Lifestyle & Culture

Dispatches’ Advance Notice Event Guide for Europe: Welcome to 2018 Edition

Welcome to the first full 2018 edition of the Advance Notice Event Guide for Europe … and the last as we shake things up.

We’re a few days into the new year, and already the world’s two worst manchildren – who, unfortunately, are also “respected” leaders of their respective nations – are battling each other over their respective turn-the-world-to-radioactive-glass-and-blackened-ash buttons.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Speaking of changes, though, this guide is going to change in 2018. We’ve been racking our brains over what you, our Dispatches expats, want to know about, and what you can’t be bothered with.

In fact, this is the final Advance Notice Event Guide ever. We’re going for themed guides for now on, covering everything from the best in tech and startup events, arts and culture and Spring Break destinations to the biggest motorsport and dubstep affairs.

So, for the last time, let’s go!


Amsterdam – Nationale Tulpendag: Aside from Freestate Amsterdam, a few tropes about the Netherlands spring up when one thinks about the country: windmills, dikes, wooden clogs, cheese … and tulips. The third Saturday of January (20 January in 2018) is the start of tulip season, when more than 1.7 billion bulbs will be planted, growing into the beautiful flowers known all over the world by the time spring rolls around.

In Amsterdam, you can celebrate Nationale Tulpendag (National Tulip Day in Nederlands) at Dam Square, where farmers have constructed a temporary tulip garden with more than 200,000 flowers freely available for over 10,000 visitors to bring home.

The theme for this year’s Nationale Tulpendag is Romantic; thus, instead of a rose, why not a bouquet of tulips for the one you love?

Amsterdam – First Art Fair: Start your 2018 in Amsterdam right with the First Art Fair at Passenger Terminal Amsterdam 17 through 21 January.

Once inside the terminal, behold the many paintings, photos, jewelry, and sculptures from new and established artists alike, spread across the stands of 30 participating galleries. There will also be talks from the artists involved in the art fair, should want to deepen your appreciation for their work.

Tickets to First Art Fair are €12.50 for adults, €8 for children between 13 and 18.

Passenger Terminal Amsterdam is located at Piet Hein Kade 27, 1019 BR Amsterdam. The location is easily accessible by car, tram, train and boat. There is a public car park underneath the PTA (paid parking). For more information please contact or call 020-6264020

Berlin – Unknown Pleasures: Feeling homesick for American cinema? Head over to Berlin’s Kino Arsenal and Wolf Kino 12 through 28 January for the ninth edition of Unknown Pleasures.

The biennial film festival “presents American films far removed from Hollywood.” The programme of indie films presented each year “make for intelligent and engaging cinema that defies both Hollywood and mainstream independent film.”

Seventeen films will be on the 2018 programme, beginning with the German premiere of Princess Cyd. Other films scheduled include: The Florida Project; Person to Person; and Cousin Bobby, shown in tribute to late director Jonathan Demme.

Tickets to Unknown Pleasures #9 are €8 at Kino Arsenal, €5 with membership; and €8 at Wolf Arsenal Monday through Wednesday, €8.50 Thursday through Sunday.

Brussels – Art Truc Toc & Design: Through 13 editions, Art Truc Toc & Design in Brussels has allowed young artists of all mediums “to provide each other with effective help, and to give the general public an opportunity to get to know them and to familiarise themselves with contemporary art in the process.”

The 14th edition, scheduled at BOZAR 26 through 28 January, continues this mission with its theme, BODY ART. Expect to see body art in all forms, from tattoos to body painting and everything in between. Over 300 works from around 100 emerging and established artists will be on display.

Tickets to Art Truc Toc & Design are €6.

Karlsruhe – WinterWorld: Are you ready for “Day 1 in the Party Year”? Then get ready for WinterWorld, coming to Karlsruhe, Germany’s dm-Arena 20 January 2018.

This winter party will keep you and thousands of your friends warm with three floors and 20 acts over 10 hours of music. The complete list of DJs — most of whom are from Berlin — include:

Charlotte de Witte; Citizen Kain; Cuebrick; Deniz Bilgic; DJ Rush; Dominik Eulberg; Felix Kröcher; Gero Jansen; HUGEL; Junge Junge; Kerstin Eden; Klaudia Gawlas; Lexer; Lexy & K-Paul; LOVRA; MOSES MEHDI; Neelix; Netsky & Script MC; Sylvain Armand; andTom Franke

Tickets to WinterWorld are €38.

London – Lumiere London: Can’t get enough winter light festivals? Why not head over to London for Lumiere London 18 through 21 January.

The travelling light festival returns to London in 2018 with over 40 British and international artists helping to turn the River Thames into a dazzling light show from King’s Cross to Westminster & Victoria.

And the best part? There’s no admission fee.

Paris – Exposition Concept Cars et Design Automobile: Also known as “La Fashion Week de l’Automobile,” Exposition Concept Cars et Design Automobile at Paris’ Hôtel National des Invalides does away with most of what’s seen at any given auto show, presenting only concept cars in a classy setting.

This year’s selection of concepts include: Mazda’s MX-5 RF; the reborn Alpine A110; Citroen sub-brand DS’ DS 7 Crossback; the Volvo XC60; the BMW X2, and the Jaguar E-PACE.

Tickets to the 33rd edition of Concept Cars — scheduled for 31 January through 4 February — are €15.

Stockholm – Secrets of Couture: Fashion is in the air around Europe right now, so why not an exhibition devoted to fashion?

From 26 January through 2 April, Stockholm’s Sven-Harrys konstmuseum will unveil all there is to known about haute couture with its newest exhibition, Secrets of Couture. The exhibition “highlights the mythical haute couture fashion and its role in today’s fashion climate, and also looks at the possible future orientation of couture.” Pieces from international designers and houses like Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Balmain, as well as Swedish designers like Pär Engsheden and Bea Szenfeld, will be presented in the exhibition, allowing visitors “unique insights into the processes that usually take place behind closed doors” in the world of haute couture.

Admission into the museum is SEK 100 (€11), free for those 18 and under.

Vienna – Regenbogenball: One of the things we’ve figured out while planning the next move with our event guides was that our readership isn’t into Viennese balls.

Thus, you’ll never see them again… but not before you know about one of the most inclusive balls on the Viennese ball calendar.

Coming to Vienna’s Parkhotel Schönbrunn 27 January is the 21st annual Regenbogenball. Unlike most Viennese balls, this one is for those of you who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual et al, and our friends.

Regenbogenball (Rainbow Ball auf Deutsch) embraces the classic Viennese balls (including the dress code) while serving as “an important manifestation of the modern spirit of queer culture, celebrated by LGBTI people and heterosexual guests alike.”

Tickets to the 21st Regenbogenball are €54 pre-sale online, €68 at the box office. Doors open at 19:30, the dance floor opens at 20:00, and the final waltz is at 4:30.


Amsterdam – Chocoa Festival: In the mood for some Dutch chocolate? Then Amsterdam’s Chocoa Festival is where you need to be come 24 and 25 February.

The chocolate festival is more than the festival to get your fill of chocolaty goodness. The 75-plus stands inside Beurs van Berlage will help you pair the right wine with the right chocolate flavors; take you through the chocolate tree-to-bar process; present trends and developments to the beloved food; and shine a spotlight on the future and sustainability of the chocolate industry.

Single-day tickets to the sixth annual Chocoa Festival range between €7 for those between 6 and 17 years of age, to €46 for a group of four adults.

Brussels – Brussels I Love You: Take in the contemporary art world while on a stroll through Brussels 3 through 10 February during the third annual Brussels I Love You contemporary art walk.

The contemporary art walk is designed to “take you through various creative neighbourhoods of Brussels and make you (re)discover them through an artistic eye… bringing together the art lovers, the collectors, the connoisseurs and the professionals,” in so doing. Twenty-four galleries in the heart of Brussels will be a part of this year’s walk, featuring the latest and greatest in contemporary art.

And the best part? Entrance to all of the galleries participating in the third Brussels I Love You is free.

Copenhagen – Vinterjazz 2018: When the Danes throw a jazz festival, they really throw a jazz festival! Between 2 and 25 February 2018, enjoy over 700 concerts at 125 venues across Copenhagen when Vinterjazz returns to town.

Before you tackle this major marathon of jazz, check out the programme to see who’s performing on the nights you have in mind; you can buy tickets to each performance via the programme, also.

And who’s on the lineup thus far? Katie Thiroux, Randy Newman, Makiko Hirabayashi Trio, and Omar Souleyman are among those schedule to perform.

Forest Row – Winter Warmer Festival: In keeping with our “winter is no reason to stay home” theme, there’s the Winter Warmer festival at Emerson College in Forest Row, England 16 through 18 February.

Organized by Into the Wild, Winter Warmer is one of three festivals which takes a completely family-friendly approach to gatherings, such as communing with nature and spending time with kindred spirits. The winter festival is billed as a ”magical weekend of music & story & workshops to warm the heart & soul in the depths of winter.”

Early bird tickets to Winter Warmer are £80, food and drink vouchers £40. Should you miss out, though, Into the Wild will also have Beltane and summer celebrations later in the year.

The Hague – Grauzone Festival: What better way to spend a chilly winter evening at The Hague, Netherlands than at the fifth edition of the Grauzone Festival? The festival is “a multidisciplinary underground festival” with “a diverse and cutting-edge programme where music, film and art complement each other.”

The programme in question “consists of performances by (international) bands and DJ’s” — including this year’s lineup of Cabaret Voltaire, Michael Gira, and Dune Messiah, among others — “a symposium with lectures and interviews, an exhibition and a film program.”

Tickets to Grauzone are €35. The festival takes place at the Paard van Troje 10 February 2018.

London – The London Classic Car Show: Coming to Excel London 15 through 18 February is the fourth edition of The London Classic Car Show. Over 700 classic vehicles from the United Kingdom and around the world will all gather for this “must-attend event.”

On this year’s programme, there will be an homage to famous film and infamous real-life vehicles used to make the perfect getaway; a tribute to the most unique vehicles to ever be brought to life; and the third annual Icon Award, presented to the individual whose presence made the most impact in motoring.

Tickets to The London Classic Car Show are £25 (€29) for adults, £20 (€23) for children between 6 and 16.

Paris – Rétromobile: Classic car collectors of all budgets, this one’s for you. Head over to Porte de Versailles Exhibition Centre in Paris 7 through 11 February for the 2018 edition of Rétromobile.

The long-running classic car affair has expanded to accommodate more of the same vendors, events, and exhibitions hundreds of thousands of guests have come to expect since the first Rétromobile 43 years ago. There will be 550 exhibitors and 500 cars on display upon the new 65,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space at the affair.

Scheduled events on the 2018 programme include: an exhibit sale where classic vehicle prices top out at €25,000; a tribute to Carlos Abarth, whose surname graces every powerful Fiat ever made to this day; a tribute to “The Centaur” Berliet 350 semi-truck; and an exhibit featuring a handful of French cult classics, presented by Youngtimers magazine.

Tickets to the 43rd Rétromobile are €18 now, €20 at the door, free for those under 12.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife – Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Rio de Janeiro host the biggest (and most uninhibited) Carnavals in the world. The Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife is easier to get to (not to mention safer) than the Brazilian version, though.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, of course, is the largest city on the largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife. The coastal city is short flight from the major expat centers, and is a relatively warm and beachy destination in the cold, harsh month of February.

The theme for the 2018 event — scheduled for 7 through 18 February — is “La Fantasia,” and this carnival delivers those fantasies in spades. You’ve got scantily dressed women, men, and men dressed as women; parades, including the opening event with men in dressed as widows carrying a giant sardine; beauty pageants; queens and princesses; and all varieties of music, including at least one mega-concert.

And of course, lots and lots of full-blown street parties spilling over into surrounding towns.

Though the website is in Spanish, Thomas Cook Airlines has a wonderful piece in English going into detail about the second biggest Carnaval in the world.

Vienna – Man Ray: Man Ray was a legendary photographer and artist known for portraiture of artists and rayographs, his experimental fashion photography for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and his contributions to both Dadaism and Surrealism.

And now, the German-speaking world will get to see his greatness first-hand when Kunstforum Wien presents Man Ray 14 February through 24 June.

The exhibition “will be devoted to ‘the universal Man Ray’ and critically address discourses that mark his oeuvre in general,” as well as present him as the prototype and catalyst for artistic networking. A total of 150 works will be on display.

Tickets to Kunstforum Wien to see Man Ray are €11 for adults above 27 years of age.


Belgrade – Resonate: Showing more love to Eastern Europe in our advance notice guide, we’ve found something you should check out in Belgrade, Serbia 18 through 21 April 2018: Resonate (don’t mind the dates on the front page – the 2018 site has yet to be created).

Held annually since 2011, Resonate “provides an overview of current situation in the fields of music, visual arts and digital culture,” bringing together “distinguished, world class artists, educators and musicians, with an opportunity of participating in a forward-looking debate on the position of technology in art and music.”

The festival is split into day and night programmes: the days are filled with lectures, workshops, and exhibitions; the nights are filled with live music. Stephen O’Malley, Mykki Blanco, Addison Groove, Feloneezy, and Nemanja Aćimović are among those scheduled to perform during the seventh edition of Resonate.

A four-day pass to Resonate will set you back RSD 14,746 (€125).

Geneva – Geneva International Motor Show: Once the annual auto show season passes through Detroit and Chicago, the circus leaps across the Atlantic to Geneva, Switzerland for the annual Geneva International Motor Show, scheduled for 8 through 18 March 2018.

Geneva hold the distinction as being the only auto show recognized by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles to occur annually in Europe (Frankfurt rotates between production and commercial vehicles year by year, and Paris is held every two years), and is one of the top five auto shows in the world. And in an ode to Swiss neutrality, Geneva is considered a level playing field for the world’s automakers, as Switzerland doesn’t have an auto industry of its own.

Tickets to the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show are CHF 16 (€14), CHF 9 (€8) for those between 6 and 16.

Lisbon – Eurovision Song Contest 2018: After the end of WWII, Europeans looked at themselves and realized they couldn’t allow their continent to endure another drop of blood shed on the battlefield. Seeking a way to come together, the Eurovision Song Contest was born in 1956.

Eurovision is hard to explain to anyone (i.e., Americans) who doesn’t watch the annual competition within the European Broadcasting Area; it simply has to be seen and experienced.

And the best way to experience Eurovision is to head over to MEO Arena in Lisbon, Portugal for the 63rd edition of the competition between 8 and 12 May 2018. The first two waves of ticket sales have come and gone, with two more scheduled before the madness of Eurovision kicks off once more. A seat at the grand finale of Eurovision 2018 will set you back €35 – €299.


Wacken – Wacken Open Air: It wouldn’t be right to bring this guide to a proper end without including the reason behind it: yours truly wanted to include this long-running hard rock and metal festival in Wacken, Germany in our old Weekly Weekend Event Guide back in 2016, but remembered too late to add it.

Not this time! If you’re ready to bang your head in the new year, then now is the time to make your early August 2018 weekend metal, blacker than the blackest black, times infinity, as 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, Behemoth, Dokken, Judas Priest, and Samael are five of the 72 acts already scheduled to rock the tiny German village of 2,000 like a hurricane 2 through 4 August 2018; about 30 more metal gods will be confirmed over the coming months.

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