If you like travelling and going to concerts then the Lucca Summer Festival is the perfect way to combine the two. Great music and the chance to explore one of Tuscany’s hidden gems makes for the perfect city break.
Rainy days, muddy fields and terrible toilets are what springs to mind when I think of a festival. Sorry, I know that’s not very cool but give me an arena any day.
Then I heard about the Lucca Summer Festival. Your favourite band, no queuing, a great seat and pretty much guaranteed good weather. Where’s the catch? Turns out there isn’t one so that’s how I ended up in Lucca for the summer festival in 2019.
What is the Lucca Summer Festival?
The Lucca Summer Festival is a series of concerts in Lucca, Italy.
The annual music festival started back in 1988 and is now one of the most important festivals in Italy.
It has played host to some of the biggest stars in the music world over the years (over 260 events so far) including Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Kasabian, Robbie Williams and Florence and the Machine to name just a few.
The festival usually starts at the end of June and runs throughout July. Many of the shows are held in Lucca’s main square, the picturesque Piazza Napoleone (otherwise known as Piazza Grande to locals) with the Ducal Palace as a backdrop.
As you might have guessed the square is named after Napoleon. His sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciochhi ruled the city between 1805-1815 so I guess being able to dedicate a square to your brother was a perk of the job.
The elegant tree-lined square flanked by colourful buildings makes for a charming (and unique) setting for a concert. As one of the main squares in the city, it is still accessible on a show day so you can have a stroll around and enjoy one of the many bars and restaurants before the show.
Late afternoon everyone is moved out of the square. The bars and restaurants pack up their outside seating, ticket barriers are installed and the square is transformed into a venue for the night. The statue of Marie-Louise of Bourbon (who ruled Lucca between 1817 and 1824) keeping an eye on proceedings.
The bars and restaurants become the food and drink outlets for ticket holders. Think your average arena concourse but with much nicer ice cream and more reasonably priced refreshments!
The shows start a little later than usual here, allowing the heat of the day to cool down. Well in theory. I managed to time my visit during a heatwave so there was no cooling down. Imagine a gig at the gates of hell (thanks to my friend for that apt description) and you won’t even be close to how hot it was.
Some shows are held by the famous city walls to allow for a bigger capacity. Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in 2019 was upgraded here to allow more people to attend. This changed after the tickets had gone on sale so bear that in mind if you book tickets for a popular band or singer.
Lucca Summer Festival 2023
Shows are starting to be announced for 2023. So far the confirmed acts are…
29 June – Kiss
1 July – Simply Red
12 July – Sigur Ros
13 July – Placebo
14 July – Norah Jones
16 July – One Republic
17 July – Pat Metheny
21 July – Checco Zalone
22 July – Blur
23 July – The Chemical Brothers
25 July – Jacob Collier – Snarky Puppy
28 July – Robbie Williams
How to buy tickets for the Summer Festival
If you are Lucca Summer Festival tickets you can buy them from Ticketone.it, an Italian ticket agency.
Tip: If Italian isn’t your first language you can translate the page (at least the ticket buying bit) using the flag button at the top right hand side of the screen.
Register an account before the tickets go on sale as this will save a lot of time (and panic) on ticket sale day.
It’s also worth brushing up on your Italian beforehand too or at least having a look at how you choose seats on the site in advance.
Lucca Summer Festival Seating Plan
The layout and capacity of the venue depends on the show on where it is held.
The venue inside the city walls, Piazza Napoleone is smaller than the venue used just outside the city walls.
Shows can have seated, standing and mixed configuration setups so check what the layout is before buying tickets.
The show I went to was fully seated in the Piazza Napoleone. For seated shows the blocks run quite far past the stage so it’s best to aim for one of the more central blocks.
There may also be the option to purchase tickets in the grandstand at the back of square or in a small raised area around the monument (said to be one of the best areas to enjoy a show from).
Tip: Do your research before buying tickets to avoid any surprises or disappointment on the night.
How to get to Lucca
Lucca is located in Tuscany, around half an hour inland of Italy’s western coast.
Pisa is the nearest airport followed by Florence. From both cities you’ll need to get a train into the city centre then one out to Lucca.
It is very easy to reach via car or train from both Florence and Pisa. However, if you do drive remember the centre (within the city walls) is generally closed off to traffic so you’ll need to park outside.
Train From Florence
Take the train from Florence Santa Maria Novella to Lucca. The journey is around an hour and 20 minutes.
Train From Pisa
Take the train from Pisa Centrale to Lucca. The journey is around 25-30 minutes.
Lucca in a day
If you are going to a Lucca concert then you should definitely make a day of it. Although Lucca deserves a couple of nights you can comfortably see the best of the city in a day.
Getting there in the morning will give you time to walk the historic walls, visit a church (or two) or climb one of the towers for a spectacular view over the city.
You’ll also have time for an aperol spritz and dinner before the show.
Related post | Explore Lucca with my guide of what to see and do in the historic walled city.
The last word
Looking back now, I’m wondering why I didn’t visit the Lucca Summer Festival before. A beautiful city, warm summer evenings and great music. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If you love travelling and concerts then the Lucca music festival should be on your radar.
Maybe I’ll see you there one day?
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