These Are The Best European Festivals For 2018
By Rebecca Cope Posted on 18 Apr 2018
Every year, countless Brits eschew the mud baths of Glastonbury and the like to seek their musical fulfillment in sunnier climes, with the numbers of UK residents heading to European festivals increasing all the time. With similar headliners but entirely dissimilar weather, it’s a no brainer, and combines both your festival and summer holiday needs in one fell swoop. So what are you waiting for? Here are the 10 best European festivals taking place this year, from established favourites like Primavera and Tomorrowland to the under-the-radar ones that everyone will be going to in a few years…
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Where: Bergenhus FortressWhen: 12-16 June Why: Arriving in Bergen is a little like stepping inside a Wes Anderson film, with its pastel-coloured buildings, cobbled streets and achingly cool locals, with its annual music festival Bergenfest proving to be just as hip. Taking place in an 11th-century Viking fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage site, natch), the line-up is always a carefully-curated mix of up-and-coming and established acts, with Scandi newcomer Sigrid, Queens of the Stone Age and Father John Mister topping this year’s bill.
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Where: Aarhus When: 7-9 June Why: Ever since it nabbed Radiohead as a headliner in 2017, there’s been a lot of buzz about Northside: not bad going for a festival that was only in its 7th year. Staged in Denmark’s second city of Aarhus – which was named European Capital of Culture last year too – it is within walking distance of the city centre, and features both local and international acts, plus plenty of street food offerings. Hoping to replicate last year’s success, Northside has recruited Liam Gallagher, The National, Beck and N.E.R.D. to headline this year, and will no doubt attract even more Brits thanks to the appeal of all things Scandi right now.
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Where: Helsinki When: 10-12 August Why: Eschewing postcard-perfect castles, fortresses and lakes, Finland’s Flow festival takes place at the altogether edgier location of a former power plant. The new festival is gaining in popularity each year, thanks largely due to its killer combo of well-curated line-up (this year’s sees Grizzly Bear, Patti Smith and Kendrick Lamar on the bill) plus top-notch grub (sourced from local restaurants).
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Primavera, Spain and Portugal
Where: Barcelona and Porto When: 30 May–3 June in Barcelona, 7-9 June in Porto Why: One of Europe’s better known festivals, Primavera has been attracting sun-loving revellers to Spain’s capital since 2001, with its little sister edition in Porto following suit a decade later in 2011. Festival-goers rent accommodation in the city as there is no camping on the site, making for a better-groomed crowd than many of its counterparts. With music only starting as the sun goes down, it’s the perfect festival to combine with a city break or beach holiday: after all, what’s better than watching Alex Turner croon the new Arctic Monkeys album with a spot of sunburn?
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Secret Solstice, Iceland
Where: Rekyavik When: 21-21 June Why: The best thing about Secret Solstice in Iceland’s capital Rekyavik is that the sun never sets on proceedings – this is the land of the midnight sun, after all. As if that wasn’t magical enough, there are also plenty of whimsical concert venues to be wowed by too, including a hollowed-out glacier and a lava tunnel, while the eclectic line-up of headline artists – Stormzy, Steve Aoki, Bonnie Tyler and Slayer – will ensure that there is something for everyone.
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Where: BoomWhen: 20-22 July and 27-29 JulyWhy: Instantly recognisable thanks to its extravagant themed stages, Tomorrowland has rightly become one of Europe’s most beloved festivals, with music fans travelling the globe just to experience it. Belgium’s equivalent to Glastonbury in terms of the difficulty in getting a ticket, it often sells out within minutes, despite being spread across two weekends. Headline acts are usually from the dance music scene, with this year’s crowds expected to party the night away to Netsky, Steve Aoki, Axwell /\ Ingrosso and Carl Cox.
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Way Out West, Sweden
Where: Gothenburg When: 9-11 AugustWhy: Sweden’s coolest music festival has attracted the likes of Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Prince in previous years, and 2018’s line-up is set to be no less impressive in calibre, with Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar and Arcade Fire all booked to play. Taking place over three days in central Gothenburg and the nearby beauty spot Slottskogen, it sees a dynamic programme of film screenings, pop-up restaurants, debates, talks and of course live music, as well as one of the best-dressed audiences in Europe.
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Meadows in the Mountains
Where: Rhodopes MountainsWhen: 7-10 June Why: Anyone who thinks that festivals are all about the music obviously hasn’t experienced Meadows in the Mountains. In fact, it’s 3 months away, and the line-up still hasn’t been announced: that’s how unimportant it is. Set in the picturesque Rhodopes mountains (believed to be the mythical home of Orpheus, God of music) the festival grounds are built by the organisers from local wood, with bonfires burning every night at the campsite. Watching the sun rise and set from here is quite something, and certainly gives Glastonbury’s Stone Circle a run for its money.
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Where: BudapestWhen: 8-15 AugustWhy: Sziget in Budapest boasts one of the most scenic festival locations in Europe. Set on a picturesque island in the middle of the river Danube, the surrounding beach and woodland where people camp is full of whimsical art installations, making for a Midsummer Night’s Dream-esque atmosphere. Taking place over an entire week, it’s one of the largest festivals in Europe too, with over 1000 performances from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Liam Gallagher and Mumford & Sons, ensuring that there’s something for every musical peccadillo.
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Where: BelfortWhen: Why: One of Europe’s better established festivals, Eurockéennes takes place every summer in the beautiful lakeside environs of Belfort, a small town near the Swiss border. Prepare to be completely cut off from civilisation for three days while you’re here - there are no shops in easy distance - and be ready to eat lots of ham and cheese croissants for all meals of the day. This year’s line-up is rocky in flavour, with Queens of the Stone Age, Liam Gallagher and Alice In Chains.
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