With V already sold out, Glastonbury calling in sick and the line-up for Reading and Leeds as uninspired as ever, Britain’s festival scene is having a bad year. But no matter – there’s a whole world of musical weekenders out there, showcasing the biggest names in dance, indie, metal, folk and more.
After a close look at line-ups, sites and sideshows, we’ve hand-picked an international festival for every weekend from April right through to September, with a breakdown of various ticket options for you to consider. So stop sobbing into your armful of grubby wristbands, stuff your straw hat into a suitcase and discover a world beyond the muddy shores of Britain.
When & where: Mayrhofen, Austria, April 9-14 The line-up: There’s an emphasis on dance acts, with Dizzee Rascal, Example, and Wretch 32 all finding themselves at the sharp end of the bill. As for DJ sets, DJ Shadow, DJ Yoda and Mr Scruff look like the pick of an extremely strong bunch.
The crowd: The site is part of a resort which also includes 625km of snowy Alpine ski slopes, so expect to see gnarly, goggle-clad revellers heading straight from piste to party.
The rest: Raffles, pie fights, fancy dress parties, igloo raves – there’s all sorts going down.
Tickets: Still available through the festival's website, and priced from £459 including your wristband and bed and breakfast accommodation for the duration of the festival. And believe us, camping in the snow doesn’t bear thinking about.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
When & where: California, USA, April 13-15 (also April 20-22)
The line-up: Largely American and British chart-toppers and comeback kids, with highlights including the bluesy Black Keys, Radiohead, Bon Iver, Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, At The Drive-In and Florence And The Machine. A decidedly indie offering, then, with a final-night appearance from Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre making sure hip-hoppers have something to shout about.
The crowd: The site is just as close to San Diego as it is Los Angeles, so expect a mix of Hollywood types letting off steam and surfy youngsters doing their laid-back thing.
The rest: This is a straight-up music fest – no spoken word tents, no interactive falafel-making classes – just rock ‘n’ roll and good times aplenty.
Tickets: Though passes are sold out, hotel and entry packages are still available through valleymusictravel.com, with prices starting at around the $1,000 mark.
When & where: Tokyo, Japan, April 21-22
The line-up: A hipster-friendly schedule of Japanese and international dance maestros, headed up by drum and bass tune-smith Squarepusher and electro-jazz outfit The Cinematic Orchestra.
The crowd: A multi-cultural bunch, bolstered by plenty of trendy young Tokyoites, bringing some bizarre fashion, lens-less glasses and lots and lots of iPhones.
The rest: It’s an indoor event with limited space and a fairly short one, at that, meaning the focus will be on the stage.
The line-up: It’s all about the oldies here, with The Eagles, Eddie Vedder, Bruce Springsteen, Al Green and even The Beach Boys (who are set to play a 50th anniversary reunion show) the picks of six-day bill positively heaving with talent. More contemporary sounds come from the likes of Bon Iver, Cee Lo Green, Florence And The Machine and My Morning Jacket.
The crowd: With the big names supported by an equally impressive line-up of jazz and blues legends, this fest appeals to a slightly more mature demographic. But hey, Brad and Angelina live in the area – maybe they’ll pop along for a bit?
The rest: A miniature Native American village will showcase the rich heritage of the USA’s long-suffering indigenous folk, with traditional singing and drumming performances among the highlights. Elsewhere, traditional southern crafts will be on sale from Louisiana’s finest artisans.
Tickets: Day tickets start from $50, with multi-day passes and hotel packages available from ticketmaster.com.
When & where: Sao Paolo, Brazil, May 11-12
The line-up: Arguably the strongest of this year’s Sónar line-ups, with Björk, Cee Lo Green, Justice, Chromeo, Mogwai and scores more squeezed into two nights of shows.
The crowd: Brazil’s unmistakable trendy set, plus presumably a few well-heeled American hipsters heading south in search of less commercial fest (don’t tell them it’s sponsored by crisps).
The rest: Alongside the music will be a program of screenings featuring a selection of carefully chosen indie films, including monochrome, minimalist, geometric head-fuck ‘8 Switches’.
The line-up: Beck is the man to catch – his appearance at the fest is one of just four shows announced for 2012. Also of interest is Jack White – who’s ditched his various bands to go it alone for the summer – while Tenacious D, Bon Iver, The Shins and Beirut all ought to draw big crowds.
The crowd: With so many indie leviathans on the bill, expect to be surrounded by the States’ hippest hipsters.
The rest: It’s mainly about the music here, although the Banana Shack stage will also host comedy sets from acts including Howard Cremer and Todd Barry, the latter best known for his bongo-banging appearance in ‘Flight Of The Conchords’.
Tickets: A four-day pass, available through livenation.com, costs $315.
When & where: Hässleholm, Sweden, May 31-June 2
The line-up: Lars Winnerbäck and The Hives are the pick of the Swedish contingent, but it’s Death Cab For Cutie and veteran punksters NOFX who are more likely to provide the weekend’s highlights.
The crowd: With room for more than 10,000, chances are the core group of Swedish, Norwegian and Danish revellers will be diluted with a handful each from other nearby European nations.
The rest: Nothing announced just yet – keep your eyes on the blog section of the festival’s website for updates.
Tickets: A thoroughly reasonable Kr995 gets you a three-day pass, with an extra Kr150 earning access to the campsite. Available through ticnet.se.
When & where: Crans-sur-Nyon, Switzerland, June 6-10
The line-up: Lou Reed will be stopping by as part of his latest European tour, with Kasabian and Gossip also in attendance. Keep your ears peeled for more announcements soon.
The crowd: Given the, erm, experience of the fest’s 70-year-old headliner and the site’s location on the tranquil banks of lake Geneva, you could see a more mature bunch turning out, some fresh from mooring up the boat.
The rest: There’s the option to register your interest in volunteering at the festival through its website, but otherwise this one’s all about the music.
Tickets: A four-day pass costs Fr224, a three-day pass Fr169 and day passes between Fr69-Fr74. Pick them up from the fest's website.
When & where: Copenhagen, Denmark, June 15-16
The line-up: Despite only being in its third year, the fest has attracted some genuine legends of metal music, with Slayer, Marilyn Manson and Anthrax the picks of an incredibly hairy bill. Among the younger acts, Trivium, Mastodon and Killswitch Engage are the ones to catch.
The crowd: The Scandinavians take their metal very seriously indeed, so if you’re intimidated by leather, tattoos, long hair, upside-down crosses and rock horns, best steer clear.
The rest: Details are still pretty scarce, but suffice to say there won’t be any poetry recitals or knitting workshops. Tickets: A weekend pass costs Kr715 and can be bought through billetnet.dk.
When & where: Eichenring, Germany, June 22-24
The line-up: Bit of a weird mix, this one, with punk outfits Blink-182 and Rise Against sitting alongside the more mature sounds of The Cure, The Stone Roses and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Still, the loudest howls are likely to be reserved for Die Ärtze – a German punk trio who’ve been on the scene for nigh on 30 years.
The crowd: With so much variety on the line-up, we’d anticipate a mixed bag, with straw-hatted Mumford & Sons fans jostling for position at the bar with bare-chested punk purists.
The rest: It’s a relatively small site, meaning chances of extra-curricular activities are slim. Still, those looking for something a little alternative can check out the extraordinary vocal chords of champion beatboxer Beardyman, who’s due to play a live set.
When & where: Belfort, France, June 29-July 1 The line-up: It’s known at ‘the French Glasto’, a handle justified by a bill that includes The Cure, Cypress Hill, Lana Del Rey, Jack White and Justice. And that’s just the first round of announcements – the rest will be revealed on April 17.
The crowd: Given its aforementioned nickname, this is the most likely overseas option for Glasto die-hards not wishing to be taken too far out of their comfort zones.
The rest: This being France, food stalls will go beyond the usual grey slop to include cuisines from across the globe, while craft stalls provide fashion and trinkets to lust over between sets.
Tickets: A three-day pass costs €99 and includes camping, with a two-day pass available for €77. Grab them from Eurockéennes' website.
When & where: Gdynia, Poland, July 4-7
The line-up: A genre-hopping schedule includes everyone from Bon Iver, Franz Ferdinand and The Kills to M83, SBTRKT and Justice. Public Enemy are the token nostalgia act, promising a greatest hits set drawing on their 30 years as hip-hop icons.
The crowd: Hard to say – there can’t be that many people out there with both Björk and Wiz Khalifa on their iPod, so your guess is as good as ours as to what such a person would look like.
The rest: There’s a strong programme of arts events running alongside the on-stage action, including a miniature documentary festival, a pop-up theatre and a stand curated by Warsaw’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Tickets: A four-day pass costs Zł370 without camping, and Zł410 with. Two and one-day tickets are also available through the festival’s website.
Festival Internacional de Benicàssim
When & where: Benicàssim, Spain, July 12-15
The line-up: With more European fests scheduled for this weekend than any other in 2012, competition over the big acts has been fierce. Once again, this phenomenally popular Spanish stalwart has come out on top, bagging The Stone Roses, Florence And The Machine, At The Drive In, David Guetta, Dizzee Rascal and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, among stacks of other huge names.
The crowd: It’s Spain’s biggest music festival and as such about as mainstream as they come. You know the deal; Ray-Bans, flip-flops, straw hats and hot pants will be absolutely everywhere – often attached to mud-fearing Brits.
The rest: Given the fest’s size, sideshows tend to be commercially orientated – think sponsored bars, markets and silent disco tents. Last year there were even on-site branches of H&M and Dr. Martens.
Tickets: Four-day passes with camping cost £155 and can be bought from hmvtickets.com.
When & where: Tromsø, Norway, July 19-21
The line-up: No superstars here, but a fine roster of up-and-coming acts and comeback efforts, with Thin Lizzy, The Cardigans and Lars Winnerbäck standing out, alongside a strong Norwegian contingent.
The crowd: The organisers’ dedication to promoting home-grown talent means tourists are likely to be outnumbered by locals. Pack a phrasebook.
The rest: Given the natural beauty of the site’s surrounding areas, there’s a strong green focus; drop empty drinks cups into designated recycling stations to earn money for local charities.
The line-up: Japan’s most established music festival looked in trouble last year, after the country’s devastating natural disasters caused several acts to cancel their appearances. Thankfully, this year’s bill is bigger and better, with The Stone Roses, Radiohead, At The Drive-In, Jack White, Elvis Costello and The Specials looking to make up for the disappointment of last year’s understandably subdued festivities.
The crowd: Unlike many fests, kids are more than welcome at Fuji Rock, lending the site and camping areas a slightly more mature, family-friendly vibe.
The rest: There’s loads to do besides gawping at guitarists – catch a film at the open-air cinema, get noisy with some drums at the stone circle or chill out in the massage tent. The choice is, quite literally, yours.
Tickets: Purchasing from outside of Japan isn’t exactly straightforward, but ganban.net makes the process slightly less painful. ¥41,800 for your entry, ¥44,800 with campsite access.
Notodden Blues Festival
When & where: Notodden, Norway, August 2-5
The line-up: While most should recognise ZZ Top, Queen hanger-on Paul Rodgers and Jonny Lang, the remainder of the roster at this year’s edition of Scandinavia’s biggest blues festival is made up of lesser-known (but certainly no lesser-talented) strummers and crooners.
The crowd: A good portion of the audience will probably look like they’re in ZZ Top tribute bands – some of them because they actually are.
The rest: A fully-loaded market square, structured discussions about the blues genre and late-night parties mean there’s plenty to do once the acts step off stage.
Tickets: A weekend pass, available through billettservice.no costs Kr2,100, while those only interested in ZZ Top can see the Friday night show for Kr690.
Edmonton Folk Music Festival
When & where: Alberta, Canada, August 9-12
The line-up: Roots-y Scotsman Dougie McLean and Grammy-winning hip-hoppers Arrested Development are among a handful of acts already announced, but with Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones and Van Morrison among those to have graced the main stage in the past, expect more big names to drop soon.
The crowd: Chilled out, unpretentious and about as unlikely to sport a pair of day-glo Ray-Bans as anyone on the planet.
The rest: Beyond a well-sized family area, a bustling beer garden and the usual food and craft stands, attention will be focused on the guys with guitars doing their folky thing.
Tickets: Passes go on sale through the fest’s website on June 1, and have been known to sell out fast.
Vail Soul Music Fest
When & where: Colorado, USA, August 17-19
The line-up: Not yet announced, but last year’s bill included the chart-storming Ledisi and Anthony David – a Bill Withers-esque singer and personal favourite of Barack Obama. Expect a similar mix of soul legends and neo-soul revivalists when this year’s batch are revealed.
The crowd: Draws a more mature, largely African-American following, as well as a sprinkling of youngsters looking to learn more about the sound that influenced Amy Winehouse and Adele. The rest: There’s plenty to do besides groove, with educational and mentoring sessions for kids and cultural activities, a spa and ‘empowerment events’ for adults. Tickets: Passes are available to pre-order through tickethorse.com, priced from $60.
Rock En Seine
When & where: Paris, France, August 24-26
The line-up: Emo-styled veterans Placebo and Green Day join The Black Keys and Foster the People at the top of the bill, while Noel Gallagher returns to the scene of Oasis’ 2009 demise to play a headline set with his new outfit High Flying Birds. More to be announced.
The crowd: With no specific musical niche being catered to, you should encounter a fairly mainstream bunch, with aging, pasty emo devotees likely to stand out against a backdrop of Converse-clad indie kids. The rest: The usual stuff you find at commercial fests – silent discos, video games stands, vintage markets and so on.
Tickets: €49 for individual day passes, €109 for all three days, both of which are available from the festival’s website. Camping passes to be released soon.
When & where: Stradbally, Ireland, August 31-Sept 2
The line-up: The Killers will be playing their second and final show of the summer (the first being at V Festival two weeks before), with The Cure, Elbow, Sigur Rós, Orbital, Hot Chip and The XX joining them at the top of the bill.
The crowd: It’s usually a young congregation and this year’s line-up will exasperate matters, meaning welly-booted rock chicks and their skinny-jeaned admirers will likely dominate.
The rest: There are tents for both comedy and spoken word gigs, theatre and circus performances and loads, loads more.
Tickets: A weekend camping ticket costs €230, while a Sunday only ticket is €99.50. Both are available through the festival’s website.