Lifestyle & Culture

Dispatches’ final 2018 guide to the best music festivals in Europe


The music festival scene in Europe is massive, to say the least.

From New Year’s Day through New Year’s Eve, there’s at least a handful of festivals happening somewhere on the continent. Whether you’re banging your head to Anaal Nathrakh and Meshuggah; losing yourself in the wubs of Nina Kraviz and Charlotte de Witte; dancing in the moonlight with Clan of Xymox and Sixth June; or bouncing around to the sounds of Iggy Pop and Gladys Knight, there’s a festival for you.

There are so many festivals to see and experience in 2018 that we’ve decided to break up the calendar into a handful of guides for this year, concluding with our last guide, which covers September through December.

And if there’s a music festival you want us at Dispatches Europe to know about, please email us:



Tiel – Appelpop: Say hello to autumn in the heart of the Netherlands when Appelpop returns to the town of Tiel on 7 and 8 September.

One of the largest open-air festivals in the country, Appelpop draws over 100,000 to the town centre to see national and international artists like Golden Earring, Bush, Anouk, Bombay Show Pig and Madness.

Get ready for this year’s apple harvest:

Golden Earring; Chef’Special; Jeangu Macrooy; Traudes; Wulf; and 21 more to come

You’ll only need money for concessions and band merch at Appelpop, as admission is free.

London – Last Night of the Proms and Proms in the Park: Send the annual BBC Prom season out with a bang on 8 September with Prom 75, otherwise known as the Last Night of the Proms. This annual closing prom at Royal Albert Hall is a celebration of all things British, with a setlist filled with standards such as Henry Wood’s “Fantasia on British Sea-Songs,” Thomas Arne’s “Rule Britannia!,” and Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D major, ‘Land of Hope and Glory.'”

Should Royal Albert Hall sell-out, though, there’s always Proms in the Park. Held concurrently with Last Night, Proms in the Park takes place in all four countries under the Union Jack: Hyde Park in England, Glasgow Green in Scotland, Colwyn Bay in Wales, and Titanic Slipways in Northern Ireland.

The sun may have set on the British Empire, but the night will be filled with wonderful music:
Royal Albert Hall: Sir Andrew Davis • Jess Gillam • Gerald Finley; Hyde Park: Gladys Knight • Josh Groban • Lisa Stansfield; Glascow Green: Sophie Ellis-Bextor • Elizabeth Watts; Colwyn Bay: BBC National Orchestra of Wales • Katherine Jenkins OBE; Titanic Slipways: Ulster Orchestra • David Brophy

Tickets to Last Night range from 27 British pounds to 100 British pounds (30 euros to 112 euros). Tickets to Proms in the Park (which can be accessed through each event’s page above) range from around 15 British pounds to 449 British pounds (17 euros to 502 euros), depending on where you go; Titanic Slipways is sold-out.

Pula – Outlook Festival: A lot of music festivals sell-out months in advance, like Wacken Open Air, Glastonbury, and any big electronic music festival, like the Outlook Festival in Pula, Croatia, scheduled for 5 through 9 September.

What’s cooler than feeling the wubs hit your body at an electronic festival? Feeling the wubs hit your body at an electronic festival inside an old European fortress! The pulsating bass and dropped beats will bounce off the walls of Fort Punta Christo, a 19th century fortress built by the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy to defend Pula, one of the monarchy’s major naval ports.

The only heavy bombardment at Outlook will be from their bass cannons:
Agora • Boris Brejcha • D’Julz • Eats Everything • Charlotte de Witte • Luigi Madonna • Meat • Tale Of Us • and many more

A weekend festival pass to the 2018 Outlook Festival is 150 British pounds (168 euros); other options are available. Don’t wait too much longer, though, as the festival is 90 percent sold-out already.

Marrakesh – Oasis Festival: Okay, Morocco isn’t technically Europe, but you can get there from here. It’s in North Africa, where summer lasts a lot longer.

Oasis Festival is literally at an oasis on the edge of the Amazigh country, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert, so it would be tough to find a more exotic setting. The music also is exotic, with big name DJs from Europe, Australia, the U.S. and Bali.

Here’s a sample:

Honey Dijon, Kosh, DJ Python, Ben Klock

You can see the full lineup here. Oasis Festival runs 14 thru 16 September.

Morocco’s music scene is in its infancy but growing. This is the fourth year for Oasis Festival, which is mostly sold out. But as we always say, there’s next year …

The last of the tickets start at 182 euros and you can get them here.

Portimão & Lagoa, Portugal – BPM Festival: This festival, along with the final Ibiza parties in September, marks the end of summer. Sad face.

But, no better place – and no better festival – to bring summer to an end. Underground dance music in Portugal’s Algarve region; four days and nights on the beaches and coves, hidden caves, towering cliffs, all part of one of Europe’s most inspiring landscapes. And clubs in two different seaside towns a few kilometers from each other.

BPM Festival started in Mexico as an industry get-together, with DJs, producers and industry insiders. (BPM stands for BPM, “Bartenders, Promoters, Musicians.”) Now it’s a global event.

From the BPM release:

BPM will once again host Lee Burridge’s beautiful All Day I Dream, Art Department’s esteemed label celebrating 10 Years of No.19 Music, Jamie Jones’ global party brand Paradise, and Chus & Ceballos’ Iberian powerhouse Stereo Productions. Making their BPM showcase debut, The Martinez Brothers present their innovative label Cuttin’ Headz while Nicole Moudaber will bring her techno-driven festival event takeover MoodZONE, plus the BPM Portugal debut of world-famous Ibiza party brand Circoloco and Paco Osuna’s deeply rooted Spanish techno imprint Mindshake Records.

In total, at least 150 acts from 20 to 23 September at 30 parties providing house, techno and showcase events for different global brands at two locations on Portugal’s southern coast. There are some emerging acts – it’s Calvin Clarke, not Calvin Harris – as well as locals. And there are “names” including Acid Mondays, Pillow Talk and Ibiza favorites the Martinez Brothers.

Single access tickets start at 30 euros, and all-access tickets start at 268.95 euros. You can get them here.


Basel – Baloise Session: Back in 1986, co-founders Matthias Müller, Enrico Bonometti, and Stephan Werthmüller organized the first Rheinknie Session in Basel, Switzerland, featuring performances from Oscar Peterson, Albert Collins, and Koko Taylor. Two years later, the music festival’s fame exploded when jazz legend Miles Davis brought down the house, prompting Montreux Jazz Festival founder Claude Nobs to become a patron of the festival.

Two name changes later, the Baloise Session continues its proud, three-decade-long tradition of presenting music in an intimate, club-like setting. Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Sir Elton John, Grace Jones, and Deep Purple have been among those to perform at the festival.

Who will be performing at the 2018 Baloise Session? We’ll have to wait until 22 August to find out. Tickets will be available starting 29 August, as well. In the meantime, be sure to mark off 19 October through 6 November to catch the 2018 edition of Basel’s famed music festival.

Frankfurt – 49.Deutsches Jazzfestival Frankfurt: Another well-established event, the Deutsches Jazzfestival Frankfurt is equally popular with established and rising jazz musicians from Germany and all over the world, one you should experience for yourself 22 through 28 October.

This year, the 49th edition of the festival celebrates the life and artistry of Albert Mangelsdorff, who would have turned 90 this September. The famed Frankfurter “was regarded as the most important ambassador of jazz made in Germany, and his artistic legacy lives on to this day.”

Jazz up your nights in Germany’s financial capital with this money-makin’ lineup:
Joachim Kühn • SFJAZZ Collective • Besson-Sternal-Burgwinkel Trio • Shake Stew • Echoes of Swing • Kamaal Williams • and many more.

A full festival pass to the 49th German Jazzfestival Frankfurt is 162 euros; other options are also available.

The Hague – Crossing Border 2018: This is one of the rare festivals combining music and literature. Each year, Crossing Border Festival focuses on new pop music acts and literature, and is the largest combined music and literature festivals in Europe.

This year’s event adds a couple of days, running from 29 October to 4 November. There are too many performers, poets, novelists and big thinkers to list, Crossing Border is that huge!

Musical guests include:

• Moses Boyd, a progressive jazz drummer and producer at the forefront of the British Jazz renaissance.

• St. Paul and the Broken Bones from Alabama in the United States. They’re a soul/roots band that has opened for the Rolling Stones.

• Cuban Orquesta Akokán comes straight from Havana. Akokán is from the Yoruba language in Africa and means ‘from the heart’ or ‘soul’.

• Seward, a band that plays “highly flammable anarchist avant-folk”.

You can see the full performance lineup here.

Tickets to Crossing Borders start at 22.50 per day. There are still early bird full passes for 50 euros.


Paris – Pitchfork Music Festival Paris: The City of Light becomes the City of Sound for a few nights. Join your favorite indie acts for three nights at Paris’ Grande Halle de La Villette during the eighth edition of Pitchfork Music Festival Paris 1 through 3 November.

Rock the nights away at one of Paris’ hot spots along the Right Bank with this lineup:
Mac DeMarco • John Maus • Fever Ray • CHVRCHES • Chromeo • Blood Orange • Bon Iver • Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks • Avalon Emerson • and many more.

If you’ve booked that hip Airbnb for the full week, you can also check out the Pitchfork Avant-Garde soirées 30 and 31 October. Initiated in 2016, these pre-parties invite festival-goers to check out new talent in venues across the Bastille neighborhood.

Upgrade your Halloween with this avant-garde lineup:
Grand Pax • Jockstrap • Stella Donnelly • Wicca Phase Springs Eternal • Anais • Naaz • Biig Piig • Helena Deland • Café de la Danse • and many more.

Tickets to Pitchfork Avant-Garde are 15 euros for each night. A three-day pass for Pitchfork Music Festival Paris ranges from 100 euros to 120 euros, while day passes range from 45 euros to 50 euros. All can be purchased here.

Reykjavík – Iceland Airwaves: The sun’s appearances grow shorter with each passing day in Iceland’s capital, but that only means the mood will be right to party the day away when the 20th anniversary edition of Iceland Airwaves touches down 7 through 10 November.

Originally launched in 1999 in an airplane hanger used by founding sponsor Icelandair, Iceland Airwaves bring a wide assortment of new and established artists to downtown Reykjavík, “with performances hosted everywhere from tiny record stores and art museums, to cool bars and stately churches, to nightclubs and large scale venues.”

Behold the morning star over Reykjavík with this jet-set lineup:
AFK • Bedouine • Daði Freyr • Girl Ray • Hatari • Haley Kiyoko • Jockstrap • Mavi Phoenix • Naaz • Soccer Mommy • SURA • Una Stef • Young Kairin • and many more.

Tickets to the 20th anniversary of Iceland Airwaves are 19,900 Icelandic krónur (160 euros); VIP upgrades are sold-out.

Utrecht – Le Guess Who?: This year marks the 12th year of Le Guess Who? in Utrecht, Netherlands, a unique festival held in the picturesque Dutch city. If you are looking for experimental, out-of-the-box music, then LGW? is the festival for you 8 through 10 November.

Fresh new talent and legendary acts combine to make this lively city more alive, especially as the artists chosen to perform are curated by other artists from all mediums. This means you’re going to see a lot of bands who are debuting to the broader public for the first time, including a few eclectic performers you won’t see at Glastonbury.

Guess who Asia Argento, Devendra Banhart, Shabaka Hutchings, Moor Mother, and RVNG Presents have invited to Utrecht?:
The Breeders • Devendra Banhart • Richard Fearless • Please The Trees • Islam Chipsy & EEK • Lydia Lunch’s Big Sexy Noise • Kate NV • LYZZA • The Comet Is Coming • Vera Sola • and many more to come.

Four-day festival passes are available now for 137.50 euros; day passes to come in early September.


Verbier – Polaris Festival: The year may be drawing to a close, but the music doesn’t stop because of it. Grab your skis and your lift tickets, and head up to Le Mouton Noir ski resort in Verbier, Switzerland for the 2018 edition of the Polaris Festival.

Polaris gives new meaning to “joining the mile-high club,” as its location in the Swiss Alps is a mile above sea level, with plenty of room to experience the wubs and dropped beats. A magnificent backdrop with plenty of skiing to be had in the day, followed by “a tightly curated dance lineup that goes from house legends to in-the-moment techno icons” at night.

No lineup for 2018 has been announced yet, nor are tickets available at this time.

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