Find Your Own Woodstock

Be it for a musical weekend trip with the family, melodious evenings at a winery, or experiencing the jazz stars of tomorrow performing live — COMPANION presents the best festivals close to our cities.

Setting the Tone Worldwide 
You’re a jazz fan who’s missing the Montreux Jazz Festival? Impossible! It’s the second-largest event of its kind in the world. As such, the greats and newcomers of the scene — and the pop world — come together here. However, the secret star of the festival is Lake Geneva, which is next to the festival venue. Its shores exude a delightful atmosphere and allow exclusive concerts to be held — and that includes on the water. A word of advice: secure your tickets for individual concerts as early as possible, because the first dates are already sold out. 

Montreux Jazz Festival, 28 June – 13 July

The Finest Rap 
There are a few things you could reasonably expect from Europe’s largest hip-hop festival. Last year, grand master Eminem took to the stage, and this year Cardi B and Travis Scott will be headlining. Other than that, the Frauenfeld open-air festival sees everybody of note in all facets of the rap scene. Although up to 150,000 festival goers are expected each year, you still don’t feel like you’re at a mass event. The mood is overwhelmingly relaxed and a skilled organisational team keeps fans happy.  

Openair Frauenfeld, 11–13 July

The Classic
For over 30 years now, the Haldern Pop Festival has served as the place to be for all those who care about good acoustic music. The event organisers have ensured there will be moments that give you goosebumps, thanks to the carefully selected lineup, which mainly consists of guitar pop and indie folk. The rural setting will take care of the rest. So if you want to take a dip in the nearby lake, enjoy some smoked salmon from the stud farm around the corner, or enjoy a cold beer on the market square together with local villagers, this festival is the one for you.

Haldern Pop Festival, 8–10 August


Anything but Passive 
The Elbenwald Festival is a weekend event with a difference. Music is important, of course, but it should be offered as part of a holistic experience for the whole family. At Elbenwald, visitors are invited to get involved. If you want to offer a reading or a workshop, this is the place to do it. By the time the Quidditch match kicks off, in any case, everyone will have been called up. If you’d rather sit back and relax, never fear — just standing there dreamily, listening to bands like Schandmaul, is also allowed. 

Elbenwald Festival, Luhmühlen, 8–10 August


Music with a Wine
Accompaniment If you’re a top-class musician with a winery in the family, you’re pretty much guaranteed to host the most tasteful festival in your home wine region. Since 2014, singer-songwriter Gisbert zu Knyphausen has been organising Heimspiel Knyphausen, to which he invites artists that he himself would like to see perform live. To complete the Rhenish-Hessian experience, boat trips along the Rhine are organised, and each year there is ‘Knippie’ — a limited-edition wine produced for the festival at the winery itself.

Heimspiel Knyphausen, Eltville, 26–28 July

Future Perspectives 
The We Love Green Festival does exactly what it says on the tin: offer an environmentally friendly festival for a clean future. However, it is not only in this regard that it considers the next generation. In selecting its acts, the booking team prioritises a feel-good mood for newcomers. The festival is held at a practical venue, close to the edge of Paris. So if you want to embrace the green spirit from the get go, you can easily reach the festival by bicycle or public transport. We

Love Green Festival, Paris, 1–2 June

Noble Pleasures 
If you find it hard to choose between rock, pop, and electro, you will feel right at home here. For ten years, the Beauregard Festival has attracted a colourful mixture of excellent musical acts to Normandy. This year, nu metal legends Limp Bizkit will be playing a set, as will the wonderful Cat Power. To top it all off, the whole thing is held at the Château de Beauregard. As such, its 70,000 visitors can look forward to the delights of a noble setting. And just in case you still needed convincing: the festival also has the best that the local region has to offer — sparkling ciders and awe-inspiring landscapes. 

Beauregard Festival, Caen, Normandy, 4–7 July


Fresh Air and Free Admission 
Vienna is known globally for its high quality of life. Perhaps that has something to do with Donauinselfest. The event, held on a small island on the Danube, provides top-class musical entertainment every year — without putting a strain on your wallet. National and international stars take to the stage. Up to three million visitors come together over three days to make the fantastic event what it is. As such, Vienna transforms into a very different place over one weekend in June. 

Donauinselfest, Vienna, 21–23 June

By and for the Youth
The locals in Lustenau, Austria, know a thing about how early music education works. Each year, the local culture and youth association works together with hoards of volunteers to put on the three-day Szene Openair Festival. And it works rather well: great bands, a festival crèche, and a wonderful atmosphere every year for the last 30 years or so. In addition to Lewis Capaldi and Capital Bra, this year’s special guest is Otto Waalkes. So there can be no complaints about a lack of musical diversity. 

Szene Openair, 1–3 August

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The International Heartbeat of Frankfurt

Dasitu Kajela-Röttger and her husband, Michael Röttger, are a real dream team, both privately and professionally. They met and fell in love in 1985, at an African festival in their chosen home of Frankfurt am Main. At the time, Dasitu was organising an evening of Ethiopian Oromo culture, and Michael had just returned from a long trip to Africa and was enthusiastic about the music. Later, he also managed to convince Dasitu to become his accomplice in professional matters as well. Dasitu was already working in the intercultural field anyway, and she thought combining that with musical culture would be the perfect match. ‘I was only able to really spark her interest in West African music culture as time went on, though,’ says Michael, laughing.

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The Present is Female

The music scene is a domain in which women have traditionally been on the passive side of things: as muses, as fans in front of the stage, or as groupies. Does that sound a little antiquated? Indeed it is! There have long been amazing women involved in front of, behind, or next to the stage. It’s time for gender balance to be introduced to festival lineups, for the gender pay gap to close in creative industries, and for women to take executive positions at major labels and established music magazines. Does this sound like a somewhat utopian fantasy? Hardly! If we take a look around the scene, we see significant female players who are making noise, creating new spaces, and, in doing so, changing the game. That’s why this edition of COMPANION is focused on the music world in Berlin, profiling women who make the industry so captivating: DJs, singers, event organisers, writers, and activists

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When in Doubt, Anarchy

Tim Renner is a legend in the music and culture business. As a manager at Universal, he discovered bands such as Rammstein, and from 2014 to 2016, he was Berlin’s state secretary for cultural affairs, initiating a digitalisation offensive. Aside from having worked as a music journalist and radio host, and founding his own media startup, Motor Entertainment, he also lectures at the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg and writes books on the industry. In short, it’s hard to think of anyone with a better grasp on the present and future of pop culture. A conversation about youthful anarchism, the vastness of the unregulated internet, and what’s next for the music industry.

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Mona’s Cake Repertoire

Mona Asuka combines two passions: playing the piano and baking. The Munich-born professional musician tells COMPANION why the two disciplines are in fact quite similar — and she also shares her recipe for the perfect summer cake.

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Diving into The Forest

Nature, awareness, deceleration, meditation: 'shinrin-yoku', meaning 'bathing in the forest', is a recognised treatment in Japan. It's also spreading to Germany as a by-product of the general mindfulness trend. Why is it so popular? What does the bathing part involve? Accompanied by two guides, partners Carlos Ponte and Emma Wisser, COMPANION headed off to the Mangfall Valley, close to Munich, to test the waters and discover what this activity is all about. Between the trees and wet earth, we learned something about the healing qualities of the forest - and about ourselves as well.

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The Science of Scent

Subtle and seductive, the aroma molecule Iso E Super was created in a laboratory in 1973. In 2006, the master perfumer Geza Schön bottled it pure to create Molecule 01 - a fragrance that fast gained a cult following the world over. Many more scents later, COMPANION visited Schön at his Berlin apartment and lab to get a whiff of the chemistry behind his 'anti-fragrances', and glean his take on the wellness industry's obsession with nature (hint: it's overrated).

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