Best festivals in Belgium
A firm fave for indie fans
This sweet treat has been delighting festival-goers since 1985 with scores of alternative rock and pop acts and, of course, knock-out Belgian beer. Plus it’s a doddle to get to, with the closest station (Kiewit) within walking distance and your return fare from Brussels included in the price of your ticket. Get in!
Line-up includes Kendrick Lamar, Arcade Fire, The War on Drugs, Imagine Dragons, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Róisín Murphy.
Hasselt, Belgium. Aug 15-18. €205 (all days), €100 (day).
Best festivals in Bulgaria
Four days in the clouds
This magical, mountainside marvel – which takes place a whole 850 metres above sea level – 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 Donna Leake, Idjust Boys, Commix, RAMZi.
Rhodopes Mountains. Jun 7-10. €140.
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.
Line-up includes Ben UFO, Bicep, Call Super, Craig Richards, Optimo, Roman Flügel, Move D, Joy Orbison, Avalon Emerson, Prosumer.
Tisno, Murter Island, Croatia. Jun 27-Jul 4. £135 (all week), £40-£45 (day).
London’s drum ’n’ bass scene on its hols
Tisno is a popular place in the summer months, with a wave of great dance festivals washing up on its beaches. This gem comes courtesy of south London drum ’n’ bass label Hospitality Records, who are making their debut on the Croatian coast, but very much earned their stripes last year with London’s 12,000-strong festival Hospitality in the Park.
Line-up includes Andy C, Calibre b2b dBridge, DJ Marky, Fabio, Lenzman, BCee, Camo & Krooked, Danny Byrd, Top Cat, Randall.
Tisno, Murter Island, Croatia. Jul 12-16. £159.
A sun-fuelled DJ fest organised by the Southport Weekender folk
This week-long holiday on the Dalmatian coast is all about celebrating the best in house, disco, techno, soul, R&B and funk. It’s held in Tisno’s Garden Resort, which is like a swankier, sunnier Butlins, and the gigs are held all over the place: on boats, on the beach and amongst the trees.
Line-up includes Kerri Chandler, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Jeremy Underground, Joey Negro, Osunlade, Jayda G, Mr Scruff, Roger Sanchez, Louie Vega, Matt ‘Jam’ Lamont.
Tisno, Murter Island, Croatia. Jul 18-25. £165-£185 week ticket, £140-£145 weekend ticket.
The last ever bass-heavy blow-out from these party-starters
Soundwave has been a trailblazer in the Croatian coastal festival scene. They’ve been doing it there for a decade now, but have decided to bid farewell and have one last hurrah on the beaches, in the boats and all over the open-air stages.
Line-up includes Romare, Loyle Carner, Jordan Rakei, Submotion Orchestra, Horse Meat Disco, Mr Scruff, Josey Rebelle, Sons of Kemet.
Tisno, Murter Island, Croatia. Jul 26-30. €135.
Electronic music in an evocative location
Set in a 200-year old abandoned fort, Dimensions festival provides revellers with four days of top-notch techno, soulful house and drum ’n’ bass. There’s also much to explore at this end-of-season fest, with beach, forest, boat and amphitheatre parties.
Line-up includes Kraftwerk, Nils Frahm, Moodymann, Alexander Nut, Peggy Gou, Amp Fiddler, Helena Hauff, Ben UFO, Nina Kraviz, Bonobo.
Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia. Aug 29-Sep 2. €175.
Feel the bass on the Adriatic coast
Four days and nights are dedicated to all things bass at this festival in an abandoned fort in Croatia. There are beach parties, boat parties and a massive rave-up in a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre. Expect a varied line-up of hip hop, underground dance, grime, drum ’n’ bass, and garage across ten stages.
Line-up includes Bonobo, Andy C, Nadia Rose, J Hus, Stefflon Don, Lady Leshurr, David Rodigan.
Pula, Croatia. Sep 5-9. £125, £190.50 with camping.
Best festivals in Denmark
Good fun for a good cause with some of the biggest names in music
Roskilde makes for a very worthy alternative to Glastonbury. This eight-day romp is totally non-profit and always bags major names in pop, rock, rap and dance to help them raise thousands of kroner every year for charity. There are also exhibitions, skate ramps, a swimming lake, DIY area and a ‘food jam’ where you can cobble together your own delicious concoction.
Line-up includes Eminem, NIN, Bruno Mars, Gorillaz, Stormzy, David Byrne, Fleet Foxes, Slaves, First Aid Kit, Chelsea Wolfe.
Roskilde, Denmark. Jun 30-Jul 7. 2,100 DKK (weekend), 1,050 DKK (day).
Best festivals in Finland
An eco-friendly festival in the middle of Helsinki
As well as nine music stages, a vinyl market and a cinema bar, Flow has an enthusiastic commitment to the planet. Most of their energy comes from a renewable source, seating around the site is made from disused water pipes and all of the waste from 2017’s festival was reused. Impressive stuff.
Line-up includes Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys, Patti Smith, Grizzly Bear, Bonobo, Sigrid, Helena Hauff, St Vincent, Lykke Li, Fleet Foxes.
Helsinki, Finland. Aug 10-12. €195 (three days), €159 (two days), €99 (one day).
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 Björk, Beck, Migos, Jamie xx, Tyler the Creator, King Krule, Jorja Smith, The Internet, Father John Misty, Daphni, Young Marco.
Bois de Vincennes, Paris. Jun 2-3. €96 (weekend), €50 (day).
Gilles Peterson brings beats to the south of France
A fan of Gilles Peterson’s radio show? This festival brings it to life, with seven days and nights of expertly curated music. An eclectic line-up of electronica, jazz, world music and dance is served up on the beach in the daytime and at their cliff-top amphitheatre, Théâtre de la Mer, come nightfall. This year, the festival runs Saturday-Saturday, with a day off in the middle on July 3, so plan accordingly.
Line-up includes Four Tet, Daphni, Ben UFO, James Holden & The Animal Spirits, Daniel Haaksman, Amp Fiddler, Moodyman.
Sete, France. 30 Jun-7 Jul. €240 (seven days), €40 (day).
Paris’s answer to Glastonbury
With a stunning sixteenth-century park for a setting and a riverside backdrop, this three-day festival, usually billed as France’s answer to Glasto, is a pretty dreamy set-up. Its prestige is proved year-on-year by attracting a stellar set of acts to rival any line-up on this side of the Channel. Plus, the food is a festival’s answer to Le Cordon Bleu.
Line-up includes Thirty Seconds to Mars, Anna Calvi, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Ezra Furman, Idles, First Aid Kit, Macklemore, PNL, Justice, Cigarettes After Sex, Bonobo.
The Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, Paris. Aug 24-26. €139 (weekend), €59 (day).
Best festivals in Germany
Three days of rock, pop and dance with ‘Mad Max’ vibes
This German giant of the festival calendar turns 20 this year. They’ll be celebrating by bridging the worlds of rock and dance in an old industrial museum, so as well as the acts, there’ll be huge steam-punk pieces of machinery towering above.
Line-up includes The xx, Florence and the Machine, Fever Ray, Tyler the Creator, The Black Madonna, Nina Kraviz, Apparat, Princess Nokia.
Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen, Germany. Jul 13-15. €149 (weekend), €69 (day).
Best festivals in Hungary
A blow-out in Budapest
With whopping international acts packed into a full seven days, this monster festival delivers if you’re after familiar headliners, but offers plenty of time to explore less familiar acts further down the bill too. You party and camp on Old Buda, an actual island in the Danube, meaning that although Sziget is technically a city fest, you’ll feel a world away from real life.
Line-up includes Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, Stormzy, Gorillaz, Liam Gallagher, Dua Lipa.
Budapest, Hungary. Aug 9-15. €299 (seven days), €275 (five days), €189 (three days), €70 (day).
Best festivals in Iceland
One of the many relatives in the Sónar family
Originally founded in sunny Barcelona, Sónar now travels the world each year. Reykjavik has been a point of call since 2013, offering an eclectic mix of acts over two days in a huge glass beehive, also known as the Harpa Concert Hall. See if you can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights while you're at it.
Line-up includes Underworld, Danny Brown, Bjarki, Nadia Rose, Tokimonsta, Cassy b2b Yamaho, Bad Gyal.
Reykjavik. Mar 16-17. €170.
Inner-city celebrations for the summer solstice
Thanks to Björk and Sigur Rós, Iceland has become known for incredible music and this fest will not disappoint. Secret Solstice welcomes big-name artists, a bumper line-up of DJs and experimental electronic bands who’ll give you more than enough to go on until the sun (eventually) goes down.
Line-up includes Stormzy, Bonnie Tyler, Death From Above, Steve Aoki, Jet Black Joe, J Hus, Skream, IAMDDB, Artwork, Dream Wife.
Reykjavik Iceland. Jun 21-24. €230, €175 (ticket only).
Best festivals in Italy
Techno in a post-industrial park in Turin
Popper tracksuits are not a requirement: an appetite for raving hard is. Known for crafting top-tier techno and house line-ups, this weekend festival has added a fourth stage for 2018. Futur Festival takes place in a former car factory turned city park in the heart of Turin: basically, it’s a massive urban party in a huge industrial hangar.
Line-up includes Adam Beyer, Derrick May, Solomun, Jamie Jones, Amelia Lens, Apparat.
Turin, Italy. Jul 7-8. £56.94 (weekend), £39.42 (day)
Intimate D&B parties on Sardinia
Putting the breaks into, er, your summer break, this festival on the Italian island of Sardinia delivers eight whole days of drum and bass, in pleasingly small parties around the town of San Teodoro. But it’s not just raving: a chilled vibe, white sandy beaches, and brilliant Italian food and drink make it a relaxed holiday as much as a mad sesh.
Line-up includes TBC.
San Teodoro, Sardinia. Sep 8-15. £TBC
Best festivals in Morocco
House and techno in a sun-dappled hideaway
Given that Morocco is a Muslim country, you’ll have to repress your wild festival spirit until you reach the Oasis grounds. But once you do, all manner of fun awaits in the form of bars, spas, a hookah lounge and DJs galore.
Line-up includes Derrick Carter b2b The Black Madonna, Avalon Emerson, Carl Cox, Jessy Lanza, Actress x Mount Kimbie, Rødhåd.
Marrakech, Morocco. Sep 14-16. €180-€200.
Best festivals in the Netherlands
Magical Dutch dance party
It may be a one-day city music fest, but Mystic Garden sees Amsterdam’s Sloterpark transformed into a psychedelic playground for house and techno fans. Expect to see DJs playing next to giant toadstools, costumed performers cavorting in the woods, and fairy wings on the dance floor. Organic food stalls are on hand to fuel the grooving.
Line-up includes: Carlo Lio, Cuartero, Gaiser, Benny Rodrigues, Jonas Kopp.
Amsterdam, Holland. Jun 16. €39.50-€42.50.
Quality electronic music in the woods
Delve deep into the woods in the outskirts of Amsterdam for three days of non-stop vibing with DJs big and small. Then once the day bits are done, head into the capital for a series of club nights specially laid-on.
Line-up includes Four Tet, Jamie xx, Optimo, Palms Trax, Mount Kimbie, Call Super, Floating Points, Joy Orbison, Modeselektor.
Amsterdam Forest, Amsterdam. Aug 1-5. €32 (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 turns 20 this year and 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 Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar, Arcade Fire, Patti Smith, St Vincent, Lykke Li, Grizzly Bear, Wolf Alice, J Hus, Brockhampton.
Tøyenparken, Oslo, Norway. Aug 7-11. £253, (weekend), £89 (day).
Best festivals in Portugal
Primavera’s more relaxed little sister
The lush seaside Parque da Cidade in Portugal’s dramatic second city hosts this mini Primavera, with a reduced line-up, smaller crowd and a more laid-back atmosphere. The tickets are cheaper, to boot, and the city’s bounty of port only sweetens the deal.
Line-up includes Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Lorde, A$ap Rocky, Tyler the Creator, Jamie xx, The War On Drugs, Fever Ray.
Porto, Portugal. Jun 7-9. €145 (weekend), €60 (day).
Three days of music on the beach
Just a short train ride west of Lisbon will land you on the exceptional beaches of Algés, where NOS Alive is held. Here, a whole bunch of genre-straddling acts vie for your attention, from big-name artists to local faves.
Line-up includes Arctic Monkeys, Pearl Jam, Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, Friendly Fires, Portugal. The Man
Passeio Marítimo de Algés, Portugal. Jul 12-14. €149 (weekend), €124 (two days), €65 (day).
Heavyweight techno party in Portugal
Taking over the coastal town of Viana do Castelo, Neopop – formerly called Antipop, though actually nothing to do with pop music at all – is comparatively little-known in the UK. But with a stellar line-up, it ought to be on the radar for any serious techno fan. Expect to lose track of time: sets run way past dawn.
Line-up includes Ben Klock, Paula Temple b2b Rebekah, Jeff Mills, Solomun.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal. Aug 9-11. €175.
A new offering from the Soundcrash crew
A converted factory in the old docks of Lisbon forms the labyrinthine backdrop for Nova Batida. It may be new to the festival scene, but the people behind it are also responsible for Soundcrash events and Soundwave in Croatia, among other shindigs, so you’re in safe hands. As well as the music, there are also boat parties, yoga and surfing lessons.
Line-up includes Mount Kimbie, Maribou State, Max Cooper, George FitzGerald, MNDSGN, Gilles Peterson, DJ Marky, Lefto.
Lisbon, Portugal. Sep 14-16. €125 (weekend), €65 (day).
Best festivals in Serbia
Rave on the River Danube
The vast Petrovaradin fortress plays host to four nights of music on the banks on the Danube. The line-up skews more towards more towards electronic music than rock so far this year, although more acts are yet to be announced. With ten stages and big crowds, expect to party long, and to party hard.
Line-up includes Migos, Fever Ray, Ziggy Marley, Adam Beyer, Maceo Plex, Nina Kraviz.
Novi Sad, Serbia. Jul 12-15. £98. £33 supplement to camp.
Best festivals in Spain
One of the best inner-city festivals out there
Well known for its eclectic line-ups, Primavera dodges the regular big acts 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 ticket price.
Line-up includes Björk, Arctic Monkeys, A$ap Rocky, Lorde, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Tyler the Creator, Belle and Sebastian, Spiritualized.
Barcelona, Spain. May 30-Jun 3. €215 (whole festival), €85 (day).
Electronic music and digital culture in the heart of Barcelona
For three days every June, over 100,000 people flock to Barcelona as Sónar takes over venues across the city. Expect three days of cutting-edge dance music, a digital creative conference for industry insiders, and night-long parties for Sónar by Night.
Line-up includes Diplo, Bicep, Thom Yorke, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Richie Hawtin, Ben Klock, A-Trak, Helena Hauff, Bonobo.
Barcelona, Spain. Jun 14-16. €180 (weekend), €135 (two days), €58 (day).
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 and dance acts filling the stages.
Line-up includes Gorillaz, The xx, Chemical Brothers, David Byrne, Alt-J, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Benjamin Clementine, Florence + The Machine.
Bilbao, Spain. Jul 12-14. €155 (weekend), €60 (day), €10 camping ticket.
Three days of epic riffs
A relative newbie in the Spanish festival set, Mad Cool returns for its third year with an incredible line-up if alternative rock is your bag. Giants of the scene top this weekender, which is in a new, bigger venue this year in northern Madrid.
Line-up includes Pearl Jam, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Franz Ferdinand, Tame Impala, At the Drive-In, Massive Attack, Maya Jane Coles.
Madrid, Spain. Jul 12-14. €85 (day). Weekend tickets sold out.
Stadium sounds in sunny Spain
A blokeish set of headliners lead the charge at this big beachside festival this year. Rock and hip hop dominate but the Spaniards know how to party, so expect DJs till dawn too – you can always recover on the beach the next day.
Line-up includes The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Travis Scott, Bastille, The Vaccines.
Costa Azahar, Spain. Jul 19-22. £230.
The world's biggest reggae festival
Celebrating its 25th edition, this week-long festival draws an international line-up, and crowd, to the Spanish sun. Taking place near Valencia, at the same venue as Benicassim, the ethos is full-on peace and love, ensuring good vibes whether you’re attending a sustainability workshop or getting down to dancehall.
Line-up includes Ben Harper, Alborosie, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jimmy Cliff, Morodo, Sly & Robbie.
Benicàssim, Spain. Aug 16-22. €170 (seven days), €139 (without camping), €65-€160 (day tickets)
Best festivals in Sweden
The pick of international acts in a scenic Scandi setting
Taking place in an idyllic park in Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg, Way Out West has netted many of the best of the acts doing the summer festival rounds. It’s super-Scandinavian, and we’re not just talking about the long summer nights – the festival is proudly committed to sustainability, and can claim to be LGBT+ certified.
Line-up includes St Vincent, Kendrick Lamar, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Fever Ray, Lykke Li.
Gothenberg, Sweden. Aug 9-11. 1,995 SEK.
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