European festivals offer the best of both worlds: international DJs and live acts, plus a holiday into the bargain. 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 overwhelming. To help you out, we’ve shortlisted some of the best summer events taking place in Europe this summer. Get booking and you could soon find yourself a long way from the usual muddy British fields.
RECOMMENDED: The best UK music festivals
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, the 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!
Kiewit, Hasselt. Aug 15-18. €TBA.
Best festivals in Bulgaria
Four days in the clouds
This magical, mountainside marvel is less about the big name headliners than the breathtaking views. Amid this backdrop revelers 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.
Rhodopes Mountains. Jun 7-10. €140.
Best festivals in Croatia
Electronic music in an evocative location
Set in a 200-year old abandoned fort, Dimensions festival provides revelers 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 amphitheatere parties.
Line-up includes: Moodymann, Alexander Nut, Peggy Gou, Amp Fiddler, Helena Hauff, Ben UFO, Nina Kraviz, Bonobo, Marcellus Pittman.
Fort Punta Christo, Pula. Aug 29-Sep 2. £110, £175.50 weekend camping ticket.
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. Jul 12-16. £159.
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 Flugel, Move D, Joy Orbison, Avalon Emerson, Prosumer.
Tisno, Murter Island. Jun 27-Jul 4. £135 week ticket, £60 for club and boat parties.
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.
Tisno, Murter Island. Jul 26-30. £119.
A sun-fuelled DJ fest organized by the Southport Weekender folk
This week-long holiday on the Dalmation 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. Jul 18-25. £165-£185 week ticket, £140-£145 weekend ticket.
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’re 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, Bruno Mars, Gorillaz, Stormzy, David Byrne, Fleet Foxes, Slaves, First Aid Kit, Chelsea Wolfe.
Roskilde. Jun 30-Jul 7. £250 weekend ticket, £125 day ticket.
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 festival 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 Flow 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. Aug 10-12. €195 three-day ticket, €159 two-day ticket, €99 day ticket.
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: Bjork, 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. €89-€99 weekend ticket, €50 day ticket.
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. Jul 13-15. €129-€149 weekend ticket, €69 day ticket.
Best festivals in Iceland
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 and 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. Jun 21-24. €127-€175, €183-€230 camping.
One of the many relatives in the Sónar family
Originally founded in sunny Barcelona, Sónar is now travels the world each year. Reykjavik has been a point of call since 2013, offering an eclectic mix of act over two days in a huge glass beehive, also known as Harpa Concert Hall. See if you can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights while at it.
Line-up includes: Underworld, Danny Brown, Bjarki, Nadia Rose, Tokimonsta, Cassy b2b Yamaho, Bad Gyal.
Reykjavik. Mar 16-17. €170.
Best festivals in Malta
One very cool host, all her DJ mates and a shed load of ravers on an island
Queen of the mash-up leads her loyal subjects to the Maltese coast for some fun in the Mediterranean sun. AMP parties are legendary for their outstanding line-ups and Lost & Found does not disappoint. Expect to see the best house, techno, grime and bass DJs at castle raves, pool parties, in boats and at the Hidden Nighttime Arena.
Line-up includes: Annie Mac, Bicep, Four Tet, Diplo, HAAi, Jackmaster, Jamie xx, J Hus, Peggy Gou, The Black Madonna, Patrick Topping.
St Paul’s Bay. May 3-6. £119-£130.
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, Mount Kimbie, Rødhåd.
Marrakech. Sep 14-16. €160-€200.
Best festivals in the Netherlands
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 by Dekmantel.
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. €180.75 four-day ticket, €145.75 three-day ticket, €58 day ticket.
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, rap 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. Aug 7-11. £255 weekend ticket, £90 day ticket.
Best festivals in Portugal
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 you 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. Jul 12-14. €149 weekend ticket, €65 day ticket.
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 and the Bad Seeds, Lorde, A$ap Rocky,Tyler the Creator, Jamie xx, The War On Drugs, Fever Ray.
Porto. Jun 7-9. €105 weekend ticket, €55 day ticket.
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. Sep 14-16. €99-€125 weekend ticket, €49-€65 day ticket.
Best festivals in Spain
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.
Bilbao. Jul 12-14. €135, €10 to camp.
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. Jul 12-14. €180 weekend ticket, €85 day ticket.
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 and the Bad Seeds, Tyler the Creator, Belle and Sebastian, Spiritualized.
Barcelona. May 30-Jun 3. €150-€215.
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 Sonar by Night.
Line-up includes: Diplo, Bicep, Thom Yorke, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Richie Hawtin, Ben Klock, A-Trak, Helena Hauf, Bonobo.
Barcelona. Jun 14-16. €180 weekend ticket, €135 two-day ticket, €58 day ticket; €79 Sónar by Night
Check out our full festival calendar
Royal Albert Hall
Built as a memorial to Queen Victoria's husband in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall's vast rotunda was once described by the monarch as looking like 'the British constitution'. It has been the venue for the (now BBC) Proms since 1941, despite acoustics that do orchestras few favours. The Royal Albert Hall's splendid exterior is matched by the regal red-and-gold interior which is crowned by a domed stained-glass skylight. Occasional classical concerts are held throughout the year – look out for recitals on the Willis pipe organ. Other key events in its calendar include pop and comedy gigs (including the annual Teenage Cancer Trust shows), and circus extravaganzas from the likes of Cirque du Soleil. In addition to seasonal tours during the Proms, the RAH has launched daily Secret History Tours, which draw on a rich seam of stories about London's largest hall for hire and offer access to areas not normally open to audiences.
Venue says: “Join us for headline acts, classical coffee mornings, late-night jazz, and everything in between. Unforgettable experiences since 1871.”