Often being open-minded and creative types, travellers and backpackers seem to love their music – so what better way to combine your love for music, travel and partying than a European music festival? The summer was made for festivals so why plan your trip now and book a ticket to a top European music festival? This is my guide to some of the best on offer (in no particular order)…
1. The Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, Spain
Serious music lovers seem to be the only people outside of Spain who have heard of Benicàssim. Benicàssim is a small port town located in between Barcelona and Valencia and every year it plays host to a fantastic music festival. The four day event takes place in mid-July and predominately features alternative rock and electronic artists, but it’s also known to be a great place to rave. The event differs from the many music festivals who are restricted to a 2am curfew – here the music starts at 5pm and continues until early the next morning.
It’s one of the few festivals in the world where you relax on the beach during the day and another bonus is that you can buy your food in a supermarket instead of paying festival prices. You even won’t need to worry about personal hygiene as the campsite has its very own purpose-built outdoor showers!
- Tickets approximately €153
- Benicassim Festival
2. Roskilde European music festival, Denmark
The Roskilde festival in Denmark is one of the biggest European music festivals. Two students and a promoter founded the event in 1971 before it was taken over by the Roskilde Foundation. It’s now run as a non-profit event with the aim of developing music and culture in the area. Visitors flock to the festival from all across Europe, providing tourists with a reason to visit the expensive Scandinavian country. The festival is usually a great mix of music, 24 hour parties, organic food and experimental art and design. Everyone arrives early so you could potentially have up to eight days of fun.
- Tickets: €256 (approx) A full festival ticket gives you access to the full eight days.
- Roskilde Festival
3. Open’er Festival, Poland
Poland’s big event is held in Gdynia, which is city located on the country’s north coast. The festival takes place in early July with an eclectic range of artists on offer – expect everything from electronic and pop music to rock and reggae. The event is held in a huge airfield filled with seven stages and the music starts at 4pm and goes on until 2am. DJs continue to 5am. It also features a ‘festival town’ where you can buy merchandise, watch films, see theatre performances, eat or even play some sport (if you can muster the energy).
Catering to everyone’s musical tastes, previous artists have been a mixed bunch. For 2014 the line up hasn’t been confirmed yet but more details will be released soon.
This is an excellent opportunity to visit Poland where you can experience the Eastern European culture and even head out to more party zones (like Warsaw or Krakow) for an extended break.
- Tickets: €115 with camping €96 without camping.
- Opener festival
4. INmusic Festival, Croatia
Croatia’s largest open-air festival, INmusic started in 2005 and attracts approximately 25,000 people each year. It enjoys a pretty idyllic location on a small island in Lake Jarun. It’s a popular two day festival with several genre-specific stages each hosting renowned indie rock, heavy metal and electronica artists. It was also rated as one of Europe’s best festivals in 2008 and 2009 by The Times newspaper.
If you want to continue the fun when the festival ends, try an extended break exploring some of Croatia’s beautiful coastal resorts. This event is the perfect way to combine sun and great scenery with plenty of festival laughs.
- Tickets €314
5. Exit, Serbia
This is an award wining summer European music festival in Serbia, held in the unique venue of the Petrovaradin Fortress of Novi Sad. Since 2003 the event has extended from three to four days, and over the years it has been used to get across both political and social messages.
Since 2004, the festival has attracted an increasing amount of household names and the festival has even created its own record label. The organisers release albums in MP3 form so people can download them for free from their official website. Bands that have benefited from this so far are Obojeni Program, E-Play, Jarboli and Ritam Nereda – all of which have all released albums through the label.
- Early bird tickets from €99.
6. Pukkelpop, Belgium
This famous Belgium festival is held near Hasselt towards the end of August. It’s a popular event which takes place in a large area of fields and woodland in the village of Kiewit and attracts over 180,000 people each year. It’s the second largest music festival in the country aiming to have a progressive and contemporary feel.
- Tickets: Around €165 (although this is TBC)
7. Pinkpop Festival, Netherlands
This Dutch festival takes place in Landgraaf and is thought to be one of the oldest annual festivals in the world, having started in 1970. The event is held Pentecost weekend, hence its name (in Dutch it’s called Pinkster). It’s a popular three day event that attracts over 60,000 visitors every year.
Over the years some big names have attended and next year looks like it will be the same watch this space!
8. Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, Germany
Germans are known for their love of rock so it’s no surprise these two sister events make up one of the largest music festivals in the world. Located in Nürburgring and Nuremberg, with a few exceptions both three day festivals normally have identical lineups. Often a sold out event, the festival attracts around 150,000 die hard rock and alternative fans all determined to party hard.
One of the unique characteristics of this festival are the event’s locations. Rock Am Ring takes place at the Nürburgring racetrack in the west of Germany while Rock im Park makes use of a football stadium in Bavaria. At least you won’t have to fear mud pits at one of the events, the asphalt race track of the Nuremberg Ring ensures a slide free festival no matter what the weather.
- Early bird tickets are priced at €189 including camping and parking.
- Rock Am Ring/Rock Im Park
9. Sziget Festival, Hungary
Hungary’s top music festival is held in Budapest, the nations capital. The event (which attracts over 350,000 people) lasts for an eye watering seven days and by the end of the week around 1000 artists would have performed. It’s held on Óbudai-sziget (translated as Old-Buda Island), which is a huge, leafy 266 acre island on the Danube. It’s a popular event and in 2011 it won the European Festival Award for the Best Major Festival.
The event isn’t just about music – there are lots of other activities available. If you want to take a break from the music you can always kick around on the island’s football pitch, try indoor rowing or go to the cinema. Another draw is that you can still enjoy a bargain in Hungary with many items being a lot cheaper than the rest of Europe. Once the party is over you can wind down in the famous Hungarian baths or if you want to keep partying, head into the centre of Budapest where you’ll find plenty of clubs and bars.
- Tickets: Camping €209, Non-camping €199.
- Sziget festival
10. The Isle of Wight Festival, UK
The Isle of Wight festival has enjoyed a long and colourful history. The event started in 1968 and in 1969 Bob Dylan performed in front of an estimated crowd of 200,000 people. The following year it was even better when in excess of 600,000 people turned up to see the incredible (and now legendary) line-up which included the dream team of Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and The Who. The festival was revamped in 2002 and is now held at Seaclose Park near Newport.
- Tickets: Weekend camping £190
- Isle of Wight Festival
Other great European Music Festivals…
- Primavera Sound, Barcelona (May) – Catch independent music at this beach-side all nighter.
- Sonar Festival, Barcelona (June) – This is one for beat lovers, a great Euro dance event.
- Glastonbury, UK (June) – This is the biggie but the mother of all festivals always seems to be sold out so make sure you get in early!
- Hurricane Festival, Germany (July) – Mainly alternative but becoming more mainstream.
- T in the Park, Scotland (July) – The Scots know how to party, see for yourself.
- Melt Festival, Berlin (July) – Electronic meets Rock at this quirky disused mine venue.
- Super Bock Super Rock, Portugal (July) – Beer sponsored party in the sun.
- Tomorrowland, Belgium (July) – Quickly became one of the most talked about and popular festivals in Europe, a fairy tale themed electronic dance music event with over 400 DJs.
- Woodstock Festival, Poland (August) – Huge free event for a good cause.
- Off Festival, Poland (August) – Unique boutique festival attracting some great bands.
- Oya Festival, Oslo, Norway (August) – Friendly three day event, Scandinavian style.
- Reading Festival, Berkshire, UK (August) – Rock & Indie with sister festival in Leeds.
- Electric Picnic – (August) Enjoy the craic at this great Irish music event.
- Bestival on Isle of Wight, UK (September) – Live bands, fancy dress and fun.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of every great European music festival, they all have something to offer, on top of mud, music and rain (or if you’re lucky, sun). So pack your tent and enjoy!
UK festivals are world famous, for a full run down of UK festivals check out our 10 of the best UK music festivals post