Top 20 music festivals around the world to attend through the rest of summer

24 July 2019
By Ellie Palmer
From London to Pyeongchang, the vast array of magnificent events planned for the rest of summer has really left us spoilt for choice



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1. BBC Proms


Until 14 September

The world’s largest music festival, based at the Royal Albert Hall but now venturing ever farther afield to venues around the UK as well as spin-offs around the world. The likes of Eric Lu, Martha Argerich, Yuja Wang, Leif Ove Andsnes and more will be performing over the coming weeks. Here are 7 pianists to look out for.

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2. Lake District Summer Music International Festival

Pictured is Kendal, one of the festival's locations 

Southern Lake District

27 July – 9 August

Tom Poster and Florian Mitrea give solo recitals, with Poster and the Carducci Quartet playing Shostakovich and Mitrea joining the Marmen Quartet in Schumann for piano quintets. Ashley Fripp is the pianist at a ‘Ruskin and Music’ event to mark the bicentenary of the Victorian art critic and social thinker.

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3. Machynlleth Festival

Marc-André Hamelin


18 – 25 August

Marc-André Hamelin (playing Schubert, Liszt and a virtuoso rarity by Henri Herz) and Pavel Kolesnikov in Chopin and Beethoven) are among the big-name artists making their debuts at this West Wales week of high culture curated by Julius Drake, who will himself be busy in both chamber and vocal recitals.

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4. Oxford International Piano Festival


27 July – 4 August

Masterclasses with Alfred Brendel, a Mozart concerto with Ingrid Fliter and a rare UK appearance by Menahem Pressler.

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5. Presteigne Festival

Powys/Herefordshire border

22 – 27 August

An American strand runs through the programme of this week in mid-Wales. Tom Poster and Siwan

Rhys are the resident pianists appearing in chamber concerts with violinist Mathilde Milwidsky, violist Sarah-Jane Bradley and soprano Sarah Gabriel. Poster gives a solo recital of Gershwin, Schubert and new British music.

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6. Besançon Franche-Comte Music Festival

Photo credit: Yves Petit

Besançon, France

6 – 21 September

A combined piano competition and chamber-music festival in the town near the Swiss border where Dinu Lipatti gave his legendary final concert.

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7. George Enescu Festival

Elisabeth Leonskaja is set to perform

Bucharest, Romania

1 August – 22 September

A recent but well-established fixture on the international festival circuit, attracting Europe’s top orchestras and soloists, nearly all of whom bring something of Romania’s greatest composer with them. Pianists this year include Elisabeth Leonskaja and Nobuyuki Tsujii. An associated piano competition runs concurrently and reaches its climax with a concerto final on 23 September.

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8. Grafenegg Festival

Grafenegg, Austria

16 August – 8 September

Piotr Anderszewski brings a pair of Mozart concertos to this picture-postcard Schloss. Founder-director Rudolf Buchbinder is the soloist in Beethoven’s third and the Grieg.

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9. Helsingborg Piano Festival

Helsingborg, Sweden

29 August – 1 September

An intensive late-summer long weekend of masterclasses, recitals, talks and family events, bringing the likes of David Fray and Alice Sara Ott to this medieval city on the south coast.

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10. Lucerne Festival

Lucerne, Switzerland

16 August – 15 September

International stars play in the Jean Nouvel-designed concert hall on Lake Lucerne. Denis Matsuev joins the Festival Orchestra for Rachmaninov in the opening concert, followed by recitals from Daniel Lebhardt, Maurizio Pollini and Yuja Wang.

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11. New Ross Piano Festival

County Wexford, Ireland

25 – 29 September

Artistic director Finghin Collins brings international pianists to County Wexford, in the piano friendly acoustic of St. Mary’s Church, New Ross. This year they include Barry Douglas Maurizio Baglini, Clara Siegle and Sae Yoon Chon, with a special Clara Schumann day.



12. Rarities of Piano Music Festival

Husum, Germany

18 – 26 August

The innovation at this week on the North Sea Coast is a joint recital from five young recipients of the festival’s scholarship programme. There follow sonatas by Alexandrov, Weinberg and Stanchinsky, arrangements of songs by Strauss and Trenet and much more, played by Mark Viner, Cyprien Katsaris and Xiayin Wang, among others.

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13. The Riga Jurmala Music Festival

Yuja Wang

Riga and Jurmala, Latvia

Until 1 September

This new-concept festival - directed by Martin Engstroem (Verbier Festival founder and director) - takes place in the historic cities of Riga and Jurmala and will be presented across four weekends throughout July, August and September. Among the pianists attending are Yuja Wang, Murray Perahia, Jan Lisiecki, and Lucas Debargue.

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14. Salzburg Festival

Salzburg, Austria

Until 31 August

Beethoven tops the menu in recitals given by Evgeny Kissin, Maurizio Pollini and Grigory Sokolov. Innovative as ever, Igor Levit presents Liszt’s Transcendental Studies alongside the Adagio from Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony

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15. Tsinandali Festival

Tsinandali, Georgia

8 - 22 September

Verbier Festival founder Martin Engstroem has yet another new festival ready to roll in September. This takes place deep in Georgian wine country, 40 miles northeast of the capital Tbilisi. He has secured yet more big piano stars, including George Li, Sir András Schiff and Yuja Wang.

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16. Aspen Music Festival

Aspen, Colorado

Until 18 August

Public masterclasses and rehearsals galore take place to the stunning backdrop of the Colorado mountains. Conrad Tao, George Li and Joyce Yang are a trio of talented young Asian-Americans giving recitals.

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17. San Francisco International Piano Festival

San Francisco, California

15-25 August

In its third edition, a new and exciting kid on the block of West Coast piano culture. The festival has grown in size and depth since its premiere outing, 

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18. Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Until 19 August

The New Mexico-based festival returns for its 46th year. Debussy, Strauss, Mahler and Berlioz will all be on display at this Chamber music festival.

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    AFRICA & ASIA    


19. Klein Karoo Klassique

Oudtshoorn, South Africa

8 – 11 August

Presented in the Little Karoo town of Oudtshoorn in South Africa, this festival features classical music, local art, beautiful cuisine and wine. Klassique has become a platform for a variety of South Africa’s most accomplished classical musicians, many of whom are consolidating national and international reputations. 

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20. Pyeongchang Music Festival

Pyeongchang, South Korea

Until 10 August

Classical music meets fresh air in the mountains. The 15th season of the Asian music festival features plenty Rachmaninov, Mendelssohn, and Shostakovich, and includes appearances from the Korean String Quartet, pianist Alessandro Taverna, and the Pyeongchang Festival Orchestra.

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