Alright so in part one we covered which festivals across the UK looked the most enticing, but you might think that idea of spending your hard-earned holiday in gloomy old Britain is utterly preposterous.
I mean, music festivals are great and all, but surely that money would be better spent on a nice holiday somewhere in Europe? To that I say, why not have both? Here’s a rundown of several continental European music festivals that will satisfy the music-lover in you and fulfill that need for a proper escape.
Exit/Sea Dance – 10th – 13th July/15th – 17th July
Location: Serbia (Petrovardin Fortress)/Montenegro (Jaz Beach)
Current ticket price: £82 for Exit alone/£134 for both (travel included)
Music: Every damn thing
Might as well start big: Exit festival is one of the biggest in Europe and it always boasts an impressive and eclectic lineup. Atoms for Peace, Nile Rogers, The Prodigy, Snoop Dogg, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, DBridge and Alice Russell were all in attendance last year, to name but a few. Hosted in an honest-to-goodness fortress in Serbia, it has all the allure of UK offerings like Bestival at a lower price and in a more exotic locale. But that’s not all. Immediately afterwards, and for a little more money, you can bus it straight across the border for Sea Dance, a second chapter with more of the same varied music and 100% more beach. This is a new and exciting development in the story of what was already a beloved and record-breaking festival, as well as being a ridiculously good deal.
From the enormous and eclectic to the small and specific, Tree of Life is a gorgeous little festival situated on the edge of a lake in Turkey that spans the entire seven days of the summer solstice and fills them with bright colours, glowing lights and free-flowing third-eye music. If you’re after something that will feel as far removed from UK festivals as it’s possible to get, this is probably your best option. Getting as far out as Turkey might be a little more problematic than some of the other locations on this list but at such a low price and such a lengthy time-frame I would say it’s more than worth it, provided you’re into psychedelic music. Solar Fields, Astropilot, Goblin, Total Eclipse, Entropy and many other practitioners of pulsing, ambient music were present last year but even if those names mean utterly nothing to you, this is the kind of festival where it almost doesn’t matter, you will be submerged in a sea of vibes, you just have to let it wash over you.
Tauron Nowa Muzyka – 21st – 24th of August
Location: Poland (Katowice)
Current ticket price: £35
Music: Electronic, Dubstep, IDM, Drum and Bass, Dance, Jazz
Alright, Poland might not be the first place your mind runs to when you think of an exotic location, especially considering that almost the entirety of the ground this festival exists on is concrete, but hear me out. Tauron is an award winning, non-commercial electronic music festival that has been helping to set trends in both music and performance art in Poland for almost a decade. The entire festival takes place within the confines of an abandoned coalmine. There are indoor and outdoor stages and art installations built into the structure and previous artists have included Little Dragon, Flying Lotus, Skream, Squarepusher, Bonobo, Battles, DJ Krush and Prefuse 73. If it’s new and cutting edge, it’ll be there – the name Nowa Muzyka literally means ‘new music’. Again, this is pretty far removed from anything you’ll find in the UK, and it’s so criminally cheap and well-meaning that you can guarantee a fantastic atmosphere.
Volt – 2nd – 5th of July
Location: Hungary (Sopron)
Current ticket price: £154
Music: Pop, Rock, Metal, Alt-Rock, Drum and Bass, Dubstep, Dance
If sheer madness and relentless energy is what you’re after then look no further than Hungary’s Volt festival. If the idea of transposing Reading or V to a European locale is appealing to you then this is the one you need to go after. Acts heading there this year include Queens of the Stone Age, Bullet for my Valentine, Knife Party, Dub FX, Skream, Example and The Parov Stellar Band. If you’re young or just looking for a pure, unadulterated festival experience then this has a lot to offer, a lot of festivals these days feature the odd fairground ride but this one had a fucking bungee jump on site in 2012. Hungary is a beautiful, fascinating country that rarely attracts much holiday consideration, so if you can experience it and get a decent festival experience into the mix at the same time, so much the better.
Outlook – 4th – 7th of September
Location: Croatia (Pula)
Current ticket price: £140 for Outlook alone, £255 with Dimensions ticket
Music: Dub, Reggae, Hip-Hop, Grime, Dubstep, Drum and Bass, Dance
Outlook and Dimensions are two Croatian festivals that are often attended in tandem, since they’re within about a week of one another (Dimensions starts on the 27th of August and ends on September 1st this year) but if I had to pick one I’d take Outlook. Situated on an Adriatic coastline with stages on flat land, nestled into abandoned structures and on boats, this magnificent celebration of the evolution of music from reggae and beyond boasted a monstrous lineup last year: Mos Def, Jay Electronica, Pharoahe Monch, LTJ Bukem, Gentleman’s Dub Club, Kode 9, Enei, Biome, Digital Mystikz, DJ Madd, The Pharcyde, Portico Quartet, Kryptic Minds, Rustie, and Shy FX comprises just a tiny fraction of the 400-act army that descended upon the Croatian coast last year, compounded by an equally impressive roster at the same location for Dimensions. It’s not just the acts though; Outlook 2013 featured 48 boat parties, full access to a warm, inviting sea and much more. This one sells out fast so interested parties would be wise to get right on it.
Ilosaarirock – 11th – 13th July
Location: Finland (Joensuu)
Current ticket price: Only 2-day tickets are currently available at £70, full tickets will likely be in the region of £90-£100
Music: Metal, Death Metal, Rock, Punk, Heavy Metal, Electronic, Post-Rock, Jazz
Like our very own Bloodstock, this is a festival dedicated to all things metal, situated in the most metal-centric part of the world there is: Scandinavia. You’re probably a fair bit less likely to get a tan than if you hobbled off to Benacassim with everybody else, but you’re far more likely to end up in a maelstrom of long hair, black clothes and throaty roars. There’s some level of diversity in the mix though, with artists like Sigur Ros, The XX, Antony and the Johnsons and Modeselektor having all made previous appearances, alongside the usual suspects like Cradle of Filth, Children of Bodom, Faith No More and Killing Joke. This is the kind of festival that will always surprise you, the design is chosen by contest every year and the aforementioned anomalous artists are often thrown in as surprises by the organisers, so if you want to revel in some diverse, rock-oriented wonderment on the coast of lake Pielisjoki for a weekend, go for it.
Fusion – 26th – 29th June
Location: Germany (Lärz)
Current ticket price: £86
Music: Electronic, Hip-Hop, Folk, Dance, Dubstep, Rock, World Music, Metal, Breakcore, much more
Not to be confused with the 2-day festival of same name that takes place in Birmingham, this is a rather special one. If I had to cherry-pick one festival to attend out of all the available options the world over, I would take this one every time. Why so special? Let me count the ways: situated within the confines of an abandoned Russian missile base, Fusion reuses old military installations as stages, stalls and even showering facilities. There are no advanced line-up announcements, hardly any advertisement, and run by a communist group. There is little to no security beyond ticket checks, and an atmosphere unlike anything you’ll ever experience elsewhere. Some of the testimonials I’ve heard from previous attendees are astonishing, the communal mentality of it, the use of the architecture, the bicycles strewn along the site that anyone can pick up when they want and simply leave for the next person to pick up. The food at Fusion is strictly vegetarian, but even if that perturbs you, it’s all very reasonably priced and extremely diverse. Almost everyone I know who’s been has said it was the best festival they’d ever been to. Music wise it’s hard to say, since the lineup has no official announcement but Benji Boko, Digitalism, DJ Koze, Shantel, Mogwai, Atmosphere, Skindred and Ikonika have all played it before, the lineup usually approaches 400 different artists. This is a wondrous, unique entity that demands attention.