Whether you’re all about the music, or simply like to enjoy the atmosphere, summer festivals are a great way to go on a holiday with friends or family, mingle with the locals, sample food delicacies and absorb some popular culture. From idyllic countryside settings to industrial urban complexes, HotelREZ’s experts pick 10 music festivals in Europe you should be considering this summer.
Sónar Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain (June 16-18)
The place where the cool kids go to catch some sun and hear some trendy tunes, Sónar is an international festival offering cutting edge electronic music and new media arts. Split into day and night, the Sónar music festival takes place in two different locations across Barcelona. Sónar by Day, located in Fira Montjuïc, hosts electronic music concerts and DJs, mostly with a focus on discovering new talent; while the major international acts are staged at Sónar by Night, located across the city in Fira Gran Via de L’Hospitalet.
The Vibe – Dominating the city for three days is an avant-garde and cosmopolitan music community made up of diverse nationalities, all sharing a love of electronic music, technology and multimedia arts.
Who Goes – The festival is quite popular with the 20-30 year olds.
Getting There – Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe, and there are plenty of direct flights from pretty much everywhere.
Colours of Ostrava – Ostrava, Czech Republic (July 14-17)
Taking place in a vast site of former mines and ironworks in Ostrava, the 3rd largest city in the Czech Republic, Colours is a festival with an exceptionally wide range of musical genres. In addition to a line-up of 150 international artists, including some of the most renowned names in the world of rock, pop or jazz, the festival also includes a well accomplished programme of workshops, theatre and other performing arts.
The Vibe – The mega post-industrial site certainly adds to the festival’s unique charm. From sampling wines in a converted coal transporter to venturing down a mine shaft, you won’t be short of entertainment here.
Who Goes – Besides locals, you’ll have a chance to mingle with lots of other nationalities, as this festival comes at a very attractive price point (a 4-day ticket this year sells at €84), making it one of the best value-for-money festivals in Europe.
Secret Garden Party – Cambridgeshire, UK (July 21-24)
A quirky, homely and undeniably original summer festival, Secret Garden Party is actually made of several hidden parties within the main event (hence the secret). As for the music, it’s varied – normally a mixture of house, drum and bass, reggae and dubstep. Annual themes set a fantastical tone, with this year’s “Childish Things” promising a 100-acre toy box of a party, complete with jelly, ice cream and sprinkles, so you can release your inner child. Enough said – Get us a ticket!
The Vibe – Friendly, care-free and wacky! The whole festival site is an adult playground full of fantastical elements meant to be explored and experienced.
Who Goes – The typical attendee is in their 20’s to 40’s. Even though not explicitly advertised as a child-friendly festival, there is a kids’ playground and family camping is also available on-site.
Getting There –The nearest train station to the site is Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, which takes one hour on the train from London Kings Cross.
Sziget Festival – Budapest, Hungary (August 10-17)
While this Hungarian contender may be a summer festival flying a bit under the radar, don’t be fooled: It’s BIG. Taking place on a beautiful ‘island of freedom’, in Budapest, Sziget festival attracts nearly 400,000 people from all corners of Europe, and offers up to 50 different venues with 200+ music, theatre and circus acts. Expect all kinds of great music, from danceable house tunes to head banging rock bands. This year the organizers promise a special focus on gypsy traditions.
The Vibe – This festival really is all about the music, and some even claim it has one of the best line-ups in all of Europe. Many of the biggest names in Rock and Pop music have taken the stage here at some point.
Who Goes –Particularly popular with the millennial generations (18-30 year olds) from Great Britain, Germany and The Netherlands.
Getting There – The festival takes place in Óbudai-sziget (meaning “Old Buda Island”), a leafy 260-acre island on the Danube, in northern Budapest.
Green Man – Brecon Beacon, Wales (August 18-21)
A folky favourite set in the glorious surroundings of a large estate in the Brecon Beacons, Green Man is an independent music festival running for 10 years. With plenty of activities to keep both grown-ups and children entertained, Green Man offers a laid-back atmosphere. There is a 24-hour cinema, massage tents and hot tubs, plenty of workshops and yoga classes for all ages, a kids zone and amusement faire, a Welsh ales and cider festival, and last but not least, a huge sculpture of the Green Man himself, which is ritualistically burnt at midnight on the last day of the event.
The Vibe –The festival’s unique location – Glanusk Park Estate – plays a huge part in the friendly, relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.
Who Goes – A favourite with families, this place is really fit for anyone aged 7 or 70.
Shambala – Secret Country Estate, Northamptonshire (August 25-28)
Taking place across four days on the August bank holiday weekend, Shambala is a ground-breaking music festival taking place every year in a secret location in the peaceful Northamptonshire countryside. A special place where you are invited to play, revitalise and enjoy the diverse line-up of musical acts across 12 live stages, world-class cabaret, jaw dropping circus and acrobatics and the many inspirational talks and debates.
The Vibe – Shambala is an award winning green event and has quite the reputation for being a “legendary utopian party”. Prepare to have your own horizons broadened as you experience the many inspiring talks, playful interactive workshops and above all plenty of positive joy.
Who Goes – Join pioneers and practitioners, dreamers and believers, advocates and artisans from all over the UK. Shambala is extremely child-friendly –there are plenty of family dedicated spaces, including kid-sized loos!
Getting There – A bio-fuelled shuttle bus will take you from and to the closest train station, Market Harborough (£3 each way).
Festival No.6 – Portmeirion, Wales (September 1-4)
A family-friendly festival, no. 6 is set in the tiny village of Portmeirion, North Wales. Designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village, Portmeirion is a unique place surrounded by the peaks of Snowdonia to one side and a beautiful bay on the other. Just like its location, everything about festival no.6 has a touch of class. Besides all kinds of musical genres, you can expect plenty of other activities going on, including readings, talks and poetry sessions. Even the food stalls here seem to offer something classier than your typical burger and hot dog vans.
The Vibe – As a boutique-style festival, the atmosphere is trendy and intimate. Art and culture are an integral part of the programme.
Who Goes – Part weekend holiday, part music festival, no.6 is quite popular with families and 20-30 year olds.
Getting There – Portmeirion is located on the Snowdonia coastline, roughly a 35 minute drive from Caernarfon.
Feature image – Image by Stig Nygaard via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Ljubljana Metelkova Mesto – Image by Miguel Pires da Rosa via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Meadows in the Mountains – Image by James Sainty via Meadows in the Mountains
Sónar Barcelona – Image by Ariel Martini via Sónar Festival
Exist Festival – Image by Exist Festival via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Colours of Ostrava – Image by Matyáš Theuer via the festival website
Secret Garden Party – Image by Jenna Foxton via the festival website
Sziget Festival – Image via Sziget Festival
Green Man – Image by Don Moore Photography via Green Man Festival
Shambala – Image by Carolina Faruolo via Shambala Festival
Festival No.6 – Image via Festival No.6 on Tumblr