Updated: Aug 5, 2021
For AQA GCSE and A Level French, German and Spanish students, discussing different festivals can be a great way to demonstrate your understanding of culture and traditions in your written or speaking exams.
Moreover, music can be one of the best ways to learn your chosen language and increase the amount of exposure you get to new words and phrases; it's a great way to engage with foreign culture and will give you the chance to truly impress your examiners with your understanding. So, on with our European tour...
AQA French Students
Heading across the channel, Les Vieilles Charrues is one of France's biggest festivals - attracting more than 200,000 people and hosting a star-studded line-up. In previous years, the Arctic Monkeys, Elton John, Lionel Richie, Arcade Fire and Muse have performed at the festival. This year, it will be welcoming French DJ David Guetta as well as Martin Garrix and the Black Eyed Peas.
Initially hosted in the small town of Finistère in 1992, the festival moved to Carhaix three years later before reaching its current home in 1998 on the outskirts of the commune. Part of the festival's enduring success lies in its eclectic line-up and ability to cater to a wide audience, as well as providing a valuable stream of tourism revenue to the local area. This is probably one of the most well-known French festivals so being able to speak about it is essential!
Going east to the capital, you can experience Solidays, a unique festival run by AIDS/HIV awareness group Solidarité Sida. Launched in 1999, the proceeds of the festival go towards organisations which help fight AIDS and artists will take reduced or in some cases no fees at all to help raise money.
The festival is an outstanding show of benevolence and has hosted big names such as French slam artist Grande Corps Malade, Lily Allen, and Earth, Wind and Fire. While the festival has just finished for this year, you can be sure that tickets for next year won't hang around as this year's event was a sell-out!
AQA German Students
One of the most popular German festivals is Rock am Ring / Rock im Park, two simultaneous festivals with identical line-ups taking place in Nürnberg and Nürburgring. Originally conceived as a one-off event at the Nürburgring racetrack back in 1985, the now annual event has gone from strength to strength (albeit with a brief hiatus between 1989-90) and is regularly a showcase of upcoming talent while featuring some headline acts.
While Rock im Ring has been traditionally held in the Nürburgring racetrack, its sister event Rock im Park has been quite nomadic, moving from Munich’s Olympiastadion to Nuremburg’s Frankenstadion in 1997 before settling at its current location in the Zeppellinfield.
More unusually, the festival was involved as part of a science experiment in 2007, where scientists attempted to use dancing festival-goers as a means of estimating what would happen if the entire population of China jumped simultaneously - now that's a fact you can show off!
If electronic music is more of your cup of tea, then Germany will not let you down! Each year, the country hosts huge acts such as Time Warp, MAYDAY Dortmund and Airbeat One. For students, it is vital to understand that the electronic music scene is culturally significant in Germany. The country has a lineage of famous acts going back to the 1970s with bands such as Kraftwerk all the way to the present day with homegrown artists such as Helena Hauff and Sven Väth, making for a vibrant and exciting experience for any techno lover!
AQA Spanish Students
Our last stop is Spain, and where else to start than with the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim? After its initial outing in 1995, the FIB (as it's commonly abbreviated) has come to be recognised as one of the finest festivals in the world, with previous editions containing acts such as Radiohead, Oasis, Paul Weller and The Killers and this year's line-up featuring well-known artists such as The 1975, Jess Glynne and George Ezra.
If you're hoping for something more chilled out, then the beach resort of Benicàssim also hosts Sunsplash Rototom, one of the biggest European reggae festivals! Initially conceived in Italy, the festival saw a great exodus in 2010 where it moved from its previous home in Osoppo, Italy. Each year, the festival attracts thousands of fans and the allure of the Mediterranean sea and Benicàssim's beaches make this one of Spain's most popular festivals.
Sticking with beautiful Spanish seafronts, Primavera Sound is hosted in Barcelona at the Parc del Fòrum, a modern waterfront complex where the festival moved in 2005 to accommodate bigger crowds. The festival has successfully brought together a blend of genres such as pop and rock alongside alternative and hip-hop styles, with previous line-ups including Tame Impala, The White Stripes and Kendrick Lamar.
If you're looking to show off to your examiner, then highlighting that you know about the 2019 event's 'new normal' initiative will certainly impress them! This year, event organisers are striving to achieve gender equality in the festival's line-up by promoting female artists such as Erykah Badu and Cardi B, setting a precedent amongst other top festivals to do the same.
That concludes our European tour! If this snapshot has inspired you, be sure to carry out some research of your own, as this only scratches the surface as to what's on offer. Most importantly, keep using your language skills over the summer holiday to keep them fresh for when you return to study in September - bonnes vacances / schöne ferien / buenos vacaciones!
Blog Post Crafted by Oscar
Oscar studies Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at the University of Warwick.
When he's not studying or tutoring GCSE Maths and Science, Oscar plays saxophone and co-ordinates the Small Band division of the University of Warwick Big Band.
In 2017 he set up his own jazz function band, Mirage Quartet, and has been a keen collaborator and ambassador for Bromley Youth Music Trust.