European Festival Guide '17
So you're planning to go to Europe this year, travel the world and 'find yourself', take a shit photo out the front of the 'International Departures' gate, eat snails in front of the 'Tour Eiffel', possibly you'll run away from some severely pissed off bulls in Pamplona. Perchance you might even have your time with a rugged, mature Scandinavian backpacker. Maybe you want to create some stories for your 21st on a pub crawl in Budapest, make some bad decisions on a Croatian sailboat, perhaps visit a coffee shop and see some, quite frankly, fucked up shit at a sex show in Amsterdam.
You might be planning on travelling to Europe, getting naughty at Ibiza, soaking up some sun in Las Palmas, drinking some uncomfortably cheap shots in Ios and then leaving those shots out on the beach the next morning. You'll probably take some irritating Instagram's at Camden market in London, take a classic shot of you drinking a Guinness in Dublin or get on a bus you're certain will break down and signal the start of your very own live-action horror movie somewhere deep in Eastern Europe.
Regardless of whatever designs you have for your European trip this year, you'll definitely want to hit up. Bigger lineups, less 'nanny state' seccas, cooler festival locations and fewer people speaking English make European festivals an absolute essential and this is the complete and quintessential Finding Figaro European festival guide, with only the finest European festivals selected for your benefit.
31 May - 4 June
What already looks like a contender for lineup the year, Primavera again looks to deliver excellence in 2017. Set in one of the party capitals of the world, yet alone Europe itself, Barcelona always promises a good night out. Primavera promises to provide four, back to back, bloody, brilliant nights. With a line up as stacked as the Bulldogs midfield, Primavera has a list of diversity, class and excellence, truly something to wet everyone's appetite and for a very reasonable 175€ you'll be hard pressed for a better way to spend your time between the 31st of May and the 4th of June. Set to headline the 2017 festival are Bon Iver, The XX and Frank Ocean (all of whom are coming off fresh new releases), Arcade Fire, Slayer and everyone parents favourite - Van Morrison, who probably had a good deal to do with your conception with Moondance and Brown Eyed Girl being some of the most notable love making tunes from recent memory. In addition to these massive hitters, Skepta, Metronomy, Australia's own King Gizzard...(etc), Mac DeMarco, Meredith boot raisers BADBADNOTGOOD and Glass Animals will take to the stage in Barcelona's mammoth open air Forum next European summer. Of course, there is also an electronica talent pool worthy of one of the most famous 'post 12' cities in the world of Flying Lotus, Front 242, Tycho, Bicep, Ame, Ben UFO (another Meredith boot raiser and deservedly in the conversation for one of the best selectors in the game), Fatima Yamaha, HVOB, Henrik Schwarz, Joy Orbison, Kornel Kovacs, Pender Street Steppers, Romare and Young Marco, all these names, and many more which have not been mentioned across the entirety of the lineup.
As a very urban, metropolitan festival, camping does not take place at Primavera, but as you can imagine, Barcelona is host to some exceedingly well-renowned hostels with Figaro being able to personally vouch for Sant Jordi and a variety of accommodation options are also suggested on their website. If for whatever reason you won't be able to make it to Primavera, although it would be extremely advisable you make yourself available in Barcelona for the aforementioned date, Primavera has a sister festival, NOS, in Porto from the 8th to the 10th of June. With a line up featuring Bon Iver, Aphex Twin, Justice, Nicolas Jaar, Skepta, Flying Lotus, Angel Olsen, Sampha, Tycho, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Deathgrips and more, you could definitely do a lot worse, especially in the beautiful city of Porto and especially since NOS' tickets are currently being sold for a peachy 100€.
Roskilde Festival (Denmark)
24 June - 1 July
The largest festival in the Scandinavian region, Roskilde has got plenty right in its 46 years and amasses a monolithic plethora of the worlds finest acts from a variety of musical disciplines. As a non for profit festival you can rest your head easy at night knowing your hard earned honest dollar will go to charities such as Red Cross, WWF, Doctors without Borders and many more notable causes. Rest your head even easier still with the knowledge that a complete 8 day festival ticket (yes, 8, eight days) will set you back 1995 DDK, or in a more familiar currency approximately $380 AUD (+ booking fee). If you don't fancy over a week of music and drinking, something I'm sure your body and liver will be ever so thankful for, a single day ticket will set you back 995 DDK (190 AUD + booking fee).
Over 8 days you'd be hoping for some good music to keep you entertained, a wish which will be richly granted with Roskilde's first lineup announcement already looking extremely stacked with Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, Justice, Blink 182, Jagwar Ma, G-Eazy, The Lumineers, Angel Olson (fresh off an Australian tour) and Kano already booked to head to Denmark in late June 2017. All those and an absolute, quintessential, lock in all-time Figaro favourite Moderat*, who, in not just our humble opinion, are one of the finest displays of music and visual engagement on the planet right now. This alone should be more than enough enticement to ensnare your attendance for a few days in Denmark sipping on Somersbey's and Carlsbergs. However, Roskilde is more than just a music festival, with a strong emphasis on youth culture holistically there's plenty of other activities (Edward Snowden delivered a speech in 2016) to keep you busy over the monster 8 days which Roskilde endures over.
*If there's anything you take from this, it should be to look up Moderat.
FM4 Frequency (Austria)
Although not set in the green, rolling hills, or the high, jagged peaks, Austria's FM4 Frequency always delivers, delivers a big lineup that is. In Sankt Polten, a mere 30 minute stones throw out of the nations capital Vienna, hordes of locals and visitors alike make their way to the festival grounds for 3 days of drinking (Austrians & Bavarians seem to have a different definition of drinking to the rest of the world), 'Flunky Ball', swimming in the river which runs through the festival ground and lots of music. A truly diverse lineup of global big hitters, local Austrians and everything in between, with the 'day park' activities ranging from punk, hip-hop, reggae, rock (and all of its accompanying definitions) and the night park running the electronic side of the festivals music to ensure you can drink and dance into the early hours of the morning.
Already announced for next years Frequency are Mumford & Suns, Billy Talent, Rise Against, Wanda, Kraftklub, Raf Camora & Bonez MC, White Lies, Foreign Beggars, Sub Focus and guess what, our favourites again - Moderat. Judging by previous lineups delivered by the festival, much more can be expected from coming lineups coming in 2017, but one thing you can take as a certainty is a grand ol' atmosphere so be sure to pack your medicine (Jager) and Stiegl's because it'll be a big one.
Tickets are currently on sale for a dandy 149.99€. Read our full recap of the 2016 Frequency festival to garner a better grasp on the concepts of 'Austrian drinking' and 'Flunky Ball'.
Dour Festival (Belgium)
12 - 16 July
Coming from humble origins of just five bands listed in the first edition of Dour festival in 1989, Dour Festival has grown into one of Europe's favourite festivals with 235,000 people making the trip to the South of Belgium over 5 days last year in July. Despite the colossal numbers of people who make Dour a summer festival destination in Europe each year, Dour flies relatively under the radar, especially compared to the traditional big hitters of Glastonbury, Sziget and neighbouring Tomorrowland. But this may be what makes Dour such an attractive option for your European trip being able to attain the best of both worlds; escaping the irritating masses of general wankers which the huge festivals attract yet enjoying the large scale diabolical devilment and shenanigans which come with massive festival crowds. Certainly Dour is fabled for having curated one of the best festival atmosphere's in Europe and has found the fiercely treasured middle ground between hardcore chaos and laid back relaxing vibes. With such a demanding five day schedule the festival requires generous doses of both ends of the spectrum, the nights warranting the necessary pandemonium which the depth of elite electronic and high energy urban acts extract from the crowd and the days spent in cheerful recovery of boisterous fun and games under the European sun in the French-speaking end of Belgium.
An extremely attractive lineup of electronica, rap and a variety of modern rock disciplines is a brilliantly scrumptious partner for Dour's revered festival atmosphere. To gauge what you might be in for in 2017, this years lineup was in my opinion, one of the best of the year, pulling hip hop royalty in the one and only DJ Premier, all time greats Mobb Deep as well as an incredibly generous offering of Sigur Ros, Stormzy, Wiz Khalifa, Mac DeMarco, A$AP Ferg, Rudimental, Django Django, Kirk Knight, Honne, Pantha Du Prince (who will play at the upcoming Sugar Mountain), Yung Lean and a vast depth of electronic eminence including Fatima Yamaha, Ben Klock, Boys Noize, Floating Points, Fort Romeau, Henrik Schwarz, Max Graef, Kollective Turmstraße and David August just to name a few. With Justice, Metronomy, Nina Kraviz, Russ, The Black Madonna and Die Antwoord already secured and the complete lineup to follow in January, Dour looks to follow last year with one of Figaro's favourite lineups and in which case it should go down as an absolute must for July next year.
(Dour's complete lineup is available here.)
Such is the immense magnitude of Sziget, one of the two bigger, badder 'cinetrip' sparties (yeah those bath parties in Budapest you hear all about from that bloke who went on a contiki tour last year) of the year takes place before the opening day of Sziget, the other over New Years. That's how seriously the city of Budapest takes Sziget, the whole city comes out of their respective ruined bar and heads to the little island of Obudai in the Danube for one of the worlds most famous music festivals. Very little is done on a small scale at Sziget and the whole island is completely transformed into a gargantuan of mayhem and chaos, twinkling lights, vibrant colours and a vast array of euphoric 'Szitizens' engaging in typical festival fun and play make time spent wandering around the high octane adult Disneyland which the island becomes over Sziget perhaps might be just as valuable as the music itself. But if you'd rather not camp on the island you'll have one of Europe's most famous hostel scenes at your disposal. As Australian as Kuta beach, the Budapest hostels are a stronghold for Australian tourists, with each hostel having adopted at least several once backpackers from Brisbane who left their given names and XXXX Gold back on the north east coast and traded it for Jagerbombs and a comical eagerness to recount stories of previous times spent drinking Jagerbombs to entertain the masses of tradie dickheads, fresh out of high school green Aussies, 'Dave's' with mustaches and ever other Australian in between, or, as the Scots may well indeed call you, 'JAFA's' (Just Another Fucking Australian). But don't get me wrong, time spent with your countrymen abroad at the famous Retox, Vitae and Carpe Noctem hostels on pub crawls or representing your boys back home at the notorious 'alcohol olympics' is an essential and indeed one of the best times you will have abroad and in Budapest, so posting up at one of the many Budapest hostels before, after, or during Sziget definitely comes recommended.
As far as the crowd and lineup goes for Sziget, expect a mixed bag for each, the headliners are composed of radio hit artists and the festivals ability to attract some of the biggest celebrities on the planet is a testament to the festivals reputation. The cast of 2016 was made up of Rihanna, Australia's own Sia, Muse, Sigur Ros, David Guetta, The Last Shadow Puppets, Manu Chao, Parkway Drive, Bastille, Travis Scott, Die Antwoord, Boys Noize, Bloc Party, CHVRCHES, M83, Bullet for my Valentine, Afrojack and naturally, many, many more. Early bird ticket sales will conclude on the 31st of December and before then a 7 day ticket can be procured for 275€ (full price sale is 325€), a 5 day ticket for 250€ (full price is 299€) and individual day tickets can be scored for 65€ with all multiple day tickets include camping with the set price. With a lineup announcement expected soon for the 25th edition of Sziget you can expect the organisers and attendees to find some way to dig a little deeper to make Sziget in 2017 bigger, badder and more memorable; making Sziget - 'The Island of Freedom' part of your Europe itinerary could well be worthwhile and with half a million visitors each year, you wouldn't be alone.
Dimensions Festival (Croatia)
30 August – 3 September
Set in a marvellous place your Mum would have loved to have taken you when you were twelve - Fort Punta Christo. Dimensions composes a thoughtful and diverse lineup, ranging from Chicago house jams, to some ‘sounds from the Far East’, throbbing techno and immediately recognisable UK drum and bass of which they hold so dearly. Despite having a lineup renowned as one of, if not the best in electronic music the festival is annually held in an old Roman fortress. Originally used as a mainstay in the Austro-Hungarian empire to defend the area from on-coming attacks, the fortress now hosts the festival allowing thousands of twenty-somethings to party on a range of stages from a pristine Roman amphitheatre to the forts moat and of course a breathtaking Croatian beach, that backs onto the crystal blue Adriatic sea.
Festival camping at Dimensions is pretty good - especially compared to the irritatingly stringent camping clusterfuck of Australian festivals. It’s decently spacious, although be aware that there is an additional cost inclusive of your festival ticket for the privilege to camp. Even still, its a recommended course of action, as the mostly decent, predominately English crowd are generally good company; better still if you make yourself an equally amiable contribution to the camping community. Fear not if you don’t have a tent, as tents are also purchasable from the festival itself upon your arrival, which saves you trucking around Europe like a bloody sherpa.
If you'd like to read Figaro's full review of Dimensions 2016 then click here.
Bestival is a subliminally curated wonderland that opens up for three nights at the close of the European festival circuit. Renowned for its fancy dress, Bestival celebrates the weird and wonderful and welcomes the self-expression of the punters that make the festival what it is. Upwards of 50,000 people all dressed up with a strict theme that is chosen each year is truly wonderful and allows everybody to loosen up and enjoy themselves in reckless abandonment. Since its inception in 2004, it has always been held on the Isle of Wight, however for 2017 they are moving to a new site at Lulworth Castle that sits inland on the lush south coast of England. As a multi time recipient of the UK's best major festival award, Bestival comes highly acclaimed in its production, organisation and quality of artists on display. From the sheer wonderment-inducing Bollywood tent stage (shout outs to the incredible DirtyBird Showcase on that stage at Bestival 2012) to the beautiful installations across the whole expansive of the festival, it’s obviously a festival that has been blessed by the music gods.
With a lot of hard work, love and a few magic touches, Bestival shines and presents itself as something that is unique even after so many years in operation. There is no line-up out there as of yet, but just as every year the rumours will start to pick up pace as the new year begins. With a new site this year and promises of big things planned for its 13th iteration Bestival, as always, is always high up on everyone’s lists of expectations for good times to be had. If you are not already pooped from all the stellar festivals that come before, do yourself a favour and get down for what is a special time of merry, hedonistic pleasure.
Australia maintains a few strongholds in the European summer; London, the Greek Islands, Prague, Budapest and Ferropolis - the festival grounds for Melt! Festival, Australia's best-loved festival outside her shores, and for good reason. Raves under the shadow of towering industrial mining cranes, boogying, grooving, cutting shapes and everything in between around the clock at the beating heart of the festival, the 'Sleepless Floor' stage and chugging down Jaeger (or its ugly brother Kuemerling, which the leave locked in the cupboard under the stairs, note - only to be consumed on a desperate budget) are just a bare handful of the things which make Melt such a fantastic festival. A great festival, which genuinely feels it is run purely for the benefit and joy of the consumers and which also pulls a fine lineup each year of the worlds best selectors and rock bands of a great variety.
With a very solid first lineup announcement under their belt, Melt looks to build on their stellar year in 2016 with Bonobo (fresh off a new album), Claptone, a b2b set of Ame & Rodhad, Glass Animals, Jon Hopkins, Honne, Marcel Dettmann, MO and Red Axes (+ more) and all on the first announcement.
Dekmantel Selectors (Croatia)
Tucked away in a petite pocket of the Croat coastline, Dekmantel Selectors, the baby brother of the Dutch electronic behemoth, brings a selection of the best selectors from the mother hen and takes them to the tiny town of Tisno for a mere 1,500 people to get down for a very special, intimate boogie. Recent summers have seen the rise of smaller boutique festivals, but few rival Dekmantel Selectors for quality and location, bringing all the famous excellence in production, attention to detail and deep appreciation of the electronic music craft which has made Dekmantel one of the worlds premium electronic festivals to the Dalmatian Coast on a small scale is a scrumptious notion to say the least. Sitting somewhere between the gorgeous travelling hotspots of Split and Zadar, Tisno can be a little tricky to navigate, especially if you don't organise transfers from the aforementioned Croatian coastal towns, but if anything this marginal difficulty, it all adds to the sensation of Dekmantel Selectors being a crossbreed between a bush doof and a top shelf electronic festival.
The location is split, camping and day time action takes place in 'the Garden Tisno', petite and lush, camping comes with plenty of shade and a private beach to wash away your previous nights' sins in the crystal clear water of the Adriatic. Perhaps even better still, with such a small capacity, a genuine community is formed, a small collection of festival goers all revelling the pure happiness that only a good music festival can elate, especially when you all share a beautiful patch of the coastline together. In short, Selectors feels more like a party thrown by friends, a rewind of the Dekmantal label, a group of mates who have turned up with one passion and one common goal, to move to the music and have a good time doing it. After you and your 1500 likeminded companions watch the sun set over the coastline and the moon begins to take view in the night sky, buses shift you out to Barbarella's Discotheque, a fantastic open air venue some 15 minutes in land to dance under the stars. It's often remarked that there's a lot to be said about being happy in your work, in which case, the artists from Dekmantel willing to make the trip down to tiny Tisno speaks volumes of the culture which has been cultivated at the Selectors festival. With an emphasis described by the organisers as a celebration of the artists who have mastered the craft of DJ'ing, Dekmantel Selectors definitely feels a little different from every other festival, appreciation fills the air with every beat, artists feel free to be a little more experimental and the positive atmosphere is electric and contagious.
If the 2016 lineup is anything to go by, odds would have been short to back another very, very strong lineup, given the calibre of Dekmantel as a electronic powerhouse and artists eagerness to be part of the Selektors hatchling. No less than Ben UFO, Antal, Hunee, Joy Orbison, Lena Willikens, Palms Trax, Optimo, Suzanne Kraft, Tom Trago will grace the stage again in 2017 after sailing with the festival on her 2016 maiden voyage and Marcel Dettmann, DJ Stingray, Objekt, DJ Nobu and more joining the established contingent from the festivals inception last year.
Like all good coastal summer festivals, boat parties are also part of the day time schedule for a small fee on top of the 160€ tickets currently on sale which include your camping, individual day and night tickets will later become available for purchase. Of course there is a variety of deluxe camping options available in addition to the standard 'pitch your own tent' practice, if you have money to burn you can hire a yacht moored a leisurely swim from the camp ground's beach. If you feel like renting out an AirBnB, Tisno is a barmy 10-15 minute walk from the camp ground and has everything you could hope for. The town itself is spread either side of the estuary, small, pleasant cafe's, restaurants, a supermarket and beachside houses sit either side of the embankments and is a genuine postcard of a town. Should you like to make Dekmantel Selectors part of your trip, something Figaro unequivocally recommends, be wary that as a boutique festival, tickets are extremely limited. Should you fail to procure a full festival ticket but still wish to attend, it is possible to buy Barbarella night tickets only both on the internet and at the door closer to the date and stay in Tisno.
Exit Festival (Serbia)
One and a half hours from the Serbian capital Belgrade, there is a town called Novi Sad, there you will find an enormous fortress - Petrovaradin Fortress. Although it initially might sound like a terrifying proposition, a Serbian Fortress in a town you've not heard of, presumably manned by the large Serb men of shaved heads, few smiles; people generally not famous for hospitality, but between the 6th and the 9th of July in 2017, this fortress will come alive, hosting one of Europe's most famous festivals, Exit Festival. Highly acclaimed and with many awards to its name, Exit Festival hosts an eclectic urban lineup of electronica and contemporary big hitters. To wet your palette the 2016 lineup was composed of headliners like The Prodigy, Bastille, David Guetta, Ellie Goulding, George Clinton, Wiz Khalifa and Stormzy and an electronic cast of Black Coffee, Solomun, Andy C, Jackmaster and, of course, the golden daughter of the Serbian techno underground, Nina Kraviz. With early bird tickets currently on sale for 97£ (inc. booking fee, camping passes are on sale for 30£) a lineup which will presumably be of a similar stature given the festivals size, history and distinction, Exit is an extremely attractive option as a premium European heavyweight festival at a reasonable cost, if you find yourself tripping through the Balkans enjoying the extremely rich (and cheap) partying culture it would simply be rude not to make a visit for Petrovaradin Fortress.
If you back yourself to go even further into the deep rabbit hole of Balkan partying, the 'Exit Adventure' package might be the most mouth watering European benders. Spanning over 10 days and merging Serbia's most famous Exit festival with her Montenegrin beachside sister 'Sea Dance' festival it truly is an adventure fit for the brave and the music lovers with the most elite festival endurance and could be well worth looking into if you have the stamina.
Festival No.6 (Wales)
If you, like many other travelling festival goer’s, are looking for something that little bit different as part of your European trip than look no further than the embodiment of sophistication, class and enchantment, that lies within Festival No. 6. Set amongst the coastal village of Port Meirion in the North of Wales, you’d be pushed pretty hard to find a festival location in the world that’s anything like it. The festival boasts 25 venues that range between castles to a breath taking Italian inspired Piazza, to a floating dance floor, deep in the forest and even a reconstructed house boat overlooking the stunning coastline. Whilst the venue can be described as something out of a fairytale, Festival No.6 consistently boasts an irresistibly large cast (Over 500 to be technical) of some of the world’s greatest performers. In 2016 the likes of Noel Gallagher, Bastille and Hot Chip played the event, with Django Django, Roots Manuva and the 2Bears and many, many, more in support. Whilst the music at No.6 is world renowned, it would be unfair not to touch on some of the other mesmerizing activities the festival has to offer.
Carnival No.6 is an annual parade held by the festival where hordes of flamboyant punters parade Port Meirion, in a sea of colour and charisma, wearing their randomly selected costume that is supplied by the festival. Whilst the sun shines other activities such as contact improvisation, paddle boarding and ‘Uke can do it’ (a Ukulele orchestra workshop) are all available at the hands of the audience. Once the sunsets however, Is when Port Meirion truly becomes a spectacle.The Illuminated processions described by festival directors as a ‘A glowing spectacle not to be missed’ captivates witnesses and lights up the sky with a sea of breathtaking lanterns.
For more information as well as a full list of experiences and activities available at Festival No.6 click here
Another gem from Barcelona, Sonar. Unlike South Australia, this festival has got a surplus of electronically powered fun, with a DJ ensemble of (this is attempting to keep the list brief) Justice, Nicolas Jaar, Andy Stott, Carl Craig (Versus Synthesizer Ensemble), Cerrone, Daphni & Hunee (a m'fkn b2b set), DJ Shadow, Eric Prydz, HVOB, Jon Hopkins, Lena Willikens, Nina Kraviz, Optimo, Marco Carola, Roosevelt, Seth Troxler & Tiga (a 6h b2b set), Suzanne Ciani and the Black Madonna. Wufff. This monster is backed up by an equally leg spreading cast of artists - Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals, Moderat, De La Soul, Dubfire, Earl Sweatshirt, Fat Freddy's Drop, Little Dragon, Joe Goddard, Sohn, Soulwax and Thundercat.
Sonar, like Primavera is another Catalan metropolitan festival and is set across two venues - Sonar by day and Sonar by night. Days at Sonar are spent at 'Fira Montjuïc' an imposing exhibition centre which is part of Barcelona's trade fair, nights are enjoyed at 'Gran Via' a sleek, extremely modern venue (winner of the Pritzker prize) both of which are connected by festival shuttle buses. Similarly to Primavera, camping is also not an option at the festival, but being Barcelona, there is an abundance of vibrant hostels.
A Sonar pass is currently going for 180€, more info can be found below.
Flow possibly Europes best kept secret festival heavyweight. Taking place in a disused power station in Finlands capital, Helsinki, there are fewer festival locations more spectacular, just have a look at the enormous Saturn looking orb which forms the festivals 360° stage seemingly endless effort and consideration is employed into making the festival seem remarkably beautiful as a location, insofar as the music itself is concerned Flow is a vibrant collection of organised chaos of lights and instalments. Even the selection of food and drink options seem to meticulously stressed upon but the result is a credit to their dedication.
Spread over 3 days, Flow festival is not only a magnificent festival, but an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich Finnish culture. The festival itself is a meeting point between music and arts, with a sharp, modern attention to detail in cutting-edge production, with specially commissioned art works which come in small and enormous packages, each no less impressive than the last. What is perhaps described as a phenomenal array of eclectic modern artists, Flow's roster is a whopping offering by any definition, with an emphasis of curating a lineup which merges the talents of legends, artists at the forefront of their genre disciplines currently and a celebration of local talents, Flow's artist scheduling is something they are renowned for and fiercely passionate and proud of.
In 2017 Flow continues to build upon this sterling reputation, with names in the kin of Lana Del Rey, London Grammar, The XX, Flume, Frank Ocean, Moderat, Vince Staples, BADBADNOTGOOD, Angel Olson, Roy Ayers, Aphex Twin, Bicep, Car Seat Headrest, Sampha and Sparks it is obvious their reputation is well founded. In addition to this, Flow boasts a Resident Advisor 'Front Yard' stage and naturally holds court of some of the globes finest selector virtuoso's and producers alike, Maceo Plex, Clara 3000, Jon Hopkins, Soichi Terada, Inger Mauer, Front 242, Larry Heard (aka Mr. Fingers), Fatima Yamaha, Lenna Willikens, Lil Tony and Powder to name a few will make the 'Front Yard' the pit of hedonism essential to every festival.
With 86% of festival goers attending Flow in 2016 coming from Finland, you'll enjoy not feeling like just another tourist and will have plenty of time to party with the local Finns. As a cosmopolitan festival, camping does not take place at Flow, but accomidation packages are available through Flow and there is a variety of hostels and AirBnb's in the city itself.
3 day festival tickets are on sale now for 185€, info and ticket sales available below:
Colours of Ostrava (Czech Republic)
Continuing the rich tradition of hosting festivals in departed industrial sites, the Czech inclusion in this guide, Colours of Ostrava, nails their location with Dolní Vítkovice. A defunct mine and metal works site, the location is enormous, filled with a mass of nooks and crannies tucked in between factory buildings with some 20 open air and under cover stages littered throughout the mine.
The festival is proudly multi-genre orientated with a massive line up, you’ll likely be able manufacture a lineup for yourself according to your musical tastes. In 2017 no less than Australia’s own Midnight Oil, Imagine Dragons, Jamiroquai, Alt-J, Justice, Moderat, Benjamin Clementine, Michael Kiwanuka, Books Shade & Craig Walker, St Paul & the Broken Bones, Pierce Brothers, Ferocious Dog, Roosevelt, Teleman, HAUS, Blazin’ Fiddles, Max Cooper, Digitalism, Machinedrum, Dusty Kid, Darkstar and Thomas Azier will be making music on the stages of Dolní Vítkovice.
Camping for the festival takes place in nearby Slezskoostravsky Castle and tickets for 1 tent for the festival are available for precisely 9.62€. The city of Ostrava itself is easily reachable by train, bus or plane, if you so desire. Four day tickets to the festival are currently on sale for a very inviting 98€ so there’s little reason you shouldn’t make Colours of Ostrava part of your itinerary either before or after your scheduled bender in the beautiful streets of Prague.
Secret Solstice (Iceland)
Iceland is a land of unparalleled beauty and is remarkably unique. It seems appropriate then, that this festival be held an especially unique time. The 'Solstice' period is a time of Norse celebration, a time where Iceland experiences daylight for 24 hours a day. Yes, the sun will not set over the course of the whole festival. What's more, you can literally rave inside a glacier, you will be in a drilled stage completely surrounded by ice partying. My words can only serve me so well, so I highly recommend that you watch the aftermovie above to grasp the aspects of the festival I'd dare not attempt to illustrate with the English language.
The lineup may not be as 'large' as some of the others mentioned, but the festival certainly attracts some big names as well as some of the most influential in a thriving Icelandic music scene. In 2017 Foo Fighters, Rick Ross, The Prodigy, Anderson. Paak & The Free Nationals, Chaka Khan, Kerri Chandler, Seth Troxler, Rhye, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Dubfire, Foreign Beggars, Hildur, Jam Baxter, Nick Monaco, Princess Nokia, Roots Manuva, Soul Clap and the Black Madonna, this and an extensive cast of Icelandic musical talent and the now traditional 'yet to be announced' opening concert act, which in years previous has included Busta Rhymes and Sister Sledge.
If you find yourself at Secret Solstice this year, do make sure you see some of what is truly a remarkable country while you're in Iceland. Including the aforementioned in-glacier rave the festival will run a 'midnight sun boat party' and you can not only explore a phenomenal lava tunnel, but also witness a concert inside it, these experiences however are not inclusive of your festival ticket price.
As for ticket prices to the festival itself, a standard festival ticket is on sale for 185€, if you'd like to camp, camping tickets are 89€ but if you don't feel up to drinking games with your camp neighbours then there is a number of alternate accommodation options in Reykjavik. Tickets and info available below:
Nuits Sonores (France)
Nuits Sonores will almost definitely be the most difficult of all of these festivals to grasp. Entering it’s 15th year, Nuits Sonores is a matured, primarily electronic festival which is held across about 40 venues in the French city of Lyon. It’s no exaggeration that the festival, in some way or another, takes over the city for 5 days as it hosts events in some glorious landmarks around the city and in local music venues which make up the cities rich live music fabric. The bulk of the nights entertainment is held in Fagor-Brandt - ‘Old Factories’ in which 3 stages lurk, the largest day party site is La Sucriere, a picturesque park in the city, a rooftop venue, a large forum and a vast variety of local clubs make up the rest of the locations for the festival.
French electronic icons Air will open the festival, followed by some good company, Andy Stott, Axel Boman, Ben Sims, Fatima Yamaha, Floating Points, Daniel Avery, Melbourne’s own, Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda, Jamie 3:26, Honey Dijon, Helena Hauff, Jon Hopkins, Kornel Kovacs, Lady Leshurr, Mars et Gab, Nathan Fake, Nina Kraviz, Optimo, Rahaan, Roy Davis Jr., Soichi Terada, The Black Madonna, The Chemical Brothers, Throwing Shade, Pablo Valentino, Ison, Waveland and Chez Damier. Good company indeed. The full (and awfully confusing guide can be found here).
Tickets don’t get much easier to get your head around at Nuits Sonores either, tickets to the Air opening concert are 38, the full night and day passes are unfortunately sold out, but, you can buy a 3 night pass (gives you access to nights 1, 3 & 4 - 24, 26, 27th of May) for 94. However, individual day and night tickets for every day of the festival are still available for purchase, with day tickets costing 26 (23 with concession, e.g. a student card) and night tickets 38 (32 as a student).
Further information and tickets for Nuits Sonores can be found below, as well as some honourable mention French festivals.
Meadow in the Mountains, Bulgaria
The least traditional music festival option we’ll point you in the direction of is the Meadow in the Mountains festival. The least traditional, but perhaps the most enticing and rewarding, included in our guide for good reason. The festival does not boast a festival lineup as such, but this is not to say there will not be music to be had. Extremely atmosphere driven, ‘MITD’ is built on the mantra of “friends, family, love, music, and nature” you’ll spend three days with a tight community in the most beautiful of festival locations, secluded high in the Bulgarian mountains.
Not for the casual European festival goer, the Bulgarian mountains definitely give off the impression of the supernatural, ethereal and mystery, a place where fairytales could exist. In short, for whichever reason, the Meadows is an experience and place where you wouldn’t be the faintest bit surprised to tumble over seven small dwarves, the perfect place to escape the enduring weight of the Western life of counting numbers, bright digital screens and wifi.
Getting to the fabled Mountains is best achieved through flying to Sofia and getting on one of the party buses run by the festival which will take you to the site. Final release full 3 day tickets are on sale at €120, camping is an additional €6.50 per person if you bring you’re own tent, you can purchase a 2 person tent from Meadows for €47.50 or completely immerse yourself in Ewok culture and score yourself a tent suspended amongst the trees complete with a duvet and pillows for €225 per person, details for all of which are here.
Love Box, England
To sell this festival we need only say two words; Frank. Ocean. If you are like the other 99.99% of the population who agree Frank is a modern-day musical fucking genius, this is the festival for you. Being only 1 of 5 places you’ll get to see him in Europe all summer, this is a rare sighting not to be missed. Taking place on the 14th and 15th of July, this 2-day non-camping festival holds its position as one of the most popular among Londoners, so if you’re one of us who only has a brief bracket in Europe post-exams and pre-uni starting up again, this should fit into your criteria quite nicely. Boasting a solid lineup across 6 stages and held at Londons Victoria Park (a comfortable 20 minutes from Big Ben himself), it is one of the more convenient and cheap weekends you could have when it comes to festivals. A ticket covering both days will set you back roughly $220 AUD (4th release), which when you take into account the money you’ll be saving on camping gear and transport, you can’t really argue with. Now, as briefly touched on above, the names for this years LoveBox festival is what has really got us at FF excited. Some exquisite names joining one of the most sought-after people in todays music world are; Sampha, the incredibly talented Solange, Kaytranada, Kano supplying your fix of grime, and of course the man you can always count on for a mind-blowing set, Jamie xx. Looking further down the bill are the likes of, Bicep, Dixon, Rex Orange County, a favourite of Figaros Mick Jenkins, and Aussies flying the flag abroad, Rüfüs. Any festival that can demand outstanding artists like that for over a decade, must know what they’re doing. Period.
In its debut year, TRNSMT is seeking to build a new festival legacy in the city of Glasgow, and with a headline act like U. K’s own Radiohead, it has certainly gotten off to an exemplary start. As Scotland’s once premier festival “T in the Park” was cancelled in September last year, its organisers didn’t waste much time in locking in another blockbuster on the same weekend in July. Promising a pristine setting at the famous Glasgow Green (yes, you can kill two birds with one stone if you’re the type to frantically tick off your ‘Euro bucket list’), TRNSMT is a non-camping festival, so be sure to book that accommodation early! You won’t find much better bang for your buck as far as European festivals go either, with a 3-day ticket burning a relatively small whole in your pocket of £155.00 ($273.00 AUD). Whilst this isn’t as cheap as many other boutique and hip festivals may be across the continent, when you consider the big names you’ll be seeing, it is easily justifiable. As previously mentioned juggernauts Radiohead will kick off proceedings on day one, along with the likes of London Grammar and the man who seems to be on everybody’s list right now; Rag'n'Bone Man. The remainder of the festivals lineup is stacked with grime powerhouse Stormzy, old reliables The Kooks, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Kasabian, The 1975, Two Door Cinema Club and Scotland’s own rock legends, Biffy Clyro. Notice a trend? It seems quite clear TRNSMT is pursuing a very U.K. dominated field. We get it guys, you got talent. Who wouldn’t love in 5 years’ time being able to say; “Oh you’re going to TRNSMT? I was rocking that on its first ever year.” This is sure to be one to keep your eyes on in the coming years.
Oasis Festival, Morocco
Oasis Festival ‘Dance somewhere different’. On the proviso you’ve not danced in Marrakech, Morocco, then Oasis Festival can offer you exactly that. For this festival we have to stretch our ‘European guide’ to North Africa, but for good reason, if you’re catching the tail end of the European festival Summer then Oasis is an absolute hum-dinger and is instant relief for anyone suffering erectile disfunction out there. At the time of writing, 4th release weekend passes are going for €179 and opening night party tickets for the 14th are going for €52. Rave locations as exotic as the sun-bleached ‘Source’ hotel villa nestled in the shade of the Atlas mountains which look over Marrakech will come few and far in between and those looking for a festival which delivers not only an elite lineup, but excellent production and location need not look any further than North Africa this Summer. Rapidly Oasis is gaining momentum and adoring reviews in its wake and for good reason, it consistently drops good lineups and the rest seems to take care of itself, a sure sign of a festival which will embed itself in the underground electronic music's very fabric, you’d best get yourself to Oasis before it’s found out as one of the best kept electronic music secrets worldwide.
This years Oasis will see Solomun open the weekend on the opening party on the 14th, with Amine K, Karmon and a b2b of Kenny Glasgow & My Favorite Robot in support. The eye-opening cast for the rest of the weekend is a whopper. Friday is headlined by techno royalty in Ritchie Hawtin and Marcel Dettemann, Saturday by Maceo Plex and Sunday by Nicolas Jaar and Moodymann. In between these genuine aristocrats of dance (amongst others) we have Auntie Flo, Anja Schneider, Daniel Avery, DJ Stingray, Move D, Dr. Rubenstein, Henrik Schwarz & Jesse Rose (present ‘Black Rose’), Jeremy Underground, Kornel Kovacs, Marcellus Pittman, Matthias Meyer b2b Patlac, Pantha Du Prince, Young Marco and our local Melbournian representative, Harvey Sutherland.
Oasis is not only an opportunity to indulge yourself in an unbelievably mouth-watering festival, but a chance to immerse yourself in the fascinating and beautiful culture and hospitality of Morocco. Without a word of a lie, it is simply a matter of time before Oasis is touted as one of the best festivals worldwide, it oozes style. With all seriousness, absolutely doubt there will no better place to be during the 14-17th of September in the whole world than Oasis Festival.
There is essential information you should consult before booking Oasis festival regarding consideration of cultural understandings in Morocco, visa’s (Australian’s can stay in Morocco for 90 days no dramas, no visa) and accommodation options for you, as Oasis is not a camping festival.