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 final summer bashes and fall events before the winter ski/music festival season starts. Now we have it ….

Sunandbass 2019 – San Teodoro, Sardina, 7 thru 14 September

This will be the 16th year for Sunandbass, which includes eight days of artists coming from across the globe to this sun-and-sea festival. There’s only one small problem … they haven’t released the lineup for the festival. And this is organized by a German firm based in Berlin!

Doesn’t matter because Sunandbass sells out every year. This year, they apparently have standby tickets for the daytime activities starting at 35 euros. You can try to get tickets and accommodations here.

BPM Festival – Portimão Portugal, 12 thru 15 September: A music festival in the Algarve? With established stars such as Adriatique, the Martinez Bros and Maceo Plex as well as relatively new stars like Patrick Topping from DC10? We’re in.

BPM Festival runs four days in September at two beach clubs with like, a million people playing. There has to be someone you’ll like. Here’s the full lineup.

Full festival passes start at 184.44 pounds and you can get them here. You can also book travel and accommodations through Travel Republic

Oasis FestivalMarrakesh, Morocco, 13 thru 15 September

The desert spring, not the band. As we always say, this isn’t Europe, but you can get there easily from here. The tagline for Oasis Festival – in Marrakesh from 13 thru 15 September – is, “Dance Somewhere Different.” We’re down with that.

This year, acts include Horse Meat Disco, Mall Grab and a ton of French DJs including Ciel and Apollonia.

Weekend passes start at 181 euros and you can get them here.

The BubbleGħajn Tuffieħa, Malta, 16 thru 22 September

Do NGOs know how to party? This one does. The Bubble is a “celebration of contemporary music and arts,” according to the website. It’s also a gathering in Malta from 16 thru 22 September of people interested in awareness of worthy causes and issues such as climate change. And 100 percent of the money goes to humanitarian and environmental causes. This is a loooong way from those boat parties in Croatia.

Tickets start at 35 euros and you can get yours here.

Connect – Düsseldorf, 21 September

Connect returns to Düsseldorf for a second year. This is a partnership between Awakenings and Time Warp, two of the most influential electronic music festivals,

Big Names at Connect include Nina Kraviz, Boris Brejcha, Richie Hawtin and Solomun.

Tickets start at 67.50 euros and you can get them here.

HYTEx A Day at the Park – Rotterdam, 21 September

Underground festival brand HYTE is coming to Rotterdam for its Netherlands debut.

HYTE takes the main stage at “A Day at the Park” on 21 September with the Chris Liebing as the headliner.

Also on the bill are Nicole Moudaber, Nic Fanciulli and Green Velvet as well as Dutch stalwarts Adin and Wouter S. And there’s one more big headliner that’s TBA, according to the new release we just got from Chris Alderton. (Thank you, Chris.)

HYTE is a global company that puts on killer events from Miami to Berlin, so this should be pretty sic.

Tickets start at 44 euros and you can get them here.

Les Dunes Electroniques – Ong Jmal, Tunisia, 21 & 22 September

Les Dunes Electronique returns to Tunisia’s famous “Star Wars” set after a three-year hiatus. LDE is held at Luke Skywalker’s hometown, Mos Espa, from the original Star Wars flick. This year, 30 performers from Tunisia’s and France’s electronic scenes, along with international acts, are coming to the desert.

Mixmag is billing it as a “30-hour rave in the desert.”

Yes, this is Tunisia, and we’re well aware the issues. (Please … we survived six wars!) But LDE’s partner is Tunisia’s national department of tourism, so we’re thinking security will be optimal. Also, tourism in this North African country so close to Europe is way up this year. So far, so good.

Tickets start at 42.50 euros and you can get them here.

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.

Kookeet 2019 – Bruges, Belgium, 28 thru 30 September

In the summer, the perfectly preserved city of Bruges isn’t really a recommended destination because it’s the Venice of the North … jam-packed with tour groups. In fall, travelers return, and this is worth attending.

Kookeet is a culinary festival … a showcase for 32 of Europes best chefs and pastry chefs. The guest chef this year is Jennes Brevet from Manoir Restaurant in Kruiningen in the Netherlands.

Three-star Michelin chefs are nice, but Kookeet is mainly about the glories of street food, with most dishes under 10 euros.

This is a free event, but 100,000 people typically turn out. Might be more this year as this is the final Kookeet as organizers refresh the concept.

A tip: Stay nearby in Antwerp, one of our favorite cities.

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.

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.

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