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ESNS 2024: Groningen gears up for massive music festival awards

Kalush Orchestra perform at the European MTV Awards 2022 in Dusseldorf, Germany on 13 November 2022.
Kalush Orchestra perform at the European MTV Awards 2022 in Dusseldorf, Germany on 13 November 2022. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Jonny Walfisz
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The Dutch city of Groningen will today begin hosting Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), a four-day event showcasing the best of European music talent, on stage and off it.

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ESNS returns to Groningen this week to celebrate the entire European music industry. The four-day event is a bonanza combination of music festivals, industry conferences and award shows.

Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) opens today until 20 January 2024 in Groningen, Netherlands. The main event is a four-day festival that showcases some of the best music acts from all across Europe.

For Eurosonic, the first three days of the festival, the line-up presents acts from the entire continent. Then, Noorderslag, the final day, shines a light on the domestic talent from the Netherlands itself.

Incredibly, nearly 300 acts will play at this year’s ESNS, with over 40,000 visitors expected to attend. The 38 year history of ESNS is littered with performers who used it as a proving ground to launch international careers. Previous line-ups have featured artists like Arlo Parks, Dua Lipa, Fontaines DC, Sigrid and Wet Leg.

Euronews Culture is attending ESNS this year but it’s going to be nigh on impossible to catch everything. There are already, however, some highlights that we’ll definitely make sure we’re at the front of the crowds for. Ireland’s CMAT will bring her glossy indie-pop alongside Iceland’s own Arny Margret for all the fans looking to find the next Phoebe Bridgers.

Ukraine will be represented by three acts with the Eurovision winning Kalush Orchestra front and centre, alongside fellow Portuguese entry Maro. There’s also an eclectic collection of hip-hop acts, from Austria’s BEX to Greece’s Negros Tou Moria. In the soul genre, the UK’s Elmiene promises to be a highlight.

The line-up is replete with Dutch talent. From the pop sensibilities of Froukje to Joost’s electronic mania and the Vices’ indie rock charm, there’s something for everyone among the more than 100 Dutch artists.

There will also be a particular focus on Poland this year. Every edition of ESNS chooses a country to highlight and 2024 is the turn of the Polish music sector. Award-nominated Berry Galazka joins a 12-strong line-up of Polish talent including Artificialice, Ciśnienie, Franek Warzywa & Młody Budda, Klawo, Immortal Onion, Izzy and the Black Trees, LASY, Moonstone, Wacław Zimpel and Zamilska.

Awards Shows

ESNS isn’t just about the musical showcase. It’s also the home of multiple music awards shows. The first is the Music Moves Europe Awards (MME), an annual celebration of the most exciting upcoming arts on the continent.

The Grand Jury Prize at the MME Awards is €10,000 plus a green touring voucher worth €5,000. Previous winners of the MME Grand Jury Prize include Stromae, Rosalía, and Christine and the Queens.

The 15 nominees for the top prize this year are: Bulgarian Cartrader (Bulgaria), Fran Vasilić (Croatia), Giift (Denmark), Pearly Drops (Finland), Zaho de Sagazan (France), ClockClock (Germany), Arny Margret (Iceland), yunè pinku (Ireland), Tramhaus (Netherlands), Ash Olsen (Norway), Berry Galazka (Poland), Ana Lua Caiano (Portugal), freekind. (Slovenia), Ralphie Choo (Spain), waterbaby (Sweden).

Following the MME Awards, Groningen will also play host to the European Festival Awards. For its 13th edition, the European Festival Awards celebrates the best music festivals across the continent in categories that range from size (Best Small/Medium/Major Festival) to awards that recognise excellence in running festivals (Green Operations/Event Safety).

This year, the nominees for the European Festival Awards’ Best Major Festival are: Beats for Love (Czechia), Colors of Ostrava (Czechia), Electric Castle (Romania), Hurricane Festival (Germany), Nature One (Germany), Neversea Festival (Romania), Open’er Festival (Poland), Primavera Sound (Spain), Sónar (Spain) and Ultra Europe (Croatia).

Vying for the Line-Up of the Year Award will be: Glastonbury (UK), Lowlands (Netherlands), Mad Cool (Spain), Open’er Festival (Poland), Øya Festivalen (Norway), Primavera Sound (Spain), Rock En Seine (France), Rock Werchter (Belgium), Roskilde (Denmark), Sziget Festival (Hungary).

Industry intel

Alongside the festivals and award shows, industry insiders will flock to ESNS for its annual conference events. Over 500 speakers will take part in panel discussions on every aspect of the music business within Europe.

Keynote speakers include Amy Thomson, CEO and founder of ATM Artists and previous Chief Catalogue Officer at Hipgnosis Songs Fund, one of the IP firms that has acquired multiple legendary artists’ back catalogues.

Other speakers in the line-up include heads of music festivals, music streaming platforms, and government officials.

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