Festival season is upon us.
With the hundreds of festivals taking place across the world, it is easy to find yourself spoiled for choice. To help, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 European festivals that you definitely shouldn’t miss.
These are events that stand out from the crowd, so why not venture beyond the ordinary and have the summer experience of a lifetime?
When? Late June / early August
Where? Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam
First on our list is Dekmantel which, for lovers of electronic music, is a mecca. Every summer, crowds from all over the world travel to Amsterdam to see the greatest, most respected DJs / live performers in the world.
Dekmantel did not start as a festival, but as a series of parties put on by Thomas Martojo and Casper Tielrooij (childhood friends local to the area) in Amsterdam. They shared an unshakable passion for music and focused on enhancing the Detroit influence on club culture (which was sorely lacking), showcasing artists whom they felt deserved to shine.
It was from here that the Dekmantel ethos was born; an essence that was built on a passion for music, that celebrated the underground, and reinvigorated the Amsterdam club scene. As the parties grew, so did Martojo and Tielrooij’s ambition. In 2013 they finally expanded to a festival, and experienced roaring success.
2019’s line-up boasts huge names such as Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, and John Hopkins as well as much loved performers Ben UFO, Palms Trax, and Motor City Drum Ensemble. Yet for all their geographic diversity, it is their local selectors such as Antal, Tom Trago, and Young Marco who maintain the Dekmantel spirit.
The festival site puts its attendees first, offering 5 stages ranging from an airy greenhouse to the infamous curved LED main stage guaranteed to enthrall the crowd. By remaining small despite its popularity, the festival stays true to its values.
Dekmantel started as it means to go on; simply as a party for lovers of music. The festival feels almost sacred, and performers and ravers alike hold it as an honour to attend.
When? Late June
Where? Just outside of Amsterdam
As the largest outdoor techno festival in the world, Awakenings does not shrink in comparison to Dekmantel.
Founded by Roco Veenboer nineteen years ago, Awakenings has become the go-to festival for techno-lovers, producing a line-up full of the greatest names in the scene, year upon year. Just a glance at 2019’s bill sees Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, and Ben Klock.
Beyond the brain-melting tunes of its selectors, extra-terrestrial production lies at the heart of the festival’s appeal. Attendants are treated to an array of lasers, LEDs, and even fireworks which make for a light show unlike any other.
On top of this, stages range from colossal indoor domes to immense outdoor structures. If you’re looking for a visual experience, look no further.
When? Late June
Where? Somerset, England
Glastonbury is a festival that needs no introduction.
Founded in 1970 by Michael Eavis, Glastonbury is now the largest green field festival in the world, attracting the biggest names in music as well as 200,000 attendants every year.
The festival’s ethos is inspired by the hippie culture of the 60s and 70s, as well as counterculture and the free festival movement in homage to Woodstock 1969.
Glastonbury 2019 featured 2,800 performers over 79 official stages, with performers raging from Kylie Minogue, to The Cure, and the Chemical Brothers. It offers potentially the most eclectic range of any festival in the world, so whatever your taste there will be something for you.
To match its wide-ranging line up, the festival showcases larger-than-life stages and production. Beyond the simple yet iconic Pyramid stage, Glastonbury boasts enormous structures such as Arcadia’s Pangea, once a mechanic spider and now a looming crane.
Glastonbury truly deserves a place on your buckle list; it is an experience like no other.
When? Early August
Where? Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England
Houghton festival is held on a remote, privately owned estate in Norfolk and is a considerably smaller alternative to the monstrous festivals listed so far.
Founded only three years ago, Houghton remains small, but has built a remarkably loyal following in such a short time. Houghton sells out months in advance, and performers approach the festival in a different manner to others, as many stay for the whole weekend and can even be seen dancing in the crowds. It has built an aura and reputation that encourages artists to bring their best.
As a self-proclaimed ‘celebration of art and music’, this is truly at the core of the festival. While many festivals focus on production, the Houghton team ensures the entire site is visually stunning, utilizing not only art but also the natural countryside. On top of this, Houghton has a 24-hour music licence, making it a true escape from reality into an ethereal world which is not for the faint-hearted.
With the festival’s stellar reputation and Craig Richards at the helm of much of the organisation, it is hardly a surprise that Houghton offers an insanely impressive selection of performers every year. 2019’s line-up boasts legendary names such as Jensen Interceptor, Ricardo Villalobos, Antal, Call Super, and many, many more.
The perfectly programmed music, eclectic range of beautiful stages, and sense of an authentic passion for music has already established Houghton as a focal point on the festival scene.
For a more intimate festival experience, this isn’t one to miss.
5. Love International
When? Early July
Where? Tisno, Croatia
Located in Croatia, Love International offers a summer festival experience unlike any other. The festival spans the space of a whole week in July with music spread across stages in the main arena as well as the separate location of Barbarella’s Discotheque and a series of boat parties.
The music at Love International enhances the summery vibe, providing mainly disco and house with a splattering of techno from the likes of CC:DISCO!, Call Super, and Paula Temple in 2019.
The festival site lies on the Croatian coastline, offering three intimate stages; the main stage, the olive grove, and the beach stage located on the water’s edge. The nature of the site makes Love International a holiday alongside a festival, as attendants relax on the beach to ambient sounds in the day and enjoy heavier parties at night, while the nature of the line-up being spread over a week means you can choose when to relax and when to get stuck in, with plenty of time for both.
Love International offers a more laid-back, holiday ambiance – a viable alternative for those wishing to escape the grime and mud characteristic of the traditional festival.
When? Late August
Where? Pula, Croatia
Dimensions festival is also held in Croatia, but offers a deeper side of electronic music as an alternative to the light and summery Love International.
Located in Pula’s Fort Punta Christo, Dimensions takes place in one of the most scenic festival sites in the world. If this wasn’t enough, the festival holds a unique opening concert in the 2,000 year old Roman Amphitheater where Anderson .Paak, Jeff Mills, Hunee and more will play in 2019.
The stages spread out among the abandoned fortress of Fort Punta Christo, ranging from the beach to the moat, each catered to specific sounds. Like Love International, Dimension offers separate boat party tickets, but the festival also has two legendary tunnel parties which take place in the fortress’ network of underground tunnels.
With its stellar line-up and unique location, Dimensions is definitely worth considering.
When? Late July
Located in Belgium, Tomorrowland is the largest EDM festival in the world. It attracts 185,000 attendees and sells out in minutes.
Tomorrowland is not simply a festival; its focus on theatrical production makes it more of an experience. Tomorrowland changes its theme every year, with previous themes including “The Secret Kingdom of Melodia”, “The Elixir of Life”, and “The Story of Planaxis”. The result is an escape to another world, enhanced by the use of wristbands for payment rather than cash.
The festival also consistently showcases the biggest names in EDM, as attendants can expect sets from Martin Garixx, Camelphat, and David Guetta in 2019, as well as huge house and techno names such as Carl Cox, Dax J, and Nina Kraviz.
If you’re looking for an otherworldly escape from reality, Tomorrowland is the festival for you.
When? Mid / late July
Sonar is an annual 3 day city festival in Barcelona, described officially as a festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art and running since 1994. The festival prides itself on bringing digital culture and electronic music together, experimenting with creativity and technology to put on their innovative events.
Genre diversity is central to Sonar, offering house, techno, experimental, drum & bass, trap and more, from the likes of Theo Parrish, Four Tet, Kaytranada, Flava D, and A$AP Rocky in 2019.
Yet Sonar stresses that it is not a regular music festival, and never has been. Sonar pioneered the move away from field festivals to take over a major European city, and had the idea of an event that would cover the full spectrum of what electronic music could mean, embracing experimental sounds.
Its founders assert that tech has always been in Sonar’s DNA, and this is evident in the array of technological experiences offered by the festival, including a dance floor which interprets your steps into music. You could also find yourself chatting to the inventors of MusicMotion, a company that measures your brainwaves to create sounds reflecting your mental state.
Sonar offers a unique and extraordinary festival experience, and deserves a place on the list of those looking for an all-encompassing auditory, visual, and sensory experience.
When? Mid July
Dour festival is a 5 day camping festival in Belgium, and has slowly grown into one of the best European festivals since its creation in 1988. The festival attracts an international crowd of over 140,000 attendants every July, acting as a summer retreat for people all over the world.
The festival in many ways echoes the UK tradition of camping in a field on the site, but proves itself a worthwhile alternative due to the weather. In other words, you won’t need your rain boots.
The line-up never fails to disappoint, with Disclosure, Skepta, Bicep and many more on the bill in 2019. Its fabulous array of acts brings together music lovers from across the globe, giving the festival a special ambiance of multi-multiculturalism and togetherness.
For those wanting a more simple yet still brilliant festival experience, at Dour you are guaranteed to be bathed in sunshine, good music, and good vibes.
10. Primavera Sound
When? Early June
Last on our list is Primavera Sound, which takes place in Barcelona and attracts a large, diverse crowd from across the world.
Located at Parc el Forum, the festival site sits on the waterfront while also being integrated to the urban area of Barcelona, allowing festival-goers to enjoy stunning coastal views while remaining close to the city.
Perhaps the most enticing factor to Primavera’s popularity is its extensive line-up. From its beginnings the festival has brought together both consolidated and up-and-coming artists, as well as presenting all genres including pop, rock, indie, electronic and more.
2019’s line-up ranges from Solange to Loyle Carner, from Avalon Emerson to Primal Scream, and from Mac Demarco to Helena Hauff.
Primavera Sound is a must for those looking for diversity, in both its performers and its location.
Whatever festival you go to this summer, staying connected on your phone is a must. With a dataroam SIM your phone will work like it does at home, keeping you in touch with loved ones and up to date on any social media.
Don’t miss out on sharing your festival experience and visit our website today.