Whether you’re hardcore, hard-up, or hardly able to organize your kids for an afternoon outdoors, you can add some color to your summer at Colours of Ostrava, the most eclectic and family friendly music festival of the season.
This year marks the 14th anniversary of Colours of Ostrava, taking place July 17 to 20 at Ostrava’s Dolní Vítkovice, a former steelworks. Featuring world-class performers including Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, MGMT, Chet Faker, The National, Gypsy.cz, and Anna K, as well as a wide variety of theater performances, workshops, poetry readings, and even tours of the former blast furnace, it promises to be a special event with a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Jiří Sedlák, spokesman for Colours of Ostrava, says the festival’s origins as a celebration of world music attracts a laid-back audience the festival has made an effort to cater to while expanding its musical focus over the years. The festival aims to satisfy people looking for great musical performances rather than a wild party.
“It’s not a festival for getting drunk, but rather for appreciating music,” he says. “We have a slightly older audience that includes families with children and people who want to explore music from around the world.”
The welcoming atmosphere at Colours of Ostrava is enhanced by several special aspects of the program. Notably, patrons over 65 will have free entrance to the festival on July 20. There is also a babysitting service for parents interested in cutting loose for a while. Besides the great concerts, visitors will have the chance to go up into the blast furnace at Dolní Vítkovice as well as down into the mine on guided group tours. Additionally, river boat rides will be available to festival goers.
With more than 100 bands from virtually every musical genre, it’s difficult to sum up the highlights of the program, but the following will certainly be among the most popular performers:
The up-start Czech Romani hip-hop group Gipsy.cz mixes rap with classic Romani rhythms and melodies, and are sure to put on an incredible show (July 17 @ 11pm; Agrofert Fresh stage).
Anna K is one of the biggest names in Czech pop, with a career spanning more than 20 years. She has legions of devoted fans who are sure to flock to see her spirited performance (July 18 @ 7:30pm; Gong Vítkovice stage).
MGMT, the American psychedelic rock duo of Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, promise to put on a wild late-night performance. Don’t forget your glow sticks (July 17 @ 12:15am; Česká spořitelna stage).
The Australian electronic musician Chet Faker is one of the newer highlights of the festival, with ethereal, layered electronica that moves from upbeat to ambient, and combines beats and loops with mellow R&B vocals (July 19 @ 5:15pm; Agrofert Fresh stage).
The biggest name on the program is definitely Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. Known for their heavy sets of original tunes punctuated by revisions of Led Zeppelin classics, they’re sure to have the festival rocking out (July 19 @ 9:30pm; Česká spořitelna stage).
The National, the indy favourites from Ohio, aren’t known for their manic performances, but their music packs a definite dramatic punch, and the crowd is sure to be singing along with their emo-anthems (July 20 8:00pm; Česká spořitelna stage).
Besides the fantastic array of bands, some of the country’s most popular poets and theatrical performers will show their stuff at the festival. The notable performances include dramaturge Blanka Fišerová and director Jana Janěková’s unconventional version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which combines musical theatre and poetry with classical staging (July 20 @ 2pm; Poetry Stage).
One of the performers, the innovative Czech poet Jaromír Typlt, says the unique atmosphere of the festival should inspire him to an especially dramatic performance of his experimental work. He’ll be reading during the “Reading in Color” section with numerous other poets (July 20 @ 4:30pm; Poetry Stage).
Despite the broad range of attractions, music remains the main focus at Colours of Ostrava. Festival Director Zlata Holušová personally attends concerts by each of the groups before inviting them to perform at the festival. Such an unusual vetting process results in a full program of impressive, infectious live concerts and what she calls “the psychedelic feeling of immersion into the heart of the music.”
In preparation for this year’s festival, the organizers have made improvements to the festival grounds, widening the viewing area and improving the stages to make attendees even more comfortable.
Tickets are available on the festival website, including single-day tickets for 1,120 CZK, four-day tickets for 2,190 CZK, and VIP tickets for 4,500 CZK, which includes entrance to the VIP areas, as well as priority entrance so you won’t have to wait in line. Family tickets for up to two adults and two children for all four days of the festival are 5,370 CZK. You can also book tickets for the campsite and local accommodations online.
Which acts are your top picks for Ostrava this year?