International Events Calendar 2015

Planning on travelling this year? From design expos and book fairs to film and music festivals, here are some of the cultural highlights we are most looking forward to.

Feature | 05 Feb 2015


Berlin International Film Festival

Berlin, Germany; 5-13 Feb
The ‘Berlinale Palast,’ now in its 65th year, is one of the more important such festivals on the calendar, with over 400 films per year, mostly indie and art house premieres (which means they won’t be screening The Interview). Andrew Haigh, Terrence Malik and Werner Herzog are all showing their wares, with surreal controversialist Darren Aronofsky acting as President of the Jury. Plus, it’s in Berlin. We love Berlin.

One Love Festival

Wharepai Domain, Taurenga City, New Zealand; 6-7 Feb
New Zealand celebrates its founding day as only Kiwis know how – by joining up with Bob Marley’s birthday and getting baked in the sun with a massive reggae festival. Situated in Mount Maunganui on the Bay of Plenty, this year’s festival features acts including local heroes The Black Seeds and all-Maori reggae band Katchafire. 



Photo: Narender9

Worldwide including UK, primarily across India; Fri 6 Mar
Holi is the Hindu faith’s Festival of Love and if that isn’t enough to get you interested then consider the fact that Love is mostly all about dressing in all white, throwing brightly-coloured water bombs and getting blissed out on bhang. What on earth could possibly go wrong?

OFFSET Design Festival

Veronica Ditting, OFFSET Design Festival

Dublin, Ireland; 6-8 Mar
OFFSET is a three-day conference designed to encourage creative industry folk (designers, artists, illustrators, and advertisers) to come together and, well, be creative about stuff. What that stuff might be varies (in creative ways, no doubt), but, if you’re serious about getting work in these industries (basically, network, creatively), or just want to see what a person calling themselves a ‘creative’ actually looks like, then this is the place for you.


Photo: Ross Baynham

Austin, Texas, United States; Interactive: 13-17 Mar; Film: 13-21 Mar; Music: 17-22 Mar
The biggest music festival (although technically there are three components including film and, eh, 'interactive'... but it’s mostly about the music) in the world takes place every year in Austin, Texas. Among the 2,200 music acts (yes, that is quite a lot) vying for industry attention are Scotland’s Hector Bizerk and The Twilight Sad, joined by Circa Waves and JP Cooper from Northwest England.


Salone di Milano (Milan Design Week)

Credit: design_lounge

Milan, Italy; 14-19 Apr
One for seasoned upholstrophiles everywhere, this is the largest trade event of its kind on the planet, and also goes by the somewhat less flirtatious moniker that is the Milan Furniture Fair. Thousands of furniture brands and their designers from all over the globe descend on Italian style capital Milan to try and set or discern the hottest trends in international design.

Brooklyn zine fest

Photo: Sylvie Roskoff

Brooklyn, New York, United States; 25-26 Apr
Having attracted over 2000 attendees last year, this fourth annual exhibition of self-published magazines will display the work of over 150 writers, artists, and publishers from New York City. Past exhibits and panels have included music-zines, lit-mags, art compilations, meta-discussions over the trend of zining and more – for those in love with the textually ephemeral.

Documenta Madrid

Madrid, Spain; 30 Apr-10 May
On to Madrid, and another film festival – this one trading exclusively in the non-fiction form. Since inception in 2004, submissions, both feature length and short have been accepted from all around the world. This year’s line-up has, at the time of writing, yet to be announced.


Venice Biennale

Photo: Rosamund West

Venice, Italy; 9 May-22 Nov
Opening a month earlier than usual, 2015’s instalment of the visual art branch of La Biennale di Venezia promises the usual art Olympics with representatives from dozens of world nations coming together to create and display across the City of Love. Scotland’s contribution is Graham Fagen, and the UK is fielding Sarah Lucas. Expect to be dazzled.

1:54 Pop-Up

Courtesy of M.I.A. Gallery

Brooklyn, New York, United States; 15-17 May
1.54 is a contemporary African art fair which has been held in London for the past two years. The aim is for artists and galleries involved in African and Africa related projects to promote their work to an international audience. The fair pops up in Brooklyn in May with a programme including screenings, lectures and panel debates.

Typo Talk Berlin

Berlin, Germany; 21-23 May

What might a children’s book creator, a journalist, the current Facebook Communication Design team manager, a photograph collector, a typographer, a code tinkerer and more all have in common? They will meet in Berlin to give talks on design this spring – designers and designer admirers welcome.


Hookworms, Villette Sonique; Photo: Richard Manning

Paris, France; 21-27 May
One of our favourite music festivals in the world – La Villette Sonique does precisely what one would expect of a Parisian festival and specialises in experimental rock and electronica. LCD Soundsystem featured in the very first one in 2003, the only year they would have been considered cool enough. But it’s really not about the poseurs – trust us, the music’s great.

Movies In The Park

Various locations, New York, United States; May-Sept
Golden streets beneath a setting sun, the shadows of the Manhattan skyline stretch over you in New York’s Bryant Park as you await a classic film, from Saturday Night Fever to The Shining, on the large screen before you. This could have been you last summer; make sure you show up at NYC Parks’ Free Summer Movies this time!.


Nos Primavera Sound

Credit: Gold Sounzlt

Porto, Portugal; 4-6 Jun
The famous Iberian festival has made like an amoeba and split in two. The ever-popular Barcelona edition, which takes place in May, has been joined since 2012 by its Portuguese brother/sister/cousin/whatever the offspring of binary fission are called. Details of the line-up are scant right now, but Patti Smith’s going, and that is often good enough for us.


Photo: Martin Senyszak

Barcelona, Spain; 18-20 Jun
The tried and tested Sonar is one of the daddies of electronic music festivals. 2015 is being headlined by the Chemical Brothers, whose first studio album since 2010 is out this year. The often very shy but never less than brilliant Autechre make a rare appearance in public, as does festival specialist Kindness.



Credit: Yves

Gdynia, Poland; 1-4 Jul
Poland’s biggest music festival lays claim to being the first to introduce the wristband innovation, so we’re talking some serious festival street-cred here. Line-up pretty scant at this point, but those confirmed include St Vincent, Alt-J, Jonny Greenwood and Eagles of Death Metal. So, good start then…

Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Credit: Weltsport

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic; 3-11 Jul
The Czech Republic’s finest film festival, now in operation for almost 70 years, features hundreds of actors, directors, and filmmakers presenting their own work to thousands of attendees and sales representatives in search of hidden masterpieces. With its lovely location, a spa town nestled amid rolling forested hills near the German border, Karlovy Vary is sure to delight.


Keflavík, Iceland; 2-4 Jul
Since 1999, London-based firm All Tomorrow’s Parties have put on unique music festivals around the world in which major bands and artists, rather than concert administrators, curate the acts, making for interesting selections: Iggy Pop, Drive Like Jehu, and Belle and Sebastian will headline the Iceland event this summer at Ásbrú, a former Nato Base in Keflavík – beautiful scenery, a nice mix of indie rock and pop.


Off Festival

Photo: Anna Spies

Katowice, Poland; 7-9 Aug
This music festival in the southwest of Poland has hosted an impressive pedigree of acts in recent years, featuring The Smashing Pumpkins, Neutral Milk Hotel, Los Campesinos, and Belle and Sebastian. So far, this year’s line-up includes hip hop duo Run the Jewels, Sun O))), The Julie Ruin, Jacek Sienkiewicz and Girl Band, plus local flavor and more to come.


Photo: Dan Medhurst

Pula, Croatia; 26-30 Aug
Set on a beach-laden peninsula called Fort Punta Christo after the 100-year-old fort built upon it, music acts like Caribou, Warpaint, and DARKSIDE have headlined this Croatian electronic music festival since 2012. During the festival, boat parties depart daily for when you’re not relaxing on the beach.

Stockholm Culture Festival

Stockholm, Sweden; 2015 dates not yet announced
This five-day culture-fest held throughout Stockholm features music, dance, and art from around the world. Last year’s acts included guitarist Bombino from Niger, vocal group The Pointer Sisters from the US, dance group Swing Latino from Colombia, quartet DakhaBrakha from the Ukraine and more.



Rovinj, Croatia; 7-11 Sep
Set in the beachside Croatian town of Rovinj on the shores of the Adriatic, this five-day music festival includes nearly 100 DJ and live music acts, as well as a selection of boat and island parties to attend as you take in a gorgeous seascape. Past headliners include Chic Ft. Nile Rodgers, Chvrches, Disclosure, me, Daniel Avery, and more – a great festival for the DJ lover.


Toronto, Canada; 10-20 Sep
Now in its 40th instalment and an acknowledged pillar in the world of film, this annual festival has in recent years showcased major films like The Imitation Game, 12 Years a Slave, and Silver Linings Playbook, as well as a host of others, documentaries, and short films from around the world. Toronto, Canada.


Lyon, France; 10 Sep-3 Jan 2016
The Biennale of Contemporary Art, held only in odd years, will focus a group of artists on the theme of the term ‘modern life’ as proposed by guest curator Ralph Rugoff. Little more is yet clear, but the project will resurface with different curators in 2017 and 2019; art appreciators take note.


Photo: Stuart Bannocks

London; 19-27 Sep
This annual design festival of over 350 events aims to ‘promote London as the design capital of the world,’ a weighty claim but one born out by the estimated 350,000 people from around the world who make up the festival’s audience, as well as the countless creative types from ceramicists to bike-builders, who lead its events.

Lake of Stars 

Photo: Rosamund West

Lake Malawi, Africa; 25-27 Sep
In the Warm Heart of Africa (™), on the beautiful banks of Lake Malawi, this annual music festival brings together local and international audiences to dance under the stars to bands from across Africa and beyond. The sun’s too hot for much to happen during the day, but after dark the beach comes alive with revellers enjoying the international sounds of reggae, afrobeat and hip hop until sunrise.

NY Art Book Fair

Credit: istolethetv

New York, United States; 2015 dates not yet announced
This NYC gathering of booksellers, institutions, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers from 28 countries saw over 35,000 visitors last year and features catalogues, books, zines, and monographs for viewing. 


Vienna Design Festival

Vienna, Austria; 
26 Sep-5 Oct
During this annual design festival in Vienna, tens of thousands of design enthusiasts pour into the city which itself becomes a medium of presentation for the performances, talks, and projects happening in the categories of Stadtarbeit, Debut, Laboratory, Education, Passionswege and Programme Partners, with guided tours available. Assorted locations, Vienna, Austria, most events free.


Photo: Marcin Lewandowski

Cork, Ireland; 
2015 dates not yet announced
This independent film and music festival held in the south of Ireland emphasises that festivals remain a good exhibition point for short films, features and documentaries never shown to larger audiences. Past winners include A Million Miles Away, Skunky Dog, All Mortal Flesh and more.


Iceland Airwaves

Courtesy of Iceland Airwaves

Reykjavík, Iceland; 4-8 Nov
The year was 1999; bands and fans alike gathered in an airplane hangar at Reykjavik airport for what was intended to be a one time music showcase. Sixteen years later, this music festival remains an international event and will feature the likes of Hozier, Anna Calvi, Olof Arnalds, and more in its line-up this November.

Fun Fun Fun Fest

Photo: Ralph Arversen

Austin, Texas, United States; 7-8 Nov
In Austin, Texas this past November, Judas Priest, Fred Armisen, Modest Mouse, Wiz Khalifa, Alt-J, and a host of others converged at Auditorium Shores to headline the ninth instalment of this three-day music festival; we eagerly await the tenth. With four stages to navigate and likely around 100 acts, you will not want for variety.

Torino Film Festival

Turin, Italy; 21-29 Nov
For those in search of films which they truly may have not yet heard of, this northern Italian festival in its 33rd year is an excellent fit – last year’s line-up included Anuncian Sismos, As You Were, Big Significant Things, and more. Heard of them? Neither have I, but a week watching films in the Italian Alps doesn’t sound so bad…


Transmusicales de Rennes

WIFE, Transmusicales de Rennes; Photo: Dominique Vrignaud

Rennes, France; 2015 dates not yet announced
Deriving its name from a focus on the blur of genre and geographic divisions, this music festival in the northwest of France has a reputation for showcasing major artists before the rest of us start hearing about them – Django Django, Nirvana, and LCD Soundsystem to name a few. Indeed, the Trans is something of a hipster of festivals. Not your mum’s music.

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Damien Cifelli – winner of our travel writing competition

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Mosquitoes, Monasteries and Myanmar: Travel Writing Runners-Up