Music at the Mine: Colours of Ostrava
NOTE – This article was published in May 2013 for the festival that year.
In the space of little over a decade, Colours has grown into the biggest music festival in the Czech Republic and one of the highlights of the Central European summer. The event prides itself on diversity and various different genres of music are on show with everything from jazz and folk to up and coming rock and electronic stars from across the globe. It seems to get bigger and bolder every year from fairly humble origins in 2002 when only 8,000 people attended.
Last year the event was moved to a somewhat unconventional venue consisting of a former mining complex, iron and steelworks at Dolní Vítkovice in Ostrava. The new location appeared an odd choice but it has added a certain charm to the festival and gives Colours a sense of uniqueness in comparison to the hundreds of other music festivals that are crammed into the European summer. This year is the 12th time it has been held and with over 200 different acts already confirmed including bands, DJ’s, films, workshops and theatre performances.
The Festival Site
The setting is distinctly industrial and is a new experience even for regulars on the music festival scene. The giant blast furnaces tower over the festival site and have a history that goes way back into the 19th Century and the Industrial Revolution. Vítkovice used to be a town in its own right but has since been swallowed up by Ostrava, the third largest Czech city.
The area has recently been made into a European Cultural Heritage site due to its historical significance and is gradually turning into a new cultural, educational and community centre but its vast industrial history is still unmistakable. There’s plenty of greenery around too though and a large camping area is the most popular choice for accommodation during the four day event being only a few minutes walk from the site where all the stages are located. Dolni Vitkovice is just three tram stops away from the city centre so it’s very accessible and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to
explore Ostrava itself. Alternatively you can stay in one of Ostrava’s hostels but they are likely to sell out quickly for when the festival takes place.
For the overwhelming majority of visitors, a trip to the Czech Republic starts and ends in Prague with few venturing far outside the country’s capital and rarely includes a visit to distant Ostrava, almost 400km further East close to the Polish and Slovak borders. This is a shame as the Steel City has plenty to offer visitors and its industrial background is now being cherished and adapted into what is becoming a thriving cultural centre with the Colours festival is perhaps the greatest example of this. There may not be a huge number of major sights but it’s an interesting place and stunning views of the Beskydy Mountain Range add to the overall appeal of the city.
It’s also easy to combine a visit to Ostrava with some of Central and Eastern Europe’s finest destinations. It’s only 170km to Krakow, Poland’s most attractive city meanwhile the Austrian and Slovak capitals (Vienna and Bratislava) are also reachable in just a few hours by train or bus.
Colours of Ostrava 2013
Top Left: Asaf Avidan, Top Right: The xx and Above: Sigur Rós.
Sigur Rós (Iceland), Jamie Cullum (UK), The xx (UK), The Knife (Sweden), Tomahawk (USA), Damien Rice (Ireland), Bonobo (UK), Devendra Banhart (USA), Asaf Avidan (Israel), Woodkid (France), Tiken Jah Fakoly (Côte d’Ivoire ), Dub FX (Australia), Rokia Traoré (Mali), Inspiral Carpets (UK), Jon Hassell (USA), Sara Tavares (Portugal), Submotion Orchestra (UK), Skip The Use (France), Acoustic Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Mali), Fanfara Tirana meets Transglobal Underground (UK / Albania), Botanica (USA), Girls Against Boys (USA), The Bots (USA), Maria Peszek (Poland), Ladi6 (New Zealand), Sam Lee (UK), Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa (Morocco), Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonic (Greece), Dhafer Youssef (Tunisia), The Kill Devil Hills (Australia), Anna Maria Jopek (Poland), Mama Marjas (Italy), Irie Révoltés (Germany), Man Man (USA), Russkaja (Austria) and many exciting Czech bands.
This article was published in May 2013.