Lifestyle & Culture

Dispatches’ weekly weekend event guide for Europe: 20 April through 23 April 2017

Tax Day for expats has come and gone, and we hope little of your money has gone with it. All the while Erdogan has more power than he’ll know what to do with, the first round of the French presidential election is scheduled for Sunday, and North Korea wants to turn Seoul to glass.

What to do to leave all your worries behind?

We have a few ideas in this weekend’s event guide, including the start of the Barcelona Open, some flower power in Amsterdam and France, and a heads-up on one of the biggest dark music festivals in Europe. Let’s go!

Amsterdam – Springsnow Festival: Love snow but not so much the cold? Then how about a spring snow?

Every year at this time, the 75,000-plus elm trees around Amsterdam “throw confetti to greet the spring” in the form of seeds, known as “spring snow.” Thus, the name of the annual festival celebrating the occasion, the Springsnow Festival.

Kicking off Friday and continuing until 21 May, all can celebrate the snowfall by traversing (on foot or on a bicycle) the 8-kilometre Elm Route linking the elm arboretum in Amsterdam Noord to the Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world; the route map can be had here.

Festivities kick off Friday with the introduction of the Springsnow Scarf at the Springsnow Exhibition, which can then be purchased at Dutch Design Hotel Artemis (you can also wear the scent of elm long after the Springsnow melts away, thanks to Tijdmakers’ “Eau d’Amsterdam”).

Information on upcoming activities can be found (in Dutch) on the Springsnow in Amsterdam Facebook page.


If you prefer flowers over trees, then Amsterdam’s annual Tulp Festival is one of the best ways to welcome the warm days of spring while admiring Holland’s national flower, the tulip.

Continuing through 14 May 2017, 60 locations around Amsterdam will blossom with color of 500,000 tulips, including the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, NEMO Science Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum.

Our own Terry and Cheryl Boyd went to the festival during a weekend without the children, and according to them, it was divine!

A guide to where you can see every tulip planted can be purchased for €2; the map with purchasing locations is here.

Barcelona – Barcelona Open: Are you ready for some tennis? Then head over to Real Club de Tenis Barcelona this Saturday through next Sunday for the 65th edition of the Barcelona Open!

Part of the 2017 ATP World Tour 500, 48 of the top men’s tennis players will be throwing down on the red clay for the chance to raise the Barcelona Open trophy – designed in 1953 by jewelers Soler Calbot – and walk away with a chunk of the €1.99 million in prize money, including nine-time winner Rafael Nadal and two-time winner Kei Nishikori. Twenty-four doubles teams will also compete at the open.

Tickets for the 2017 Barcelona Open range from €7 for this weekend’s qualifying rounds, to €430 for an all-session event pass good for the entirety of the competition.

Berlin – Achtung Berlin – New Berlin Film Award: This one started Wednesday, but there’s plenty of time to catch the 2017 edition of Achtung Berlin – New Berlin Film Award.

Between now and 26 April, more than 80 films of various lengths are shown around a handful of cinemas in Berlin, including Kino International, Babylon and Filmtheater Friedrichshain.

Also important to note: the week-long festival shows only films which were shot entirely or in part in Berlin and Brandenburg, and all of the films will be seen for the first time ever.

Ticket prices range between €6 and €9, depending on the venue; ticket purchasing information can be found here.

chaumont_garden_festival_2017Chaumont-sur-Loire – Chaumont Garden Festival: Starting today and continuing through to 5 November 2017, the 26th edition of the Chaumont Garden Festival at Château de Chaumont celebrates all things botanical with 30 themed gardens!

The theme this year (if not part of this guide) is “Flower Power,” so expect lots of flowers from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Italy, among other nations.

Fun for the whole family, the months-long festival includes a “Gardens of Light” theme, where the displays are swathed in the glow of over 2,000 candles, which are lit between 22:00 and midnight every evening between 1 July and 31 August.

Art installations, stables, and more await at Château de Chaumont.

Admission to the Chaumont Garden Festival is €15 for adults (€9.50 reduced fare), €5 for little ones between 6 and 11, and free for those under 6.

Frankfurt – Spring Dippemess: Say hello to spring in Frankfurt with the month-long Spring Dippemess!

Taking place at the Ratsweg Fairground through 1 May 2017, the spring edition of Dippemess will bring warm memories of state and county fairs gone by to many an expat, from the market full of wares to the fairground full of food and fun.

From the website:

The Dippemess is a traditional fair that dates back to the 14th century. At that time, the “Maamess,” as it was then called, was a medieval market proffering domestic articles. Potters from the Westerwald, Kannebäckerland and Urberach came here to sell their wares, especially their ceramic bowls and pots. These were known in the Frankfurt dialect as “Dippe,” from which the event soon took its name. Over the years, more and more fairground booths and popular attractions joined the market.

Entrance to the fair is free, while rides range from €1 to €3.

Handbagged: Need a break from the fair? Want to put aside those Brexit fears for a while? Then grab your handbagand head over to the English Theatre of Frankfurt for Handbagged, an English-language play about the rocky relationship/rivalry between late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II.

From the website:

One destined to rule, the other elected to lead. But when the stiff upper lip softened and the gloves came off, which one had the upper hand? Moira Buffini’s new comedy speculates on what the world’s most powerful women really talked about behind closed palace doors.

Tickets for Handbagged start at €27, and can be had here. The play runs through 30 April 2017.

London – Feast of St. George: Feeling the Brexit blues? Forget about them for a few hours on England’s national holiday, St. George’s Day.

Held this Saturday — as 23 April, St. George’s birthday, falls on Sunday this year — the feast bearing his name will grace Trafalgar Square with English food, live music, and fun for all. Some of the fun will include cooking demos, an interactive family adventure trail, and more.

Admission is free. The Feast of St. George runs from noon to 18:00.

Paris – Tour Auto Optic 2000: If you’re not too busy this Monday, and if you love cars, head over to the Grand Palais to see the 230 entrants in this year’s Tour Auto Optic 2000 on exhibit.

The annual rally, sponsored by Peter Auto, will depart from the Grand Palais Tuesday morning, but not before one and all has a chance to see the most amazing vehicles ever to touch tarmac.

The 26th edition of Tour Auto Optic 2000 will shine the spotlight on French makes who are no longer with us, including: Facel Vega, Panhard and Jide.

€10 will grant you access to the beauty under the glass skylight of the Grand Palais.

Stockholm-Gin-Öl_fb_front.001Stockholm – Stockholm Gin & Beer Festival: Spring has sprung in most of Europe, but Stockholm is still a chilly wonderland this time of year. Why not warm up with some beer and gin at the Stockholm Gin & Beer Festival this Saturday and Sunday!

This first edition of the festival will bring together local brews under the roof of Fåfängan Restaurang – including gins, tonics and beers from Stockholms Bränneri, Modernist Brewery and Swedish Tonic – with DJs, live music, tastings, and food.

Presale tickets are SEK 220, SEK 225 at the door; SEK 300 nets you four samples of the finest Swedish bevs.

Tastings are SEK 30 each.

elvis_and_trude_dressing_room_5Vienna – Trude und Elvis. Wien – Memphis – Hollywood: Did you know the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley, had a Viennese connection? You will once you pay a visit to Jewish Museum Vienna’s latest exhibition, Trude und Elvis. Wien – Memphis – Hollywood.

Curated by Marcus G. Patka, Trude und Elvis recounts the story of Trude Forsher, the private secretary of The King in the 1950s, through the many unique items from her estate, and a part of an upcoming documentary about her life by Kurt Langbein.

From the website:

Trude Forsher became the private secretary of Elvis Presley in the 1950s. She was born in 1920 into a Viennese Jewish family. In August 1938 she managed to escape the Nazi terror and also succeeded in rescuing her family. She came to New York via London. From there she continued her journey to Hollywood, a fascinating destination. In the United States Trude contacted her distant relatives from Vienna, the music producers Jean and Julian Aberbach. Their publishing house Hill and Range Songs worked with a number of Elvis’ composers and Trude got the job many teenagers envied her for: She started to work for Elvis Presley and his manager Colonel Tom Parker in Hollywood. Some of Elvis’ associates and friends were Jews. A fact that was not self-evident at that time for a protestant form the South.

Tickets to the museum range from free for those up to 18 years of age, to €40 for a guided tour; full visitor information can be found here. The exhibition runs from now through 12 November 2017.


Netherlands – King’s Day: This is the one day of the year where the Dutch let their hair down and go crazy in their finest orange and blue attire. Our own Terry Boyd got to experience his first-ever King’s Day last year, which you can read about here. The national holiday is celebrated on the birthday of the current regent of the Netherlands, which is currently Thursday, 27 April, the birthday of King Willem-Alexander.

UK – Gloucestershire: Cheltenham International Jazz Festival is the UK’s top jazz fest amid a rural English setting. The festival starts next weekend and runs through 1 May.

Stockholm – Concealed Party:  Starting 8 May, Concealed Party opens a door between two worlds; the real physical world and the inner, fathomless dreamworld. Tana Maneva’s interpretation of the Japanese dance form Butoh fascinates. Everything can happen, the human beings’ light and darkness take a form in front of our eyes. Together with the composer Rikard Borggård Tana Manevas has produced a number of shows both in Sweden and abroad.

Greece – Athens & Epidaurus Festival – A theatrical event with drama, dance and music staged at ancient theatres including the 2,000-year-old outdoor Odeon of Herodes Atticus at the base of Acropolis Hill and the theatre of Delphi. The event runs 1 June through 19 August.

Hildesheim, Germany – M’era Luna: As Europe’s music festival season draws closer and closer, we want you to be able to attend the biggest festivals all over the continent, all of which will be sold out by the time they actually occur.

This week’s festival is M’era Luna, a gothic, metal and industrial music festival held on the second weekend of every August in Hildesheim, Germany on the Drispenstedt airfield (formerly occupied by the British Army). The festival attracts between 20,000 and 25,000 dark music fans every year, all coming out to see artists like The Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, Killing Joke, Placebo, Skinny Puppy, Ministry and more.

This year’s lineup includes: Korn; And One; Blutengel; DAF; Front Line Assembly; KMFDM; and The Crüxshadows. Around a total of 40 artists will gather to welcome the moon between 12 and 13 August 2017 at Hildesheim, along with a medieval market, a gothic fashion show, a disco, and more.

Tickets to M’era Luna range from €99 for a Kombiticket, to €449 for a place among three other friends at the Gothic Garden Ganymed. Entrance to the disco is €5 Friday and Saturday night. The market opens at 19:30 Friday, while the first act of M’era Luna 2017 hits the stage Saturday afternoon.


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