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The Holiday Report: Top European Festivals

With Glastonbury taking time off this year, there’s even more reason for music fans to visit a festival further afield, taking in a new culture and (probably) enjoying sunnier weather while they are at it. Thankfully, some of the world’s best festivals are hosted annually in Europe, with an exciting variety of locations, music and nightlife to choose from.  Take a look at our guide to the top European festivals to discover your ideal summertime event.

Rock Werchter, Belgium

Image Source: Rock Werchter

Rock Werchter takes place close to the city of Leuven, east of Brussels. The festival is held on a large farm, but organisers are incredibly well prepared and know what they’re doing when it comes to keeping the mud at bay. With plastic paving and plenty of sand, attendees can frolic as much as they like without fear of sinking into a pile of mud, making the festival experience a much less stressful one. A shuttle bus runs every few minutes from the festival site to the town centre, providing the option for those who don’t want to camp to return to the luxuries of a hotel each night after the music has ended. The grounds are completely accessible, with a dedicated entrance and campsite for those in wheelchairs and with disabilities, and plastic paving over the grass that makes wheelchair use possible.

Spend your time soaking up some sun, enjoying great food and dancing away to a host of popular acts. You can even dedicate your mornings to exploring Leuven, as music doesn’t start until late. Headliners this summer include Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Gorillaz and Pearl Jam.

When and where: 5-8 July, Leuven, Belgium

Sziget, Budapest

Image Source: Sziget

Taking place over a week, this incredible festival site is located on Old Buda, an island in the Danube. As well as the usual big top tents and vast expanses of grassy areas to enjoy the music from, this unique festival also contains a beach, swimming pools and a large array of stages, hosting everything from big names in rock and pop to jazz and blues music. Delicious food stalls and bright art installations can be found across the island, as well as a dedicated campsite for visitors who want to stay onsite. Attendees can also opt to stay in one of Budapest’s hotels, easily reaching the city by train or river ferry. Even if you don’t plan to stay in the city, it’s definitely worth visiting during the day to take in the city’s famous medieval castle walls and thermal baths. Acts this year include Gorillaz, Stormzy, Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar, Mumford & Sons and Liam Gallagher.

When and where: 8-15 August 2018, Budapest, Hungary

Secret Solstice, Reykjavik

Image Source: Secret Solstice

Iceland may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of summer festivals, but this one-of-a-kind event is truly special and worth a visit. With five stages hosting a varied line-up of musicians, Secret Solstice provides the opportunity to immerse yourself in the festival experience as well as enjoy some sightseeing in Reykjavik itself. The festival partners with a company that offers day trips for those that want to spend some time away from the fields, with trips to the Blue Lagoon Spa, to try your hand at ice walking or to visit one of the city’s whisky distilleries. You can also pay extra to attend spectacular side events, including a concert in a lava tunnel and unique DJ sets in a hollowed-out glacier. Acts performing this year include Slayer, Stormzy, Clean Bandit and Bonnie Tyler.

When and where: 21-24 July, Reykjavik, Iceland

Primavera Sound, Barcelona and Portugal

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Primavera Sound takes place across two sites on consecutive weekends – first at a larger event in Barcelona, followed by a smaller version of the same event in Porto. You can easily combine attending the festival and enjoying a minibreak, as there the music starts late and leaves plenty of time for you to hit the beach or explore city streets. Barcelona’s festival is held in the city itself, at a concrete complex on the waterfront known as Parc del Fòrum. In Porto, NOS Primavera Sound is held at the much greener Parque da Cidade. Lorde, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Unknown Mortal Orchestra all play this year.

When and where: 30 May – 3 June in Barcelona, Spain and 7-9 June in Porto, Portugal

Tomorrowland, Belgium

Image Source: Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland is the biggest electronic music festival on the planet, boasting big-name line ups and mesmerising architectural stages with incredible décor and attention to detail. With top-tier dance talent across the line-up as well as cross-genre appearances from Dua Lipa, French Montana and more, each stage is run by a different world-renowned label. Each year, the huge stage productions are centred around a theme, this year’s being “The Story of Planaxis”, inspired by all things nautical. Taking place in the town of Boom, Belgium across two weekends, this world famous festival is a whole load of fun.

When and where: 20-22 and 27-29 July, Boom, Belgium