Germany | Rock Im Park
6 – 9 June
Set next to the various rock festivals that happen all over Europe each summer, Rock Im Park does not differ too greatly in terms of presentation or set-up but what makes it of cultural significance is its setting. Held in the historic city of Nuremberg each year, Rock Im Park takes place on the Zeppelin field where the infamous Nuremberg rallies were held from 1923-1938. Now, over half a century down the line, what was once the place that hosted events so intrinsically linked with Europe’s darkest period is now the site of a joyous event that brings together people from all over the globe in a celebration of rock music.
Spain | Sonar
12 – 14 June
Not a standard music festival, the Barcelona-based Sonar offers performances and music in truly immersive surroundings featuring the best in music and light technology. Performers all come under the rather broad umbrella of electronica, with part of the festival diverging into a sort of tech show to showcase the latest sound and light technology bringing the enhanced experiences to attendees. Other parts of the festival include a musically enhanced skate park where each ramp is connected to a synthesizer, so that movement produces sound, and supervised day-long LEGO building tents.
The Netherlands | Oerol
13 – 22 June
Located on a small Dutch Island, Oerol brings collaborative art projects together and sets them against the scenery of this remote setting. With unique and site specific art installations next to dance and theater projects that take inspiration from their surroundings, the festival offers an intimate and communal feeling for guests who can wander around the dikes and coastlines of the arctic island interacting with the curious and intriguing projects. With the whole island transformed into an artistic habitat some events can spring up sporadically whilst others have a more steadfast approach.
Croatia | Soundwave Croatia
17 – 21 July
Nestled on the idyllic setting of the Croatian coastline, Soundwave Croatia provides one of the most intensive festival atmospheres with the main event being a three-day music festival, and smaller party offshoots happening throughout, including a boat party which takes place just off the coast. With a beach ambiance and terraced bars, Soundwave has a very laid-back feel to it, somewhat akin to combining a party scene with a summer holiday. Beachside stages mean that dancing right in the Adriatic Sea whilst listening to top DJs is on the menu.
Serbia | EXIT Festival
10 – 13 July
Born out of a protest of the ruling party in the early 2000s, EXIT festival has long been a hub of protest and counter culture within Serbia. Now, with the former leaders gone, the event has become somewhat more corporate but still attracts punk, metal and hard-core enthusiasts to its stunning location. Held inside a 17th century fortress, the stonewalls offer up not only an amazing venue but also an incredible acoustic environment, which just adds to the high-intensity atmosphere of the whole festival. There’s no need to let it all get too much as there are chill-out zones dotted around the EXIT village, which takes in the stunning views of the River Danube.
UK | Womad
24 – 27 July
Britain has long been renowned for its vibrant and progressive music scene and has many famed festivals from Glastonbury to Reading, and the Isle of Wight Festivals to the long-running world music extravaganza WOMAD, which is an event fueled by a spirit of discovery. Importing music from the four corners of the globe, WOMAD Charlton Park is how UK festival-goers get to hear the widest selection of music on the planet. Performers this year include the global superstar Youssou NDour, soul man Bobby Womack, Ethno Trio Troitsa from Belarus, Fatoumata Diawara and Robert Fonseca.
Greece | Epidaurus Festival
June – September
A festival of the dramatic arts, the Athens – Epidaurus Festival takes place in the two cities it is named after, Athens and Epidaurus, and sees musical, theatrical and cultural performances in some of the world’s oldest theaters. One of Greece’s most famous festivals it has hosted all manner of theater troupes from across the globe, ranging from traditional to puppet theater, as well as famous operatic performers such as Pavarotti. Staged in various venues across the two cities the performances bring classical and modern theater, as well as high culture to the masses.
Various venues in Athens and Epidaurus, Greece
Crimean Peninsula | Kazantip
31 July – 14 August
Take gorgeous beaches, pounding dance music and some dark Eastern European humor, throw them all together and you may come out with something resembling Kazantip. Located in Crimean Peninsula, a former Soviet Satellite State, it’s not hard to see where the inspiration for Kazantip came from: it does not claim to be a music festival but an autonomous state in which the ‘constitution’ is set out to maximize the party atmosphere. It literally has its own army of armed guards and a self-proclaimed dictator as a President, but that shouldn’t put festival goers off because despite the strange rules and rituals of Kazantip, it is essentially just a fun beach party by the gorgeous Black Sea.
Hungary | Sziget Festival
11 – 18 August
In Hungarian the word ‘sziget’ stands for festival, and one of the best and biggest of them all is the Sziget Festival, which held annually on an island in the middle of the glorious Danube river that rushes through Budapest. One of Europe’s foremost rock/heavy metal music festivals, prominent features include a dedicated ‘party train’ which transports revelers from all over Europe to northern Budapest so that they can enjoy the week-long festivities. Starting out as a small event formed by a group of students in 1993, the festival is now globally recognized as one of the most iconic music events around, with offshoots in Romania and Ukraine.
Slovenia | Festival Maribor
5 -11 September
A unique music festival in the heart of Slovenia, Festival Maribor sees organizers hand-pick some of the best orchestras and orchestral players from Slovenia and around the globe and place them on an impressive line-up to produce some stunning music. Focusing predominantly on baroque music, the selection process allows for a sort of ‘chop and change’ effect previously unseen in classical music where musicians from various different orchestras are thrown together in collaboration or chamber groups to provide a sense of vibrancy and flexibility. In an otherwise rather formalized world of classical music, Festival Maribor brings forth a fresh and new energy to the experience.