Worldwide music festival guide • Northern Europe and Scandinavia

Plan a musical odyssey with Time Out’s global guide to music festivals – the best line-ups, sonic fields and destination fests in Scandinavia, other parts of northern Europe, and around the world

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Roskilde

Roskilde © Just Lars

In true Scandi style, this region of the world specialises in music festivals with a bit of edge and a lot of cool. From the Low Countries to the Arctic Circle, the offering is wide-ranging – veering between chart-toppers and pop at Denmark's Roskilde festival to the headbangers' paradise that is Sonisphere (the nomadic music fest is stopping off in Helsinki on the Finnish leg of its 2014 tour). Scandinavia in particular seems to specialise in brave and/or novel festival experiences – whether it's a rave in a Swedish forest, a gig in the centre of Oslo or a party on a Nordic beach. Sound tempting? There's more. Read on for Time Out's guide to northern Europe’s most sensational music festivals…


©Justin Ennis

Tomorrowland

Fri Jul 18-Sun Jul 20, Fri Jul 25-Sun Jul 27
Boom, Belgium De Schorre

Hardwell • Erol Alkan • Armin Van Buuren • Carl Cox • Diplo…
Tucked amidst the beautiful Belgian hills lies Tomorrowland, one of the largest electronic music festivals in Europe. Known for its psychedelic atmosphere, it has become a Mecca for trance, house and rave addicts. Dreamville is more than aptly named, as not only are its friendly festivalgoers clearly on cloud nine, but magical decorations transform the fields – lampposts gleam golden, covered with flowers, fake fish breathe fire in the surrounding lakes, and waterfalls flow forth in unexpected places. Joyous energy turns into giddy hedonism as anthems pound away to futuristic laser shows, and thousands upon thousands move their bodies in unison. This year – to mark its 10th anniversary – the festival is double the fun, with tickets spread across two weekends.

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Øya Festival

Tue Aug 5-Sun Aug 9
Oslo, Norway Middelalderparken

Bryan Ferry • Neutral Milk Hotel • Outkast • Slowdive • The Julie Ruin
The night before Øya Festival officially opens, Oslo’s trendy club nights are already warming up, firmly rooting the festival in the local music scene. Held in the city’s stunning medieval park, Scandinavian and world-class talent take to the festival’s six stages to perform everything from experimental post rock, to soulful jazz and swelling shoegaze. Although Øya might seem a little tame (it calmly welcomes ear-plugged children and is wholly organic and recyclable), the odd gnarly punk or pop guitar act can swifty whisk the crowd into a wild frenzy. An Øya highlight is The Camp Indie stage, perfect for curious musos who want to discover lesser-known bands on independent labels.

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© Niklas Hellerstedt

Way Out West

Thu Aug 7-Sat Aug 9
Gothenburg, Sweden Slottsskogen Park

Röyksopp & Robyn • Outkast • Queens of the Stone Age • Icona Pop • Neutral Milk Hotel…
Way Out West, located in the plush forest-like Slottsskogen Park is not only entirely eco-friendly but there’s no uncomfortable camping, no reckless drunks, and few children to get in your way. Throughout the daytime, crowds are calm, but at midnight Stay Out West takes over, giving an insight into the wild heart of Gothernburg’s underground music scene. Bands and DJs perform at a host of surprising hidden venues, showcasing ethereal sets in a beautiful Gothic church, raucous punk at upmarket hotels, and manic clubbing at immense industrial warehouses. Late night trams run until 4am and the festival’s mobile app (which maps queue lengths as well as venues) makes curating your personalised afterparty a doddle. Expect the epitome of cool Swedish style.

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© Geoffrey de Kleijn/flickr

Loveland

Sat Aug 9
Amsterdam, Netherlands Sloterpark

Adam Beyer • Dubfire • Audiojack • Adana Twins • Guy Gerber…
Amsterdam’s famous techno and house festival is back for 2014, bringing 38 acts to its six stages in sunny August. Set in the gorgeous environs of Sloterpark, this year’s event unites acts from all walks of musical life (and, indeed, from all over the world). Headliners including Adam Beyer and Audiojack are sure to have crowds bowing down. The event’s stages each have a slightly different vibe – and with names like ‘Rise’, ‘Fire’ and ‘T Dansant’, you’d best bet that energy’s going to be high. The fest’s also famous for its promotion of underground acts (you got it, there’s an ‘Underground’ stage too). 

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©R Walker

Pukkelpop

Thu Aug 14-Sat Aug 16
Hasselt, Belgium Kiewit

Deadmau5 • John Newman • Thurston Moore • The Kooks • Anna Calvi…
Kicking off Pukkelpop with a night of exultant dancing at its frantic Boiler Room tent is a rite of passage, and will immediately immerse any festival-goer in the fervent energy of the days ahead. The Belgian festival always features living legends alongside up-and-coming newbies, as well as acts from across the genres – Belgian drum and bass, British indie-rock, banging house, and more. There is loads to get up to away from the stages, with street theatre from Petit Bazar and Salon Fou, craft workshops, and fairground rides, but it is the stonking line-ups that continue to draw friendly crowds from across Europe year after year: Pukkelpop really is a carefree festival where attitudes stay cheery come rain or shine.

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