From Audioriver To Unsound: Poland’s 11 Best Music Festivals
Since 2006, Poland has gained a significant number of music festivals that have transformed the country’s summer and fall event calendar. It’s become a significant player in the international music festival landscape thanks to festivals like Tauron Nowa Muzyka, where we danced to Porter Ricks and Ry X at our sponsored area, and Audioriver, where we’ve invited the likes of Ben UFO, Robert Hood and Moodymann to perform on the Telekom Electronic Beats stage this weekend. But of course, there’s a lot more to the Polish scene than that; it seems like there are new gatherings almost every year. To help you keep up with the developments, we rounded up the top events on Poland’s 2017 music festival calendar.
Goa Dupa: July 20-23 in Baligród
Held at Baligród’s Natura Park resort in the Bieszczady mountains, Goa Dupa combines beautiful surroundings with a positive atmosphere and trippy music. As its name implies, its lineup of selectors skews towards a mix of international and Polish goa and psytrance producers. It features multiple stages for dance music, various high-tech art installations, interesting performances, restorative wellness workshops and even a flea market. This one’s a must-do for dance music fans looking for a retreat in a bucolic setting.
INTRO Festival: July 22 in Racibórz
Once a year, INTRO Festival lights up the small south-western border town of Racibórz for a 10-hour kaleidoscope of sound and light. Located in a 13th-century castle, the event focuses on cutting-edge music and advanced multi-media visuals and light installations. This year’s headliners are Kiasmos and the Jan Blomqvist band, who will be accompanied by the likes of Robert Babicz and smaller Polish acts.
Audioriver Festival: July 28-30 in Płock
Those interested in Poland’s booming music festival industry will quickly become acquainted and enamored with Audioriver, one of the biggest and best on the circuit. This annual midsummer blowout brings international headliners from the realms of house, techno, drum ‘n’ bass and more pop-oriented pastures to a picturesque beach along the Vistula River—so it should come as no surprise that it has sold out four previous additions. The program involves more than a traditional music festival, as it includes a daytime fair and concert in Płock’s Old Town Square and a film screening program. But the main attraction is always the nighttime party on the beach, which this year takes place across five dance floors. We stacked our Telekom Electronic Beats stage with Detroit house and techno pioneers like the Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson), Robert Hood and Moodymann as well as new-school heavyweights like Ben UFO, Jackmaster, Planetary Assault Systems and Mount Kimbie.
OFF Festival: August 4-6 in Katowice
OFF launched in 2006 with the intent of not only entertaining, but provoking. With an ear for the weirder and at times more difficult strains of pop, rock, indie and techno and a related arts and culture program, this weekender hopes to inspire those who attend to think about the current state of affairs in the world around them. After a day at OFF’s literary café, where book readings and talks with journalists raise important questions about current affairs, OFFers can enjoy equally thought-provoking performances from top bands. This year the roster includes many of our favorite guitar-wielders, from Michael Gira and his band Swans to Feist and PJ Harvey. The electronic-oriented offerings are also worth noting; the bill includes The Black Madonna and Jessy Lanza.
Kraków Live: August 18-19 in Kraków
If you’re looking to hear some of the hottest acts in the world in Kraków, then look no further than Kraków Live. It boasts a roster that includes the likes of Lana Del Rey, Wiz Khalifa and Ellie Goulding and a number of local Polish favorites. The festival grounds are now in Błonia park, which is a beautiful area near the city’s center. Attendees can camp on site.
Plötzlich Am Meer: August 25-27 in Bagicz
What began as a series of illegal open-air parties in and around Berlin, Plötzlich Am See, has become one of the crown jewels in Poland’s good-vibes summer calendar. As the German name of the festival indicates, Plötzlich Am Meer skews heavily toward the German scene; this year’s lineup features EB.Radio contributor and Beste Modus boss Diego Krause, Leipzig sound-twister and video game nostalgist Credit 00 and our favorite funny-story-writer, Ricardo Esposito. Its international bookings skew toward tasteful strains of tech-house with Romanian minimal don Raresch among a number of other names that are sure to provide a deep and groovy soundtrack to a beautiful setting in Polish nature. While previous editions have taken place directly on the beach, this year the crew has moved its hippie-hearted gathering to the site of an old military air base a few kilometers east. But don’t worry, there’s still direct beach access from the grounds.
SounDrive: August 31-September 2 in Gdansk
Since 2012, Gdansk’s historic shipyard has been the site of SounDrive Festival. The lineup is usually a well balanced mix of up-and-comers and established artists. This year it features Brooklynite rapper Cakes Da Killa, LA’s chillwave singer and recent Omar S collaborator Nite Jewel, American indie rock outfit Waxahatchee and many more. Stretched out over three days between August 31 and September 2, it’s has become a firm favorite in Poland’s festival annual circuit. And the location’s glorious industrial backdrop is not too shabby.
Up To Date: September 8-9 in Białystok
In a review of last year’s edition, Resident Advisor noted that Up To Date has become “a must-attend festival in the Polish techno community.” With a lineup that this year includes lauded contributors to the genre like Peter Van Hoesen, Ugandan Methods (Regis‘s collaboration with Ancient Methods) and Marco Shuttle, it’s not hard to see why. But Up To Date doesn’t stop at tried-and-true “capital-T Techno” artists; our 2017 Telekom Electronic Beats stage alone features a live set from Gesloten Cirkel as well as appearances from noise legend Prurient and trance deconstructionist Lorenzo Senni.
Domoffon Festiwal: September 1-3 in Łódź
Though Domoffon is still very new, it’s quickly developed a reputation as being a fixture in the Polish Festival scene. It’s held in an old factory complex in the center of Łódź. The bookers behind the event run the city’s DOM club, and the annual event features a tasteful mixture of bookings that range from English rockers The Horrors to Detroit electro wizards Dopplereffekt. If you’re looking for a Polish festival that blends mainstream with niche in a gritty setting, this one’s for you.
Unsound Festival: October 8-15 in Krakow
While Unsound is still pretty unknown to most Polish audiences outside committed heads, international fans have long since noted it as one of the most important yearly music gatherings in the world. We, too, have been longtime supporters of this cutting-edge flag-bearer of the International Cities Of Advanced Sound (ICAS) network, which also includes experimental-minded events (and EB favorites) like CTM in Berlin and UH Fest in Budapest. Unsound’s remarkable curation and keen ear for the most compelling sounds in the underground, both new and old, takes over an entire week and venues all over Kraków with a daytime program of talks, installations, panels, concerts and installations as well as a nighttime weekend program at the inimitable Hotel Forum, a behemoth post-Communist building. The many components of this extravaganza are tied together every year with a theme, which this year is “Flower Power.” Artists on the bill so far for 2017 include Laurel Halo, DJ Sprinkles, Ben Frost, Holly Herndon, Jlin, Lena Willikens, Nina Kraviz and more.
Tauron Nowa Muzyka: July 6-9 in Katowice
Although Tauron 2017 has already come and gone, any thorough guide to Polish music festivals should include Tauron Nowa Muzyka. The forward-thinking gathering started as a one-day event in 2006 and has since grown into a four-day festival that celebrates the greatest minds in electronic, jazz and pop-oriented genres. Its slant is somewhat more avant-garde than festivals like Audioriver, and experimentalism comprises the throughline for the many styles and artists included on the bill. Our own Telekom Electronic Beats stage this past year hosted the likes of techno avant-gardists Porter Ricks, dance-punk innovators !!! and longtime heroes Hercules & Love Affair. All this takes place at Katowice’s disused Wilson mine shaft, which provides a fittingly post-industrial setting for the cutting-edge music on offer. Put it on the books for next year, and check out photos from 2017 here.