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Glastonbury Festival - UK music festivals on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Top 10 European music festivals for 2016

Oxegen European Music Festival, Ireland on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Often being open-minded and creative types, travellers and backpackers seem to love their music – so what better way to combine your love for music, travel and partying than a European music festival? The summer was made for festivals so why plan your trip now and book a ticket to a top European music festival? This is my guide to some of the best on offer (in no particular order)…

1. The Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, Spain

Benicàssim European Music Festival, Spain on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Serious music lovers seem to be the only people outside of Spain who have heard of Benicàssim. Benicàssim is a small port town located in between Barcelona and Valencia and every year it plays host to a fantastic music festival. The four day event takes place in mid-July and predominately features alternative rock and electronic artists, but it’s also known to be a great place to rave. The event differs from the many music festivals who are restricted to a 2am curfew – here the music starts at 5pm and continues until early the next morning.

It’s one of the few festivals in the world where you relax on the beach during the day and another bonus is that you can buy your food in a supermarket instead of paying festival prices. You even won’t need to worry about personal hygiene as the campsite has its very own purpose-built outdoor showers!

2. Roskilde European music festival, Denmark

Roskilde European Music Festival, Denmark on GlobalGrasshopper.com

The Roskilde festival in Denmark is one of the biggest European music festivals. Two students and a promoter founded the event in 1971 before it was taken over by the Roskilde Foundation. It’s now run as a non-profit event with the aim of developing music and culture in the area. Visitors flock to the festival from all across Europe, providing tourists with a reason to visit the expensive Scandinavian country. The festival is usually a great mix of music, 24 hour parties, organic food and experimental art and design. Everyone arrives early so you could potentially have up to eight days of fun.

3. Open’er Festival, Poland

Opener Festival in Poland - Best European Music Festivals on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Poland’s big event is held in Gdynia, which is city located on the country’s north coast. The festival takes place in early July with an eclectic range of artists on offer – expect everything from electronic and pop music to rock and reggae. The event is held in a huge airfield filled with seven stages and the music starts at 4pm and goes on until 2am. DJs continue to 5am. It also features a ‘festival town’ where you can buy merchandise, watch films, see theatre performances, eat or even play some sport (if you can muster the energy).

Catering to everyone’s musical tastes, previous artists have been a mixed bunch. For 2014 the line up hasn’t been confirmed yet but more details will be released soon.

This is an excellent opportunity to visit Poland where you can experience the Eastern European culture and even head out to more party zones (like Warsaw or Krakow) for an extended break.

4. INmusic Festival, Croatia

T Mobile Inmusic Festival Croatia - Best European Music Festivals on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Croatia’s largest open-air festival, INmusic started in 2005 and attracts approximately 25,000 people each year. It enjoys a pretty idyllic location on a small island in Lake Jarun. It’s a popular two day festival with several genre-specific stages each hosting renowned indie rock, heavy metal and electronica artists. It was also rated as one of Europe’s best festivals in 2008 and 2009 by The Times newspaper.

If you want to continue the fun when the festival ends, try an extended break exploring some of Croatia’s beautiful coastal resorts. This event is the perfect way to combine sun and great scenery with plenty of festival laughs.

5. Exit, Serbia

Exit-Festival-Serbia- Best European Music Festivals on GlobalGrasshopper.com

This is an award wining summer European music festival in Serbia, held in the unique venue of the Petrovaradin Fortress of Novi Sad. Since 2003 the event has extended from three to four days, and over the years it has been used to get across both political and social messages.

Since 2004, the festival has attracted an increasing amount of household names and the festival has even created its own record label. The organisers release albums in MP3 form so people can download them for free from their official website. Bands that have benefited from this so far are Obojeni Program, E-Play, Jarboli and Ritam Nereda – all of which have all released albums through the label.

No acts have been announced for 2016 yet but expect artists from all music genres including rock, indie dance, reggae and electronica.

  • July 2016
  • Early bird tickets from €99.
  • Exitfest
  • Camping not your thing? Reasonably priced places to stay near the festival include  Hotel Rimski or Putnik Hotel

6. Pukkelpop, Belgium

Pukkelpop European Music Festival, Belgium on GlobalGrasshopper.com

This famous Belgium festival is held near Hasselt towards the end of August. It’s a popular event which takes place in a large area of fields and woodland in the village of Kiewit and attracts over 180,000 people each year. It’s the second largest music festival in the country aiming to have a progressive and contemporary feel.

7. Pinkpop Festival, Netherlands

Pinkpop Festival - best European Music Festivals on GlobalGrasshopper.com

This Dutch festival takes place in Landgraaf and is thought to be one of the oldest annual festivals in the world, having started in 1970. The event is held Pentecost weekend, hence its name (in Dutch it’s called Pinkster). It’s a popular three day event that attracts over 60,000 visitors every year.

Over the years some big names have attended and next year looks like it will be the same watch this space!

8. Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, Germany

Rock Am Ring Festival Germany - best European music festivals on GlobalGrashopper.com

Germans are known for their love of rock so it’s no surprise these two sister events make up one of the largest music festivals in the world. Located in Nürburgring and Nuremberg, with a few exceptions both three day festivals normally have identical lineups. Often a sold out event, the festival attracts around 150,000 die hard rock and alternative fans all determined to party hard.

One of the unique characteristics of this festival are the event’s locations. Rock Am Ring takes place at the Nürburgring racetrack in the west of Germany while Rock im Park makes use of a football stadium in Bavaria. At least you won’t have to fear mud pits at one of the events, the asphalt race track of the Nuremberg Ring ensures a slide free festival no matter what the weather.

9. Sziget Festival, Hungary

Sziget European Music Festival, Hungary on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Hungary’s top music festival is held in Budapest, the nations capital. The event (which attracts over 350,000 people) lasts for an eye watering seven days and by the end of the week around 1000 artists would have performed. It’s held on Óbudai-sziget (translated as Old-Buda Island), which is a huge, leafy 266 acre island on the Danube. It’s a popular event and in 2011 it won the European Festival Award for the Best Major Festival.

The event isn’t just about music – there are lots of other activities available. If you want to take a break from the music you can always kick around on the island’s football pitch, try indoor rowing or go to the cinema. Another draw is that you can still enjoy a bargain in Hungary with many items being a lot cheaper than the rest of Europe. Once the party is over you can wind down in the famous Hungarian baths or if you want to keep partying, head into the centre of Budapest where you’ll find plenty of clubs and bars.

10. The Isle of Wight Festival, UK

Isle of Wight - best European music festivals on GlobalGrasshopper.com

The Isle of Wight festival has enjoyed a long and colourful history. The event started in 1968 and in 1969 Bob Dylan performed in front of an estimated crowd of 200,000 people. The following year it was even better when in excess of 600,000 people turned up to see the incredible (and now legendary) line-up which included the dream team of Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and The Who. The festival was revamped in 2002 and is now held at Seaclose Park near Newport.

Other great European Music Festivals in 2016…

  • Primavera Sound, Barcelona  (May) – Catch independent music at this beach-side all nighter.
  • Sonar Festival, Barcelona (June)  – This is one for beat lovers, a great Euro dance event.
  • Glastonbury, UK (June) – This is the biggie but the mother of all festivals always seems to be sold out so make sure you get in early!
  • Hurricane Festival, Germany (July) – Mainly alternative but becoming more mainstream.
  • T in the Park, Scotland (July) – The Scots know how to party, see for yourself.
  • Melt Festival, Berlin (July) – Electronic meets Rock at this quirky disused mine venue.
  • Super Bock Super Rock, Portugal (July) – Beer sponsored party in the sun.
  • Tomorrowland, Belgium (July) – Quickly became one of the most talked about and popular festivals in Europe, a fairy tale themed electronic dance music event with over 400 DJs.
  • Woodstock Festival, Poland (August) – Huge free event for a good cause.
  • Off Festival, Poland (August) – Unique boutique festival attracting some great bands.
  • Oya Festival, Oslo, Norway (August) – Friendly three day event, Scandinavian style.
  • Reading Festival, Berkshire, UK (August) – Rock & Indie with sister festival in Leeds.
  • Electric Picnic –  (August) Enjoy the craic at this great Irish music event.
  • Bestival on Isle of Wight, UK (September) – Live bands, fancy dress and fun.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of every great European music festival, they all have something to offer, on top of mud, music and rain (or if you’re lucky, sun). So pack your tent and enjoy!

UK festivals are world famous, for a full run down of UK festivals check out our 10 of the best UK music festivals post

Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland and the UK but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his relentless craving for culture, good food and football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and has also just started his own blog called Bars and Spars. As well as Rome he also counts Melbourne and Tel Aviv among his favourite places and now permanently resides in Dublin. Follow Scott on Google+ and Twitter

39 Comments

  • Samuel T. Cummins

    29 October, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Roskilde in Denmark was a new one for me last year. Along with local talent I saw Africa Express, Paul McCartney and Noel Gallagher. Food was as good as Glastonbury but considerably cheaper. Friendliness and consideration for others above all marked this one out for me.

    Reply
  • Eugene Lee

    3 February, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    I have this great Artist from Ghana who have this Unique style, sing in his own local language,nicely composed,Powerfully lyrics.Will like to see him Perform on some of the great stages…Any help is welcome. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Sorin

    3 December, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Sziget and Exit checked :). Thinking about Rock am Ring next year but the big names festivals are getting way to huge and its impossible to see or feel the atmosphere.

    Reply
  • joe kozarzewski

    28 June, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Poland land of fun and free festivals, starting with Woodstock Poland incl. Kaiser Chiefs this year, biggest FREE festival in the western world

    Reply
  • joe kozarzewski

    28 June, 2013 at 7:47 am

    If you want to have a brilliant time on little money go to Poland which has festivals and ‘culture’ coming out of your ears. You could do worse than start with Woodstock/Poland, biggest free festival in the western world and hundreds of other events through the summer, most of them are free!!!!!

    Reply
  • Chanel

    16 April, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog
    and I am inspired! Extremely helpful info particularly
    the closing section 🙂 I handle such info a lot. I was seeking this certain info for a very long
    time. Thanks and best of luck.

    Reply
    • Muksin

      7 April, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Best festival I went to last year and my faimly agreed (and they are very hard to please.) Get atmosphere, lovely people and fantastic music. I particularly enjoyed Tribe of Frog down the coppice. Only criticism would be that the loos seemed a little far and few between and didnt seem to get cleaned that often but I’ve got a trusty She-Wee so shouldnt be a problem. Roll on next July!

      Reply
  • Tunes

    10 August, 2012 at 10:12 am

    maybe it’s not considered top but here’s a suggestion fwiw: the rock en seine music festival that takes place in paris (well, just outside paris). a weekend thing that draws thousands of rock music fans from across europe but from off the continent as well. some years have an amazing lineup, some are weaker but it’s all in good fun and sort of feels like the last bit of fun parisians can have before getting back into the swing of fall, the school year and work. cheers for the list!

    Reply
  • Sophie

    2 August, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    It’s far too cold for festivals in England. I’m going to Eastern Electrics Festival tomorrow, but it’s forecast thunderstorms – just like at Parklife and Field Day in England. I need to go to an international Fest!

    Reply
  • Cara

    13 January, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Great information, am looking forward to going to as many festivals as possible over the next two years. Just wanted to let you know that Oxegen, like Glastonbury, is not being held this year. They will return in 2013. Thanks

    Reply
  • Seán Connolly

    13 January, 2012 at 12:57 am

    What about the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann (http://comhaltas.ie/events/competitions/) in Ireland? It attracts 250,000 people, and 11,000 traditional Irish musicians from all over the world, in the last week of August each year for free traditional Irish music on streets and in pubs across a chosen Irish town. This coming year it will be Cavan town. It’s all voluntary with no spin doctors or corporations promoting it, which might explain why so few people outside Ireland know about it. (http://www.fleadh2011cavan.ie/Default.aspx?StructureID_str=102)

    Reply
  • Anna Hot

    24 June, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Cool festivals.. But have you ever heard about Kazantip? I prefer to go there almost every year. That is the craziest rave music event I’ve ever been!! It lasts for a MONTH on the beach of Crimea Peninsula, Ukraine. Ye, far from enough but it is worth it! People there are real party animals:)) The sea, world favorite dj’s, cheap prices and really hot people! The official site is http://www.kazantip-republic.com but there you can find only info about event. I book my trip and find a lot of useful info before the trip here http://www.z-aliens.net.
    By the way, what is really funny it is not considered as a festival but as the separate Kazantip Republic with own rules and government. Cool idea!

    Reply
  • Theo Martin

    9 May, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I made many European festivals and a road trip through Europe in 2009 took me in Hungary and to Sziget festival.

    It was crazy! The festival is in the heart of Budapest on an island on the middle of river Danube, creating a special atmosphere with the unique mixture of party, city and nature.

    It is the longest festival, 7 days of music, cultural programs and exhibitions. But it is also the largest with 400,000 persons from everywhere in the world and the most diverse line up, you will find what you like in every hour of the day on one of the 30 stages of the Island.

    You add a huge Party Arena and some parties places with several DJs 24h/7, cheap drinks and food.

    I finished this experience in one of the bath of the city on Monday afternoon after few days without sleeping.

    A week of madness, i didn’t believe what I was living!
    Live it, you will enjoy it!

    To have an idea of this amazing event, watch that! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Llt-rK7Qbmo

    Reply
  • Ian [EagerExistence]

    8 April, 2011 at 3:17 am

    I am somewhat of a Festival Head in my home town in Australia. I go to all the Summer festivals. I hope its something I can do during my European trip (starting next week).

    I’m interested to know if you managed to go to any of the festivals you listed here. And what you thought of it?

    I will be travelling solo, so going to festivals could be somewhat of a struggle. Especially since you often need to book tickets months in advance.

    Looking forward to huge crowds and live music!

    Thanks for the post, stumbled #su.

    Reply
    • Scott Balam

      9 April, 2011 at 9:18 pm

      Hi Ian,

      Where in Oz are you from?

      I wish I could say that I have to them all, I have got my experience by going and learning from others who have been.

      My first festival was Benicàssim which was incredible – for this I bought tickets a few weeks in advance, I think it’s quite accessible. Sadly something like Glastonbury in England or Oxygen in Ireland is very hard. Mind you, sometimes you may find someone with a spare ticket if you search sites.

      I am set to go to Isle of White festival this summer, I bought tickets pre-xmas yet it’s in June and sadly that’s sold out.

      I would say try to plan a few in advance …

      I hope this has been helpful.

      If you wish to get in touch you can get me via twitter @footiefun.

      All the best

      Reply
  • Mykonos

    27 March, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    If you are looking for great music in the Greek Islands, check out my blog. The season doesn’t really start until June/July, but you can get an early start planning!

    Reply
    • Scott Balaam

      17 March, 2011 at 3:10 pm

      Hi Agne,

      I must admit I don’t know the festival “Be2gether”.

      I have been to Lithuania, but not for music. I went to Vilnius and Klaipėda before going to your neighbour Latvia.

      Be lucky … keep smiling

      Scottie B

      Reply
    • Scott Balaam

      17 March, 2011 at 3:27 pm

      Hi ‘Bluegreen Kirk’,

      I wish I could say yes, I have a mix of experience and learning about festivals from those who have been.

      I then went to Love Parade in Berlin in 2002. My first festival was Benicàssim which was incredible.

      I am set to go to Isle of White festival this summer – I heard excellent reviews from people who went last summer.

      It’s always nice to hit a festival and turn it into a holiday!!!

      Be lucky … keep smiling

      Scottie B

      Reply

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