European bluegrass festivals coming up this summer

Music brings people together, and here at ukbluegrass.com we want to celebrate our links and friendships with bluegrassers across Europe as well as on the other side of the Atlantic. There’s a host of excellent festivals happening on the Continent this summer (some have already taken place!) – but here are details of just a few coming up in the next couple of months. Have banjo, will travel!

Republic of Ireland

Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival – 7-9 June 2019

It’s a little late for this one unless you already happen to be in Ireland this weekend and looking for some great music – but we had to give it a mention! This little festival is fabled for its fun and good times, and punches above its weight when it comes to attracting high calibre musical talent from around the world. Centred on the town of Westport in County Mayo, it features concerts, workshops and a LOT of sessions. This year’s artists include AJ Lee & Blue Summit and The Local Honeys from the USA, Red Herring from the Netherlands and many more. If you’re not already headed there this weekend, put it in your diary for next year!

The Netherlands

Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival – 21-23 June 2019

Held in the historic northern district of this ultra-modern city, this free three-day musical festival is a huge event, welcoming around 14, 000 visitors. It’s one of the biggest bluegrass festivals in Europe, and always features an international line-up of both traditional and contemporary styles. This year’s performers include USA rising stars The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys (winners of the 2018 IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year Award) and Grammy winner Chance McCoy. British bluegrass is well represented by top talent in the form of Jaywalkers and The Often Herd. Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival is known for its family-friendly and welcoming atmosphere, with visitors and bands from all corners of the world. There’s a flavour of roots music here for everyone, with old time, Americana and blues music also represented by artists like Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton and Jane Rothfield’s Idumea Quartet. As well as on-stage performances there are workshops and of course jamming opportunities galore. With The Netherlands just a quick hop across the Channel, this is a golden opportunity to experience a really big and bustling festival centred on bluegrass.

France 

La Roche Bluegrass Festival – 31 July – 4 August 2019

A longtime favourite for many UK bluegrass fans, this renowned free festival takes place in the picturesque town of La Roche-sur-Foron in the French Alps. Founded by Englishman Christopher Howard-Williams back in 2006, with the support of the local mayor, businesses and townspeople it has grown into a major annual event, hosting thousands of visitors from across Europe and beyond for a fiesta of bluegrass, Americana and roots. This year’s festival showcases a high proportion of bands that include female talent, as Christopher and his team have made a concerted effort to encourage gender parity in their festival programming (as highlighted by the #keychange initiative). They’ve certainly not sacrificed quality, in fact the 2019 line-up is stellar, including outstanding American artists Mile Twelve and Della Mae. Christopher was honoured by the IBMA last year with the Distinguished Achievement Award for the great contribution that he, his team and the festival have made to the international bluegrass community.