This summer's best European Music Festivals


11-04-2012 17:44:55 by Admin

With England officially becoming a drought zone, music fans may no longer have to wade through mud this summer. Whether it is climate change or an unseasonally dry blip, there are going to be hose pipe bans and metered showers but at least you can go to a festival in your trainers if the dry weather continues.  

UK music festivals may no longer be muddy anymore but they certainly are expensive. Buying a greasy burger and a warm tin of Red Stripe costs over a tenner now and most people will camp for at least three days.  

After paying huge sums for a weekend ticket, camping and online booking fees, many people will be asking why they didn’t book a holiday abroad instead. Well an increasing number of UK music fans are travelling to Europe to get their sonic thrills and paying nineties prices for the privilege. Significantly cheaper than many British festivals, attending one on the continent has a number of advantages.

  • Firstly the weather is almost guaranteed to be better abroad. Even if the drought conditions continue this year – there is always a danger that the UK will revert to type.

    Travelling to a foreign festival is far sexier than taking an overpriced train to Berkshire or Colchester.

    Jo Wiley and Colin Murray won’t be there.

    Festival food is tastier and more affordable in Europe.
  1. European festivals usually last about four days and offer far greater value than anything currently available in the UK.

Escapist Traveller has compiled five of Europe’s most diverse and exciting music festivals taking place this summer. With the sun shining and cheap flights opening up the continent like never before, music lovers are highly recommended to see their favourite band play in a foreign country. For sheer value for money alone, it doesn’t come much better than attending a festival abroad. And only by travelling overseas and experiencing the wonderful variety of festivals on offer will British music fans finally exorcise their old demons of mud slides, buying overpriced hot dogs and wellies that let the rain in!


  1. Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (Spain)

Arguably the most popular European music festival is the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim - a romantic beach town situated between Barcelona and Valencia.  Offering late night raves, indie thrills and rock legends on tap, Benicàssim is ridiculously good value at €180 for four days (including camping). The four-day festival will be headlined this year by Bob Dylan, Florence and the Machine, Noel Gallagher and The Stone Roses. And while American junk food will inevitably be on sale at all European festivals, visitors to Benicàssim can enjoy a regional paella dish or tapas between bands instead. The campsite is only a few miles from the beach and the festival remains a gloriously hedonistic affair for all music lovers.

Dates from July 12th - 15th July 2012

Ticket Price: €180

Official Website:


Flights from the UK: Manises Airport (Valencia) is the closest to the festival, and the majority of people choose to then get a train to Benicassim from here, which takes roughly an hour. Alternative routes include Reus (1hr 40 mins), Barcelona (2hrs 30mins), Alicante (2hrs 50mins) and Madrid (4hrs 40mins).

  1. Sziget Festival, Budapest (Hungary)

Situated in the heart of Budapest, the Sziget Festival runs for a remarkable seven days and will be headlined this year by The Stone Roses, Noah and the Whale, The Vaccines, The Horrors and Placebo. As a week-long extravaganza, the festival is not all about music and there will be football pitches, cinemas and indoor rowing activities on site to entertain fans. Camping is available but since this is an inner- city festival, the sensual delights of Budapest will probably seduce fans into taking a cheeky day trip. Not many festivals in Europe can offer a boat trip along the Danube and the chance to see the Stone Roses in the evening. With your money likely to go pretty far in Hungary, Sziget is pound for pound the best value festival in Europe. 

Dates from August 6th – 13th 2012

Ticket Price: €170 – €200 (€45 day ticket)

Official Website:


Flights from the UK: There are regular flights from all major UK cities to Budapest Airport. On arrival in Sziget, the Budapest Citypass offers unlimited use of the public transport network during the festival.


  1. Exit Festival, Novi Sad (Serbia)

A stunning four-day festival taking place in Petrovaradin Fortress of Novi Sad, this is one of the most romantic places to go partying this summer. Originally an ancient fortress site occupied by the Romans, the Exit Festival will be headlined this year by Guns N Roses, Duran Duran, Plan B and New Order.

Dates from July 12th – 15th 2012

Ticket Price: €124 for four days

Official Website:


Flights from the UK: There are regular flights to Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport from London Heathrow and Gatwick. Currently there are no public buses from the airport to Novi Sad. Travellers will need to get a bus to Belgrade city centre and then change onto a bus or train to the festival site.

  1. Spirit of Burgas, Bulgaria

Situated on the Black Sea coast, the festival is a hedonistic bubble celebrating some of Europe’s finest DJs. Offering romantic views and liquid sunsets, the Spirit of Burgas takes place on the beach and some of the headliners this year include Armin van Buuren, Richie Hawtin and Mark Knight. A truly electric way to discover free love, dancing and Bulgaria, the festival is one of the most underrated dance parties taking place in Europe this year.

Dates from August 3rd – 5th 2012

Ticket Price: £85 for three days



Flights from the UK: Burgas is only fifteen minutes by car from Burgas airport. Wizz Air flies direct from London Luton. Monarch Airlines fly direct from Manchester.


  1. Optimus Primavera Sound, Porto (Portugal)

An epic three day festival takes place in Parque Da Cidade, Porto across four stages in Portugal’s second city. Optimus Primavera Sound takes place inside the country’s largest urban park close to the Atlantic Ocean and perfectly framed within the city. Easily accessible by public transport, the festival will be headlined this year by Björk who will perform alongside The Afghan Whigs, Beach House, Death Cab For Cutie, Explosions In The Sky, Spiritualized and The XX.

Dates from June 7th – 10th 2012

Ticket Price: €75



Flights from the UK: There are regular direct flights to Porto from most UK city airports.

Written by Daniel Agnew. Daniel Agnew is an observational writer, blogger and feature columnist from southern Aberdeenshire, and via Glasgow, is now living in South Hackney. Some of his favourite travel destinations include Andalucia, Loch Lomond, Venice and Cesky Krumlov. 

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