The best European music festivals this summer

We’ve been partying researching hard to unravel this year’s most essential music celebrations across Europe. From the Mediterranean shores to industrial backdrops, here are this year’s must-see music festivals.

Roskilde Festival ‒ Roskilde, Denmark

Roskilde Festival is a colourful event that features something for every taste

Roskilde Festival is a colourful event that features something for every taste ©Roskilde Festival/Janus Sandsgaard

Roskilde Festival is back this year for its 47th summer. One of Scandinavia’s largest music festival, the crowds at Roskilde can exceed 100,000 with nearly 32,000 volunteers putting in man-hours to make sure it runs without a hitch. Originally a rock festival, its lineup has become increasingly varied over the years and now features music selections for every taste.

Great for first-timers because: If you’re feeling intimidated by the festival scene, know that your presence and your purchase are going to a good cause when you buy a ticket to Roskilde. The festival is run by the non-profit Roskilde Festival Charity Society, which supports initiatives benefiting children and young people in the realms of humanitarian and cultural work.
When: 30 June-7 July 2018
Headliners: Eminem, Bruno Mars, Gorillaz, Dua Lipa and more. Check out the full lineup.

Calvi on the rocks ‒ Corsica, France

While the lineup of this year’s Calvi on the Rocks has yet to be announced, this Mediterranean gem of a festival has a rich electronic music heritage that dates back 16 years. Combine this with Corsica’s formidable beaches and good weather and you’re looking at quite the island fest.

Great for first-timers because: With tickets starting at €220, Calvi is a budget-friendly option for first time festers.
When: 6-11 July 2018
Headliners: To be announced

Montreux Jazz Festival ‒ Montreux, Switzerland

Who can say no to a summer full of music at the Montreux Jazz Festival?

Who can say no to a summer full of music at the Montreux Jazz Festival? ©L. Toshio Kishiyama/Getty Images

If its jazz you’re after, you will find plenty of it at Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival, located at the foot of the Alps along the arcadian shores of Lake Geneva. The grand old man of jazz festivals, Montreux reels in crowds of up to 200,000, making it the second-largest of its kind (after Montreal’s International Jazz Festival). If jazz isn’t your thing, don’t let the name dissuade you. This festival offers acts from a wide variety of genres, including folk, R&B, hip-hop and electronic (in addition to – of course jazz).

Great for first-timers because: If you can choose just one weekend or just one genre, Montreux offers two weeks of performances from acts spanning a vast and eclectic mix of genres.
When: 29 June-14 July 2018
Headliners: Nils Frahm, Angus & Julia Stone, ODESZA, The Vaccines, Iggy Pop, Leon Bridges, Portugal, The Man, Billy Idol, Alice in Chains, Nine Inch Nails, Jack White, Tyler, The Creator, Jamiroquai and more. Check out the full lineup.

Exit Festival – Novi Sad, Serbia

While there are four separate EXIT Festivals in Croatia, Romania, Montenegro and Serbia respectively, the latter is the oldest and most established of the bunch. Drawing crowds of over 35,000, EXIT is a festival that carries strong social and political messages that date back to its history as a festival born of student uprisings against Serbia’s regime at the end of the 1990s.

Great for first-timers because: If you want to start your festival experience with the best Europe has to offer, EXIT Festival won Best Major Festival in 2017 at the 9th annual European Festival Awards, the festival’s second time winning in four years.
When: 12-15 July 2018
Headliners: 
David Guetta, Grace Jones, Migos, Ziggy Marley and more. Check out the full lineup here.

Be #Positivus Festival ‒ Salacgrīva, Latvia

Join the fun at Positivus Festival

Join the fun at Positivus Festival ©PositivusFestival.com/Promo photo

Located in the north-west of Latvia, Positivus Festival is a relaxed festival with an indie lineup composed of both local and international acts. You’d be forgiven for turning off completely here, as rich woodlands and idyllic shoreline envelope you as much as the music does. And with an arts and crafts market featuring designers from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, local tradition mixes well with international acts at this festival.

Great for first-timers because: This 11-act lineup performs over 3 days, making it a manageable timetable for those new to the balancing act of festival performances.
When: 20-22 July 2018
Headliners: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Tove Lo, Mura Masa, The Prodigy and more. Check out the full lineup here.

Soundwave ‒ Tisno, Croatia

The shimmering water of the Dalmatian Coast fused with a non-stop nightclub and infamous boat parties make Soundwave a Mediterranean paradise for dance-loving loons. Toss in an open-air cinema experience and commissioned works from a selection of street artists and you’re looking at one of Croatia’s veritable festival gems.

Great for first-timers because: 2018 will be Soundwave Croatia’s final year – or “the final wave” as the organisers are calling it – so it will be sure to go out with a bang.

When: 26-30 July 2018
Headliners: Loyle Carner, Mr. Scruff, Romare and more. Check out the full lineup here.

Colours of Ostrava – Ostrava, Czech Republic

Set in the industrial backdrop of a former mining site and ironworks, the Czech Republic’s largest multi-genre international music festival, with 20 stages and more than 350 programmes, Colours of Ostrava packs a heavy punch. Make merry amongst towering blast furnaces and oxidised iron structures from a bygone era.

Great for first-timers because: Your ticket to Colours of Ostrava gives you discounts at selected spots in and around the city of Ostrava.
When: 
18-21 July 2018
Headliners:
Kygo, Jessie J, Joss Stone, George Ezra, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and more. Check out the full lineup here.

OFF! ‒ Katowice, Poland

OFF Festival is an eclectic mainstay on Poland’s summer festival calendar, located in lush surroundings just south of the city of Katowice. Founded in 2006, OFF Festival was created with the aim to change the world through music and intimate social experiences.
Great for first-timers because: OFF offers a well-rounded lineup of arts and culture experiences in addition to great music, including exhibitions, workshops and movie screenings.
When: 3-5 August 2018
Headliners: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Moses Sumney, Aurora, Grizzly Bear and more.

Øya Festival – Oslo, Norway

Øya Festival is one of Norway’s festival greats, hosted in the lush confines of Oslo’s Tøyen Pak. If the diurnal decadence doesn’t satisfy your festive hankering, move your feet to the beat at some of the evening’s events, held in many of Oslo’s clubs.

Great for first-timers because: Located in the major city of Oslo, this festival is easy to get to and a chance to see tourist-friendly Oslo.
When: 7-11 August 2018
Headliners: Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar, Arcade Fire, Lykke Li and more.
Check out the full lineup here.

Sziget Festival ‒ Budapest, Hungary

Sziget Festival is monstrous in size and scale

Sziget Festival is monstrous in size and scale ©Sziget Festival/Balazs Mohai

Sziget Festival is a veritable behemoth on the European festival circuit that hosts over 400,000 partygoers and features over 1,000 performances from an ensemble of live acts to tickle every fancy. The head honcho of European festivals, Sziget takes place on Óbudai-sziget – “Old Buda Island” – located in the middle of the Danube.

Great for first-timers because: If you can’t decide between a city break and a music festival, Sziget’s Boat Party offers just the solution. Cruise the Danube and discover the city’s most notable landmarks, all the while dancing and taking in the music.
When: 8-15 August 2018
Headliners: Lana Del Rey, Mumford & Sons, Liam Gallagher, Bastille, The Kooks, The War on Drugs and more. Check out the full lineup here.

Flow Festival ‒ Helsinki, Finland

Can you see yourself in this crowd?

Can you see yourself in this crowd? ©Flow Festival/Jussi Hellsten

Helsinki’s Flow Festival breathes life into the rustic confines of a disused power station located a stone’s throw away from the city centre. Beyond the music, Flow Festival puts a lot of work into being carbon-neutral and is constantly tweaking its approaches to food stalls, supplier relations and other aspects, in a bid to further strengthen its ecological focus.

Great for first-timers because: Flow is a medium-sized festival, drawing crowds of around 60,000, but packing a lineup worthy of a gathering twice its size.
When: 10-12 August 2018
Headliners: Patti Smith, St. Vincent, Kendrick Lamar and more. Check out the full lineup here.

Now that you’re in the know on where to go this summer, check out our tips for what to pack and what to leave at home when gearing up for festival season.