Bucket List Worthy
Summer is the ideal time to dive into your love for music, while connecting with fun and like-minded communities. Music festivals are just the place for these connections, offering a combination of legendary performances and carefree vibes that remind you how to let loose and live a little. Or a lot! But, because there are so many excellent options, it can be tricky to decide which festivals you’ll add to your list. Luckily, there’s something perfect out there for everyone, especially amongst the rich cultures of Europe.
We’ve researched every festival that Europe has to offer, and landed on the best of the best. Not only do these festivals feature everything from bike tours and super quirky secret venues, to roaming acrobats and floating concerts, but they’re all situated in many of the most intriguing areas of Europe. Whether you’re in the mood for a one-day musical extravaganza, or a month-long festival journey across Europe, this list will get you well on your way to crafting an unforgettable summer.
Don’t let spring go by without revelling in the creative energy of Tallinn, Estonia, during the Jazzkaar Festival. This 10-day festival offers an eclectic mix of mainstream jazz, rock, pop and electronica, and a significant number of global-ethnic performers. Besides the main program, there is an array of alternate ways to enjoy music, which includes the annual home concert series that lets guests experience music and meet artists in a cozy living room setting. In addition, a free concert day is offered that features pop-up concerts in shops, offices, cafes, and other unique venues.
In honor of the gorgeous environment Jazzkaar is set in, they promote recycling and do not serve food or drink in plastic. Beyond soaking in the world-class musical experiences, be sure to explore the Telliskivi Creative City, originally an industrial quarter of Tallinn that is now a renowned Boho-style creative hub, filled with cafes and art studios. For lovers of compelling music and culture this festival will be a major highlight of your year.
Doek Festival is a niche musical gathering dedicated to improvised music. Local and international artists perform in established venues such as the Bimhuis, one of the world’s leading jazz venues, and Splendor, an artist-run space in an old bath house.
This festival is truly unique as it’s curated by the musicians, and encourages attendees to cycle to many of the quirky and secret venues. The music is as diverse as the artists who perform it, ranging from Turkish folk music with a twist and improvised jams, to dance music from legendary drummer Han Bennink and a performance by pianist Kaja Draksler.
Savor the magic of Iceland by dancing along to the Secret Solstice Festival live-music, over a 96-hour period of straight sunlight that occurs during the fabled Midnight Sun phenomenon. Party it up in this sun-soaked festival, which offers a vibrant collection of the world’s best rock, hip hop and electronic artists. Headliners include Slayer (on their Final World Tour), Stormzy, Gucci Mane, Bonnie Tyler and George Clinton (also soon to retire from touring.)
Once-in-a-lifetime side events are also included, such as the Into the Glacier experience, which is a techno party in Europe’s second largest glacier. There’s also acoustic performances in a 5,200 year old lava tunnel, and a massive pool party at the Hreppslaug geothermal swimming pool. This otherworldly lineup of events is coupled with the stunning landscape of Iceland, which makes the Secret Solstice Festival a must for any intrepid traveller and music enthusiast.
Flow with the rhythm of more than 50 of the United Kingdom’s top tribute bands during the aptly named Ultimate Tribute Festival. This three-day musical weekend takes place in Colebrook Park, a beautiful five hundred acre site in Tunbridge Wells, and is a family event as there are no age restrictions and includes kid-friendly activities like a Circus School and much more. Parents wanting to introduce their children to the classic tunes of Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, Adele, Madonna, and more will be in musical nirvana at The Ultimate Tribute Festival.
Hailed by The Guardian as “the British jazz world’s Glastonbury,” the Love Supreme Festival does a stellar job at reflecting the ever-growing popularity of the United Kingdom’s contemporary jazz scene. A varied selection of homegrown acts include Moses Boyd Exodus, Ezra Collective, Zara McFarlane, Nubya Garcia, Yazz Ahmed and Alfa Mist amongst others, as well as star-studded names such as Earth Wind & Fire, Elvis Costello and George Clinton, and Parliament Funkadelic.
Beyond the dynamic journey into music, attendees can nurture themselves with yoga classes, or make their way to the Supreme Wellbeing area where Thai Massage, soothing Reflexology, or a Pamper Hour can be enjoyed. For those that want to fully immerse themselves in the festival, on-site glamping will be available through The Pop Up Hotel.
Scotland’s ultimate music extravaganza, TRNSMT Festival features an exceptional line-up and electrifying atmosphere in Glasgow, one of the United Kingdom’s most musical cities. This metropolitan festival spans two weekends and boasts headliners like Stereophonics, Liam Gallagher, Arctic Monkeys, Queen + Adam Lambert, and The Killers. Additional artists include The Script, Courteeners, Interpol, CHVRCHES, Wolf Alice, Blossoms, Franz Ferdinand, J Hus, Declan McKenna, Pale Waves and more. Heralded as the “Best New Festival” at the UK Festival Awards, TRNSMT Festival is sure to provide one of the greatest festival experiences of the summer.
Characterized by its values of friendliness, hospitality, sharing, and tolerance, Pohoda Festival is an experience that’s sure to transform your perspective of humanity for the better. Pohoda (which means “peace and ease” in Slovak) is an internationally acclaimed festival, where alternative, indie, electronica, world music and punk meet classical music, in addition to an intriguing mix of literature, dance, visual art, film and theatre.
This year’s lineup includes The Chemical Brothers, St. Vincent, Ziggy Marley, Danny Brown and more. Pohoda makes it a priority to maintain an environmentally-friendly approach, an effort which won them the Green Operations Award at the European Festival Awards in 2017. Relish the special Pohoda vibes of peace, ease, and all-things music at this one-of-a-kind festival.
Mighty Sounds Festival, the ultimate rock’n’roll bash of the summer, offers great music, Czech beer and a lively punk rock atmosphere.This legendary festival is revered by fans of rock, punk, ska, reggae, rockabilly, and hardcore, especially as this year’s line-up includes world-famous bands such as Anti-Flag and Royal Republic. Top-quality folk punk will be brought to the stage by The Rumjacks, while Inner Circle will mellow things out with their well-polished reggae sounds.
Attendees will also have a chance to jam out to Talco, Dub FX, Booze & Glory, Mad Sin, The Bronx, The Dreadnoughts, Zebrahead, ZSK and others. Much more than a music festival, Mighty Sounds provides an extraordinary selection of food, football and netball tournaments, skimboarding, U-ramp graffiti, a large variety of workshops, and of course, the unmistakable “Mighty” atmosphere.
The world’s largest indoor festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, began in 1976, and has been host to some of the most celebrated jazz acts in the world, such as Miles Davis, Etta James and Ray Charles. Since then, it has grown both in size and reputation and pulls crowds of over 20,000 from across the globe. The festival prides itself on the diversity of soul, hip-hop, R&B and pop acts that accompany the jazz roots that have remained a long-standing feature of the festival.
This year, North Sea will welcome Earth, Wind & Fire, The Roots, D’Angelo and Leon Bridges and more to the stage, and will feature a British Jazz Invasion with Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia, Moses Boyd Exodus and Sons Of Kemet. In the midst of the music, you can explore the Rotterdam Contemporary Art Fair where hand-blown glass balls, the work of master painter and jazz fanatic Johan Zevenbergen, and the NO WALLS exhibit with installations and sculptures by Paul Vinken and MISHMASH will be displayed.
The Cornbury Music Festival, an eccentric musical carnival disguised as a country fair, is an open air party fit for the whole family. This charming festival is a melting pot of music-lovers who come together to share pies, a glass of champagne, and love of music. As you wander the festival you’ll find everyone from rockers, crooners, dancers, and farmers to urbanites, fashionistas, gourmet chefs and little old ladies who make exceptional cakes.
This massive musical gathering, that represents the epitome of summer fun, boasts headliners such as UB40, Alanis Morissette, Caro Emerald, and Mavis Staples. Find your way to this country fair, with a rock ‘n’ roll twist, if the idea of a farmers’ market with a dancefloor, and a local carnival with a classic contemporary soundtrack piques your interest.
Europe’s biggest music-festival, the Bochum Total, takes place in the heart of the Ruhr district in Bochum, Germany. For four days this free festival provides magnificent live-music and an electric energy of fun. Since 1986, the Bochum Total annually features more than 100 bands, from international newcomers to top-acts, who perform on five massive stages. To accommodate the 750,000 – 1,000,000 visitors the festival area spreads through downtown Bochum, including the famous “bermuda-triangle,” where you can find more than 80 pubs, clubs and restaurants that entertain festival attendees late into the night.
Dance on the longest lakeside beach in Europe, swim in one of the cleanest lakes in Germany, then camp under a canopy of trees at the Helene Beach Festival. A multi-genre festival, this musical celebration features over 150 artists on 8 stages where attendees can dance along to House, Hip Hop, EDM, Techno, Rock, Pop, Indie, and so much more.
This year’s headliners include Paul Kalkbrenner, Savos & Sido, SDP, and Sven Vath. When you’re ready to mix things up, journey over to a comedy show, exercise on the beach, take in a fire show, or marvel at an acrobatics demonstration. When the festival ends, keep the good times going by heading to nearby Berlin and wandering the streets of this iconic city.
This four day open air festival, known for its unique and adventurous musical offerings, focuses on building bridges between different cultures. Besides presenting boundary breaking musical legends, Sfinks Mixed is known for its adventurous line-up and is the perfect place to discover new artists.
And, children aren’t left out of the fun, as they get their own festival in the Kidz Village. In addition, the festival grounds are often filled with parades, travelling acrobats, and a colourful world market that features intriguing projects from across the globe. If you’re looking for an ideal mix of music that makes you want to dance, opportunities for cultural exploration, intimate concerts, and performances by today’s best DJ’s, you can find it all at Sfinks Mixed.
As one of the largest non-commercial music festivals in Europe, Pol’and’Rock Festival exudes ultimate hippie vibes, embodying the ideals of peace, love, and friendship. Formerly known as Woodstock Festival Poland, Pol’and’Rock has gained a cult following in central Europe. This year, the main stage will feature Opening, The Inspector Cluzo, Alestrom, Hunter, and more. Their philosophy is that creating a community based on respect and friendship is possible, thanks to the power of music. If you idea of coming together with a harmonious community of music-lovers sounds appealing, Pol’and’Rock is for you.
Notodden Blues Festival is Scandinavia’s largest blues festival, often attracting up to 30,000 music lovers. Throughout the four day festival, audiences can enjoy the very best in international and Scandinavian blues, rock and soul, which includes roots and rock-icons Ry Cooder and Bonnie Raitt, the energetic blues rock band Vintage Trouble, Norwegian superstar Adam Douglas, Sugaray Rayford, The Welch Ledbetter Connection, Ana Popovic, Norwegian Grammy winners Knut Reiersrud Band and Rita Engedalen, and many more.
Nestled in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Notodden Blues Festival is a dynamic event, offering intimate club concerts, blues cruises on Lake Heddal, church concerts, World Heritage blues cruise on Lake Tinnsjø aboard the legendary MF Storegut railway ferry, educational workshops at the European Blues Center, band camps for youth, family events, and major concerts with the world’s biggest blues stars.
Jump into the rare experience of hearing musical greats such as Bob Margolin, Sugarray Rayford, Lexsoul Dancemachine, and Reval in Haapsalu, Estonia’s medieval Episcopal castle. Those with a sophisticated musical palette will find an oasis in the Augustibluus festival as they enjoy over 30 concerts on eight stages. The main stage is nestled in the surroundings of the castle, while the other stages are sprinkled throughout Haapsalu, in locations such as open-air cafes and Club 56 Blues in the Haapsalu Cultural Center, which jams into the wee hours.
In addition to the finely curated musical lineup, a daily offering of workshops, exhibitions and traditional acoustic concerts will be help in an old railway station. Coming up on it’s 25th birthday, this renowned blues festival is a great way to dive into a soulful musical experience, while also immersing yourself in the beauty of Estonia, a country filled with mysterious islands, castles, churches and hilltop fortresses.
Located in France’s idyllic Crozon Peninsula, a land of medieval 17th-century fortified towers, multicolored sea caves, and rugged cliffs, the Bout du Monde Festival offers an exceptional opportunity for adventure, accented by artistic programming from around the world. This festival is a crossroads of world music and musical mixing, with headliners like Avishai Cohen, Moon Hooch, Lola Marsh, Grand Corps Malade, and LaBrassBanda.
Between big names in the international music scene, and exciting new discoveries, more than 450 musicians perform on 3 stages, for over 60,000 people in 3 days. The Bout du Monde Festival is known for its friendly, eco-conscious, and cosmopolitan atmosphere, providing an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to attend.
One of the greenest festivals in Europe, Øyafestivalen focuses on sustainable waste management solutions and an organic food offering as 60,000 music lovers pour into Oslo to enjoy four days in this musical paradise. The festival, which draws a mix of international stars to to up-and-coming artists, kicks off during The Club Night, where concerts are held in various clubs to warm-up the crowd for the main event in Tøyen Park.
Headliners include, Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys, Lykke Li and Cezinando, in addition to Arcade Fire, Wolf Alice, J Hus, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sleaford Mods, St Vincent, Patti Smith, Neneh Cherry and Grizzly Bear. Named as one of the top European festivals by the United Kingdom’s The Independent, the Øyafestivalen can’t be missed.
Imagine dancing in a luminous green beech forest in Denmark, as musical icons such as Britney Spears, Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone and Shawn Mendes offer up their musical masterpieces. Smukfest is where you can find this wonderland, and revel in the vibes of love and togetherness that this magical festival has been manifesting for over 39 years. Regardless of your taste in music, this festival is sure to please as it covers a diverse array of genres such as rock, pop, folk, heavy metal, hip-hop and electronic.
As a sleep-over festival, you can camp, or bring in your RV to ensure you never miss a beat during the five-day festival. And, you don’t need to pack many provisions as over 80 gourmet food stops, and 60 bars pop up in the woods, exclusively for festival goers. Known as “Denmark’s’ Most Beautiful Festival,” Smukfest is a must for those that crave an immersion into the wonders of nature and music.
The Dreambeach Festival was built on its impressive variation of music offerings, with a line-up that ranges from hip-hop, bass and hardstyle, to techno, trance and EDM. Headliners include Hardwell, Don Diablo, and Axwell Λ Ingrosso. To rejuvenate between shows, guests can relax in the camping area that comes with luxurious balinese beds, barbecue sites and a swimming pool that’s over 60 metres long. Those interested in exploring outside the festival grounds could find themselves walking along the Mediterranean shoreline, exploring the 10th century fortress of Alcazaba of Almería, or examining archaeological remains in the Museum of Almería.
Jazz Middelheim, Belgium’s oldest and most authentic jazz festival, is set in a lush green park surrounding a white canal. This fairy-tale oasis for jazz lovers has had the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Toots Thielemans, Dianne Reeves, Patti Smith grace its stage, and will welcome Black Star, Kamasi Washington and Jazz Loves Disney to this year’s line-up. A festival that likes to refer to itself as a “funky grandpa of a festival that stays young at heart” Jazz Middelheim is an experience that you need to check out at least once in this lifetime.
A highly-regarded festival featuring top-notch artists such as Jonas Kaufmann, Elīna Garanča, Sonya Yoncheva, Kristine Opolais, Valery Gergiev and Rolando Villazón, Finland’s Turku Music Festival is a versatile city-wide event that offers festival-goers everything from large orchestral concerts and chamber music, to recitals and jazz shows.
Between concerts, attendees can soak in the beauty of Turku by dining in one of many restaurants along the Aura River, wandering through the medieval fortress of Turku Castle, or exploring the Turku Cathedral, which houses a royal tomb and history museum. As the oldest continuously running music festival in Finland, Turku Music Festival is a favorite among those with a refined taste in music.
The Summer Breeze festival is a must for lovers for heavy metal. From bands that are deeply rooted in the underground, to legends in the heavy metal genre, Summer Breeze presents a diversified billing each year. This year’s headliners include Powerwolf, Arch Enemy, Trivium, W.A.S.P., Papa Roach, and Behemoth. With over 130 bands, metal lovers will find their happy place at Summer Breeze.
Beyond the metal, festival attendees have the opportunity to check out the compelling history of Dinkelsbuehl. One of the only remaining walled medieval towns in Germany, this area features brightly-colored timbered buildings, gothic art in St.-Georgs-Kirche, the archeological park of Ruffenhofen Roman Park, and a nightly sighting of Dinkelsbühl’s watchmen who walks the streets while clutching a lantern and a medieval weapon known as a halberd.
Green Man, one of the last remaining independent festivals in Europe, has gathered a loyal following of music lovers and is set within the breathtaking Brecon Beacons, a mountain range in South Wales. Headliners at this coveted festival include The War on Drugs, Fleet Foxes, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, John Grant, Grizzly Bears, and Dirty Projectors.
Between sets, festival-goers can spend their time diving into late-night revelry, sipping bubbly while soaking in a cedar-wood fired hot tub, or choosing from hundreds of independently brewed Welsh beers. Numerous areas for kids are also offered, in addition to film, comedy and literature events that run alongside the impressive display of music. If all the dancing puts you in need of some TLC, yoga classes and massages can be booked. Don’t miss out on your chance to spend a week in Green Man Land.
Tønder Festival is one of Europe’s most respected folk & roots musical gatherings and is known for the interaction they facilitate between musicians and audience. They offer an assortment of folk, blues, country, old-time, cajun, roots, rock and other related styles, by bringing together known artists and fresh faces. With eight different stages that vary from a large spiegeltent to the open air stage, they provide a rich environment for attendees to explore while eating great food and hearing world class music.
One of the biggest metropolitan festivals in the United Kingdom, Victorious Festival is an ideal event for music loving families as they offer a 30,000 square metre Kids Arena that includes appearances by favorite characters from family TV programs, princesses, performances by various dance troops, and other free activities.
Music enthusiasts will rejoice when they check out the lineup, which includes The Libertines, The Prodigy, Kaiser Chiefs, Shed Seven, Paul Weller, Paloma Faith, and more. To accentuate the music, the festival situates their stages in stunning locations, like Henry VIII’s Castle, a Victorian Bandstand, a skate park, and the D-day museum. In addition, many of the stages offer sparkling views of sea and the otherworldly spinnaker tower.
The ten-day Cello Biennale Amsterdam festival is a biannual international cello celebration, and the ultimate meeting place, and source of inspiration for, cellists and other musicians from around the world. The days are filled with cello performances from an early morning Bach & Breakfast event, to a late-night jaunt at CELLOFEST.
Artists-in-residence include the Early Music specialist and viola da gamba player Jordi Savall, and the Italian cello phenomena Giovanni Sollima. In addition, new music will be performed by the famous New York City based composer trio Bang on a Can. Over the festival’s ten days, attendees can enjoy more than 90 concerts, masterclasses, and workshops by musicians, ensembles and orchestras from 27 countries.
One of the biggest jazz festivals in Germany, Enjoy Jazz is a spacious event that offers one concert a night for six weeks. Aptly named, this is a lively festival that’s dedicated to the joy of great performances and a love for music. The festival’s motto, “enjoy jazz,” stems from their belief that you should take time fully immersing yourself in the gifts of individual artists, which is why the festival spreads out the performances.
Jazz is the primary genre, but you’ll also get a chance to check out bordering genres like classical music, avant-garde, rock, hip hop and electronic music. In addition to the unique concerts, master classes, matinees, symposiums, parties and more can be enjoyed.
With a mission to create a new language through the medium of music, Jazztage Dresden offers a variety of jazz and noteworthy Jazz projects that combine various styles and genres. Headliners include Gregory Porter, Jan Garbarek, Avishai Cohen, Monty Alexander, Rebekka Bakken and Victor Wooten, as well as ensembles such as the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Leipjazzig-Orkester, and the Dresdner Sinfoniker. This impressive jazz festival, which spans 17 venues, features more than 70 concerts and over 400 artists from 30 nations.