available.

Vienna – Hofburg Silvesterball: Ring in the New Year in your most fabulous ball attire at the Hofburg Silvesterball 31 December, held at Hofburg Vienna (Imperial Palace).

What to expect during the Silvesterball? “Top-class performers from Vienna’s opera houses, big-name bands and orchestras, as well as catchy rhythms from waltz to jazz to dj sounds,” as well as “a fantastic midnight show and a firework display above the old town.”

Tickets to ring in the new year at the Hofburg Silvesterball range from €165 for access to all ballrooms and a glass of sparkling wine during the welcome portion of the ball, to €720 for a seat reservation in the Festhaal with a four-course meal w/ red or white wine and mineral water, and a glass of champagne for when the clock strikes 2018.

The festivities start at 18:30, and continues until 4:00 the following year.

• 2018

Ascot – Royal Ascot: Several months from now, the Ascot Racecourse in Ascot, England will come to life with the thunder of hooves and throngs of fancy-dressed party people when the centuries-old Royal Ascot welcomes the British summer 19 through 23 June 2018.

The horse racing extravaganza is known more for the thousands in attendance than the horses who compete for a share of nearly £7 million (€7.6 million) in total prize money over the course of the competition. In fact, the Royal Ascot is considered a major event in the British social calendar; thus, expect to see lots of wealthy, well-mannered, very important people in their finest there (aside from the Queen and her family, of course).

Tickets to the 2018 Royal Ascot are on sale now, ranging from £27 (€31) for a seat in the Windsor Enclosure on Tuesday and Wednesday, to £82 (€94) for a place among the royals in the Queen Anne Enclosure on the final day of competition Saturday. Early-bird discounts end 30 November, so don’t wait.

Budapest – Sziget Festival: In 1993, a small music festival was established in Budapest, Hungary on the island of Óbudai-sziget, meant to be a low-cost affair for local students.

Twenty-five years later, Sziget Festival has grown to be one of the biggest music festivals in Eastern Europe, if not the entire continent; it has won the Best Major European Festival category twice during the European Festival Awards in 2011 and 2014.

More than half a million guests – spread out over several days– attend the multi-day festival annually, all coming from the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and, of course, Hungary to see the likes of Prince, Iron Maiden, R.E.M., Fatboy Slim, Crystal Castles, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and so many more major artists rock the stages.

Not much is happening so far for the 2018 edition of Sziget, though you can sign up for their newsletter to learn who will be announced over the next few months. In the meantime, be sure to mark off 8 through 15 August 2018 on your calendar so you don’t miss out on one of Europe’s biggest festivals.

Europe – Us + Theme: Pink Floyd alum Roger Waters will bring his Us + Them tour to Europe in early April 2018 with two dates at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi, wrapping up months later 31 August 2018 at Moscow’s Olyimpski; he’ll stop for a three-night stand at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome 18 – 19 and 22 June 2018.

What to expect? Songs from Pink Floyd’s best albums, including Dark Side of the MoonAnimals, and The Wall, plus a few new songs from Waters’ upcoming work, Is This the Life We Really Want?, due 2 June 2018.

Tickets can be purchased via the link above.

Gdynia – Open’er Festival: Eastern Europe needs more attention in these guides, so here’s another rock festival in the region for your consideration: the Open’er Festival in Gdynia, Poland from 4 through 7 July 2018.

Originally known as Open Air Festival (and held in Warsaw from 2002 through 2005), tonnes of big names have graced the stages of Open’er over the years, including: Lorde; Radiohead; LCD Soundsystem; Drake; Pearl Jam; Rihanna; Prince; and Muse.

It’s a while yet before the 2018 lineup is announced, but you can get your early-bird tickets right now for PLN 379 – PLN 579 (€90 – €137), depending on how many days and/or whether or not you want to camp at the festival.

Monaco – Grand Prix of Monaco: There are three jewels in the Triple Crown of Motorsport: Le Mans; Indianapolis; and Monaco. Only one driver has ever accomplished the feat of driving in all three competitions: British racing legend Graham Hill, who won all three races back-to-back in 1962 and 1968; he also won all three races on separate occasions, but either way, he’s the only one.

While your friends get ready to celebrate the start of summer with the Memorial Day 1100 (the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600), you can book your ticket to one of the most historic venues in all of motorsport when the Formula 1 circus comes to Monaco — Monte Carlo, to be exact — 24 through 27 May 2018. Tickets are available now, ranging from free for little ones hanging out in Grandstand L, to €3335 for a VIP experience in the Elite Terrace Saturday and Sunday.

And yes, some packages are already sold out. If you’ve got the means, don’t wait.

Munich – Starkbierzeit: You already know about Munich’s most famous beer festival, Oktoberfest. Should you think that’s child’s play, though, then Starkbierzeit is for you.

From 2 through 25 March 2018, experience only the strongest (as in flavor, not in alcohol content) of brews with half the crowds of Oktoberfest from 18:00 through midnight each night of the festival, which is older than the biggest fun fair in the world by two centuries; it was founded by the city’s Paulaner monks in the mid-1600s.

Oberhausen – New Waves Day: If you need more darkness in your life as the summer’s heat approaches, head up to Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen, Germany 26 May 2018 for the second edition of New Waves Day.

This year’s festival was headlined by British gothic rock legends The Mission, and this year’s lineup thus far will not disappoint this writer: England’s own Fields of the Nephilim, Dutch dark music masters Clan of Xymox, and German gothabilly act Der Fluch are the announced acts thus far on the 2018 bill.

Early-bird tickets to the 2018 New Waves Day are on sale now for €51.30, and will be shipped to your door starting in November. More acts will be announced in the coming months, so keep checking the website and Facebook for details.

Vienna – Vienna Philharmonic Ball: One of the biggest Viennese balls to experience during the ball season’s peak is the Vienna Philharmonic Ball at the Musikverein 18 January 2018.

Since 1924, the ball has been a mainstay of the ball season, where all are welcomed to the sounds of the Vienna Philharmonic during the introduction. The ball took brief hiatus between 1932 and 1948, and has only be cancelled once since: 1991, at the start of the Gulf War.

Tickets to the Vienna Philharmonic Ball will go on sale 8 January 2018, each one priced at €180, €70 for those under 27. Dress code is floor-length gowns for the ladies, tails for the lads.

Wacken – Wacken Open Air: The reason the Advance Notice Event Guide even exists is because yours truly wanted to include this long-running hard rock and metal festival in Wacken, Germany in one of the weekly weekend event guides back in 2016, but remembered too late to add it (our policy is to never add sold-out events to the weekly weekend event guide, no matter how awesome it is).

Well, now is the time to strike if you want to make your early August 2018 weekend metal, blacker than the blackest black, times infinity, as early-bird tickets to the hardest, heaviest, most brutal festival in all of Deutschland — if not the world — are on sale. The three-day, all-in pass is €221, and includes the festival’s new W.O.A. Card, which is your actual ticket; the cardboard one is a souvenir.

Would you like to know who’s been confirmed thus far? Check it: Arch Enemy; Dimmu Borgir; Judas Priest; Sepultura; and Vince Neil are five of the 20 acts already scheduled to rock the tiny German village of 2,000 like a hurricane 2 through 4 August 2018, with 80 more metal gods to be confirmed over the coming months.

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