17 Epic European Music Festivals

Girls enjoying festival

Europe is a fabulous destination for festival-goers and music fans. With a bit of everything on offer, seeing your favorite bands live in one of the continent’s premier cities can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

It’s worth shopping around to see which of Europe’s music festivals offers the best line-up – bonus points if you can check a particular city or country off your travel bucket list too! 

Keep in mind that many of the bigger artists will headline a bunch of European music festivals each summer, so it’s a good idea to do some research to snag those early-bird tickets, critical to saving money for your festival wardrobe. To kickstart your decision-making, we’ve compiled a list of the best music festivals in Europe below.

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17 Best Music Festivals in Europe

1. Sziget, Hungary

  • When: August
  • Where: Budapest, Hungary
  • Duration: 5-7 days
  • Genre: Varies

Sziget, nicknamed the ‘Island of Freedom’, is one of the largest and most popular music festivals in Europe, welcoming more than 500,000 attendees annually. Dating back to 1993, it emerged as a cultural response to political changes in Hungary, quickly growing into a symbol of freedom, and unity. 

Sziget hosts a range of musical genres as well as lots of other events and activities, like art installations, contemporary dance, sports, workshops, and even a special area for swimming! Over the years, Sziget has featured an impressive lineup of renowned artists and headliners, like The Rolling Stones, Florence + The Machine, Iron Maiden, R.E.M., Mass Hysteria, the Sex Pistols, and many more. 

Sziget places a strong emphasis on social responsibility and sustainability, promoting environmental awareness and charity initiatives. It also has areas dedicated to educational activities on social issues and human rights.

2. Glastonbury, England

  • When: June 
  • Where: Pilton, Somerset
  • Duration: 5 days
  • Genre: Varies

Glastonbury Festival is one of the most iconic and influential music festivals globally, as well as one of the oldest – dating back to 1970. While primarily known for its live music, Glastonbury offers much more: from theater to poetry readings, stand-up comedy, cabaret, and art installations, as well as a dedicated children’s area called the Kidzfield. 

Glastonbury has consistently attracted some of the biggest names in music, hosting legendary headliners like Radiohead, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Adele, Paul McCartney, and many more. 

The festival’s lineup often features a mix of established acts and up-and-coming artists from various genres, and has long been associated with counterculture movements, political activism, and various social causes. It continues to be a defining event in the European music festival calendar, embodying a spirit of creativity, inclusivity, and activism.

3. Tomorrowland, Belgium

  • When: July 
  • Where: Boom, Belgium
  • Duration: 6-8 days
  • Genre: EDM

Tomorrowland is an electronic dance music (EDM) festival widely known for its elaborate production value. The festival creates visually-stunning stages, incorporating immersive set designs, pyrotechnics, and state-of-the-art lighting and sound. 

It’s important to note that Tomorrowland has an age restriction policy and is generally not recommended for young children due to late-night parties, strobing lights, and an adult-oriented, intense atmosphere. 

While primarily focused on EDM, it encompasses a wide range of sub-genres within the EDM spectrum, hosting renowned DJs like Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, Avicii, and Swedish House Mafia. 

Apart from live music, Tomorrowland also offers wellness areas, gourmet food offerings, and interactive experiences that create a magical and fantasy-like environment. The festival played a pivotal role in popularizing electronic dance music globally and has become a cultural phenomenon, representing a global gathering of music enthusiasts and rave culture. 

4. Roskilde Festival, Denmark

  • When: June/July
  • Where: Roskilde, Denmark
  • Duration: 7 days
  • Genre: Varies

Roskilde Festival is almost as old as Glastonbury, first taking place in 1971. It has a rich history and has grown from a small gathering into one of the most prominent music festivals in Europe. The festival plays a significant role in promoting Danish/Nordic music and provides a platform for local artists to gain international exposure. 

Organized by the Roskilde Festival Charity Society, a non-profit, the festival’s primary purpose is to raise funds for charitable causes and cultural initiatives. The proceeds from the festival go towards supporting youth-oriented projects and cultural events throughout the year. 

Roskilde showcases a diverse range of music genres, including rock, pop, hip-hop, electronic, metal, world music, and more, having featured artists such as Bob Marley, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and more in past years. 

5. Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, Germany

  • When: June 
  • Where: Nürburg and Nuremberg, Germany
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Rock

Together, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park form one of Germany’s most popular festivals, called the ‘Rock im Park’ concept. Both festivals occur simultaneously, offering fans in different parts of Germany the chance to experience the same lineup of artists. 

The festival offers various additional activities, like autograph sessions, meet-and-greets, movie screenings, camping, and more, with renowned rock and metal bands like Metallica, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Iron Maiden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rammstein, System of a Down, and many others joining in past years. 

Note that the loud music, energetic performances, and late-night party atmosphere may not be recommended for very young children, but the festival is still fun for a wide variety of ages.

6. Rock Werchter, Belgium

  • When: June/July 
  • Where: Werchter, Belgium 
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Varies

Don’t let its name fool you – Rock Werchter offers a wide range of musical genres, including rock, pop, indie, electronic, and more, featuring big-name international artists as well as emerging talent. 

Festival-goers can also enjoy art installations, food and drink stalls, a market with clothing and merchandise, dedicated chill-out zones, and more, with the festival generally suitable for attendees of all ages, and popular with families. 

Indeed, Rock Werchter has also become a cultural institution, representing a gathering of music enthusiasts from around the world and serving as a meeting point for people to celebrate their shared love for music and discover new artists.

7. Open’er Festival, Poland

  • When: June/July
  • Where: Gdynia, Poland
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Varies

Other than Sziget, Open’er Festival is one of the largest music festivals in Eastern Europe, with tens of thousands of festival-goers coming together to enjoy the lively atmosphere.

Offering a diverse range of musical genres, including rock, pop, electronic, indie, hip-hop, and more, the lineup features both international and Polish artists. 

While it is not specifically tailored for kids, families with older children may find the festival fun. Open’er has played a significant role in promoting both Polish and international artists and has become a key event on the festival calendar in Poland since its launch as ‘Open Air Festival’ in 2002. 

Its continued success and influence serve to solidify its position as a major cultural event in the country. The festival takes place in Gdynia, a city known for its picturesque coastal setting, which is a definite plus of attending the festival. 

8. Primavera Sound, Spain

  • When: June
  • Where: Barcelona, Spain
  • Duration: 3-5 days
  • Genre: Varies

Primavera Sound, held in southeast Barcelona’s Parc del Fòrum, has gained a reputation for curating an eclectic lineup that features both established acts and avant-garde artists. 

While not the largest festival in terms of attendance, the event has grown steadily since its inception in 2001. It may be a nice option for those seeking a more intimate and immersive experience while still staying in an urban environment. 

Easily accessible by Barcelona’s great metro, bus, and tram system, Primavera Sound is known for late-night programming that can run until 4 or 5 am – note that this may include performances that are more suited for mature audiences. 

There are ample local food stalls to sample between sets, and you’re allowed to bring in your own food and water bottle (with no lid.) In the past, acts like Björk, Kendrick Lamar, The Strokes, Tame Impala, Lorde, and many others have headlined.

9. Isle of Wight Festival, England

  • When: Mid-June 
  • Where: Isle of Wight, England
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Varies

Dating back to 1968, the Isle of Wight Festival is widely regarded as one of the pioneering events of the UK’s festival scene. The 1970 edition of the festival attracted over 600,000 attendees, making it one of the biggest music gatherings ever at the time. 

After a hiatus in the late 1980s, the festival was revived in 2002 and reintroduced to a new generation of festival-goers. Catering to a broad range of musical tastes, the festival has featured numerous notable headliners and acts over the years. Iconic artists such as The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, and many others during its tenure. 

Comedy shows, spoken word, silent discos, workshops, and a variety of food and drink options provide entertainment beyond the music. The festival takes place on the picturesque Isle of Wight, an island known for its natural beauty and scenic landscapes, providing attendees with a memorable backdrop for their festival experience.

10. Lowlands, Netherlands

  • When: August
  • Where: Biddinghuizen, Netherlands
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Varies

Lowlands Festival, short for ‘A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise’, is one of the largest and most popular festivals in the Netherlands. Featuring over 200 acts on more than ten stages, the festival highlights both international and Dutch artists and attracts over 50,000 attendees each year. 

Going beyond live music performances, Lowlands also offers a wide array of other events, like indoor and outdoor movie screenings, cabaret and stand-up, ballet, literature, and comics. Most of the stages are inside large tents to protect spectators against that infamous Dutch inclement weather, with the largest tent (called ‘Alpha’) having a capacity of 15,000. 

11. Øyafestivalen, Norway

  • When: August 
  • Where: Oslo, Norway
  • Duration: 4 days
  • Genre: Varies

Øya Festival (or Øyafestivalen) is an annual music festival held in Oslo’s Tøyen Park. Showcasing a variety of genres, from pop to jazz to hip-hop, there are also ample opportunities to check out visual arts, design, and interactive installations throughout the festival grounds. 

Known for its strong focus on sustainability and environmental consciousness, organizers have implemented various green initiatives, including recycling programs, renewable energy sources, and organic food options aimed at minimizing waste. 

The festival is generally suitable for all ages, with designated areas and activities suitable for kids. It is considered one of Norway’s biggest and most important music festivals but still feels much more intimate than some of the bigger festivals around Europe.

12. Reading and Leeds Festival, England

  • When: August
  • Where: Reading and Leeds, England
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Varies

Reading and Leeds Festival is a popular music festival held simultaneously at two different locations in England: Reading and Leeds.

The festivals stand out for their dual location setup, taking place across August’s bank holiday weekend. The festival grounds offer multiple stages and areas to accommodate the diverse lineup and the massive crowds – often one of England’s best-attended festivals. 

Culturally significant as a representation of British music and youth culture, the festival continues to attract a wide range of music enthusiasts, offering a fun experience filled with music, entertainment, and community that is often considered a rite of passage for many music enthusiasts.

13. Exit Festival, Serbia

  • When: July
  • Where: Novi Sad, Serbia
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Varies

Exit Festival, held in Novi Sad, Serbia, was first organized in 2000 as a socio-political movement to promote peace and democracy in Serbia. Taking place at the Petrovaradin Fortress, a historic fortress located on the banks of the Danube River, prospective festival-goers should consider this one for its stunning location alone. 

Beyond the music, Exit Festival holds significant cultural and social importance in Serbia and the Balkan region, playing a crucial role in promoting democratic values and raising awareness of social issues. 

The festival has become a symbol of youth culture, creativity, and social activism, uniting people from different backgrounds through the power of music. It has also received numerous prizes, including ‘Best Major European Festival’ for its impact on the tourism sector and commitment to social causes.

14. NOS Alive, Portugal

  • When: July
  • Where: Algés, Portugal
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Varies

NOS Alive is a popular music festival held at the Passeio Marítimo de Algés, a riverside open area close to Lisbon. It has played a significant role in putting Lisbon on the map as a vibrant music destination and has contributed to the city’s cultural and artistic reputation. 

The festival’s motto ‘beach by day, music by night’, certainly rings true, with many acts starting in the evening and lasting til sunrise. The festival has six stages, one of which is dedicated to traditional fado music, and one for stand-up comedy, and has partnered with camping and cabana companies for attendees to stay right on the grounds. 

NOS Alive has attracted big names from the start, boasting past headliners like Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, and The Strokes. In fact, the festival is named after the Pearl Jam song ‘Alive’. 

15. Colors of Ostrava, Czechia

  • When: July 
  • Where: Ostrava, Czechia
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Varies

Colors of Ostrava takes place in the heart of a former industrial area, the Dolní Vítkovice complex. The festival embraces the industrial setting, utilizing its coal mines, ironworks, and other facilities to form its 16 stages and venues, some with capacity up to 15,000 people. This distinctive backdrop certainly adds a unique atmosphere to the event. 

Although not one of Europe’s oldest festivals, Colors of Ostrava has grown to become one of the largest and most popular music festivals in the Czech Republic since its inception in 2002. It also offers a wide array of other events and activities, from film screenings to a kids area and other interactive experiences. 

16. Rock en Seine, France

  • When: June 
  • Where: Paris, France
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Genre: Rock

Rock en Seine is a popular music festival held annually in the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, a historical park, and garden spanning over 1,400 acres near Paris. Held inside a beautiful garden designed by famed landscape architect André Le Nôtre, the festival has come to hold a lot of cultural importance as a celebration of music, art, and French culture. 

It attracts a diverse audience and fosters a sense of community among music lovers, and has received several awards and nominations, including being named the ‘Best Line-Up’ and the ‘Best Major Festival’ in France. 

In addition to big-name performers, the festival has also added an ‘Avant-Seine’ section since 2005, where a selection of six bands from France competes to have the chance to have a track published.

17. Umbria Jazz Festival, Italy

  • When: June 
  • Where: Perugia, Italy
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Genre: Jazz

The Umbria Jazz Festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious jazz festivals in Italy, dating back to 1973. The festival features a wide range of jazz styles, including traditional, contemporary, fusion, Latin, and more. 

It showcases acclaimed jazz artists from around the world, with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, and many others having performed in the past. 

The festival utilizes various historic and picturesque venues throughout the region, including charming squares, theaters, churches, and open-air locations. The festival’s long-standing presence has established it as a significant event in the cultural fabric of Umbria as well as jazz as an art form across Italy.

Summer brings great weather, optimal barbecue conditions, and sunshine galore to Europe, but it also hosts a wide array of music festivals scattered across the continent. 

From big names like Sziget or Lowlands to smaller, more intimate choices or festivals dedicated to rock, jazz, or EDM, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

Booking in advance for most of these European festivals is essential, as is being sure to stay hydrated and slather on sunscreen. Oh, and go easy on the booze – you’ll regret it if you miss Dolly Parton! 

What is your favorite music festival in Europe? Share it with us in the comments below!

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Tegan George & Alex McKenzie | Why Not Walk

Tegan and Alex are travel, hiking, and biking enthusiasts currently based in Amsterdam. There is nothing they love more than exploring new places by walking, and they have visited over 35 countries together since they met in 2015. Their love for “walking the world” led them to found Why Not Walk, a travel guide site. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest to start planning your next adventure.

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