Colours of Ostrava | Europe’s Hidden Festival
The very coolest festival location of the year has been found. An area surrounded by old, industrial buildings is the backdrop for a weekend full of music, workshops, films, theatre, discussions and games. And yet, it is still very unknown in The Netherlands and even Europe. Czech Republic’s best kept festival is Colours of Ostrava.
Is an international, multi-genre music festival in Ostrava. This city is located in the east of the Czech Republic and is the third biggest city in the country following Prague and Brno. The festival takes place on the breathtaking surroundings of Dolní Vítkovice – the site of former blast furnaces, mines and ironworks. It’s an absolutely stunning and unique industrial area (it looks like something out of a Mad Max movie set) which is being turned into a cultural centre. Colours of Ostrava won several prices such the ALMA Akropolis Live Music Awards for the best music event of the year in the concert / festival category.
Colours of Ostrava won the Angel Award for the Music Event of the Year, Twice
During the 4 days in which the Colours of Ostrava festival took place, more than 150 bands played and there was a heaping dose of jazz, world music, rock, pop and alternative music. Although I was certainly not familiar with a large part of the line-up, I loved walking around and discovering new bands and artists. Perhaps the most interesting stage, and the one most prominent, was the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Experience. Surrounded by steel pipes and high industrial walls, tattoo artists were at work, a DJ booth was installed, movies were played, and two giant games of Jenga were placed against one of the walls. Overall, the festival had first-rate jazz performances, great (known and unknown) rock bands, and international artists as The Cure, ZAZ, Years & Years and Florence + The Machine. Also a nice fact: Every year the organization gives a handful of emerging artists from the Czech Republic the opportunity to put their names on the map.
The line-up of previous years included: Imagine Dragons, Norah Jones, Kygo, Clean Bandit, Rudimental, Ziggy Marley, London Grammar, Aurora, Paul Kalkbrenner & many more.
Food & Drinks
The food at the festival was fantastic and enormously varied. Many stalls were scattered throughout the site where, in addition to the typical festival food (burgers, fries, pasta, pizza), there were also many Czech specialties and healthy dishes available. I have never seen so many vegan and vegetarian food stalls on a festival as this one. Moreover, the price of the food is cheaper than it is at festivals in Western Europe. For a (vegan) burger you pay around 5 euros, for fries 2 euros, for a hot dog 2 euros and for a mushroom quesadilla 3 euros. For the drinks you first must do a one time purchase of 1 euro for a plastic cup. You can clamp this cup on your pants or belt which is very handy. The drinks were also very affordable. A beer of 500 ml only costed 2 euros and a G&T was around 4 euros.
Colours of Ostrava really is a fairly undiscovered gem!
On the first day of the festival, I wanted to explore the terrain and started wandering on my own. I wasn’t feeling solo for long as I came in contact with some lovely locals who showed me around. We had surprisingly little difficulty in understanding each other as they could speak English quite well. Most of the food stall staff were also able to speak English and could translate items on their menu if needed. Overall, about 90% of the festival visitors came from the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries like Poland and Slovakia. The remaining 10% consisted visitors from all over the world.
How to get there?
A distance of 1.300 km needs to be covered if you travel from Amsterdam to Ostrava. But there are several alternate travel options. Colours of Ostrava offers a bus that is leaving from The Netherlands (and Belgium) every year, which will drop you off at the entrance of the festival. If you prefer to accelerate things, then the airplane will be the best option. From Amsterdam you can fly to Ostrava via Prague. After landing, shuttle services and taxis are available outside the doors of the airport to take you to the festival in no time. Another option is flying to Prague and then taking the train to Ostrava. If you prefer to travel on your own, a car is recommended for transportation. For this you invest half a day on a direct ride, but you can make your holiday a lot more interesting if you dive into the cities that you pass along the way. Berlin and Prague are perfect stopovers to hop through for example. Not in possession of a car and driver’s license? Take the train and go interrailing!
Overall, Colours of Ostrava has absolutely astonished me. Both the location and programme are filled with surprises that will make you return from this festival with a wealth of new experiences. What I personally found so fascinating about Colours of Ostrava was that it was so much more than just a music festival. Aside from the performances and dozens of food trucks selling wonderful food, there were tons of other activities to do. In addition, the festival is also a good option if you are on a budget. A ticket for the festival only costs €105 euros for all 4 days and for 9 euros per person and 10 euros per tent you spend the night at the campsite.
Colours of Ostrava, I will be back!