Yesterday, my band's Youth Band took part in the "European Youth Music Festival" in Neerpelt (Belgium). This is a really great event for all kinds of musical groups from all over Europe (and this year even from Mexico and China). The event takes place once every two years (the other year is for choirs). The musicians can be up to 25 years old, they get a report from a professional jury (open adjudication) and a gradation: there's no "winner" of the contest, you just get a "prize" (e.g. 80-90% = "1st prize")

It would be a great trip for any British youth brass band to make. The atmosphere is fantastic and very international, with youth groups from all over Europe (from Spain to Russia and Ireland to Finland) and all different types of musical groups: wind bands, string orchestras, chamber music groups, and I think there were 2 brass bands as well, one from Belgium and one from the Netherlands. Sleeping accomodation for the foreign groups is organised by the festival: either in a kind of bungalow park, or you can stay in guest families.

There was one British group, from a Girls school in Northampton, which had a concert band, big band and sax group. If you know a youth band that could be interested, the festival has appointed an "ambassador" for the UK: Xenophon Kelsey, (he was in our youth band's jury team), you could try contacting him.

Some pictures from past events and all other information can be found on the festival's website: http://www.emj.be