When you’re planning for a busy festival summer, the first places that cross your mind are probably the classics – Leeds, Brighton, Glastonbury, London. The UK cities definitely have a monopoly on our festival picks as we associate it all with muddy fields and tinnies. But honestly, I think we’re depriving ourselves.
Combining a festival and a holiday into one, Europe has some of the best line-ups on offer. Free from the shackles of laddy bands and tired regulars, euro fests are always eclectic and broad, giving you something for every taste in a far more cinematic location that a British field. To tickle your intrigue, here are some of the festivals we have our eyes on from across the channel…
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Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland - 01-16 July
Don’t let the jazz label put you off, this Swiss festival goes way beyond saxophones and suits. Set around the Geneva shoreline, not only will this be one of the most stunning festivals you’d ever attend, the line-up is absolutely huge. With a range of acts from icons like Bjork, Nick Cave, Diana Ross and Herbie Hancock, to new favourites including Mitski, Self Esteem, Arlo Parks and Phoebe Bridgers, it’s hard to even know which artists to highlight. Split between two iconic Swiss venues as well as a whole host of free stages and additional events, this is actually the 56th edition of the legendary festival. So why isn’t it on your summer bucket list?
Melt Festival, Germany – 09-12 June
Located just outside of Berlin, Melt is another big one. Combining the club scene that berlin is known for with classic festival bangers, this line-up takes you seamlessly from day to night. Featuring the likes of Caroline Polachek, Tom Misch, PinkPatheress, Peggy Gou, Honey Dijon and more, it’s tied between mellow alt acts and floor shakers. Set in Ferropolis, a strange futuristic city of iron outside of the city, this is definitely one to add to your list if you’re after some escapism.
Forbidden Fruit, Ireland – 04-05 July
Technically not across the channel but across the Irish sea, Ireland hosts some incredible festivals that get massively overlooked. Forbidden Fruit is especially delicious, set in the incredible, historical surroundings of the Irish Museum Of Modern Art at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham. Not only showcasing the best Irish talent around at the moment, the line-up features some must-see acts this year like Lorde, Loyle Carner and Bicep to name a few. Sure to deliver excellent vibes, take a trip to Dublin for some culture and head out to Kilmainham for the tunes.
Mad Cool, Spain – 06-10 July
Need a tan? Head to Madrid for Mad Cool and soak up the sun while enjoying a classic festival line up. For fans of big guitar bands, mosh pits and good old festival fun, Mad Cool has the energy of a British standard festival but with far better surroundings and far, far better weather. With a line-up including Metallica, Pixies, Florence + The Machine, Kings Of Leon, HAIM, Wolf Alice and more, you get all the energy without Supergrass or the DMAs popping up anywhere – thank god.
They've also just added another one day event on the 10th September called Mad Cool Sunset, with a fresh lineup featuring Rage Against The Machine, Yard Acts, Lucy Dacus, Glass Animals and more to round off the summer.
Left of The Dial, Netherlands – 20-22 October
The Netherlands is too often brushed off as a place for a calm and cosy holiday, full of bike rides, good coffee and neutral hues. But during Left of The Dial, Rotterdam flexes its musical prowess with a city centre festival. With no headliners, they believe every band is equal during this 3-day fest, with artists including Brooke Combe, Eades and Genn all heading down. In a range of venues and settings around the city, it’s a great way to get to grips with Rotterdam while enjoying some great up and coming artists at a festival that believes in meritocracy rather than a top-down line-up.
NOS Alive, Portugal – 06-09 July
Imagine your dream festival line up and then imagine all those artists touching down in sunny Lisbon for a weekend – that’s NOS Alive. With a huge line up featuring The Strokes, The War On Drugs, Fontaines D.C, St Vincent, M.I.A, Stormzy and more, there’s enough range and definitely enough names to keep everyone interested and excited. Set right on the coast, you get all the serotonin of a beach holiday with the fun of a festival. And if you need a breather by day two or three? Head into Lisbon for a bit of culture.
Electric Castle, Romania - 13-17 July
If you’re into your alt-electro stuff, Electric Castle is the one for you. With some of the biggest names in the alt side of music, you’ll get to see Gorillaz, Disclosure, Caribou, Mogwai and more in the beautiful setting of Transylvania, next to the incredible 15th-century Bánffy Castle. As one of Europe’s only truly 24-hour festivals, you can go all night for an extreme festival experience for seasoned fest-goers.
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