Music festivals have never been my thing. Not because I loathe them, but because I’ve just never been to one and I always preferred to spend my money on plane tickets. I viewed them more as a raging social gathering rather than a celebration of music. Attending the Colours of Ostrava Music Festival changed all that.
What is it?
The Colours of Ostrava is the biggest music festival in the Czech Republic. Located in Ostrava, the 3rd largest city in the Czech Republic, the music festival has been celebrated annually since 2002. What started out as a small festival of 6 stages on the streets of Ostrava has now grown to 21 stages and moved to a much larger venue: Dolní Vítkovice– an area that used to be used for ironworks and mining.
One wouldn’t think that celebrating music amongst the ruins of an old blast furnace and abandoned buildings would be particularly exciting, but there was something about the venue that drew the visitor in. Maybe it’s because once upon a time we would have been walking through the area with hard hats, if at all, and those who worked there were putting their lives in danger every day, and now here we are, just casually drinking beer as if no one worked their butt off in these parts. Or it was probably the fact that people love abandoned buildings and especially what can be done with abandoned buildings without having to tear them down, but rather reconstruct them. Recycle, if you will.
But it was probably because it makes for a great Instagram picture.
One of my favorite parts of the venue is the coffee shop, but you have to look for it. Hint: It’s way up high…
There’s an area of the venue called the Bolt Tower, so named for Usain Bolt, the Jamaican Olympics sprinter who visited Ostrava multiple times and has now signed the tower. The tower used to be a blast furnace and has been reconstructed with a glass structure designed to resemble the fire that used to burn through the tower. It’s about 19 floors up (you have to take two different elevators– imagine my reaction as the numbers continued to rise), and contains some amazing views of the entire venue and the city of Ostrava. No matter how scared of heights you are– like myself– the views are worth every nervous shake of the hand that won’t let go of the railing.
Anyone else go just for the food?
I was surprised to find that the food at the festival was reasonably priced. Shots of Jack Daniels were 60 CZK and under (about 3 USD), a doner kebab was 100 CZK (about 5 USD). At any festival, amusement park, or sporting event that I’ve been to a hot dog itself is at least 10 USD. My absolute favorite part though was the free water stations that were set up for everyone to fill their water bottles. Can’t go to a festival without being able to rehydrate (at least, that’s what I’ve learned from my first experience so far).
There was a variety of food, too. Not just sausages, but sausages in a bun, hamburgers, more sausages, Vietnamese noodles, sliced sausages, Thai curry, Argentinean steak and so many other wonderful cuisines from around the world (and sausages). The quality of the food should be the reason for anyone to attend the festival in the first place. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to try the donuts.
What kind of music was there?
The music presented at the Colours of Ostrava was a mix of different genres. There was folk, there was hip-hop, there was rock and many others. As I mentioned before Joss Stone was one of the main acts, whose name I have heard since I was young, but never once heard any song by her. She. Was. Phenomenal. It was during her performance, while I was falling in love with her voice and the way she interacted with the audience that I realized one thing: the artists presented at this 4 day music festival are not just singers and songwriters, they’re entertainers, especially the artists who graced the main stage.
With every act, I watched as the artist interacted with the crowd, made them laugh, made them actually want to watch the stage. Everyone was happy, fun, and free-spirited and so in love with their craft. Not once did I ever think, “Man, this person is boring to watch.” Joss Stone had the audience humming, Seasick Steve chugged a bottle of wine like my typical Friday night, N.E.R.D. invited a huge group of people to dance onstage and so on. Every performance was captivating, personal, and kept the viewer entranced. I didn’t even have to know the lyrics of any song to keep my attention.
Will I Return?
So, unluckily for me and luckily for the crowd, I was not forced to remove my top when I was raised up on my friend’s shoulders (or is it vice versa?), my comfortable walking shoes and t-shirts were acceptable attire, and I did not have to sleep in a measly tent void of showers. The Colours of Ostrava music festival was fun, entertaining and full of free-spirited independent people and artists. If I could do it all again, I would, except maybe I’d drink more beer.
You Can Go, Too!
Next year’s dates: July 17-20 2019
Ticket price: for a 4 day pass $115
Accommodation: Prices increase due to the festival, so book early. Most accommodation is easily accessible by tram. Use my code for a 15% discount at Booking.com
Transportation: To and from the festival– Take the tram. Trams 1 and 2 – stops Dolní Vítkovice Hlubina and Dolní Vítkovice. Tickets can be bought at each tram station. To Ostrava– Main train station is Ostrava Hlavní Nádraží
If you’re more of a visual person, click here.