Lifestyle & Culture

Europe and beyond: Dispatches’ 2019 list of the best Spring Break, summer destinations

(Editor’s note: If you want your event listed, send the details to: terry@dispatcheseurope.com or cameron@dispatcheseurope.com. Also, see our list of EDM events/parties here.)

Spring break began (semi-officially) with the Easter Break. With schools out from the United Kingdom to Italy, it’s no coincidence the biggest ski/music festivals and the first of the sun/fun parties run from now into early summer. (Here’s the full school holiday list for Europe.)

As we’ve said before, there are way more festivals and parties than talent. So in 2019, finding your Spring Break/summer fun destination comes down to deciding which acts/DJs you want to see playing the genres you like in the locations you’re willing to spend time and money to reach.

The good news is,  the mega-festivals that sold out instantly last year don’t seem to be selling out quite as quickly this year … with the exception of Wildeburg (see below. Also, Roskilde sold out before we could post.) Is it over-saturation? Is it Brexit? Don’t ask … just plan.

Also, in 2019, boutique festivals are becoming more popular, with almost half the people responding to a recent poll saying they want events that are more intimate. So, we’re adding more to our list.

• MAY

Barcelona – Primavera Sound: Primavera Sound is one of The Majors, an 11 on the Glastonbury Scale.

The festival attracts crowds of 200,000-plus music lovers. Everyone has played Primavera from the Pixies to Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar. Dozens of acts each day.

This year, the festival’s nineteenth, Primavera runs from 27 May to 2 June. The big names include pretty much every act on the planet – Names and newbies – from every genre including Nina Kraviz, Cardi B, Tame Impala, Solange, James Blake, Mac DeMarco, Denis Sulta, Guided by Voices, James Blake and a hundred acts we’ve never heard of.

The format is a bit confusing, with three nights (27 through 29 May) at one venue,  la Ciutat, then the main festival acts 30 May through 1 June at a different venue, Parc del Forum. Then back to la Ciutat for 2 June. (Here’s the full daily schedule.)

Full-day tickets start at 195 euros and you can get yours here.

Zrce Beach, Croatia – Zrce Spring Break: If your ideal Spring Break is drinking pìna coladas and getting caught in the rain, this is seriously NOT where you want to go.

This is the big one … the Mother of All Spring Break Parties. From 30 May thru 2 June, an amazing number of pasty but buff kids from Liverpool, Manchester and Coventry join kids from Italy, Turkey and the rest of Europe at Zrce Beach for four days of drinking, partying, hooking up and music. Or as one of the marketing websites puts it, “hedonistic mayhem.” ZSB is held at two different clubs … the Aquarius and the Kalypso.

The only two acts announced so far are German rapper Bausa and Dutch DJ Head Hunterz, so more as we know more.

Tickets start at 99 euros, and there are hotel packages starting at 132 euro. You can get yours here.

• JUNE

Polkovnik, Bulgaria – Meadows in the Mountains: We meant to post this earlier because this is the event that got the most positive reaction from our readers last year. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Meadows in the Mountains runs from 6  June thru 9 Junes in the bucolic mountains between Plovdiv and the Black Sea. This is another boutique event that’s not for everyone … just those seeking bliss through wellness and authentic cultural experiences such as sleeping in a village house, meeting locals, camping in the woods and wearing crazy costumes. (Check out the vid.)

Of course, the best things in life most certainly aren’t fee, and MitM tickets start at 140 euros … and throw in another 50 euros for the spa sessions. You can get tickets here.

Dhëmi, Albania – Kala: Is Albania the new Croatia? Our personal experiences in Albania aside (not good), our expat network which includes lots of people from Romania and Emerging Europe, assure us they love Albania, which has more shoreline than Croatia.

This is the second year for Kala, which takes place on the “Albanian Rivera.” Which sounds weird. But by all accounts, this is a rockin’ little festival. So if you’ve got the week open from 12 to 19 June, what-the-hey, right?

There are some names including Honey Dijon and the Menendez Brothers.

This is more of a lifestyle festival, with yoga and more mellow moments in the sun.

Tickets are 179 pounds and all are sold WITH accommodations. (You can also get packages with flights into Corfu, the nearest airport.) You can get tickets here.

Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, Poland outside Warsaw – Instytut Festival: This is the second year for Instytut Festival and we don’t know that much about it. But the concept is cool – a techno party at a humongous 19th-century fortress (check out the vid above) 50 kilometers outside Warsaw, and overlooking the confluence of two rivers. What’s not to like?

Now, throw in top acts such as Ben Klock and Tommy Four Seven from Berlin, and the far, far out Richie Hawtin and boom! You have yourself a fun couple of days – 21 and 22 June, to be precise. Again, see the video for the full list of DJs/live acts announced so far.

Tickets start at 170 Polish zloty (zlotys? zloties?), or about 40 euros.

You can get tickets here, but you have to go down to the bottom of the page and find the English section, then click on the appropriate links.

Reykjavík, Iceland – Secret Solstice 2019: Where else would you want to be on the longest day of the year other than a place where the sun never sets?

Secret Solstice is five hours north of London … what does that tell you? It tells you the party goes for 96 hours straight … only the DJs and sets change from 21 June to 23 June.

This is the vibe the disastrous festival Fyre tried to copy … a luxurious, boutique-y and very, very expensive experience. Helix vodka is a sponsor and there’s an authentic VIP channel for Secret Solstice that includes spas and special access to the concerts and VIP-only bars.

Tickets start at about 69 euros and go up to whatever you care to spend for separate side-trips, luxury hotels and VIP access.

You can get tickets here.

And before we forget, the musical lineup is interesting and eclectic, ranging from Robert Plant to Martin Garrix and a ton of Icelandic acts whose names we can’t even begin to pronounce.

Pilton, England – Glastonbury Festival: We thought Brexit would come on 29 March, so we resolved not to include festivals in the United Kingdom. But 29 March came and went and Britain is still in the European Union. So what do we do?

We include Glastonbury, that’s what … the English Woodstock, which has drawn hordes of music fans and top-tier rock acts every year, from Oasis to David Bowie to Coldplay – since it started in 1970. (We reckon it’s now possible for hippie grandparents who attended the original to take their hippie grandchildren this year from 26 June to 30 June.)

Frankly, the Glastonbury nostalgia thing isn’t our cup of tea. But we get it … a lot of people will turn out if you put Liam Gallagher, Janet Jackson and The Cure on the bill. And they all are for 2019 as the festival returns after a dark 2018.

The good news is, a lot of current acts will be there including Michael Kiwanuka and Billie Eilish.

Tickets were 248 pounds and they’re gone. But it’s still possible to register for resales here.

Marmande, France – Garorock: Another mega summer festival with Name acts, Garorock runs from 27 thru 30 June in Marmande southeast of Bordeaux.

Let’s get right to the Names (live acts and DJs), which are semi-huge in the 12th year for this festival: DIMA, Marshmello, Charlotte de Witte, Vici Vici, Ben Harper, Macklemore and DJ Snake, with some to-be-announced acts.

This is one of the “the experience is the thing” gatherings, with camping, yoga in open spaces, pop-up performances, rides, pickup football games, picnicking with veggie food offerings and lots of socializing. Bring your extroverted self.

Tickets start at 160 euros without camping and you can get them here.

The website has a lot of detailed info, but it’s translated from French to A Language Kind Of Like English. Still …..

At the exact same time, there’s also Rock Werchter in Belgium. This is where you can catch all the top hipster acts you’d completely forgotten about including Mumford & Sons, Weezer and Vance Joy, as well as still-hot acts such as Pink and Florence and the Machine.

Passes start at 243 euros and you can get them here.

Malta – Isle of Malta Music Week: This party runs from 27 June to 1 July, so this is for those with serious party persistence. Past performers including (God help us) Kid Rock. But most of the acts fall into some sort of electronic music/pop/hiphop category, and everyone from Snoop to Chain Smokers and David Guetta have come here.

This starts out as an MTV event, then morphs into a larger group of parties at clubs and beaches around this party island.

Acts are TBA, so stay tuned.

Tickets start at 30 euros, but a lot are already sold out.

• JULY

Zrce Beach – Hideout Festival: Tickets are already selling out for this summer fav at Zrce Beach, scheduled for 1 July thru 5 July. Hideout promises 150 artists, and some of the more than 100 names announced for 2019 include Camelphat, Barely Legal, Charlotte de Witte and Horse Meat Disco. Tickets are on sale here for the moment, with Early Birds gone, Tier 2 tickets going for 159 pounds, and Tier 3 tickets are on sale.

This has been a sellout since 2011, when The Telegraph posted Hideout on their list of best festivals. Flight packages are also available, with options flying from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Dublin to Zadar and Split and at very competitive prices. More info here.

This is one of Croatia’s mega-festivals with beach parties, boat parties and pool parties. Hideout just sent us word the beach party is back and FISHER, Danny Howard, Melé, Dom Dolla and Franky Wah are the headliners. And they just announced their boat party lineup, which includes Mall Grab.

Lake Balaton, Hungary – Balaton Sound: From 3 July to 7 July, a huge lake in rural Hungary is the setting for what is arguably (we’re arguing with ourselves because we tend to call every big festival “the biggest”) the biggest festival of 2019. (Okay, technically, Sziget is bigger … see below)

We’ve hesitated to recommend Hungary this year because of the politics. But this 12-year-old festival has the strongest 2019 lineup of anything we’ve seen.

That lineup includes:

• Armin van Buuren

• Tiësto

• The Chainmokers

• J. Balvin

• Marshmello

• Sean Paul

You know when Camelphat and the Martinez Brothers are buried down in the list that the stages will be filled with stellar talent.

Tickets start at 179 euros for a three-day pass. (Remember, there are five days.) You can get them here.

And this is kind of cool … you can grab a special Balaton Sound bus from the Netherlands and Belgium.

The festival is staged on a huge piece of property with multiple stages and there are lots of options when it comes to places to stay including beach camping. Check out the details on the website.

Tisno, Croatia – Love International 2019: You’re going to need a lot of time off for, and then some time to recover from, Love International. This 8-day party – 3 July to 10 July – is another Croatian fun-in-the-sun event, but one that’s so big its at several separate locations including boat parties and a disco 15 minutes from the main festival site.

This is more of a vacation – complete with sunrise music – combined with a festival, so plan accordingly.

Day tickets start a 50 euros, but full-festival tickets start at 150 euros. You can get them here.

Figueira de Foz, Portugal – RFM SOMNII: RFM Somnii, scheduled for 5 thru 7 July, bills itself as “the largest beach festival in Europe.” And there are seriously big names for 2019 including Afrojack, Radical Redemption, DJ Snake, Jay Hardaway and American rapper Tyga (assuming he’s not in jail) to break up the Dutch monopoly.

This 8-year-old festival, sponsored by RFM Radio, is heavy on trance and hardstyle, and it usually draws more than 100,000 fans. Because it’s on a beach. In Portugal. Tickets start at 26.50 euros per day, and you can get them here.

Remember, camping goes fast, so if you’re gonna’ go, reserve yours quickly.

Outside Lisbon – NOS Alive: Another huge number of nostalgic acts including The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Johnny Marr and Weezer mixed in with newer acts and a few locals.

Great, right?

But here’s where NOS get interesting. There are also street-art tours, tasting tours and surfing. Because it’s Lisbon.

NOS Alive runs from 11 thru 13 July. Day tickets start at 61 euros, and all the tours are extra. You can get your tickets here.

Bilbao, Spain – Bilbao BBk Live: This has to be the craziest musical mashup of 2019.

Bilbao BBk Live (BBk stands for Bilbao, Beefeaters and Kutexabanc, the sponsors) has big name rock/pop act on the marquee from 11 thru 13 July including Thom York, Liam Gallagher and The Strokes as well as crazy alternative acts including Voidz, live sets with EDM DJs including Horse Meat Disco and  huge Spanish acts such as Rosalía.

And all this amid a mountain park outside the very cool town of Bilbao.

Day tickets start at 62 euros and you can get them here.

Wildeburg, Netherlands – Wildebrug Festival: This is on us. Even though it’s 12 thru 14 July, we’re still telling you about Wildeburg too late to get tickets for 2019 (though not to get on the waiting list). This outdoor festival north of Amsterdam is a favorite of all our Dutch friends, and have been going for years and years. It’s that cool. (Check out the vid above.)

This year, Wildeburg features at least 70 acts on four stages. There’s camping, food and bands playing during the day in what is essentially a small village in the middle of nowhere. And strictly speaking, this isn’t an EDM event – the music is from lots of genres.

You can get on the waiting list here … and there’s always next year.

Tisno, Croatia – SuncéBeat Festival Croatia 2019: Is your life missing something? Is EDM really enough?

If not, here’s a festival in the sun  (as the name suggests) from 24 thru 21 July offering more musically. Not just underground House, Disco, and Techno, but Soul, R&B and Funk. All we can say is, “Turn that Beat Around.” Not many ticket levels are left, and they start at 175 pounds. You can get tickets here.

SuncéBeat just announced more acts …check out the website for that info and new info about camping for 2019.

Also, there are multiple accommodation options including tents, a hostel and Airstream trailers on the beach.

If SuncéBeach is sold out, try Hospitality. Their Croatian beach event runs from 12 July thru 16 July at The Garden in Tisno.

Portimao, The Algarve, Portugal – Afro Nation Festival: Portugal seems to be taking on Croatia this year in the battle to have the most music festivals. Afro Nation Festival, scheduled for 1 August thru 4 August, is the latest entree. This time it’s the “biggest urban beach party in Europe.” This debut event celebrates afrobeats, hip-hop, UK rap, reggae and dancehall.  If you’re into these genres, you need to know BBC Sound of 2019 winner Octavian is on the bill, as are Busy Signal and other reggae and dancehall stars. Check it out … for next year. It looks like it’s already sold out, but you can see if there’s second ticket issue here.

Castelbuono, Sicily – Ypsigrock Festival 2019: This is an intimate, boutique festival in a medieval Sicilian mountain village. Which sounds sooo cool right off the bat. From 8 thru 11 August, Castelbuono becomes a multi-stage destination for music and art lovers. The lineup was just released and includes The National from our unofficial hometown of Cincinnati. You can see the full lineup here.

Tickets are on sale now here starting at 89 euros.

Helsinki – Flow Festival: If you’re bored on the beach, this could be just the ticket. Flow Festival is a celebration of music and all the performing arts from street art to light installations. Oh, and there’s an opera. Contemporary dance, electronic music and audiovisual art take over the Finnish National Opera’s Almi Hall Wednesday, 7 August and Thursday, 8 August preceding Flow Festival, which runs from the 9th thru the 11th.

On the music side, this is another Names festival, with Cardi B, Neneh Cherry and Erykah Badu as well as a bunch of Resident Advisor and Reaktor Backyard talent.

Tickets start at 105 euros for one day, and you can get them here.

There are also travel and hotel packages starting at 276.50 euros.

Amsterdam – Loveland Festival: Big Names at a Big Festival in Amsterdam, the new capital of House and Techno. Carl Cox and Solomun will be joined by Jamie Jones, Maceo Plex, Maya, Stephan Bodzin, Marco Carola, Âme and many more. This summer, the festival will be a full weekend event on 11 & 12 August.

Tickets start at 35 euros and you can get them here. We wouldn’t dilly-dally.

An island in the Danube outside Budapest, Hungary – Sziget: We checked with our Hungarian connection and Sziget is the festival they rate as the top festival in Hungary, Romania and the whole of Eastern Europe.

We looked at the lineup and you know what? They’re right.

For 2019, Sziget runs from 7 thru 13 August. During that week, expect to hear the Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, Florence and the Machine, Post Malone, Martin Garrix, The 1975 (who, by the way, were trapped in that plexiglas cube way before Billie Eilish and Khalid), Franz Ferdinand, James Blake, The Blaze and just about everyone who ever recorded a song.

There are also lots of others stuff to do as festivals figure out that concert goers expect an experience.  The funny thing is, this festival is in Hungary, which is now under an authoritarian regime. So we have to salute organizers for a theme that’s diametrically opposed to the regime – “The power of diversity is a unifying force that can help create change around us.”
Go support them ….

Tickets start at 75 euros for the day, and 219 euros for a 3-day pass. You can get them here. And thanks Ime and Malinda for giving us the scoop on Sziget.

Crato, Portugal – Waking Life: This festival 14 thru 19 August in the wilds of Portugal is one of the most popular with people who like the more intimate settings, camping and outdoor activities.

This is a little New Agey for us, but we see the charm. To get a feel for the Waking Life philosophy, check out this post on Apuro, which is part of the overall approach to self and consciousness. So this is probably not the festival for you if your idea of fun is taking X and drinking beer.

There are at least 150 performers lined up, you can get tickets here starting at 125 euros.

Waregem, Belgium – W-festival 2019 : W-Festival runs from 15 thru 18 August in Waregem, deep in rural Belgium and close to … nothing. All the better to have four days of New Wave bands and ’80ties Synth pop, along with DJs, on multiple stages. Oh, there’s also a Woodstock 50th anniversary event marking a half-century since we were starlight and golden. (We were there! No, we weren’t. But about 10 million people claim to have attended that most iconic festival, which actually drew 500,000.) Tickets are about half-way sold out, and you can get them here.

Paris – Rock in Seine: Rock in Seine (get it? “Rock Insane”) brings an eclectic (that’s code for “bizarre”) lineup to Paris from 23 thu 25 August. That lineup includes The Cure and Johnny Marr (who’s been hanging out with Noel Gallagher lately) from back in the day (way back in the day), Bring Me the Horizon and Major Lazer, plus a whole bunch more bands with absolutely nothing in common. Which makes it that much cooler. You can get tickets here.

Here are the festival later in 2019, or that haven’t dropped their lineups:

Dimensions Festival: Another big week in Croatia. Dimensions Festival is 28 August to 1 September at Fort Punta Christo. We just got the final list of artists and they include Nina Kraviz (the woman at every festival), Jeff Mills/Tony Allen and Objekt. In February, they added U.S singer and rapper Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals as 2019’s headliner.

This is an interesting festival in that it covers multiple genres from house, electro and techno to acid, DnB, ambient and jazz. The full list runs more than 100 acts. And organizers say this is the last year for the festival at the abandoned fort overlooking the Aegean. You can get tickets here.

Outlook Festival  2019: One of the final summer mega-parties in Croatia. Ten stages, 300 acts. You get the idea. Outlook runs for a week, from 4 thru 9 September at Fort Punta Christo. Acts include Chase & Status, Bugzy Malone, Goldie (live) and Ghetts, Tickets start at 120 pounds and you can get them here. Outlook is the sister festival with Dimensions above, and this will be the final year for both at the fort.

The Island Festival, Obonjan: This early September festival on a private island in Croatia is about the experience and sustainability, which sounds great, right? Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of detailed info yet. Stay tuned ….

Oasis Festival: The desert spring, not the band. As we always say, this isn’t Europe, but you can get there easily from here. The tagline for Oasis Festival – in Marrakesh from 13 through 15 September – is, “Dance Somewhere Different.” We’re down with that.

The Bubble: Do NGOs know how to party? This one does. The Bubble is a “celebration of contemporary music and arts,” according to the website. It’s also a gathering in Malta from 16 thru 22 September of people interested in awareness of worthy causes and issues such as climate change. And 100 percent of the money goes to humanitarian and environmental causes. This is a loooong way from those boat parties in Croatia.

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