Dust off that passport, it's time to hit the road and turn your love of music into a short-haul adventure

At a time when those in power are building walls between us and our European neighbours, there's never been a more important time to show defiance by reaping the benefits of being so geographically close to such incredible cultures and landscapes.

From Georgia to the Faroe Islands - and many places in between - we are completely in awe of the people behind the impressive events below. The organisers, performers, and staff put their hearts and souls into crafting unique events that lead us all, emotionally, to a higher place.

Moreover, we can't thank these people enough for relieving us of our dependence on muddy fields as the sole option for summer frivolities. It's events like these outside of Britain that make for a better world, invigorate our sense of adventure, and feed our thirst for knowledge of language and music from around the world.


April


Annie Mac Presents: Lost and Found Festival
Malta

An ancient Maltese castle hidden away in the hills, shore-side stages, and yacht parties make Annie Mac's weekender a pretty exciting affair to have so early in the season. As for the music, Glasgow's Jackmaster plays electronic sets that always hit the spot, Annie Mac will be playing her first gig in over six months, and teenage grime prodigy, Dave, will be the one everyone gushes about. Expect friendly punters and kind locals. Lost and Found sounds like a nice change of pace.

Dates: 
Thurs 13 - Sun 17 April
Key acts: Dave, Jackmaster, Annie Mac
Tickets: 
£80

Resonance Festival
Belgrade, Serbia

Taking place in Belgrade, Resonance is an alternative for anyone who doesn’t want to spend a weekend romping around a field. Offering a diverse arts and cultural programme, Resonance is a yearly-meeting of artists and musicians to assess the current situation through music, visual arts and digital culture. By day, the Resonance programme plays host to exhibitions and lectures, but by night, the festival descends into an experimental music and performance festival, spread across venues throughout the Serbian capital.

Dates: Wed 19 - Sat 22 April
Key Acts:
Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Mykki Blanco, Anna Von Hausswolff
Tickets:
£210


May


SPOT
Aarhus, Denmark

This is the premier platform for emerging Nordic talent to get spotted by A&R's, agents, and managers. It's somewhere you'll see the next Efterklang or MO with a handful of people as they're all still in 'development'. But don't allow the industry orientation to put you off; as a music fan you can get behind a group and have them to yourself a bit before they become in vogue. Of the lot this year, Code Walk seem quite exciting with their leftfield electronica.

Dates: Thu 4 - Sun 7 May
Key acts: Communions, Nils Bech, Code Walk
Tickets:
£80

Womad Caceres
Caceres, Spain

We don’t know much about this one – other than it is the Spanish edition of the UK’s famous world-music festival. The line-up for 2017’s edition is yet to be released, but with Womad’s reputation we can expect it will be a diverse mix of sounds from across the world. Taking place across three squares - the Plaza Major, Plaza San Jorge and the Gran Teatro – the Spanish walled city of Cacaeres welcomes tourists and locals, for a free weekend of music.

Dates: Thu 11 - Sat 14 May
Key acts: TBC
Tickets: 
Free

Nuites Sonores
Lyon, France

This French electronic festival, now in its 10th year, is another on the list that takes place before the summer festival rush. Not troubled by the need to fit around bands touring scheldes, Nuites Sonores can instead focus on doing something deeper. Working with artists to curate the daytime bill, the festival line-up is as much curated by artists as it is the programmers. The Black Madonna, Nina Kraviz, and Jon Hopkins have all helped curate this year. With the city of Lyon as their backdrop, Nuites Sonores invites audiences to immerse themselves in any of the 50 locations across the city where the festival takes place. Turning Lyon into one huge exhibition space.

Dates: Wed 24 - Sun 28 May
Key Acts: The Chemical Brothers, Jon Hopkins, Nina Kraviz, Laurent Garnier

Tickets: £140

Primavera Sound
Barcelona, Spain

All the best gigs in one place at the same time; god you're spoiled.

Dates: Wed 31 - Sun 4 June
Key acts: Everyone 
Tickets: £200


June


Earth Garden
Attard, Malta

Earth Garden encompasses the real spirit of what a festival should be about. Its line-up celebrates diversity, focusing not on big headliners, but on representing sounds and styles from across the world.  Forget tents, at Earth Garden many people drag out their mattresses and sleep under the stars. The attitude is relaxed and easy-going, and despite the fact almost 20,000 people attend the weekend, it still feels small. We liked it for all these reasons – and could see it matched very nicely with Shambala in the UK.

Dates: Thu 1 - Sun 4 June
Key acts: Terrakota, Nubiyan Twist, Afriqoui
Tickets: £40

Heartland Festival
Egeskov Slot, Denmark

The Danish are a thoughtful people. Our trip last year to Roskilde proved that many of the festivals here celebrate a diverse range of talks and discussion. This year, Heartland Festival offers just about the best talking programme of the summer. Stacked full of interesting discussions – highlights include panels with Michael Stipe, and Eddie Vedder. Add that to the fact the whole festival takes place in the grounds of a castle, and the fact the food ranks above anything and you have a festival that is nourishing both for the body and the soul.

Dates: Fri 2 - Sun 4 June
Key Acts: Eddie Vedder, Michael Stipe (talk)
Tickets: £145

Meadows In The Mountains
Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria
Nestled high up in a remote part of the Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria, this is a festival for the more intrepid hedonistic, and ecologically courteous types – a leave no waste policy is abided by to preserve the natural beauty. In fact, this place is so beautiful there aren’t any more rugged locations on this whole list. If you like the original ethos of green gatherings in the UK before the music industry got its mitts on them, then Meadows is the one.

Dates: Fri 9 - Sun 11 June
Key acts: TBC
Tickets: £125

Sónar
Barcelona, Spain

Sónar is not only the best electronic music festival in the world. It’s an opportunity to be in Europe’s ridiculously beautiful beach side culinary, cultural, paradise of Barcelona with like-minded music lovers. It's split into two events: Sónar-by-day and Sónar-by-night. The former is held in the heart of the city and has approximately seven different stages with the most diverse, inventive music you could ever imagine. For the latter everyone gets a shuttle to an air hangar and headline sets start as late as 1am meaning it caters for the most nocturnal and heavy party crowd better than most' you wind up in town about 7am each day. So much fun.

Dates: Thurs 15 - Sat 17 June
Key acts: Anderson Paak, Fat Freddys Drop, Arca
Tickets: £180

Northside
Aarhus, Denmark

This festival is spitting distance from Aarhus city centre which makes it a thoroughly enticing prospect in itself. Aarhus – Denmark’s second largest city – may not ring familiarity bells like the neighbouring Stockholm or Copenhagen but undoubtedly this city, where The Libertines’ own bass player has lived for years, has got so much to give: fresh Nordic cuisine, cobbled backstreets dotted with 14th century architecture; and its vibrant café and bar culture are fantastic. Smack on top one of Europe’s most drool-worthy line-ups - great fun

Dates: Fri 9 - Sun 11 June
Key acts: Frank Ocean, Radiohead, Prodigy
Tickets: £177

We Love Green
Paris, France

Last year’s festival showed us that We Love Green was up there with the best city festivals in Europe. Combining big programming, with a conscious vision towards promoting sustainability issues – it’s quite a unique collaboration of interests. Set at the heart of one Paris’s biggest (and most beautiful) park, Le Bois de Vincennes,  the festival site is a mix of big open spaces, and bushy undergrowth. In the undergrowth lie secret hide-outs and art installations, whilst the big arenas boast space for 20,000.

Dates: Sat 10 - Sun 11 June
Key Acts: A Tribe Called Quest, Alex Cameron, Solange
Tickets: £80

Best Kept Secret
Hilvarenbeek, Belgium

If your festival prides itself on big names above everything else then you’ve got to get it right. Fortunately, Best Kept Secret’s bookers have great taste and picked out some complete gems this year: Soulwax, Marlon Williams, Girl Band, Run The Jewels, Real Estate; and Junun, Johnny Greenwood’s side-project. And that's only a fleck of this unbelievably good line-up. The unique thing about i flanked by a safari park and the animal themed campsite features bungalows, chalets, log cabins and ready-made tents, making the camp parties quite flash in places.

Dates: Fri 16 - 17 Sat June
Key Acts: Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Run The Jewels
Tickets: £170

Fusion Festival
Larz, Germany

This is an exception to the list because you'll have to wait until next summer but we thought it was too good not to mention. Picture Woodstock ’68, Burning Man, Glastonbury and you can get an idea of what Fusion is all about. It has everything you can possibly want as a festival, it’s carnival of the senses unfolds in a place without time and its motto is four days of holiday communism people are urged to free their minds from their everyday lives, jobs, studies and other responsibilities. It is the result of the search for an alternative through music, to the system 'people are forced to live in'. It is a clothing optional event. It’s held on a former Russian military base 160 km from Berlin. 

Dates: TBC (next on 2018)
Key Acts: TBC
Tickets: TBC


July


Roskilde
Roskilde, Denmark

Roskilde is a funny sort of festival. Whilst the festival is eight days long, there’s only bigger names for four of those. For the rest of it the power is thrown back to the festival-goers, who self-build and rig the camping areas. It means the campsite spaces at Roskilde are transformed into micro-communities for one week a year, communities complete with a town hall, football pitches, huge double-decker sound-system rigs. The festival also boasts a pool and fishing lake. As for line-up this year’s is huge as always. We heartily recommend it.

Dates: Sat 24 June - Sat 1 July
Key Acts: Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive, Foo Fighters, Tribe Called Quest
Tickets: £200

Giles Peterson's Worldwide festival
Sete, France

Giles Peterson’s Worldwide brand has come into its own in recent years. Running a radio station from their office in Finsbury Park, Worldwide has a truly global focus in representing unheard music from around the world. Promoting the best in jazz, soul and anything that really stands out off the beaten track from your normal DJ playlists; Worldwide has become globally famous for its musical insight. With this in mind, this year’s line-ups is one of the most finely crafted of the summer, welcoming some of the best musicians in the world together to collaborate in this small French municipality.

Dates: Mon 3 - Sun 9 July
Key Acts: Cinematic Orchestra, Sampha, BCUC
Tickets: £200

Exit Festival
Novasad, Serbia

Founded in 2000, this notoriously phenomenal festival started in the University park as a student movement, fighting against president Milosevic – the first head of state to be tried by an international court for war crimes and genocide. They state their mission is to “spark positive social changes and speed up the evolution of human consciousness by using creative industries” – and who’s arguing with that? The setting doesn’t get much better – forget the cow-field this is a humongous fortress overlooking the extraordinary Danube river. Part of its appeal, too, is the extraordinary diversity on the line-up: heavy metal, dance, indie rock, punk, and pop are all well represented. Love it.

Dates: Weds 5 - Sun 9 July
Key Acts: The Killers, Duke Dumont, Liam Gallagher
Tickets: £120

BBK Live
Bilbao, Spain

Big names and big views. Visiting the land of the oldest language in Europe and sitting on top of a hill at 600ft altitude overlooking the Atlantic sounds like a treat by itself. But as music fans we don’t go anywhere that far that often without a festival as an excuse. Fleet Foxes, Brian Wilson, The Lemon Twigs, Andrew Weatherall, Idles, Phoenix and Cabbage look like the best of the lot there this year. Visiting the land of the oldest language in Europe and sitting on top of a hill at 600ft altitude overlooking the Atlantic sounds like a treat by itself.

Dates: Thurs 5 - Sun 9 July
Key Acts: Depeche Mode, The Killers, Fleet Foxes
Tickets: £115

Træna festival
Træna, Norway (Nordland)

A jaw-dropping Arctic paradise 65km off the coast of Northern Norway. The remote island is one of a thousand in the archipelago, and each of its 500 residents get involved in to host this annual knees-up. To get there you take a ferry from a remote town in the heart of the fjordlands and upon mooring you enter the oldest fishing village in Norway. It's a land of constant day light , huge caves, birdlife and acclaimed musical talent. Of which, Aurora is the best known this year.

Dates: Fri 6 - Sun 9 July
Key Acts: Aurora, Bissa, Wardruna
Tickets: £110

NOS Alive
Lisbon, Portugal

Considering Portugal's only had contemporary music since the '70s as a dictator wouldn't allow the nation any rock 'n' roll, it's recovered very well. Now Portugal appears to have one of the most vibrant festival scenes in the whole of Europe. NOS Alive, held in Lisbon, is the most widely anticipated. Foo Fighters, The xx and The Weeknd ensure a huge interest in it. Brilliantly, you're in Lisbon and so can enjoy some of the best views and freshest, tastiest food in the whole of Europe.

Dates: Thurs 5 - Sun 9 July
Key Acts: Foo Fighters, Benjamin Booker, The Cult
Tickets: £130

La Ferme Electrique
Tournan-En-Brie, France

This tangy, rustic little number takes place on a former farm outside Paris decorated with art brut-y, farm-punk sculptures. Bands get to play either in a barn a stable. Its line-up for 2017 has yet to be announced but going by previous years you can expect films, installations and a small, sharply curated selection of 20-25 domestic and international underground acts – 2016 featured No Wave icons Blurt, Swiss post-punk explorers Massicot, psych pop from Juniore and Electric Electric’s towering industrial rock. Camping is free.

Dates: Fri 7 - Sat 8 July
Key Acts: TBC
Tickets: £115

Pohoda
Trencin airport, Slovakia

This is a utopia. The food is flavoursome, diverse, huge in portion and massively cheap and this level of dignity applies to just about every aspect of life at Pohoda. The people are warm, friendly, and yobbish behaviour ceases to be a thing; free sunscreen there and tankers of drinking water everywhere. It’s like they’ve been taken on board every little tedious thing about the big British festivals and made up for it. Line-up-wise it’s as good as most of the top ones in Europe and it's far, far cheaper than anything in Western Europe.

Dates: Thu 6 - Sat 8 July
Key Acts: MIA, Solange, Rodrigo y Gabriela
Tickets: £80

Electric Castle Festival
Cluj, Romania

Romania doesn’t have a strong festival legacy like the rest of Europe. For Europeans, it remains a largely undiscovered haven. But Electric Castle Festival is one of the force's changing all that. Taking place in the grounds of a Renaissance era castle; it’s played a strong part in the rejuvenation of this area of Transylvania, welcoming people to explore the city as well as the festival we like the vibe of Electric Castle Festival. The line-up features the best in electronic music and indie, with Berlin techno gods Moderat, and Deadmau5 set to get the party going at this affordable weekender – tap beers are only £1 on site.

Dates: Wed 12 - Sun 16 July
Key Acts: Deadmau5, Moderat, Franz, Alt J
Tickets: £100 

G! Festival
Syðrugøta, Faroe Islands

When you realize that at G! Festival, over a tenth of the actual country’s population are attending you realise how much of big deal the festival is. Just like any big annual event of the summer, Notting Hill Carnival or Glastonbury, G! Festival on the Faroe Islands attracts the eyes of the locals. Situated across beach and football pitch, this 6000-person festival is a rare opportunity to visit one of the most idyllic parts of Europe.

Dates: Thurs 13 - Sat 15 July
Key Acts: MØ, Desert Mountain Tribe, Reykjavíkurdætur
Tickets:
£100

GEM Festival

Anaklia, Georgia

Held in the beautiful, off-the-beaten track resort town of Anaklia on the Black Sea coast in Georgia, this predominantly dance festival is only in its third year and they’ve transformed from a weekend into a full month. The opportunity to spend an extended amount of time at this spot that's a justaposition between a calm, warm ocean, muscular slabs of techno, and giant Burning Man-esque sculpture is one you should grab with both hands. Being so far east you get a fantastic mix of people from the Middle East, Russia and Europe and the food, and the surrounding countryside is unbelievable. 

Dates: Fri 14 July - Mon 14 Aug
Key Acts: Paul Kalkbrenner
Tickets:
£100


August


OFF! Festival
Katowice, Poland

Known for its cold winters, Poland hasn’t really built a reputation as a summer getaway yet. Boasting long, hot summers, beautiful countryside, and incredible vast woodlands, Poland absolutely thrives in the summer. Off! Festival understands this, and is great for this reason. To us it looks like a very cool, challenging and ambitious festival. The line-up is experimental, and the site, though small, has been crafted over the years to minimize any sound leak. Off is famous for giving bands long sets that allow them to experiment a little. Think perfect bands, interesting people, and beautiful surroundings.

Dates: Fri 4 - Sun 6 Aug
Key Acts: Daniel Johnston, Shellac, Swans
Tickets: £77

Flow
Helsinki, Finland

Held in a defunct power plant, mostly left bare and undisturbed; it’s a bold setting akin to London’s Hackney Wick. No surprise then that it’s the most talked about European festival around the capital among hipsters. The line-up is massively convincing; Frank Ocean, Lana Del Ray and Ryan Adams are all massive lures and are acts that feel in tune with who’s been releasing the best music this year and not just on legacy.

Dates: Fri 11 - Sun 13 Aug
Key Acts: Frank Ocean, Aphex Twin, Lana Del Ray
Tickets:
£85

Øya
Oslo, Norway

There’s no other city in Europe that can say it’s quite as serene as Oslo. It’s a haven of simplicity, a tidy organised city who's central government throws huge amounts of investment at. Summer festivals are one of the ways Norwegians celebrate the good things in life. Øya Festival is amongst the most renowned of them all. Spread over five days, beginning as a new music event at venues across the city, and ending as a three-day festival in one the city’s major parks, it’s up there with one of the most relaxed festivals in Europe. Notably, they put special emphasis on many rising Norwegian bands, helping them break into the industry. Pom Poko are amongst those who have been highly tipped.

Dates: Weds 9 – Sat 12 Aug
Key Acts: The xx, Lana Del Ray, The Pixies
Tickets: £250

Ypsigrock Festival
Castlebuono, Sicily

Ah Sicily. Who doesn’t want to go to Sicily? No one. This intimate festival set up in the hills under the shadow of the majestic Parco Delle Madonie, gets a 10 for scenery. And, at only 3,000 capacity, the line-up stands out as one of the best line-ups for a small festival on the planet. With Beach House, heavy post punks Preoccupations, and indie rock darlings Car Seat Headrest; Remarkably, Ypsigrock has one main ethos; no band has even been invited to play here twice.

Dates: Thur 10 - Sun 13 Aug
Key Acts: Beach House, Ride, Digitalism
Tickets:
£70

Way Out West
Gothenburg, Sweden

The trick to Way Out West is finding the after party in the woods. Every year the country's brightest musical talents and buzziest socialites head away from the festival in a taxi and trek through the woods to this magical secret spot by a lake that's actually more fun than staying in town. The long trek through the woods invites scintillating views and a sense that you're a long way from civilization in all the right ways for an escape. Aside from that, Gothenburg is one of the best cities in the world, and a delightful location to see some of the world's best bands.

Dates: Thur 10 - Say 12 Aug
Key Acts: Pixies, Ryan Adams, Lana Del Ray
Tickets:
£255

Sziget
Budapest, Hungary

Sziget is held on a 266 acre island off the River Danube to the north of Budapest and regularly attracts over a quarter of a million visitors each year. The week-long festival will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Sziget offers a city pass which incorporates free public transport within the city and from the airport for the duration of the festival, as well as free access to the famous Hungarian thermal baths. For those looking for a holiday, with music thrown in, you’ll get no better shout than Sziget.

Dates: Fri 11 - Sun 13 Aug
Key Acts: Kasabian, Major Lazer, Wiz Khalifa
Tickets:
£255

Parades De Coura
Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Right in the north of Portugal, Paredes De Coura is well set up for laid back people as it has the Taboao River Beach; you can break up your day by bathing in a stunning, deep freshwater and sitting in the shaded edge in a deck chair. Amazingly, there are no English language reviews of it yet (sorry); so, for now, you can expect a predominantly local crowd and if you’ve not been before, you can be a trailblazer as opposed to a sheep – which is much cooler. The line-up looks fantastic with King Krule, Badbadnotgood, Young Fathers, and Ty Segall all excellent choices. Wouldn’t you agree?

Dates: Fri 11 - Sun 13 Aug
Key Acts: Kasabian, Major Lazer, Wiz Khalifa
Tickets: £255

Rototom Sunsplash
Benicassim, Spain

Rototom is Europe’s biggest reggae festival. And it’s not shy of letting people know this. Acts this year, offer a wide varied selection of some of the best in reggae, dub, and dancehall. With Steel Pulse, Seun Kuti, and Manu Chao, amongst the 100’s of amazing artists on the bill. Set in a sandy Mediterranean paradise, it’s hard to see how anyone could not enjoy this.

Dates: Sat 12 - Sat 19 Aug
Key Acts: Steel Pulse, Manu Chao, The Congos
Tickets: £128

La Route De Rock
Saint-Malo, France

Situated in the city of Saint-Malo, a sunny ferry town off the northwest coast of France, La Route Du Rock is one of the prime rock festivals in France. Free shuttle buses to town mean you can enjoy the town of St Malo as well as the festival. But why would you want to when you can go swimming in the sea, while watching bands at the same time on the beach stage. The festival is a relaxed affair, and celebrates the best Brittany has to offer from oysters, to champagne, and of course music.

When: Thurs 17 - Sun 20 August
Key Acts: PJ Harvey, Soulwax, Interpol
Tickets: £86

Baleapop
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France 

Factory Records’ A Certain Ratio are huge stand outs on this line-up. They are featured in the film 24 Hour Party People where Tony Wilson (played by Steve Coogan) describes them as "having all the energy of Joy Division but better clothes." They don’t play live very often anymore and so chose their gigs very well. Baleapop is right on the beach on the French side of the Basque country, but only minutes from Spain. Near a beautiful popular surfing spot called Guethary that looks like one of the best, most unspoiled beaches in Europe and a night life well worth getting the most out of. 

Dates: Wed 23 - Sun 27 Aug
Key Acts: A Certain Ratio
Tickets: £30

Lowlands
Biddinghuizen, Netherlands

Every year, Lowlands Festival attracts over 50,000 people with its host of huge names. Its origins date back to the first large festivals to take place in Holland, acting as the successor to A Flight to Lowlands Paradise, organised by the Dutch artist Bunk Bessel in 1967. Reviving the name, Willem Venema, updated the festival and bought it into the modern day. Ever since 1993, the festival has run every year, and celebrates an international line-up of music.

Dates: Fri 18 - Sun 20 Aug
Key Acts: Iggy Pop, Cypress Hill, Canshaker Pi
Tickets:
£150


September


Outlook Festival
Pula, Croatia

A few years ago, right about when Dubstep was doing the rounds, Outlook was a tiny festival – almost like a more flamboyant multi-day club night. The strength of its programming, and overall ability to put a balance of underground electronic and dub/reggae that relates, increasingly, to what people want to hear at a festival have helped it grow. This year is its best line-up yet. Dub reggae legend Horace Andy, Grime godfather Wiley, drum n bass originator Goldie, Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah, and DJ Shadow are among the main draws. Cushioning them are some amazing acts, too.

Dates: Wed 6 - Sun 10 Sept
Key Acts: DJ Shadow, Giggs, Wiley
Tickets:
£150

 


Photo: Flow festival