The days are getting longer, the weather’s getting warmer – yes, we’re getting closer to festival season. Europe is home to more than its fair share of music festivals over the summer, so no matter what your musical taste or partying attitude, there is something to suit every taste.
1. Meadows in the Mountains, Bulgaria
Combine a healthy dose of disco, funk and electronica with some unusual outdoor activities, like zip-lining and grass-sledding. Bathe in waterfalls, enjoy fresh locally sourced food and hop across the border to Greece on your downtime.
2. Surfer Joe Summer Festival, Italy
This self-proclaimed “world’s number one surf music festival” is perfect for anyone who wistfully wishes they lived in the fifties or sixties. Grab a surfboard, do your best Grease-style hairdo and get ready to jive to three days of instrumental surf rock by the beach while polishing down a gelato or two at the local diner. Hey, it’s free!
3. Glastonbury, UK
The granddaddy of festivals, Glastonbury tickets are like gold dust in that they are both hard to find and incredibly expensive. Arguably, however, the transformation of this laid back slice of rural Somerset into sprawling fields of art, workshops and hippies does offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The scale of the thing means that there’s something for everyone, from major partying at the Pyramid Stage to meandering through the standing stones checking out the kids’ entertainment. This year’s headliners include Dolly Parton and Disclosure.
4. Førdefestivalen, Norway
Positioned at the mouth of the river Jølstra, this festival offers both a dramatic setting – glaciers, waterfalls, mountains and forests are all a mere stone’s throw away – with the best of traditional and world music giving al fresco performances. This year will feature 300 artists from over 30 different countries performing across 30 venues.
5. The Garden Festival, Croatia
Think you can handle eight days of partying? Never fear, The Garden Party has a relatively chilled out atmosphere and laidback attitude. Its stunning location – inside a natural amphitheater overlooking a cove – invites you to lay back and take it easy in between wandering around the stages and hopping between boat parties. The music is mostly feel-good electronic and house.
6. Exit Festival, Serbia
It’s a festival in an 18th Century Petrovaradin Fortress – need we say more? Originally borne out of a student movement for peace and democracy in Serbia and the Balkans, Exit Festival is now in its 14th year and its open-air dance floors and 16 stages of diverse music (this year will see both Skrillex and Gloria Gaynor headlining) attracts upwards of 200,000 partygoers from across the world. If you don’t want the fun to stop, there’s even a four-day after-party in Montenegro known as Sea Dance Festival.
7. Benicàssim, Spain
This is one of Europe’s biggest and most popular festivals, despite the fact that it is crammed into one tiny town in Valencia. A popular summer resort 200 years ago for wealthy Spaniards, the destination now attracts a rowdier crowd, looking for big names (this year’s line-up includes Kasabian and Lily Allen) and an all-night party atmosphere. Don’t worry – there’s a beach just 20 minutes’ walk away just perfect for sleeping off hangovers in the sun.
8. Positivus, Latvia
If you’re after something whimsical, give Positivus a go – in addition to major music names (such as Kraftwerk and Elbow) this festival also boasts a cinema tent, circus, dance, theatre, art and even a crafts market.
9. Sziget Festival, Hungary
From Hungarian folk on the World Village Stage to acoustic melodies at the Campfire Stage, Sziget has steadily grown since its humble origins in 1993 to become one of the continent’s biggest festivals. Set on the “Island of Freedom” Óbuda Island (on the Danube River in Budapest), this year’s line-up will be sporting some large names, including Queens of the Stone Age and Blink 182. Its electronic afterparty B.my.Lake was also voted Europe’s ‘Best New Festival’ last year, if you’re feeling up to it.
10. Dimensions, Croatia
A 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheater is the perfect stage for Caribou, Kwabs and Warpaint. Throw in some daily boat parties and a beach and you have a deal. This underground electronic music festival at Fort Punta Christo in Pula has both the location and the sound systems required to do justice to the techno, house, dubstep and drum & bass that is so abundantly on offer. See out the summer in style.
Let us know what you think of these festivals – or if you have any other recommendations – below.