Lifestyle & Culture

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

“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 trio 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 cameron@dispatcheseurope.com; our editor, Terry Boyd, at terry@dispatcheseurope.com; or drop a line to our Facebook page.

• FEBRUARY

Copenhagen – Vinterjazz 2018: When the Danes throw a jazz festival, they really throw a jazz festival! Between 2 and 25 February 2018, enjoy over 700 concerts at 125 venues across Copenhagen when Vinterjazz returns to town.

Before you tackle this major marathon of jazz, check out the programme to see who’s performing on the nights you have in mind; you can buy tickets to each performance via the programme, also.

And who’s on the lineup thus far? Katie Thiroux, Randy Newman, Makiko Hirabayashi Trio, and Omar Souleyman are among those schedule to perform.

London – Roundhouse Rising Festival: Ready for something so new you simply have to be the first to know? London’s Roundhouse is where you need to be from 21 February through 4 March for the ninth edition of the Roundhouse Rising Festival.

The festival’s mission has been, and continues to be, to give you a shot at discovering your next favorite artist. This year’s headliner is Roundhouse alumnus and British hip hop rising superstar Little Simz, fresh from supporting fellow Brits Gorillaz on the latter’s European tour. Workshops, panels, demos, talks, parties, and talent showcases make up the rest of the programme

While some events are ticketed, most of the Roundhouse Rising Festival is free; all the better to find your new favorite for your Spotify playlist, after all.

Norrköping – Where’s the Music?: Where’s the Music? in Norrköping, Sweden has always been about discovering new music. But this festival on 9 and 10 February is also one of the increasingly popular mashups of music and business, which is what Sweden does best.

This year’s confirmed lineup includes: Amand Mair; Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children; JËLLY; Luxury Death; Satan Takes A Holiday; and Wy. On the conference side, expect panels on the industry’s effect on mental health; gaming as a platform for music distribution; how music fuels urban development; and the state of local music scene.

Admission to Where’s The Music? is SEK 395 (€40) for a festival pass, SEK 1295 (€131) for full access to the conference and festival.

Utrecht – A State of Trance: Enter into a state of trance 17 February when A State of Trance returns to Utrecht, Netherlands’ Jaarbeurs to kick-off its 2018 world tour.

Known as the largest trance network in the world, ASOT’s stop in Utrecht presents a massive lineup under the theme Be In The Moment, including: Ace Ventura; Arkham Knights; Armin Van Buuren; Factor B; and Radion6.

Regular admission to A State of Trance in Utrecht is €55.50; VIP tickets are all sold-out. The bass drops at 22:00, with the last wub leaving the speakers at 6:00.

Wacken – Wacken Winter Nights: From the same bunch of crazies who created Wacken Open Air nearly three decades ago comes the second edition of Wacken Winter Nights, held in its namesake home of Wacken, Germany.

Unlike WOA, Winter Nights “is a magical music and arts festival for the entire family… an enchanting journey through magical worlds and performances.” Whether watching your favorites spin tales of pagan times and mystical awakenings inside the Ice Palace, or becoming enchanted by amazing shows and workshops outside the stage area, this festival will turn the blackest of hearts red with the blood of life.

The 2018 lineup of Wacken Winter Nights includes: Aeverium; Corvus Corax; Elvenking; Finntroll; Grave Digger; Orphaned Land; and The Moon and The Nightspirit. Admission to this enchanted affair—scheduled for 23 through 25 February—is €89 for a three-day pass (which includes a WWN Winter Bag), €74.50 for a two-day pass, and €29.50 for a single-day ticket.

• MARCH

Antwerp – Rampage Weekend: Disco never died in Europe, like it did in the United States. Disco instead evolved over the decades into numerous forms of increasingly electronic dance music. Thus, the prevalence of electronic music festivals all over the continent, like Antwerp, Belgium’s Rampage Weekend.

Occurring 2 and 3 March, the Rampage Weekend is the result of the 2017 Rampage selling-out in six weeks; the organizers saw the demand for a two-night affair, and the rest was history. Thus, the likes of Chase & Status, Andy C, Virtual Riot, James Marvel, and Turno will be rocking the Sportpaleis with as much wubs and dropped beats as they’ve got.

Admission to the first-ever Rampage Weekend is €44 for a single-day ticket, €81 for a two-day combi ticket. VIP admission is €85 single-day, €150 for the weekend.

Bergen – Borealis: Prefer music that takes you into odd and amazing places? Perhaps while the Aurora Borealis glows overhead? Then on up to Bergen, Norway for the 2018 edition of Borealis 7 through 11 March.

Since the first Borealis in 2004, the experimental music festival has celebrated “the music that falls between the gaps… taking over the art galleries, concert halls and warehouse spaces” in Bergen “with concerts, installations, talks and films” over five days.

A festival pass to the 2018 Borealis is NOK 900 (€94). Tickets to individual events and day passes are available, as well.

London – London International Ska Festival: Three decades ago, the London International Ska Festival pulled fans and artists alike into Fridge in Brixton for a couple nights of ska, reggae and rocksteady just before Christmas.

Thirty years later, the ska festival will be welcoming the Easter Bunny and Jesus into the O2 Academy Islington over the Easter holiday weekend 29 March through 2 April. DJs like Alan Handscombe (who did the same for the first-ever festival) and Tessa Bassie of The Slits will play all of the classics, while live acts like African Head Charge, Ken Boothe, and Capone & the Bullets put your skanking shoes and moves to the test.

Wristband tickets to the 30th anniversary London International Ska Festival, along with a handful of events, are already sold out. Tickets to some individual shows have to be made available, while those that are on sale are £30 (€35).

Umeå – House of Metal: Start your March off with a studded leather fist raised high in the air in the House of Metal, 2 through 3 March in Umeå, Sweden.

The heavily Swedish affair will be headlined by hometown heroes Meshuggah, who’ve been recently nominated for a 2018 Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category. Other acts to grace the House of Metal with their presence in 2018 include: Norwegian/Dutch black metal duo Asagraum; Icelandic post-metal dreamwalkers Sólstafir; and Canadian rock trio Danko Jones.

Admission to the House of Metal is SEK 540 (€55) for a single-day ticket, SEK 895 (€91) for two days of non-stop worship at the altars of madness.

Zurich – m4music: While most music festivals are only celebrations of music, other festivals act as professional affairs. Zurich’s m4music, held 22 through 24 March, is one such gathering.

Hosted by Migros Culture Percentage, m4music “is a gathering of the national pop music scene and a must for all music fans.” The festival heavily promotes Swiss music—though international acts are welcome to the stage, as well— and is the place to find your new faves while meeting with music business pros to build your skills, cred, and network.

The lineup thus far for the 2018 edition of m4music includes: Jacob Banks; Trettmann; Sandor; Rhye; and Zeal & Ardor. Admission to see this lineup on stage—as well as work on your demo tape and network— is CHF 89 (€76) for a two-day pass.

• APRIL

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.

•ON THE HORIZON

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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