European festivals offer the best of both worlds: international DJs and live acts, plus you get a holiday out of it too. You just need to make the right choice for your summer rave-cation. From sizzling boat parties in Croatia to live music in historical cities and ancient coastal towns, the options are properly overwhelming. To help you out, we’ve shortlisted some of the best summer events taking place in Europe this summer, breaking them down by country. Get booking and you could soon find yourself a long way from the usual muddy British fields.
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BEST FESTIVALS IN BULGARIA
Four days in the clouds
This magical, mountainside marvel – which takes place a whole 850m above sea level, and is now in its 10th year – is less about the big-name headliners than the breathtaking views. Amid this backdrop, revellers can partake in yoga, mingle with the villagers, witness sunrise DJ sets and more. Plus, it ends the way all festivals should: with a pool party in a spa.
Line-up includes KiNK, Jane Fitz, Miss Jay, Magda, Quest, Tristan da Cunha, Total Refreshment Centre Takeover, Steam Down, Karandila, Gipsydelica, Susumu Zongamin, Phil MFU and Kenichi Iwasa, Mount Liberation Unlimited
Rhodopes Mountains, Bulgaria. Jun 4-7. £141.
BEST FESTIVALS IN CROATIA
A Croatian banger in the dance fest calendar
Before SuncéBeat sets up at Tisno’s beautiful Garden Resort a the end of July, Love International gets a look-in. They’ve got a powerful line-up of house, disco and techno planned, with the finest selectors playing on boats and open-air stages all week long.
Line-up includes Andrew Weatherall, Artwork, Ross From Friends, Elena Colombi, Horse Meat Disco, Prosumer, Roman Flügel, Crazy P Soundsystem, DJ Tennis.
Tisno, Murter Island, Croatia. Jul 15-22. €155 (all week).
BEST FESTIVALS IN FRANCE
A massive eco-friendly weekender in Paris
If the name wasn’t enough of a hint, We Love Green are pretty set on helping the planet. So there are environmentally friendly initiatives everywhere, like cheaper beer when you recycle your cup and compostable toilets. Around the site, there’s a debate stage and art installations. Plus, Paris city centre is merely a walk away.
Line-up includes Lana Del Rey, Young Thug, Four Tet, Bad Bunny, Disclosure, Modeselektor, Nils Frahm, Sherelle, Lomepal & Friends, Wizkid
Bois de Vincennes, Paris. Jun 6-7. €109 (two days), €59 (Saturday only), €64 (Sunday only).
BEST FESTIVALS IN HUNGARY
A beach bash for dance lovers
This five-day bash on the shores of Lake Balaton bills itself as‘Europe’s biggest beach festival’. It stretches out over five days and last year’s event attracted more than 170,000 revellers, so it’s entirely fitting that the dance-focused line-up packs in huge names including Kygo and Martin Garrix.
Line-up includes Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Kygo, Robin Schulz, Danny Tenaglia, Jax Jones, Jonas Blue, Deborah De Luca, Matoma.
Lake Baloton, Hungary. Jul 8-12. €215 (five days), €69 (one day).
BEST FESTIVALS IN ICELAND
nner-city celebrations for the summer solstice
The world’s northernmost festival is also its latest in the year, taking place in early November. It’s a cool and classy affair where a host of alt-leaning local and international acts perform at various venues in central Reykjavik including churches, art galleries and concert halls. A real breath of fresh air, tbh.
Line-up includes Metronomy, Courtney Barnett, Dorian Electra, Dry Cleaning, Erika De Casier, Lynks Afrikka, Squid, Tami T, The Murder Capital, Black Pumas, CHLOBOCOP.
Downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. Nov 4-7. £167.38 (full weekend).
BEST FESTIVALS IN ITALY
Fine wine, fantastic food and some of the best deep house around
A few days in Tuscany sampling all the region has to offer when it comes to food and drink sounds a lovely way to spend a long-weekend in May. Throw in music by Bradley Zero, DJ Boring and more, and this might just be the best way to spend a blissed-out three days.
Line-up includes Bradley Zero, DJ Boring, Éclair Fifi, Laurence, GuLoods, Raphaël Top-Secret, Yu Su
Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy. May 14-16. €75 (weekend with camping).
BEST FESTIVALS IN THE NETHERLANDS
An eclectic treat just across the North Sea
You might be surprised by some of the music on offer at this Dutch staple. Sure, there will be some far-out grooves and a solo or two, but you can expect hip hop, R&B and some legendary performers from the world of pop.
Line-up includes Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, George Benson, Michael Kiwanuka, Burna Boy, Gregory Porter, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Ari Lennox.
Ahoy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Jul 10-12. €99 per day (three-day weekend tickets are sold out).
BEST FESTIVALS IN NORWAY
An environmentally friendly romp in a city park
Join the 18,000-strong crowd gathering near Oslo’s city centre for Øya’s stellar rock, hip hop and pop line-up. The long-running festival is held in the massive Tøyen Park (think east London’s Vicky Park vibes), which is as green as the promoters’ dedication to helping the environment.
Line-up includes Stormzy, FKA Twigs, Aurora, Dave, Michael Kiwanuka, Suede, Bon Iver, Bikini Kill, Floating Points (live).
Tøyenparken, Oslo, Norway. Aug 11-15.
BEST FESTIVALS IN SPAIN
One of the best city festivals out there
Now in its 20th year, Primavera is well known for its eclectic line-ups and tends to dodge the obvious big bands in favour of cult heroes, independent music and a healthy number of local acts. Alternative rock, hip hop and experimental dance music all get a fair showing for a very reasonable four-day ticket price.
Line-up includes Tyler the Creator, Lana Del Rey, The Strokes, Brockhampton, Bad Bunny, Pavement, Beck, Kacey Musgraves, Bikini Kill, Massive Attack, Disclosure, King Krule, Kano, Kim Petras.
Barcelona, Spain. Jun 3-7. €199 (full festival).
Indie heroes in the Basque mountains
This northern Spanish festival may be in the hills, but you can easily take a bus there or walk from the comforts of the city. Meaning you’ll be fresh daily to see the big name alternative rock, hip hop and dance acts filling the stages.
Line-up includes Kendrick Lamar, Pet Shop Boys, The Killers, Bad Bunny, Four Tet, FKA Twigs, Slowthai, Supergrass, Hinds, Whitney, Kelly Lee Owens, Caribou.
Bilbao, Spain. Jul 9-11. €140 (three day pass), €158 (three-day pass with camping).
Three days of big-name acts
A relative newbie in the Spanish festival set, Mad Cool returns for its fifth year with an incredible line-up blending young up-and-comers with some absolute legends. Giants of the scene top this weekender, which is putting the average punters first – reducing the capacity and getting rid of VIP sections at the front of the stages.
Line-up includes Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon, Billie Eilish, alt-J, The Killers, Faith No More, Placebo, Wolf Alice, Angel Olsen, Hinds.
Madrid, Spain. Jul 8-11. €175 (three-day pass), €70 (one-day pass).