These Summer Festivals Will Change Your Idea of a European Vacation Forever

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When Europe meshes its historic cityscapes with warm weather and toe-tapping tunes, there’s simply no better place to be in the summertime. And with countless events on the horizon in cities, countrysides and coasts throughout the continent, visiting just one of these unforgettable festivals could change your view of a European vacation forever.

Sonar Festival — Barcelona, Spain

Photo credit: Ariel Martini
Photo credit: Ariel Martini

The Scene: Sonar planted its roots in Barcelona back in 1994, and it’s been one of the top festivals in Europe for it’s unique art, film and music scene featuring everything from emerging cultural acts to the biggest names in modern electronic dance tunes. Sonar’s playful yet artistic atmosphere attracts fans of all ages and styles.

When: June 12-14, 2014

Norwegian Wood — Oslo, Norway

Photo credit: NRK P3
Photo credit: NRK P3

The Scene: This scenic outdoor festival will be showcasing some of 2014’s biggest names in rock music (Arcade Fire, John Mayer and Passenger to name a few). But if you’re looking to dip your toes into the Norwegian music scene, many up-and-coming Norwegian artists are on the lineup too.

When: June 12-14, 2014

Donauinselfest (Danube Island Fest) — Wien, Austria

Photo credit: filedump
Photo credit: filedump

The Scene: This massive open-air festival on Danube Island offers 100-percent free concerts to the public, which may be one reason why it’s the largest open-air event in Europe. But the lack of admission doesn’t mean the lineup suffers, 11 different stages blast some of the biggest names in rock, pop, alternative and electronic music from around the world.

When: June 27-29, 2014

Hideout Festival — Zrce Beach, Croatia

Photo credit: Hideout Festival
Photo credit: Hideout Festival

The Scene: Few festivals in the world are held in a place as gorgeous as Zrce Beach, Croatia. From beach blasts to pool parties and even DJs performing on yachts, Hideout Festival is known as one of the most sought after electronic music parties in all of Europe.

When: June 30 – July 3, 2014

Exit Festival — Novi Sad, Serbia

Photo credit: Exit Festival
Photo credit: Exit Festival

The Scene: In January of 2014, Exit Festival was given the prestigious honor of “Best Major European Festival” at the EU Festival Awards, and no one argued. The four-day-long festival features a wide array of rock, pop, hip hop, electronic, punk and countless other genres of music performed by some of the biggest names in the music industry as well as Serbia’s local favorites.

When: July 10-13, 2014

Tomorrowland — Boom, Belgium

Photo credit: Jeff Krause
Photo credit: Jeff Krause

The Scene: This year marks Tomorrowland’s 10th anniversary, which means the party will be bigger and better than ever (it’ll actually take place over two weekends instead of one). Tomorrowland is categorized as an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festival, but it may be most famous for its elaborate stages and decorations that are reminiscent of a fairytale land.

When: July 18-20, 2014 and July 25-27, 2014

Cambridge Folk Festival — Cambridge, United Kingdom

Photo credit: Nigel Cooke
Photo credit: Nigel Cooke

The Scene: The Cambridge Folk Festival redefines folk music year after year as world-renowned rock, bluegrass, zydeco, American country, Cajun, gospel, jazz and world-music artists take the stage. This year’s headliners include Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor, Rosanne Cash, Richard Thompson and countless other world-class musical acts from around the globe.

When: July 31 – August 3, 2013

Way Out West — Goteborg, Sweden

Photo credit: Goteborg & Co.
Photo credit: Goteborg & Co.

The Scene: Nestled in the woods of Slottsskogen Park, this “green” festival leaves a small carbon footprint and only allows vegetarian food on its premises. But this year’s lineup featuring The National, Queens of the Stone Age, Outkast, Veronica Maggio and tons of other world-renowned artists is sure to please vegetarians and carnivores alike.

When: August 7-9, 2014

 Sziget Festival — Budapest, Hungary

Photo credit: Mael Racape
Photo credit: Mael Racape

The Scene: Sziget is one of Europe’s favorite music and cultural festivals, and once you set foot on the festival grounds on “Old Buda Island,” you’ll understand why. This week-long festival hosts more than 1,000 acts each year ranging from folk and rock to electronic, hip hop and punk. Whatever type of music you’re into, there’s a ton of it at Sziget.

When: August 11-18, 2014

Festival No. 6 — Portmeirion, United Kingdom

Photo credit: TomGough
Photo credit: TomGough

The Scene: With massive headliners like Pet Shop Boys, London Grammar, Beck, Bonobo and Jon Hopkins, it’s hard to believe Festival No. 6 has only been around for a couple of years. The people behind No. 6 have given it a little different personality than ther music festivals by combining big-name bands and DJs with a vibrant art, culture, film and comedy scene. The diversity of Festival No. 6 and it’s pristine location in the gorgeous Portmeirion Village makes it a must-visit festival for anyone visiting the U.K. this summer.

When: September 5-7, 2014

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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