Despite being lively and thriving, the Russian music scene has always remained obscure to the mainstream eye. So here’s a list of classic, interesting and eclectic music festivals that are must-go’s when you go to Russia!
1. Afisha Picnic
Where: Kolomenskoye, Moscow
When: End of July
This annual ‘picnic’ is actually the biggest all-day bash of the summer in Russia. This festival is one of the oldest and best known in Russia, famed for attracting some of the best-known international headliners, the hottest of the current rock names. Although it lasts only a day, it makes up for this with a huge marketplace, a food court, cool stuff to do like master classes, auditions, quests and even an open air museum. The location itself is the icing on the cake – a former Tsar’s estate on the banks of Moscow River.
(Images via: Afisha Picnic/Facebook)
Where: Tyver Oblast, Moscow
When: First weekend of July
The name literally means “invasion”, and Nashestvie is one of the largest open air music festivals in Russia. The lineup usually includes the crème-de la-crème of Russian rock, but unless you’re into Russian rock, you might find a lot of these names unfamiliar. But this is the ideal destination for Russian rock faithfuls, because the musicians that are regulars at Nashestvie are the ones who pretty much created the rock scene in Russia. This traditional camping and party on-site festival has become one of the most popular music events in Russia.
Where: Amber village, Krasnodar region
When: August 6 to 9, 2015
Every year, Kubana attracts thousands of fans to its open-air music and recreation extravaganza. This predominantly rock festival has grown from a local act to a massive international event. The festival was supposed to have its last run in 2014, but has been brought back for 2015 in an all-new revamped version. Over the years, it has attracted massive names like The Offspring, Infected Mushroom, Korn, and System of the Down.
4. Usadba Jazz Festival
Where: Arkhangelskoe, Moscow
This festival may just be the most chill music destination in Russia, and is on its way to becoming a family destination. Featuring joint jazz, funk, world music, acid-jazz, lounge, jazz-rock, blues and other directions of contemporary improvised music, it’s definitely a festival for the cultured music-lover. There are shows of brass ensembles, playgrounds, vintage and designer fairs, and to top it all off, a grandiose firework show to finish!
(Image via: Usabda Jazz Festival/ St.Petersburg Convention Bureau)
5. Alfa Future People
Where: Nizhny Novgorod
When: July 17 to 19, 2015
With this year, Alfa Future People has made its mark on the electronic music festival scene. A small festival that went upped its scale enormously, it surprised everyone this year with a huge lineup of some of the biggest electronic names in the world, and a stage to die for. Futuristic and fabulous, Alfa Future People is now becoming known as one of the best Russian music festivals for electronic music.
6. Wild Mint Folk Festival
When: Jun 26 to 28, 2015
When it comes to world music, the Wild Mint Folk Festival held in Moscow is the largest of its kind in Russia. It has become the ultimate destination for salient artists from all over the world, especially those that turn to root of folk music. If you do find yourself here, you’ll probably get a taste of folk music like Balkan, Celtic, Portuguese, Georgian, genres like afrobeat, ethnojazz, reggae, Spanish indie-pop and even Finno-Ugric lamentation songs. Since 2008, it has become a multi-day festival offering camping, and a whole array of fun things aside from the music itself. There’s food from countries all over the world, workshops, even meditation and yoga!
7. Grushinsky Bard Song Festival
Where: Mastryukovo lakes, Samara
One of the oldest and most historically significant music festivals in Russia, Grushinsky began in 1968 and goes on to this day, despite having split from its original promoter. Although originally featuring only bard songs, it has expanded into a lot of different folk styles. The stage is actually built on a raft in the shape of a guitar, with its fingerboard serving as a bridge to the shore! The festival attracts a good number of young people, and the communal atmosphere and the bard song sing-alongs make for a fun, rustic experience.