Expat Essentials

Europe and beyond: Dispatches’ always updated list of the best fall-into-winter destinations for 2019

Unlike, say, Americans, Europeans have more down time and certainly are far more likely to travel to international destinations for festivals and events. If you’re a just-arrived expat in Europe, get ready: The party never ends.

Dispatches is essentially an expat lifestyle company, and the best part of our lifestyle is mobility whether we’re talking careers, beaches or festivals. That’s why we create multiple events lists to take you around the calendar from skiing in Gstaad to EDM in Morocco. And our scientific, deep-data method for choosing events on the lists comes down to, “Have friends recommended them?” and “Would we go ourselves?” That’s it.

What we’d been missing was a list that includes the fall events before the winter ski/music festival season starts. And yes, we’re working on that first post about Europe’s best ski destinations.

Oktoberfest – Munich, 21 September thru 6 October

This is sort of like the Tour de France … one of the definitive European experiences – a rite of passage if you will – though maybe one trip will do you for a lifetime. But you still have to go.

In case you’ve been living in a barn in Muskogee, Oklahoma your whole life, Oktoberfest is the biggest fall bash in Germany. There’s beer (really good beer), food (really heavy good German food) and music in giant event-built tents/temp buildings. But it’s mostly about the beer.

The very elaborate Oktoberfest website has all the info you need excluding places to stay in this pricy-but-worth-it city.

A tip: Book your stay now.

Nuit Blanche – Brussels, 5 October

Both Paris and Brussels have “White Nights,” and of the two, this is the smaller event. But Brussels is a lot easier to deal with than Paris.

The Nuit Blanche concept is pretty simple. Art galleries, museums and other cultural gathering places stay open late (or all night) and offer events, parties and concerts/DJs.

In Brussels, the theme of the 2019 edition is “Back to nature,” examining the impact of humans on nature and the role of artists in creating an awareness of climate-related issues.

See the events planned so far here. And they’re all at Tour & Taxis, a former industrial site turned exhibit space/community center.

Nuit Blanche – Paris, 5 October

See above, but bigger … with a parade.

About a dozen “artistic platforms” (we think they mean floats), entirely designed by contemporary artists, will circulate from the Place de la Concorde to the Bastille.

That’s just the beginning. There will be a cross-city run, events for cyclists on the ring road between the Porte de Pantin and La Villette gate and major museums including the Louvre and Centre Pompidou will have special events.

One of the cooler nights in a city where every night is magical. Most of the events are here, but check the program here before you go.

Wine harvest festivals – pretty much anywhere in France from October into November

France becomes more French after the tourists head home, and the festivals celebrating the wine harvest are authentically great. We know from our multiple trips to Alsace to load up in Rodern and other wine villages.

The Harvest Festival – Barr, France, 5 through 7 October. One of France’s largest wine festivals is not in Bordeaux or the Rhone Valley. It’s in little Barr in Alsace on the French/German border.

Barr, which is on the Alsatian Wine Road between Strasbourg and Colmar, bills itself as the French capital of wine and they have the party to prove it.

Fête des Vendages de Montmartre in Paris, 9 thru 13 of October is a celebration around Paris’s only surviving vineyard. But’s it’s really just an excuse for another huge party, with wines, food, a music festival and art from around the world. This year, the theme is diversity with 150 events including a night run. Expect at total of at least 400,000 friends to join you during the five days.

The Chablis Wine Festival in Chablis, 26 & 27 October is another biggie. You can sample (maybe not all at the same time) the wines from 40 producers from Chablis and the Grand Auxerrois. And of course there’s food and lots of traditional parades, music and crafts.

Yoga in Gastein – Gastein, Austria, 11 thru 20 October

Full disclosure … we’re not all that into health and wellbeing unless it involves bourbon and cigars late at night in a club on, say, St. Barth. Which it doesn’t. So we’re not.

But if we were, we want to do yoga in Bad Gastein near Salzburg the Alps. Yoga Days Gastein is the largest yoga event in Europe, and October is the chill post-peak party time before winter and the outdoor events kick in. This looks kinda cool because they’ll take newbies while offering a lot of activities in addition to yoga including hiking and all that stuff healthy people do.


For an Austrian mountain retreat, this is fairly affordable, with four nights of yoga starting at 195 euros. You can book here.

Amsterdam Dance Week – Amsterdam, 16 through 20 October

This is sort of the opposite of Oktoberfest … an insider event that’s not for everyone. But if you want to see the future of EDM, this is the place.

Amsterdam Dance Week is half party, half industry event … and all about the EDM industry. This is one of the biggest electronic dance music events in the world. Last year, ADW drew 400,000 people for 140 countries. Four. Hundred. Thousand.

There is a daytime schedule of conferences looking at everything from new acts to new DJ equipment. There’s the night schedule during which 1,200 new acts will debut at 120 venues across Amsterdam. So you can tell your boss you were networking. 

At 4 a.m.

At Melkweg.

Because this is basically an industry event, tickets start at 300 euros, with a hotel package for 550 euros.

A tip: Amsterdam is less crowded in the fall, but it’s still full of tourists. You might want to consider staying outside the city in Utrecht, Delft or Haarlem. Just a thought.

You can get tickets here.

Club to Club, Turin, 30 October thru 3 November

This is yet another enduring music tradition. Club to Club will have its 19th iteration for 2019. The coolest thing about this is it takes place over five days in four dramatically different venues ranging from a palace to industrial space in an – how do we say this – interesting neighborhood.

This year, the solid lineup includes mainstream acts such as Flume, Chromatics and James Blake along with lesser-knowns such as Let’s Eat Grandma.

Tickets start at 33 euros and you can get them here.

Funk the Dam – Amsterdam, 8 November thru 10 November

A little Amsterdam is great anytime, especially in the late fall after the summer crowds have disappeared.

Craig Charles’s team behind the renowned Funk & Soul Club brings you Funk The Dam – a funk, soul & disco weekend taking place in Amsterdam next month. For the debut year, they have curated a selection of some of the greatest and jazziest artists delving in funk, soul, disco, Northern soul, jazz and brass music from the current scene.

From big room clubs to intimate boat parties, this is the ultimate experience for funk & soul fans to lose themselves in a weekend of debauchery (the organizer’s term, not ours).

Artists include:

Craig Charles, Crazy P (Live), Greg Wilson, Norman Jay MBE, Riot Jazz Brass Band, Kon, Smoove & Turrell, Eddie Piller, Sir Funk, Mixmaster Morris, Liem Jay, Wicked Jazz Sounds, Johanna Mecrker and Steve Fly Agaric 23.

Tickets start at 27.75 pounds and let’s hope Brexit goes away before November because otherwise, the British audience is going to miss out.

Bloody Sexy Halloween – Prague, Brno and Bratislava 31 October.

This is for you Charlie de Wilde. This Halloween event draws people from all over the world, it’s that insane. Bloody Sexy Halloween bills itself as the largest Halloween event in the Czech Republic and Central Europe with more than 5,000 people each year since it started in 2009.

They come for the DJs, the costumes, the pretty people and the pyrotechnics. The event is now a full weekend and includes parties in Brno, Prague and Bratislava.

Tickets start at 250 Czech koruna, or about 10 euros and you can get them here. But don’t delay. Every year is a sell out.

MIRA Digital Arts Festival – Barcelona, 5 thru 9 November

If what you need in your life is more intellectual stimulation, along with more Barcelona, MIRA Digital Arts Festival is just the ticket.

MIRA is a good deal more cerebral than a lot of the party-till-dawn destinations on our lists, so this is for the avant-garde set looking for something deeper. (Check out the very, very strange vid above. What IS that?)

MIRA is a digital arts festival based on three interconnected areas: exhibition, dissemination and education, and has been held annually in Barcelona since 2011 and Berlin since 2016.

This festival tracks the new trends in digital culture and technology through music, AV shows, digital art installations, 3-D sound shows, fulldome vid screenings, conferences, presentations and workshops.

With the future of humanity at stake, the 2019 MIRA takes the direction of protest – exploring the importance of art and technology as instruments of protest and how they reshape the future and demand transformation.

MIRA has commissioned a number of world debut shows and collaborations especially for this year’s festival. 
Highlights include:

• B12, pioneers of British techno and intelligent dance music, or IDM, will present their ground-breaking live show, reinterpreting their vast body of work and masterfully mixing the classic with the new.

• Commissioned by MIRA especially for the festival Norwegian duo Smerz will perform their debut album “Have Fun,” accompanied by video designer Weirdcore, who has collaborated with Aphex Twin, M.I.A. or Simian Mobile Disco. This is a one off performance exclusive to the festival.

• 15 years since performing in Barcelona is ambient producer Biosphere who returns with a premiere of his new A/V show.

• Also returning is synth hero Alessandro Cortini who will be back at the festival for with a brand new A/V show.

• London’s Beatrice Dillon, known for her ambitious DJ will be present her brand new album.

Tickets start at 12 euros, but early birds are sold out. You can get your ticket here

HYTE Festival Berlin – Funkhaus, Berlin, 31 December into 1 January

When should you start making New Year’s Eve plans? Well, now, if you want to party in Berlin.

We just got an email from the HYTE network of global parties stating the flagship HYTE festival in Berlin will return to Shedhalle at Funkhaus, a warehouse venue like no other. The marathon 24-hour party of NYE/New Year’s Day events “featuring a cast of the underground elite alongside its hyped newcomers.”

This is a huge former Communist Party complex that’s been turned into the party people’s industrial milieu of choice.

The lineup isn’t public, but for five years, this has been a marquee event with Carl Cox, Nina Kraviz and all the usual suspects.

You can register for tickets here.

Tickets start at about 77 euros plus a 5-euro trash deposit. You can get them here.

Afro Nation Ghana 2019 – Accra, Ghana, 27 to 30 December

Hip hop didn’t go global … it was born global, sweeping the planet from New York to LA, London and Ghana.

So there are worse places (Finland) to be in mid-winter than Ghana. Which is why Afro Nation is on our list, which includes an increasing number of destinations that aren’t in Europe, but are easy flights via Heathrow, Frankfurt or Schiphol.

Afro Nation celebrates all things afrobeats, hip-hop, London rap, reggae and dancehall, “a party on the country’s golden sands will see party goers enjoy celebrations across Ghana’s sun-soaked coastline, surrounded by beach bars and beautiful lagoons,” according to the news release we got. And there’s surfing.

Oh, yeah … the music. The lineup 6 months out includes J Hus, Medikal,Russ MB, Santi and Tion Wayne, Burna Boy, Wiz Kid, Not3s and Yxng Bane.

Tickets start at 110 pounds (this is aimed at a mostly British audience) and you can get them here.

Yet another play all day, party all night event. You’re welcome.

Most Popular

To Top

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest news and updates from Dispatches Europe. Get lifestyle & culture, startup & tech, jobs and travel news dispatched to your inbox each week.

You have Successfully Subscribed!