Guide to the UNESCO Cities of Music

by Jules on April 19, 2013

To date, five world cities have the prestigious honour of being named the UNESCO City of Music. Praised for their musical creativity and activity within music festivals and events, these cities are a must for all music enthusiasts.

Bologna in Italy – 2006

Since the inception of the first scholarly course on music in the 1450 at Law University, Bologna has enjoyed a history steeped in classical music. The city houses renowned institutions such as the Accademia Filarmonica and Mozart Orchestra and regional folk choir Coro Stelutis in addition to multiple festivals and music venues.

The Italian Bologna Festival is one of the top classical music festivals held in Europe. The 2 Agosto, the International Composition Competition is also held in Bologna. Travellers can explore the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, which is a prestigious opera house. The Cantina Bentivoglio sections off a portion of the street and collaborates with 3 neighboring restaurants to provide live outdoor jazz throughout July.

Ghent in Belgium – 2009

Still gaining in popularity as a top destination for food, beer and music, the city of Ghent has emerged as one of the premier cultural destinations in Europe. Yet it is still largely often overlooked by travellers.

Part of the eclectic music offerings of the Ghent Festival, the largest city festival in Europe, 10 Days Off is a clubber’s dream showcasing the entirety of the electronic genre. Ghent holds the only festival dedicated to music in film, hosting the World Soundtrack Awards during the International Film Festival of Flanders-Ghent. The ‘Hotsy Totsy’ is a very popular local artist and jazz café. Over 100 concerts from classical to jazz are held at the Bijloke Music Centre.

Glasgow in Scotland, UK – 2008

While Glasgow may be the host of the World Pipe Band Championships and the Piping Live! Festival, it offers more than just the traditional bagpipes. It is also the launching pad for mainstream musical acts such as rock band Franz Ferdinand and the indie pop groups Glasvegas and Belle and Sebastian.

The Celtic Connections Festival brings traditional Scottish music and culture to the present. Considered to be one of the best small venues in Europe, the Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom books popular rock and pop artists. King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut is a popular live venue where Oasis was discovered and signed. And the Royal Scottish National Orchestra can be heard at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Seville in Spain – 2006

Keeper of the Andalucian culture and the first designated city of music, Seville is best known for flamenco dancing and music. Also famous for being the setting of Bizet’s Carmen and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, music is engrained in the culture of Seville.

Spanish traditions are explored at the Old Music Festival and Seville: A Festival of Spanish Music. Indie acts travel to Seville biennially to play at the South Pop Festival. Decorated in ode to a surrealist film, El Perro Andaluz is a bar booking a catch all of musical genres. Casa de la Memoria de al-Andalus provides authentic flamenco music and dancing.

Bogota in Colombia 2012

While the country itself has been in a volatile state, the city of Bogota has been using music to improve the lives of Colombians. Bogota has successfully merged the old and the new as well as its many ethnicities.

Rock al Parque is one of the largest and most popular rock music festivals in Latin America boasting international acts. Music at the busy Gaira Café is updated traditional where the likes of Carlos Vives can be seen. El Coq is an open-air bar hosting indie and electro artists. The best Colombian bands play at the live music venue Palco 93.

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