“Europeans will bleed until they are touched by a sacred and calm music and return in peace to the altars they once frequented”
Novalis, German poet, 1799
Summer is already looming despite the chilly weather, so it’s time to draw out your calendars, because the rich and dense festival season is around the corner! But the real question is: where to go? You may opt for the chill and warm beach festivals of the South of Europe, or the wild and crazy rave parties of the North. You may want to experiment the music mastodontes of the West or the friendly alternative festivals of the East. You may want to play it pop, rock, electro or reggae, folk and metal. Tomorrowland, Sziget, Gastonbury, Roskilde — No matter your tastes: Europe has anyway a lot to offer. So plant your tent, join the crowd and discover some of the best music festivals of the old continent.
Take a short train ride from Cais do Sodré in Lisbon, and you’ll find yourself at one of the best music festivals in Portugal. NOS Alive is a three-day art and music extravaganza that has something for everyone. The motto ‘beach by day, music by night’, is in full effect with acts typically starting in the early evening and lasting to the early morning. More here.
Mad Cool Festival
Taking place among both tented and outdoor stages in a massive park in Spain’s capital city, Mad Cool Festival has a little bit of something for everyone. It chiefly features pop, rock and indie performers and is by far the best of the festivals in Spain, which is seriously impressive considering that it’s only been going for a few years. More here.
Primavera Sound – a zeitgeist-chasing multi-genre music festival in Barcelona
Festival Internacional de Benicàssim – an indie and alternative music festival
Azkena Rock – from punk to classic rock, from legends to cult favourites
Rototom Sunsplash – one of the biggest reggae music festivals in Europe
Bilbao BBK Live – a rock and pop music festival
Festimad – an alternative rock festival and cultural event
The best way to have fun during the long summer days in Paris is to visit one of the most popular music festivals – Solidays. This 3-day event that takes place every year at the end of June. But, Solidays is so much more than a simple music festival. Organised by Solidarité sida, it focuses on educating young people and raising awareness about HIV and collecting money. More here.
Les Vieilles Charrues – one of France’s giant festivals
Les Eurockéennes – one of France’s largest rock music festivals
Rock en Seine – multi-genre festival
Calvi On The Rocks – an electronic music festival in Corsica
Hellfest – one of the biggest rock, metal and punk festivals in Europe
La Route du Rock – rock festival in Brittany
Les Francofolies de La Rochelle – the finest Francophone musical talent from a diverse array of styles
Peacock Society Festival – hidden in the heart of Paris’s biggest wood
The winter heats up in Reykjavik where festies spend the days taking in the wonders of the island and spending nights at the top clubs in the country. From hipster indie acts to geysers to after-parties, Iceland Airwaves remains a solid bet for a cold weather festival. It spans four days and its main focus is showcasing new music, both Icelandic and international. More here.
Where once Electric Picnic was seen as the bohemian alternative to major commercial festivals, it is now one of the biggest on the Emerald Isle. Saying that it also offers some of the best artists on show across all annual music festivals in Ireland. Rolling Stone described it as “one of the best festivals we’ve ever been to”. More here.
Sea sessions – music, surf, sport and partying by the sea
Body and Soul – one of the more quirky music festivals
Indiependence – a festival within a gorgeous tree-lined 52-acre site
All Together Now – with secret woodland stages
KnockanStockan – Irish music festival
Life Festival –electronic music festival
Forbidden Fruit – fairly popular music festival
The biggest, the best, the muddiest, the most glorious thing you have ever seen. It will rain, it will probably pour – but hey, you’re in the UK after all – and you’ll still be having the time of your life! Glastonbury is a weekend at Worthy Farm you will never forget. In less than 50 years the Eavis family have transformed these beautiful, quiet fields into the site of an annual music pilgrimage. More here.
Lost Village Festival – a surreal wilderness weekend in an earthly forest
All Points East – in East London’s most glorious public park
Strawberries & Creem – A mix of hot new talent and some throwback acts
Fusion Festival – one of the UK’s go-to pop music festival
Download Festival – one of the UK’s greatest rock and metal music festivals
Reading & Leeds – indie bands, metal groups, next-generation dance, hip hop and alternative pop
TRNSMT – a Scottish rock and indie music festival
Because it’s Øya. Oslo and summer, a no-brainer! Øya Festival is the largest outdoor festival in Norway, taking place in on the east side Oslo at the beautiful Tøyenparken. 60,000 festies are drawn in every August for a wonderfully curated international lineup. And because we are in Norway, Øya Festival also prides itself on its sustainability and their groundbreaking green initiatives. More here.
You know how Swedes can be when summer is around… They either dance around polls or go to Summerburst – one of the best festivals in Sweden conducted during the start of the summer season. This music festival displays heart-pumping electronic music and some of the best-talented dance performers from around the world. More here.
Flow Festival provides music from pop and rock mainstays to newcomers in genres ranging from r&b to indie, techno, hip hop and experimental music. All this is served in a monumental architectural site with exquisite light design and decorations, along with a magnificent choice of world spanning cuisine right in the midst of Helsinki. More here.
Ruisrock – the oldest rock festival in Finland
Tuska Open Air Metal Festival – one of the largest metal festivals in the Nordics
Weekend – most well-known EDM festival branches out to include more rap and pop acts.
Ilosaarirock – second oldest rock festival in Finland
Provinssi – one of Finland’s largest rock festivals
“It’s that orange feeling,” is the phrase that has become the calling card of Denmark’s beloved Roskilde Festival. Roskilde Festival is far more than just another music event. It would be better described as a national holiday; a Danish pilgrimage to a promised land of partying into the early hours, cups over-brimming with Tuborg, naked runs, exquisite food – and above all, making friends. More here.
Northside – international and Danish artists
G! Festival – an intimate indie rock festival
Copenhell – a metalhead mecca for three days
Heartland Festival – a unique boutique festival set on the idyllic grounds of Egeskov Castle
Copenhagen Distortion – a dozen blocks in Copenhagen of drinking, dancing, and stages
The Flying Dutch
The Flying Dutch is a very interesting 11-hour party spanning three different cities at the same time. Wondering where the name came from? Get this – they host a lineup of all Dutch DJ’s, and actually fly them from one venue to the other via helicopter so they can make it to all three. Get it – it really is ‘flying Dutch’. More here.
Don’t Let Daddy Know Festival – a massive EDM festival
Best Kept Secret – a festival with imaginative food and lovely lakeside campsite
Amsterdam Music Festival – the biggest names in mainstream EDM/electro
Parkpop – one of the largest free pop music festivals in Europe
Mysteryland – one of the first festivals to solely offer an array of electronic music genres
Music On Festival – house and electro festival
Oh My! – a classic one-day Dutch music festival for all rap and hip hop lovers.
If you’re talking about the most well known festival in Belgium, then you’re probably talking about Tomorrowland. This festival is known over the entire world and getting tickets for it is quite challenging. It has a fairy tale feeling, taking its inspirations from castles, old trees and legends. You even get a small treasure chest delivered at home with your festival wristband in it… More here.
It has probably one of the most unique venues of the German music festivals, converting an old NATO missile base into a venue with four main large dance floors and tons of smaller dance areas as well. All together the areas total easily up to 20 different stages, with something different going on at each. The industrial background adds an even more unique element to this massive festival. More here.
Rock am Ring – Germany’s biggest rock festival
Parookaville – an electro festival taking place on a former military airport
Helene Beach Festival – electronic, hip hop and pop festival on the lakeside of Helenesee
Time Warp – one of the world’s best known and longest-running techno festivals
Sea You – a unique house and techno festival located on the banks of Tunisee Lake
Hurricane Festival – one of the biggest and most well-known festivals in Germany
Donau Insel festival
Austria has a diverse music scene, perhaps most famed for its classical music legacy. But in late June, Vienna’s Danube Island transforms into a buzzing party hub for around three million visitors for the Donau Insel Festival. Musicians from all over the world, and of a variety of genres, provide visitors with over 600 hours of concerts and countless food and drink vans line the banks for mid-festival pick-me-ups. More here.
Where else to party than what’s widely considered as Switzerland’s equivalent to Glastonbury; for over 40 years now, OpenAir St.Gallen has welcomed some of the most iconic artists in contemporary music culture to the valley of the River Sitter. Held just outside of Saint Gallen, it’s set the standard for music festivals across Europe since 1977. More here.
Rock in Roma
Ciao tutti! Are you looking for the best music festivals in Italy? Rock in Roma is what you need! For thousands of rock fans, this is THE unmissable event of the year in Rome! Formerly known as Romarock Festival, it is held in Italy’s capital at the Capannelle Racecourse. The biggest advantage of the festival is the variety of bands and diversity of musical genres. More here.
Ypsigrock Festival – an alternative music festival in Castelbuono, Sicily
MI AMI – a music festival held each year in the city of Milan
Firenze Rocks – one of the biggest music events of the summer in Tuscany
Kappa FuturFestival – a true giant of the European electronic music scene
SUNANDBASS – an annual drum and bass festival on the beautiful Italian island of Sardinia
Collisioni – mix of international music, world literature, enogastronomy culture
Rock for people
This is a highlight in the country’s festival calendar, and is without surprise one of Czechia’s most prestigious music festivals. The biggest bands that span the rock, punk, and metal genres consistently jet into the Hradec Králové airport each year. Rock for People also runs a showcase of theatre, discussions and workshops in a family-centric atmosphere. More here.
Colours of Ostrava – festival held inside a former coal works
Beats for Love – largest festival of electronic music in Central Europe
Transmission – trance festival
Imagination Festival – drum and bass, hardcore
Metronome Festival Prague – city-wide festival
United Islands of Prague – musicians of various genres from all over the world
You like rock, punk, folk, world music, reggae, ska, pop, jazz, rave or even folklore and classical music? Then Pohoda Festival is what you’re looking for! The biggest summer music festival in Slovakia is held every year in Trenčín airport, usually the second week of July. Pohoda in English means peace, good times, relax… and this is it! More here.
Every generation will find something for themselves in the Polish Open’er Festival. It is the largest and most diverse festival in Poland. Unrivalled in size anywhere in the country, the colossal festival repeatedly curates an extensive lineup ranging from the world’s most reputable music stars to budding domestic talent. It takes place since 2006 in Kosakowo Airport in Gdynia. More here.
OFF Festival – an alternative music festival
Pol’and’Rock Festival – a free rock music festival inspired by the Woodstock festival.
Orange Warsaw Festival – an annual multi genres music festival
Instytut Festival – a festival in army barracks
Sunrise festival – one of the biggest electronic dance events in Central and Eastern Europe
Audioriver – an enduringly independent festival
Tauron Nowa Muzyka – a festival for new talents
Granatos Live is a three-day music festival organized in Rumšiškės Ethnographic Museum – one of the most authentic and beautiful places in Lithuania. The most influential Lithuanian artists join their forces with the best artists from all over the world. Granatos Live festival is probably the most popular live music festival in Lithuania. More here.
Karklė Festival – the only music festival in Lithuania that happens on the beach
Galapagai – nominated the Best Small European Festival for several years
Bliuzo Naktys – an international blues festival
Sūpynės – the most popular electronic music festival
Devilstone – an extreme rock’n’roll musical festival
Positivus, the largest and most popular music festival in the three Baltic States, gathers an audience of 35,000 in the coastal town of Salacgriva. The festival’s atmosphere is “relaxed and international”. You’ll groove there to good music, breathe in the refreshing aroma of a pine forest and catch the lazy sunsets on the beach. More here.
There are a handful music events in Estonia that can boast such traditions. Juu Jääb is special because it takes place in the face of natural elements – pouring rain, romantic starry sky or the heat of July. In the course of the festival held on Muhu island, at the yard of the Nautse Mihkli farm, top artists of jazz, electronic and world music perform in synergy with ancient trees, stone fences and reed roofs. More here.
Rock za Bobrov
Yes, there are music festivals in Belarus. Rock za Bobrov is the most visited summer festival in Belarus, attracting more than 25 000 people from Belarus and nearby countries! It takes place on the “Borovaya” aerodrome – a place where the most popular bands and musicians across Russia, Ukraine and Belarus convene to provide you with an amazing weekend full of music, tasty food and entertainments! More here.
Atlas Weekend is a large-scale celebration of music in the heart of Ukraine — Kyiv city. The festival, which has been held annually in Kyiv since 2015, features musical performances in genres like pop, electronic, rock, rap and hip-hop. The program includes (but is not limited to): live concerts, DJ sets, an amusement park, evenings of Poetry, master classes, gastronomy… More here.
Romania – Moldova
People from all over the world come to take part in the Untold Festival and have as much fun as possible. The Romanian Festival has managed to amaze its audience every year since 2015 with live shows, fireworks, confetti showers, and so on. Untold‘s official website is referring to editions as chapters. Just like in a fairy tale. More here.
Translating in English to “Island Festival”, the Sziget festival is THE music event to-not-miss in Hungary and probably the most famous festival of whole Europe. Budapest sees some of the highest numbers of tourists during this period, as fans travel from every part of the globe to catch their favorite artists live. If you find yourself in Hungary at the time, do make sure you attend this festival! More here.
Punk Rock Holiday
The name Punk Rock Holiday could not describe the essence of this festival any better. This four-day festival is a holiday for fans of punk rock music. Held at the Sotočje peninsula at Tolmin, the banks of the pristine Soča river are a favorite gathering place for the festival’s visitors. Punk Rock Holiday’s no-barrier-stages policy is maintained by limiting the number of visitors to only five thousand. More here.
Croatia’s festival scene has exploded in the last few years. When it comes to bass music, there really is no more important annual fixture than Outlook. Not only is the festival significant for this youth movement, the stage locations at this festival are also insane, with urban and bass beats pumping sounds around a well-preserved Roman Amphitheatre. More here.
The Exit music festival was founded 16 years ago as a form of resistance against the government. Years passed by, the government changed, but the festival is still living to the fullest. It takes place at the Petrovaradin fortress on the Danube in the city of Novi Sad. That location gives this festival some kind of magic, so when you visit Exit once, you will come again, that’s for sure. More here.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Kosovo
Most of the festival-going folk have already heard of Exit, or Ultra so it’s a pity that most popular Bosnian festivals stay in the shadows. Among them, you should get to know Demofest better – an annual festival held at the Kastel Fortress in Banja Luka. It was founded with the aim to provide young unsigned bands with an opportunity to revive the rock scene of former Yugoslavia. More here.
Voted best European medium-sized festival, Sea Dance has hosted megastars such as The Prodigy, Jamiroquai, Underworld, Skrillex or Lost Frequencies. The stunning Montenegrin white, turquoise and green shoreline surrounded by picturesque mountains make the perfect backdrop to enjoy Sea Dance’s array of world-class performers. More here.
Kala, which began in 2018, has solidified itself as one of Albania’s, and perhaps Europe’s most exciting festivals. All things electronic, and a splash of funk, soul and global rhythms is the music policy for the week-long affair. However, Kala delves way beyond being solely a music festival, offering yoga, meditation, gong baths as well as organising excursions to explore the festivals beautiful surroundings. More here.
Hills of Rock
What started back in 2017 soon became one of the most popular festivals in Bulgaria for alternative music. Some of the world’s greatest rock stars, each marked by its own music style and sound, come out on different stages. The festival unites the emotions and memories of the fans, who can experience ‘live’ the magic of rock music. More here.
Fans of alternative music always get excited during late November and early December because this is when they find out when the annual Taksirat Festival will begin. This festival is the biggest in North Macedonia and it is the only winter music festival in South Eastern Europe. It lasts all night long, the atmosphere is always hot, and the crowd is joyful and playful. More here.
“We bring the music, you make the memories”. This is the motto of Rockwave Festival – one of the biggest music events in the Greek summer. Internationally known, this rock festival has an impressive line-up of world-renowned artists and bands. An annual rendezvous for rock lovers, Rockwave is the perfect excuse to stay in Athens in the summer (just in case you needed one). More here.
Living Color Music
What can you expect from Living Color Music Festival? First and foremost, a stellar line up of acts, mind-blowing sounds and visual effects. You’re in for one massive celebration! As well as the music, the festival embraces all that is great about the Mediterranean summer with food stalls, art and a wide range of amusements. More here.
One Love festival
This is the hipster favourite and the first open air music festival of the summer season. One Love festival has a solid history of hosting nearly 100 bands, more than 1.600 artists and over 220.000 participants. Organisers take pride at carrying out the main concepts of One Love culture such as; hope, love, freedom and dance to the both festival area and the street of Istanbul. More here.
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