Lifestyle & Culture

Volume 1: Dispatches’ 2018 list of the best music festivals in Europe (updated)

“Music makes the people come together / Music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel”Madonna, “Music,” 2000.

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 Slayer and Behemoth; losing yourself in the wubs of The Chainsmokers and Avicii; dancing in the moonlight with Fields of the Nephilim and Front 242; or bouncing around to the sounds of Elton John and Pearl Jam, 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 quartet of volumes for this year, starting with our first volume, which covers February through April.

And if there’s a music festival you want us at Dispatches Europe to know about, please email yours truly at [email protected]; our editor, Terry Boyd, at [email protected]; or drop a line to our Facebook page.


Belgrade – Resonate: Happen to be in Belgrade, Serbia 18 through 21 April? Also happen to be a music professional? Then you need to check out Resonate.

Held annually since 2011, Resonate “provides an overview of current situation in the fields of music, visual arts and digital culture,” bringing together “distinguished, world class artists, educators and musicians, with an opportunity of participating in a forward-looking debate on the position of technology in art and music.”

The festival is split into day and night programmes: the days are filled with lectures, workshops, and exhibitions; the nights are filled with live music. Stephen O’Malley, Mykki Blanco, Addison Groove, Feloneezy, and Nemanja Aćimović are among those scheduled to perform during the seventh edition of Resonate.

A four-day pass to Resonate will set you back RSD 14,746 (€125)

Crans Montana – Caprices Festival: Coming to Crans Montana, Switzerland 12 through 15 April is the 15th annual Caprices Festival, a music-and-moguls event in one of the trendiest Swiss ski resorts around, and Crans Montana’s only winter music festival. (The rest are ski festivals; a fine point, we know, but important to the organizers.)

Caprices once was a pop music festival, but has evolved into an electronic music festival over the years. The 2018 lineup includes a lot of global acts, including: Dubfire from the U.S. via Iran; Ambivalent (Kevin McHugh) from the U.S. via Berlin; and Guti from Argentina; the full lineup can be seen through the link above.

A full pass to the 15th edition of Caprices is CHF 369 (€321), individual tickets are CHF 59 to CHF 79 (€52 – €69). All can be purchased through the link above.

Haaren – REBiRTH Festival: The REBiRTH Festival celebrates its 10th edition on 7 and 8 April in Haaren, Netherlands, not far from Eindhoven and Tilburg, and its organizers promise “a ceremony on an epic scale.”

“Epic scale” translates to two days of modern and old-school hardstyle acts, including: Radical Redemption; Mind Dimension; Paul Elstak; Warface; and Rejecta. There will also be versus battles between Jones and Zany, B-Front and Digital Punk, and a fatal three-way between Crypsis, D-Sturb and Sub Sonik, among other battles.

A weekend pass to the 10th anniversary of REBiRTH can be had for €59.50 euros, €87 for a VIP experience. Individual tickets range from €27.50 for a regular Sunday ticket, to €64 for a VIP Saturday admission.

The Hague – Rewire: Need more adventure in your Spotify playlist? Look no further than Rewire, held in the heart of The Hague, Netherlands from 6 to 8 April.

The annual music festival for adventurous music “offers a world class programme featuring more than 100 concerts, multidisciplinary performances, screenings, talks and workshops.” The lineup on the programme thus far lives up to Rewire’s mission, including: FAKA; Laurie Anderson (who is the festival’s inaugural Artist in Focus); Nina Kraviz; Volvox; and Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein, who will perform music from the Netflix smash hit Stranger Things.

A festival pass into Rewire can be had for €70 through 1 March, €75 thereafter. Single-day passes are €33.50, and club tickets are €20.

Lisbon – Lisboa Electronica Musiculture: Time to mix pleasure with business again, this time at the second annual Lisboa Electronica Musiculture in Lisbon, Portugal 4 through 7 April.

Held at the LX Factory and Ministerium Club, LEM will boast the likes of Nina Kraviz, Sonja Moonear, Legowelt, and tINI among this year’s lineup of over 60 electronic music acts.

Away from the stage, music professionals can network with the lords and ladies of the industry; attend workshops to hone and upgrade their craft; and gain insight into state of the industry at one of the scheduled conferences.

Admission to Lisboa Electronica Musiculture is €80 for a full Multiculture pass, granting access to every showcase, workshop, and conference on the programme, €60 for a regular festival pass. Day tickets are €20 for 5 April, €30 for 6 and 7 April.

Tallinn – Tallinn Music Week: Should you be in Tallinn, Estonia to pick up your new e-Residency card and reader 2 through 8 April, why not stick around for Tallinn Music Week?

Part-conference, part-festival, Tallinn Music Week brings around 250 artists to the city’s best concert venues, covering every genre you know, and every one you don’t. This year’s lineup includes: ckh9dh44; Democide; Estonian Radio Children’s Choir & Eeva Talsi; HOAX; Holy Motors; The Magnettes; Mörk; and ZRN.

Over on the conference side, TMW “focuses on music, new economy, civic initiative, gender politics, better cities and design thinking.” And of course, the whole city is involved in the festivities, “covering arts, design, technology, city space and food culture, and various societal issues.”

Admission to Tallinn Music Week is €60 for a festival-only pass (€70 as of 11 February), €175 for a festival and conference pass (€295 as of 1 February). The TMW’s city festival, on the other hand, is free.

Tallinn – Jazzkaar: Since 1990, Tallinn International Festival Jazzkaar—Jazzkaar for short—has brought a dash of jazz to the Baltic Sea, becoming “the biggest jazz festival of the Baltic states” while operating “with the smallest budget in the North.”

The long-running festival has brought the likes of Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, and Pat Metheny to the shores of the Baltic, and is ready to do it again in 2018 with headliner Laura Mvula, who will be making her Estonian debut.

Jazzkaar 2018 will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Estonia’s independence “with a documentary performance ‘Saja Lugu’ (‘Story of a Hundred’) that portraits Estonia through its peoples’ eyes.”

A festival pass to Jazzkaar 2018 will set you back €250 – €500. Individual shows on the programme range between €20 and €30.50. Jazzkaar is scheduled for 20 through 29 April.

Tilburg – Roadburn Festival: Not far from our home of Eindhoven, Netherlands is the Roadburn Festival in the university town of Tilburg, where the only thing being dropped against the background of heavy music is a few hits of acid. No wubs, only the heaviest of avant-garde, doom, psychedelic, stoner, “or any other variation of leftfield sonic pleasures” will do at Roadburn.

Held at 013 19 through 22 April, your mind will be blown by the likes of: All Pigs Must Die; Boris w/ Stephen O’Malley; Crowbar; Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas; Servants of the Apocalypse Goat Rave; Godflesh; and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Admission to Roadburn is €198.40 for a four-day pass, €175.40 for a three-day pass. Single-day tickets are €62.40 Thursday, Friday and Saturday, €57.40 Sunday.

Zermatt – Zermatt Unplugged: Zermatt Unplugged runs 10 April through 14 April in the Swiss alpine paradise of Zermatt.

This is a big-name event in an ultra high-end ski town, so be sure to have your blackest credit cards at the ready; any event sponsored by Hublot—the watchmaker that makes $250,000 watches for LeBron James and rock stars—is going to be plush as it is. And is it so wrong for rich folks to want a mellow moment away from the wubs with a view of the Matterhorn?

Around 50 artists are on the lineup for Zermatt Unplugged this year, including: Norah Jones; Selah Sue; Blanco White; Meimuna; Cup of Jazz; and Sarah Connor.

A full Zermatt Unplugged Weekpass is CHF 50 (€44), CHF 30 (€27) for a single-day pass. Individual shows not included with the pass start at CHF 52 (€46), more if you want dinner and VIP experiences. A few shows are already sold-out or soon will be, though, so don’t sleep on this.


Aarhus – NorthSide Music Festival: The Northside Music Festival in Aarhus, Copenhagen is one of the largest events in all of Scandinavia, and this year’s lineup is no exception.

Coming to NorthSide 7 through 9 June are: Liam Gallagher; The National; Mike D; Queens of the Stone Age; Tyler, The Creator; Björk; and A Perfect Circle. A total of 24 acts are on the bill thus far, with the possibility for more to come down the road.

A three-day pass to NorthSide is DKK 1595 (€215), DKK 2495 (€336) for access to the VIP area. Day tickets are DKK 995 (€134) for each day of the festival.

Belfast – AVA Festival: The AVA Festival in Belfast, Ireland enters its fourth year with its most diverse offering yet, bringing global heavyweights to the city while championing emerging and established artists from all over Ireland.

From 1 through 2 June, the music festival and conference hosts an all-star line-up of local and global talent, a lineup so massive the festival’s three stages will be gaining a fourth this year. Acts scheduled to appear include: Floorplan; BICEP; DVS1; KiNK; Rødhåd; Helena Hauff; Hunee; Denis Sulta; Mall Grab; Saoirse; and Or:la.

There are competitions for emerging electronic music producer, as well as for emerging electronic DJ producer. Plus, Ireland-based underground music online broadcaster Boiler Room will host its first-ever AVA two-day broadcast.

With more artists, stages and a conference packed with panels, talks and workshops still to be announced, you do not want sleep on weekend tickets: admission to AVA is €70 for the current tier. The final tier of tickets will be sold for €75 in the near future.

Beuningen – Down the Rabbit Hole: Looking for something different this year? Why not go down the rabbit hole in in the green hills of Beuningen, Netherlands 29 June through 1 July for the fifth anniversary of Down the Rabbit Hole!

Organized by the same people behind one of the Netherlands’ biggest festivals, Lowlands, Down the Rabbit Hole isn’t one of your typical music festivals: you are really Alice ready to jump into the rabbit hole. The three stages are named after rabbit breeds, and the lineup is an uncompromising mix of current and retro, including: Queens of the Stone Age; Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds; First Aid Kit; Franz Ferdinand (a favorite of Dispatches Europe‘s founders Terry and Cheryl Boyd); David Byrne; The Breeders; and De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig.

Tickets to the fifth anniversary of Down the Rabbit Hole are €149, good for all three days of the festival. You can also pay for the ticket in three installments.

Novalja – Sonus Festival: At this time of the year, the big festivals usually have more guitars than laptops and decks, but the party never stops with Europe’s electronic music scene. Simply head over to Zrće Beach in Novalja, Croatia 19 through 23 August for the 2018 edition of Sonus Festival.

After celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2017, Sonus is ready for the next five years with four days and nights of non-stop wubs, subsonic bass hooks, and soul-crushing drops like never before. Whether it’s the sand, the boats, or the many clubs along Zrće Beach, Sonus will take you higher with the likes of: Adam Breyer; Pan-Pot; Charlotte de Witte; Jackmaster; Sonja Moonear; and Tale Of Us.

Tickets to the 2018 edition of Outlook Festival are £110 (€126) for a weekend pass, £175 (€200) for the weekend and camping pass. The prices are set to rise to £151 and £200 (€173 and €229) respectively in the near future, so don’t sleep on this.

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 you’ll be experiencing inside the fort—and on the beach nearby—will be from the bass cannons of: 24hr Garage Girls; Children of Zeus; Jack Sparrow; Lady Leshurr; MC AD; Peanut Butter Wolf; and Zero T.

First-release tickets to the 2018 Sonus Festival are available for €159, granting you access to every one of the three Sonus Festival clubs for the entirety of the five-day, five-night affair. VIP admission is €249, and nets you fast-lane entry and separate bar/sanitary area access.

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Lifestyle journalist. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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