Throughout the summer months the luscious rolling hillsides of Umbria in central Italy will be alive with the sounds of music. Every year there area a number of well organised, promoted and supported musical festivals in the province that cater for all tastes and preferences.
Each little village, hamlet and town arrange their own sagra, normally a week of live music, dancing and much eating but it’s the larger events that draw in the crowds. Umbria Jazz is probably the provinces’s premier event but there are equally as entertaining events held in Spoleto, Todi and Citta di Castello.
Umbrian’s love music and whether you’re a teenage gothic emo retro punk, a retired army officer with a love for the classics or a smooth jazz freak there will be a weekend to tempt your fancy. Here are some of the years popular musical festivals around Umbria:-
Orvieto Jazz – Orvieto – February
The little hill town of Oriveto in the south of the Province gets the musical year off to a start with its Winter Jazz collection. This is much smaller and more intimate than the Umbrian Jazz Festival in the summer but none the less important and well supported. Despite being in the depths of winter the festival still attracts top line acts and jazz aficionados from around the world.
Umbria Jazz – Perugia – July
The annual Umbria Jazz Festival is the regions most famous event, and every year the capital is turned into one big cool jazz party venue. Piazza’s, café bars and theatres are all humming to the wild sounds of the cool cats. This has long been on the tour dates of many legendary jazz heroes and the likes of Dizzy Gallespie, Charlie Mingus and Count Bassie all brought their inimitable sounds to the Umbrian stage. Now in its 40th year Umbria Jazz continues to be one of the foremost festivals of genre in the world.
Two World’s Festival – Spoleto – June
The famous Two World’s Festival in Spoleto is a musical extravaganza that has been in existence since 1957. Organised by the conductor Gian Carlo Menotti as a multi-faceted event to bring together a wide range of musical styles and people as was possible. The event turns Spoleto into a melting pot of music with such diverse performances as chamber music and jazz all sitting along side each other in the piazzas.
TodiArteFestival – Todi – July
The ancient walled town of Todi is transformed every July into a festival of art and opera. Classical music and performance fill the town’s streets with excitement and entertainment throughout the week.
Trasimeno Blues – Lake Trasimeno – July/August
The tranquil shores of Italy’s second largest lake are the venue for the Trasimeno Blues Festival. The towns of Passignano, Castiglione dei Lago, Citta della Pieve and Perugia all provide the stages for the melancholic lyrics and soulful guitar riffs that typify blues music. John Lee Hooker, John Mayall and Canned Heat are amongst the great blues exponents that have made their way to the lakeside venues in previous years.
Festival delle Nazioni (Festival of Nations) – Citta di Castello – August
Each year the Citta di Castello chooses a different country as a theme and the town’s shop fronts enter into a competition to show off that year’s theme. Performers, choirs and orchestras from the designated country are invited throughout the summer to perform and show off their relative talents. Previous years have seen Citta di Castello full of the sounds from Spain, Israel, Britain and Russia all giving concerts, many of them free, in the piazzas and theatres around the town.
Soul Christmas – Lake Trasimeno – December/January
Christmas in Umbria traditionally rocks to the uplifting sounds of gospel choirs, soul singers and spiritual music. The churches and performance halls of Passignano, Castiglione del Lago and Paciano all echo to the singing of Afro American voices and local Italy gospel groups. This provides Umbria with a unique and emotionally charged Christmas season of entertainment.
San Secondo Pizza Festival, July, pizza and two weeks worth of tribute bands and cover acts. This little Umbrian village regularly plays host to Queen, Pink Floyd, Kiss and Led Zeppelin, even Michael Jackson has been known to make an appearance.
Canti e Discanti – Foligno – July.
Preggio Music Festival – Preggio – July/August, another small walled Umbrian village that organises an excellent timetable of live music, performances and opera.
Bianco, Rosso and Blues – August, the music and food event sees ten soul, blues and jazz acts all on the same stage along with the flavours and aromas of the regions famous red and white wines.
Eden Rock, San Leo Bastia – August The small village on the Umbrian, Tuscan border lays on a popular music festival each year, which attracts both international artists and local talent and provides an entertaining weekend in the quiet little part of Italy.
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