Over the next two months, half-a-dozen big concerts will bring international stars to countries that were once locked behind the Iron Curtain, a place where rocking to the music was almost impossible, if not outright forbidden. In large part, these festivals are considerably cheaper than their West European equivalents, despite often being much larger: A ticket for the seven-day Sziget Festival in Hungary, for instance, is 37,500 forint (Rs7,913), while the Reading Festival in England clocks in at three days for £145 (Rs11,890). Poland kicks off its festival season on Friday with Open’er, a three-day party featuring noise-rockers Sonic Youth, neo new-wavers Bloc Party and two sets (one instrumental) from the Beastie Boys, all happening at the Baltic Sea port of Gdynia.
Electronic or rock are hardly the only options: Other concerts around the region this summer include folk, funk, punk and a whole lot of world music—in short, pretty much everything. The much larger Czech festival, Rock for People, will take place from 4-7 July near Hradec Kralove, about 70 miles east of Prague. This year’s line-up includes punk and post-punk groups such as the Killers, the Hives and the Toy Dolls, as well as world music greats such as Mory Kanté, the Guinean master of the kora harp.
There are so many other great festivals around the region that choosing just one seems impossible. Beyond Creamfields and Open’er in Poland, there’s the Pohoda Festival in Slovakia, the very name of which is akin to “cool,” a fitting label for a showcase of Air, Basement Jaxx, DJ Shadow and Cansei de Ser Sexy, among others. Or, there is the Exit Fest in Novi Sad, Serbia, with more Beastie Boys and Cansei de Ser Sexy, as well as such disparate musicians as Robert Plant and Snoop Dogg, though presumably not together.
The following prices are for tickets bought in advance; they may cost more if bought at the site.
1)Open’er, Gdynia, Poland: www.opener.pl; 29 June-1 July; Tickets are 249 zloty (Rs3,526) for all three days, 269 zloty with camping included.
2)Rock for People, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic: www.rockforpeople.com; 4-7 July. Tickets are 740 Czech koruna (Rs1,394) for all three days with camping available for an additional 50 koruna.
3)Creamfields Poland, Wroclaw, Poland: www.creamfields.pl; 7 July. Tickets are €37 (Rs2,035).
4)Exit Festival, Novi Sad, Serbia; www.exitfest.org; 12-15 July. Tickets for four days are €78.50 with camping an additional €15.
5) Pohoda Festival, Trencin, Slovakia: www.pohodafestival.sk; 20-21 July. Two-day tickets are 1,199 Slovak koruna (Rs1,886).
6)Sziget Festival, Budapest, Hungary: www.szigetfestival.com; 8-15 August. Tickets for all seven days are 37,500 forint (Rs7,913), including camping, with one-day tickets priced at 7,500 forint.