For those looking further afield for their musical fix this summer, check out our guide to the best music festivals around Europe. Sunshine, plus food and adventurous accomodation makes hopping on a plane, train or bus a good bet for big fun!
Paradise Festival, Burgruine Falkenstein • 7.7 – 10.7, TICKETS: Pre-Sale (limited): €45, At the gate: 4-day pass: €69, 3-day pass: €49, 2-day pass: €27. www.paradise-festival.at
Austria is well known not only for a very active electronic music scene, but also for the very beautiful Alpine countryside, and this festival proves once again that the two fit perfectly together: a wonderful multi-coloured hustle and bustle taking place 40 minutes north of Vienna at the picturesque Steinbruch Falkenstein. The Castle Ruins are transformed into a center of electronic music and art, and nothing is more fun than partying on the grounds of a ruined castle surrounded by green, rolling hills. Paradise Festival truly delivers on its promise of excellence, with the lineup this year spread over 3 different stages and featuring some of the best known artists in electronic music such as Astrix, Sun Project, Burn in Noise, Liquid Soul, Ace Ventura and Psykovsky alongside promising, upcoming artists who are ready to kick ass. Psytrance, fullon and progressive-psy can be expected at the ‘Dream Stage’, while the “Moon Stage” is dedicated to underground and dark-psy. The ‘Sun Stage’ will be the place to be for lovers of Minimal, Techno and Progressive. In addition, Benski, El Geko, the funny astronaut, Sikanda and some of the world’s most famous visual experts will rock your senses with breathtaking projections and unique visual presentations, dipping this beautiful venue into a sea of light and colours by night.
Having just celebrated its 25th year in 2010, The Pukkelpop Festival just keeps getting bigger and better. Still organized by Chokri Mahassine, a politician, alongside the noble-sounding Humanistic Youth of Leopoldsburg, it has evolved from a 1-day event in 1985 to the 3-day festival of today, featuring over 200 different acts on eight different stages, with as many as 180,000 partygoers attending. Variety is guaranteed, featuring a musical experience that includes everything the modern music fan could want from rock to hip-hop, and from heavy metal to top quality DJ sets. There’s also an idiosyncratic circus show, the Bataclan, as well as a smoking area full of bongs and Eastern music, and its own campsite, on a field opposite the main festival. The site opens the day before the official opening, and there are always a number of local DJs providing entertainment on the Wednesday evening. Buying a ticket for Pukkelpop entitles you to free camping, and is easily accessible. With train stations at Hasselt and Kiewit (only 500 yards walking distance from the site), ticket holders have the bonus of free rail transport to and from any other Belgian station and a free bus service from Hasselt. Foo Fighters, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Eminem, Defrons, Suicidal Tendencies, Benny Benassi, The Offspring, Hudson Mohawk, are just some of the names playing, check out the whole list at the website.
Spirit of Burgas, Burgas • 12.8 – 14.8, TICKETS: Only 1,000 Early Bird tickets! 3-day pass: €50. Early Bird Campsite 3-day pass: €15 euro. Presale tickets: 1-day pass: €25, 3-day pass: €60 euro. At the door: 1-day pass: €30, 3-day pass: €70. Tickets @ Tickets@Eventim.bg & www.spiritofburgas.com
Moby, Deftones, Skunk Anansie, Sergei Stanishev, Ivan Kostov are just some of the names appearing at the Spirit of Burgas Festival, on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. Nominated for the Best Middle-Sized Festival award at the European Festival Awards and now in its third year, this Beck’s Beer sponsored beach party is a great way to party freely with cool people, sea breezes and awesome music. Besides the great acts on the main stage, there are separate dance, music space, rock, DJ and Latino stages presenting well-known and aspiring artists as well, and this year promises to have an extra happy vibe, as Moby’s bass player is none other than the beautiful and talented Bulgarian Svetlana Vassileva. There is camping available (details on the website).
Cosmic Gate, Makronisos Beach Ayia Napa • 9.7.2011, VSTUPENKY: 25, sobota, 9. července začíná v 22:00, v Makronisos Beach Ayia Napa, Famagusta Kypr, přečtěte si více o hlavních jednat na www.cosmic-gate.de
They say that Cyprus is the place to visit when you are not quite sure about Greece, and if that’s not a good enough reason, soak yourself in the local music scene with a sprinkling of international talent thrown into the mix. Cosmic Gate is a beach party not to be missed, thanks to Shark Energy Drink presenting one of the world’s biggest trance duos, Cosmic Gate, along with one of the top vocalists, Emma Hewitt and groundbreaking progressive DJ/producer Wippenberg. With warm-up sets by Shadow & Deep Impact, this most legendary event will take place at the Makronissos Beach Club, so bring your shorts!
Rock for People, Hradec Králové • 2.7 – 5.7, TICKETS: 1-day: €46, multiday ticket: €65, www.ticketsforpeople.cz
Rock for People is arguably the biggest rock festival held every year in the Czech Republic, and has come far from its humble beginnings in 1995 in the town of Český Brod. Four years ago it moved to the unused airport in Hradec Králové, a great space to listen to some great international and local acts on a lovely summer day, and the roster of acts in this year’s festival includes dozens of great acts, including Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Bright Eyes, Sum 41, Jimmy Eat World, Bullet for My Valentine, Pendulum, Parkway Drive, The Streets, Beatsteaks, Digitalism, The Wombats, Primus and many more, (check www.rockforpeople.cz for details). The best thing about the festival is the low entry prices, just about 16 euros a day when you buy the multiday ticket! There is a large camping site right outside the festival area, and unlike previous years, there is better security and sanitation, and a “Green” area… this year they’re using biodegradable cups to serve Staropramen, the best beer in the world! The JamStage will be open from July 4th to the 6th, from 2pm until late at night, featuring celebrity jams, drum circles, African dance courses and concerts featuring bands that participated in contests organized by Rock for People.
Roskilde Festival, Roskilde • 30.6 – 3.7, TICKETS: (includes tent camping): €232. 1-day festival ticket: €117. www.roskilde-festival.dk/uk/ ticketswww.roskilde-festival.dk/uk/tickets
This largest North European culture and music festival has existed since 1971, when two students decided to bring world music, love, beautiful people, freedom to the beautiful Danish countryside. A child of the 70s, the festival was originally for hippies but today serves more mainstream folks from Scandinavia and the whole of Europe. How many? Well, 2007 had more than 180 performing bands and around 80,000 people paying for the concerts, with more than 21,000 volunteers, 5,000 media people and 3,000 artists – meaning almost 110,000 people participated in the festival, now that’s a party! The lineup this year is certain to draw the same energetic crowds, with the Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, Iron Maiden, The Strokes, Bright Eyes, Bad Religion, PJ Harvey, M.I.A., Parkway Drive, Mastodon and Rob Zombie leading the talent-filled roster of acts from rock to Hip-Hop, Metal, urban, electronica and World music. The special feeling is ensured by stages located inside large tents (see intro picture), catering to an enthusiastic music-loving audience, where bands play “real” concerts lasting for at least an hour. A campsite covers nearly 80 hectares and access to it is included in the ticket price. It usually opens on Sunday morning prior to the festival itself, and you know the party’s started when the “Væltning af hegnet” (The overturning of the fence) takes place, so get there early to enjoy the fun, and don’t miss Saturday’s nude run around the campsite!
Muhu Future Music Festival ‘Juu Jääb’, Nautse küla, Muhu saar, Nautse-Mihkli • 30.6 – 4.7, TICKETS: Festival pass: €55, Day tickets: €25 a day. (Free for pre-school age children). cash tickets only. www.nordicsounds.ee
Taking place on the idyllic Muhu Island and now in its 15th year, this open-air festival is the best way to enjoy big sound in one of the EU’s smallest countries. When it comes to summer music festivals in Estonia, this is great fun. Being held in nature, it’s usually nice and warm, with occasional showers, and the starry skies are perfect for romantic hearts to dream along at night. This little island transforms into a meeting place for people to gather and celebrate music around an old farmhouse garden made of ancient trees, stone walls and thatched roofs. The Juu Jääb Festival always pleases the audience and the grand kick-off this year takes place on the Vormsi island and Saaremaa, Kuressaare at June 30 and July 1, the Nautse Mihkli farm house gates and Pädaste Manor will be opened for you on July 2 and 3, and the final concert of this Festival takes place in Muhu St Catherine’s Church on July 4, featuring acts from as far away as the US and Brazil, and as close to home as Finland. Be sure to catch France’s Jean-Philippe Crespin & Soul Brew UK’s DJ Andy Bird, as well as Jazzie B of Soul II Soul.
Finland is long famed for their summer music festivals, and seeing as summer last for about, oh, one week or so, you can understand their passion to bare their white, white, skin to the sun & sky while dancing and enjoying their famed vodkas! So expect the 22,000 capacity venue to be worth every minute’s respite from Father Frost. The first Ilosaarirock Festival took place way back in 1971 and is now one of Europe’s longest running. The festival site, called Laulurinne, stages performances on five separate stages with over 50 artists, and including all events, hosts over 100 artists. As usual, the line-up comprises a varied setting of music from different parts of the world, from Tokyo via Barcelona to Los Angeles, and everywhere in between. Names such as Aphex Twin, Blackfield, Buzzcocks, Gentleman, Iced Earth, Kvelertak, Melt-Banana, Ojos De Brujo and Red Sparowes indicate why the festival has been sold out in advance every year since 1998, so be sure to buy your tickets as soon as you read this!
Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival, Sète • 6.7 – 10.7, TICKETS: Gold Pass: €129, access to the entire festival: (limited). Silver Pass: €89 access to all EXCEPT for the performances @ Theatre de la Mer. The Beach/St Christ Week End Pass: €69, access from July 8 to 10, EXCEPT for the performances @ Theatre de la Mer. Day tickets: €30-35. www.worldwidefestival.com
When it comes to festivals and France, the selection is amazing; summer can find you blissed-out from an overdose of tunes (and anything else you desire) should your pockets be deep enough and your calendar free enough. But if your life is (sadly) not so, you could not do better than to single out just one event, where you can enjoy 5 days in 4 different stunning outdoor venues, a clubbing and live area specially designed for the festival situated in the heart of Sete’s harbour, a mammoth 18-hour beach party on Sète’s longest sandy beach on the last day of the Festival, the magnificent “Theatre De La Mer” for some unforgettable live performances without forgetting the Street Party outside the CRAC (Regional Centre of Contemporary Art). Artists already confirmed are Raphael Saadiq live, Dam Funk live, James Blake live, DJ Harvey, L.B.S live, Konono No.1 live, Jamie xx, Flying Lotus live, Mount Kimbie live, Derrick Carter, The Pyramids live, FM Belfast live, Cut Chemist, Kode9 Vs Spaceape live, Joy Orbison, Brandt Brauer Frick live, David Rodigan, Ghostpoet live, Ramadanman and more to come. Check out all the confirmed artists so far on the website.
Berlin Festival, Berlin • 9.9 – 10.9, TICKETS: Ticket is available for €89 via www.berlinfestival.de/tickets
While the Love Parade might have made Germany famous around the world for more than Hitler, a crowd rush at the Love Parade last year that caused the death of 21 people, and injured about 500 others means that the Love Parade is no more. But fear not, as Berliners have stepped up with the Berlin Festival, and this year it takes place in the Templehof airport along with various other venues around the city. The city-based festival has announced its first acts: Suede, Battles, Beirut, Yelle, Santigold, Mount Kimbie, Mogwai, Primal Scream presents Screamadelica, Apparat Band, Health, The Drums, DJ Hell, A-Trak, Bodi Bill, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Pantha Du Prince, Wire, dEUS, Diplo, Boy George DJ set, Brodinski, Andy Butler DJ set, Jimmy Edgar, Marc Vedo, Skrillex and more. Last year the festival grounds had to close at midnight and to rectify that problem, the organisers have put together Club Xberg where you can continue partying with free access to 30 clubs as well as gigs and DJ sets in other venues including Arena Berlin, Arena Club and Glashaus. There is also free public transport from Templehof to the venues in Kreuzberg and participating clubs, how’s that for Germanic efficiency?
Rockwave Festival, Terra Vibe Athens • 6.7 – 10.7, TICKETS: Prices start from €12 and go up to €28. www.rockwavefestival.gr
Greece right now has to be one of the best tourist destination values for the money, and you can’t go wrong with the history, sun, fun and food, not to mention the beaches. If you’re a rock fan, this festival held in Malakassa, a few miles outside of Athens, is one of the most famous music festivals in Greece. Last year was the 25th anniversary, packing TerraVibe Park, (located in Attica) with music fans enjoying some of the best rock & punk classics and contemporary bands. More than music, at the festival you can watch acrobats somer- saulting or try something daring yourself, like bungee jumping, (but we don’t recommend doing this drunk on Ouzo, for the sake of the folks below). This year’s impressive lineup includes the Editors, Cake, The Stranglers, Prodigy, Monster Magnet, Flogging Molly, Therapy?, as well as lots of great Greek acts playing many styles from World to Dub to Greek folk.
Heineken Balaton Sound, Zamárdi • 7.7 – 10.7, TICKETS: Tickets usually sell out fast, so get on it! Festival pass bought before 24th of June are €122. From the 25th of June, they are €130. Day tickets until 24th of June are €50, afterwards they go up to €56. A limited number of VIP Festival Pass are worth considering at €223. See www.sziget.hu/balatonsound_english/ticket for more information.
Hungary is blessed with two great festivals each year, organized by the same people. One is Sziget Festival (August 11th to 16th), who also co-created Heineken Balaton Sound, one of Europe’s largest open-air electronic music festivals, held annually on the southern bank of Lake Balaton. Featuring live acts and deejays from all around the world, from well-established artists to the freshest faces, of the two festivals, we far prefer Balaton Sound, if for no other reason than the location; on the shore of the largest lake of Central Europe. For four days, mad beats, bikini babes, Hungarian food and cold drinks are served up to tens of thousands of happy festivalgoers from around the world. How many? Well, let’s just say that the Main Stage area has a capacity of about 50,000 attendants! The festival area comprises many stages, lounges, and tents, including luxurious chill-out facilities with hammocks, beanbags, and easy chairs. If you like, you can stay at a special campsite with several pubs, cocktail bars and restaurants equipped with accoutrements absent from Hungary’s other summer music festivals. Located on the west part of Zamárdi at the crossing of Panoráma and Zöldfa utca, the website gives easy instructions about getting to the location. Leading the dozens of acts are Portishead, Thievery Corporation, David Guetta, Mika, Tiësto, Snoop Dogg, Armin van Buuren, Underworld, Simian Mobile Disco, DJ Krush, Hercules and Love Affair and The Orb. Highly recommended!