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Europe’s 8 best music festivals

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Europe’s 8 best music festivals

story by: Anna Sarjeant

When it comes to live gigs, mud-filled mosh pits and orphaned gum boots, nowhere puts on a music festival quite like the Europeans. Get ready for a weekend you'll never forget....or never remember, depending on how good it really is. 

Here’s what’s on for the European summertime:

1. Exit Festival
Serbia

The up & coming one

With origins as a simple protest by Serbian students against the Miloševic regime, Exit festival has since become an international best-seller. Attracting more than 200,000 revellers to the Petrovaradin Fortress in the city of Novi Sad, you won’t find a more mythical-feeling venue. Held in the midst of an ancient fortress, stages are tucked into the secret crevices of the castle, from winding passages to tumbling turrets, with performances covering anything from trance to funk, to electro grooves and Serbian rap.  

2. Secret Solstice
Iceland

The one that requires stamina

Making the most of a sun that never sets, Iceland’s Secret Solice festival invites its guests to party under the midnight sun. As Iceland's premier music festival, punters flock here for the unique stage venues: glacial raves, secret lagoons and thermal pool parties. The hosts boast the world’s first live performance from inside a volcano, but a ticket will set you back $2800, so unless you’ve got the dosh, stick to getting groovy in your glacial nightclub. From indie and folk to hip-hop and urban, as well as house and techno, it’s an eclectic mix of beats.

 

3. Baleapop Festival
France

The unheard of one

A little heard of delight in French Basque country, Baleapop is held in Saint-Jean-De-Luz; a fetching seaside village flanking the Atlantic Ocean. With a beachside setting and plenty of niche French groups and music labels, it’s the perfect festival for beach bums in search of the next big thing. Numbers are limited but the low-key set up allows for a contemporary and immersive experience. And let’s not forget you’re in France – the regional food options are sensational.

 

4. Bestival
Lulworth Estate – Formerly Isle of Wight, UK

The family friendly one

With all the crazy, garish madness that it was known for on The Isle of Wight, Bestival moved to a brand new venue in 2017, at its sister estate in a handsome, wooded country estate on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. With a September diary date, this one’s known as the wrap-up party for a summer of UK music festivals. With all sorts of oddities, from inflatable churches to oddball attendees, most people like to partake in a spot of fancy dress – the weirder the better. With face painting for children, an enchanting Bollywood Tent for mum and dad (in turns) and a boutique campsite suitable for the entire family, normal parenting rules might not apply, but for four fabulously eclectic days, you’ll get to experience music and madness all rolled into one.

 

5. Tomorrowland
Belgium 

The be-all and end-all of dance raves

Known simply as a party marathon, Tomorrowland is now so huge, it falls over two colossal weekends. The biggest, the best and the most important of all global dance festivals, if you’re into your EDM, you simply don’t go anywhere else. Elaborate stages are dressed to impress; so much so they could rival a Hollywood film set. Fireworks and pyrotechnics explode with as much regularity as a dropping beat, and the energy is palpable. You’ve signed up for a euphoria-inducing mix of house, EDM, techno, drum & bass, hardstyle and every other random explosion of electronic music that’s ever been devised.



6. Edge of the Lake
Lac de Géronde, Sierre, Switzerland 

The scenic one

For those who like to combine their musical festivals with a bit of a holiday, Edge of the Lake is quite simply that - a festival fronting a little patch of beach beside the Lac de Géronde in the stunning Swiss Alps. Surrounded by hills and vineyards, the casual mix of music is complemented by the most beautiful setting of them all. With a resolutely chilled-out proposition, days are spent mixing dance moves with beach volleyball. Hire a pedalo or teach yourself the rules of Pétanque; visit a local vineyard or embark on a hillside walk. Oh hang on, what about the music? Well that’s a raw and humble mix of jazz, funk, soul, blues, hip-hop, house and old school disco. Anything goes at the lake. It’s all easy.

 

7. Secret Garden Party
Cambridge, UK

The glittery good looking one

It’s not all about the music at a music festival, it’s also about seeing, and being seen. At the UK’s Secret Garden Party (all the cool cats just say SGP), the hedonism is alive and oh so very well. With audience participation, interactive performance and plenty of alternative behaviour, make sure you wear glitter, because this is where the glitter-clad go for one helluva good time. Located in the Cambridgeshire countryside, on a 100-acre site in Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, days are filled (and fuelled) by food stalls, fireworks and fancy dress. And glitter.


8. Lost & Found Festival
Malta

The cheap one

Strapped for cash but love a good shindig? Malta’s annual Lost & Found Festival might be a relative new-comer, but that also makes it a cheap option for the money starved. With tickets starting from as little as $180 for a four solid days of partying, you’ll still have some dollars left for a tacky souvenir. You’ll need energy and plenty of it, hosted by the UK's most prominent female DJ, Annie Mac, it’s a non-stop bender of all night raves, pool parties, boat parties and castle raves. Fear not, because while you’ll still be awake at dawn, the Mediterranean sunrises are spectacular - and you’re in Malta, it doesn’t get much better than that. 


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