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Best International Festivals: Northern Europe

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In Northern Europe the old world mingles with the new in a refreshing celebration of tradition and modernity. It’s a unique region in which you can explore ancient castles, cobbled villages and flower-strewn meadows, but also find streets full of cyclists, bustling canals, and innovative modern architecture. Exciting festivals that combine the best of both worlds abound, so if you’re planning a Northern European Voyage to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm or any other Scandinavian cities, be sure to book it around these great upcoming events.


Open Monumentendag/open Monument Days – September 8-9, 2012

Also known as ‘Heritage Days,’ almost all Dutch municipalities participate in this event by opening private historic buildings to the public. The purpose is to encourage an interest in local history among tourists and residents, and most historical sites organize special exhibitions, musical performances and tours.


Risør Wooden Boat Festival – August 2-5, 2012

A celebration of maritime culture, the Risør Wooden Boat Festival takes place just a few hours outside of Oslo and is one Norway’s biggest yearly events. New and old wooden boats fill the harbor and the streets are lined with entertainers, vendors selling traditional handicrafts, and visitors eagerly awaiting the passing street parades.

Oslo Chamber Music Festival – August 10-18, 2012

Founded in 1989, the Oslo Chamber Music Festival is a great opportunity to hear world-class chamber music while visiting some of Oslo’s oldest and most beautiful concert venues. Many of these venues, including the Akershus Castle Church, the chapel at the Royal Palace, and the medieval church Gamle Aker, are not usually open to the public.


Stockholm Jazz Fest 2012 – October 5-7, 2012

The Stockholm Jazz Fest was first organized in 1980 and has come to be recognized as one of the world’s best venues for jazz music. If you’re a jazz lover, it’s a great opportunity to meet fellow enthusiasts and see some of the best living performers in the world do their thing on stage.

Oktoberfest – August 2-11, 2012

You didn’t think October-fest only happened in Germany, did you? Stockholm’s version of Oktoberfest is free and open to the public, with beer and food available for purchase at the festival.


Helsinki Festival – August 17-September 2, 2012

The largest arts festival in Finland, Helsinki Festival draws tens of thousands of visitors each year and features a variety of music, dance, and performing arts events. Many events are free to the public, and you can find ticketing info here.


Copenhagen Night of Culture – October 12, 2012

For one night only, museums, galleries, libraries, exhibition halls, churches, and theaters across Copenhagen open their doors for extended hours and special events. Most stay open from 6pm until midnight offering special entertainment, food, dancing and more, so you’re sure to have fun and get a taste of true Copenhagen culture. Don’t forget to order a Culture Kit before you go!

Aarhus Festival – August 31-September 9, 2012

Take a short train ride outside of Copenhagen to Denmark’s second-largest city and visit the Aarhus Festival, an annual arts and culture fest that’s been around since 1965. The 2012 theme of this event is “BIG,” and you can count on seeing all kinds of music and dance performances, exhibitions, contortionists, and sports.


Which cities and festivals in Scandinavia interest you most? You can experience all the treasures of  this region on one of many Northern European Voyages with Windstar.


Image credits: #2 via Risor Trebatfestival, #3 via Patrik Hamberg, #4 via Kulturnaten

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