Lifestyle & Culture

New for 2018 (updated): Dispatches’ list of Europe’s best spring break and summer party destinations

Street’s like a jungle / So call the police / Following the herd / Down to Greece / On holiday!Blur, “Girls & Boys,” 1994.

Working in August? Forget about it! Everyone is at the beach. We’re here to help you get the most out of this magical, drunken, sexy period with our latest list, devoted to all things spring break and summer travel to parties in unique settings.

Our list will be updated with summer parties on the horizon, so keep this one bookmarked so you don’t end up sleeping on your spring break. And yes, we’re shooting for something beyond the Club 18-30 experience.

If you know of a big party or event perfect for spring breakers or summer parties for the sun, sand and sin crowd, you can either email yours truly at cameron@dispatcheseurope.com or our editor, Terry, at terry@dispatcheseurope.com; or hit up our Facebook page.

• Going on Now

Šibenik, Croatia – Otok Obonjan: The chill, grown-up party starts in June on this small (136 acres) adults-only private Croatian island and runs through September.

There’s music in a stone amphitheater, with 18 artists announced through September. (You can see the full list here.)

But there’s a lot more than music … an eclectic six-week program that includes workshops, yoga on the beach and great food. There’s an underwater sculpture garden, an island cinema and a woodland well-being centre. Imagine Cap-Ferrat at half the price.

Accommodations range from “forest lodges” to two-person luxury tent (with a pool) starting 39 euros per person per night, including access to all the activities.

You can book on the Obojan website.

Ibiza – Ibiza Beach Camp: Perhaps it’s not enough for you to spend a weekend on the island of Ibiza. Perhaps you’d like to camp on one of the party island’s many beaches.

Spain’s Stoke Travel’s got you covered with their Ibiza Beach Camp. Now through 15 September, spend a minimum of two nights atop Cala Martina beach, “where the grass is greener, the tent poles are straighter, the hammocks are well hung.” The all-inclusive camp will greet you with a welcome beer or sangria, then guide you to your tent for the briefest of orientations (“beach is that way, beers are that way”).

Live DJs, daily yoga, tanning, snorkeling, and drinking are all on the programme. Packages start at 60 euros/night, and you can book your trip here.

Cornwall, England – Boardmasters Festival 2018: Boardmasters has it all – music, food, relaxing in the great outdoors on the sea and pasty English bodies on surfboards in the freezing Atlantic/Celtic Sea. Or, as the website puts, “five epic days of music, surf and beach lifestyle all set the stunning backdrop of the Cornish coastline ….”

Boardmasters runs from 8 thru 12 August when you at least have a 50/50 chance of good weather. Whats for certain is, there’s a great lineup of Names – both DJs and live acts – including The Chemical Brothers, George Ezra, Annie Mac (when does she find time to do her laundry, bless her heart?) Denis Sulta, Rag N’Bone Man, Kano and maybe a total of 100 acts on 12 stages. That’s right, twelve.

(By the way, our all-time fav Idris Elba will be there … he’s a DJ/musician when he’s not a movie star. Who knew. Not sure if he surfs ….)

There’s also wellness and fitness, beach time, glamping and non-stop activities to make certain you never get bored.

Of course, something on the Idris Elba level is not inexpensive. But the prices for Boardmasters seem pretty reasonable compared to what we see the tech and startup events charging. Day tickets start at 59 pounds and go to 350 pounds for the VIP experience, which includes all the after parties. BUT, you have to buy separate tickets for many events including the surfing competition.

Cannes – Les Plages Électroniques: The Festival de Cannes movie week will be long over, but the party will still be going strong.

Les Plages Électronique is expected to bring 40,000 dance-and-beach fans from all over the world to Cannes from 10 to 12 August for one of the last big blow-out EDM festivals of the summer.

LPE claims 40,000m2 (500,000 square feet) of dancefloors, 4 stages and more than 40 artists, mostly deep house DJs. New for 2018 are afterparties in Rotunda of the Palais des Festivals that will go to 5 a.m. Oh, yeah, this is a serious party.

Marquee acts include Kölsch and Norwegian DJ/music producer Kygo.

Tickets start at about 77 euros and you can get them here.

Varna, Bulgaria – MTV Beach Party:  Okay, we just got a news release from Dimitrina Mladenova at MTV Presents Varna Beach, and we now know three things we didn’t know before:

• MTV Presents Varna Beach is scheduled for 12 August

• Rita Ora is going to give her first performance in Bulgaria

• Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m.  Friday April 27th

Early bird tickets are only 20 euros and it’s probably wise to order now in order to take advantage of promo prices.

You can get them here.

Tickets also are available through the Eventim network in Bulgaria.

This is Year Two of MTV’s event in Varna, which is Bulgaria’s No. 3 city, but its No. 1 resort destination with its resorts on the Black Sea.

Last year’s MTV Beach Party put Varna on the map as an international party destination along with Croatia and other sea-and-sun cities. It’s funny what building a stage, having cool lighting and bringing in stars on the level of Steve Aoki can do for a town’s rep.

Rita Ora has been announced as one of the acts, with R3WIRE & Varski making their returns. Ora has had back-to-back Top 10 hits since including ‘For You’, ‘Anywhere’ and ‘Your Song.’

More acts are to be announced soon, and we just got word that Years & Years (Sanctify) is confirmed on the international line-up,

Zambujeira do Mar, Portugal – MEO Sudoeste: This is one of the purer festivals in terms of minimal commercialism and maximum fun. In fact, their motto is “Party all day, party all night.”

MEO Sudoeste 2018 runs from 7 thru 11 August for a full week of music and whatever on the Atlantic way south of Lisbon. And according to the pub we read, people come for five and stay for 10 at “an extended summer camp.” If you check out the vid, you’ll see MEO Sudoeste is as much about camping, hanging out and swimming as it is about music.

No Annie Mac, no Martin Garrix nor Dua Lipa. Headliners for 2018 include Brazilian reggaeton singer J. Balvin (remember, Brazil’s official language is Portuguese), Portuguese hip-hop artist DeeJay Telio and Marshmello.

There actually are some biggish names this year including Shawn Mendez, Dutch DJ Hardwell and Lil Pump of “Gucci Gang” fame.

Full passes start at 115 euros and you can get them here.

Crato, Portugal – Waking Life: Okay, we’re going to take it down a little bit as the summer ends, with a quirky party in Portugal.

Waking Life runs from 15 thru 19 August in a Medieval city about 60 kilometers northeast of Lisbon. Unlike the huge commercial parties, this is sort of a pitch-in, part music festival, part consciousness-raising, with only 3,500 tickets instead of 20,000 at some festivals.

For those lucky 3,500 partiers, there are at least 120 acts, which has to be the highest guest-to-performer ratios in Europe. DJs are from all over the place … from the US to Paris to Berlin, and of course from Portugal and Spain. Music ranges from classic club to completely esoteric.

You can see the full lineup here.

From the website:

Immersive performances, stimulating installations, cinema, workshops, interactivity consisting of carefully selected musicians, artists and performers. The lake and woods beside it will be the perfect setting to indulge in a broad spectrum of art and sound, free from judgment, surrounded by like-minded creatures.

This is actually a themed week of events. The themes are: Human impact, universal languages and healing.

More for the artsy set (check out the well-done website) and less pure commercial sybaritics.

Tickets start at 75 euros and you can get them here.

There’s a page on the website dedicated to the finer details of Waking Life. Worth a read if you decide to go.

Zrce Beach, Pag Island, Croatia – Sonus Festival 2018: One of the biggies, Sonus is yet another festival in Croatia, running from 19 thru 23 August. But it totally keeps with the spirit of our list: “Sonus is more than a rave, it is your perfect summer vacation paired with the best parties the electronic music world has to offer.”

With Sonus, you almost don’t need a place to stay … you just stay up for days because there are 70 acts in three clubs.

From the website:

Want to celebrate open-air all night? Want to watch the sunrise while listening to your favorite DJs play? Want to go swimming in crystal clear waters all day just to do it all over again tomorrow?

We have to hand to Sonus Festival – they have created their own extremely detailed on-line guide with info on everything from how to get to Pag Island to where to stay (we were kidding about not sleeping … sort of) to all the activities outside the festival to a full list of phone numbers to book taxis … ah, if they were all this organized.

Here’s the lineup for 2018, which keeps getting updated.

Tickets start at 179 euros and you can get them here.

Utopia (okay, Northamptonshire, UK) – Shambala: This one is for those who can tell their sister/brother by the flowers in his/her eyes on the road to Shambala, where everyone is so helpful, everyone is so kind. Ah, ooooh-hooo, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

You know what we’re talking about.

From 23 thru 26 August, Aventures in Utopia will be the order of the day in the Middle of Nowhere, England north of London. Yes, there will be music. Lots of music. But this is a consciousness-raising event for the Creative Class, with debates, seminars, circuses and acrobats, poetry and theatre along with 200 music acts. Two hundred acts, and we’ve literally never heard of one of them, which is a record.

And which could go either way … you could discover new music that’s not on anyone’s radar, or you could just skip the music and go straight for the food, which looks freaking amazing even though there is no fish or meat.

Anyway, music kind of seems to be beside the point because most of the EDM and pop acts are too commercial for Utopia. (Could you imagine Liam Gallagher at this?)

You really need to read the “Our Principals” section before you go because this ain’t Sonus (see above). This is a family-friendly gathering where random acts of kindness are encouraged.

Tickets start at 149 euros, but it’s looking very close to sold out for 2018. There’s always next year.

São Gião, Portugal – Insomnia Festival: There are two Insomnia festivals – one in Norway, one in Portugal. Confusing, we know. But this is the one in middle-of-nowhere Portugal, between Porto and Lisbon on the edge of the Sara da Estrella mountains. The perfect setting for what is a blend of counterculture festival (read, psychedelics) and EDM festival.

This is another Portugal event that’s kinda about the experience of bringing the tribes together, which includes camping and hanging out outdoors. Insomnia runs from 31 August till 2 September. The DJs are from all over – South Africa to Spain to Israel to Australia.

There are also lots and lots of things to do during the day including workshops such as creative free movement, “Self Sustainability is Freedom,” yoga, of course, drumming and tribal meditation.

Tickets are 40 euros, which doesn’t include camping. You can get them here.

Somewhere just northwest of London – Field Maneuvers: This is the original mystery festival … you don’t find out exactly where it is until you buy your tickets. (We do know the dates  – 31 August thru 2 September.)

As their press promo states, “If you’re into electronic oddities and all-out debauchery, Field Maneuvers is for you.” This is another gathering of the tribes event, organized by a group of friends, with Field Maneuvers limited to 700 people hanging out for three nights in one field. And you can rent your own yurt. (No, really.)

We weren’t all that familiar with the music line-up, so we went to the Soundcloud sample and the best description we can come up with is “eclectic.” You can hear the samples here.

Tickets are 129 pounds, and about 200 people of the 700 have booked as of late June. You can get tickets here.

On the edge of the desert outside Marrakesh, Morocco – Atlas Electronic: This is yet another world music and arts festival wrapped in an exotic trip, and easily accessible from Europe.

Atlas Electronic, which runs from 30 August to 2 Sept. has some surprisingly diverse experiences from dancing to the ubiquitous Jaime XX to listening to obscure African musicians to arts and culture to lux accommodations. Despite the “Atlas Electronic” moniker, much of the music is actually acoustic.

Atlas Electronic is held at Villa Janna, an ecolodge a few miles outside Marrakech. Though it’s run by a Dutch group, the website is exceedingly unhelpful when it comes to actual details about the event down to the dates or how to get there, but the Atlas Electronic itself looks great. Attendance is capped at 2,000 people, so don’t wait to get your ticket.

The final batch is on sale at 164 euros and you can get them here.

If you want a preview, the Independent website has a great review of the 2017 Atlas Electronic, which you can see here.

September

Pula, Croatia – Outlook FestivalFor more than a decade, Outlook Festival has been the world’s leading celebration of sound-system culture; the ideal festival/holiday for artists, fans and bass aficionados looking for a low-frequency fix.

But the reason we want to go? Boat parties. Imagine floating in the Adriatic from 5 Sept. to 9 Sept., the last warm days of summer.

So, beach parties, all-night raves and at least 50 boat parties, along with acts including J Hus and Bonobo in concert in Pula’s 2000-year-old amphitheater. (We count at least 200 acts/DJs.)

You can see the full lineup here.

Outlook genres include reggae, dubstep, bass, grime, DnB, garage, dub, soul and hip-hop …. 380 hours of music over, according to the website.

Tickets start at 198 euros for the week and you can get them here. Boat party tickets are an extra 24 euros.

Portmeirion, Wales – Festival No. 6: This festival was conceived as something completely different – a cultural event in a small pastel-painted, Italian-style village with a castle in northwestern Wales … an event to take you away from the doldrums of daily reality. And it worked.

Too well.

This is the final year, apparently. Or at least till organizers can figure out how to scale-up the festival. They announced they’re “taking a break” after this year, but the message announcing this doesn’t have any details if, when or where Festival No. 6 will resume. So, if you want to experience this quirky event, this year from 7 to 9 September might be your last chance.

This is a festival with a crazy mashup of music, ranging from Franz Ferdinand to Horse Meat Disco. We count at least 60 musical acts from headliners to “who?” You’ll be relieved to know the Brythoniaid Welsh Male Voice Chorus will be there for what could be the final event.

You can see the full lineup here.

This is a family affair, so of course, there will be a kids’ rave and lots of kids events including romps in the woods. And it’s about more than music, with artists and authors. Entry starts at about 200 pounds and you can get the few remaining tickets here, but we wouldn’t dally at this late date.

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

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.

Ghajn Tuffieha, Malta, The Bubble 2018 – A Festival of Life: Can you do good and have fun? Yes, if you let yourself live and think outside The Bubble, a summer-ending celebration of life.

This music festival and consciousness-raising event, run by an NGO, takes place over a full week, 17 thru 23 September in Malta. This is another chill all day, party all night event, but way beyond the typical music-and-molly experience at EDM festivals.

From the website:

The Bubble will sweep you out of the city and into a stunning natural environment, immersing you in an atmosphere of learning, creativity, fun, relaxation, charity, sharing of new ideas and awakenings to what’s going on outside your Bubble!

Let’s start with the music: You’ve never heard of any of the dozens of performers, which run mostly from garage bands to nouveau folk singers. There’s an Indian dance show, jams and lots of percussion. But the reason you came is you’re seeking the company of people who believe in the things you do – sustainability, tranquility and a stellar yoga session overlooking the sea.

There are workshops, food and art. And here’s another reason you’ll want to go … all the money raised goes to environmental and humanitarian efforts. Last year, that tallied 16,500 euros.

Tickets start at 25 euros for a weekend pass (remember, this is a full week) and camping starts at 45 euros and goes up to 240 euros for glamping.

You can get tickets 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.

Summer Closing Parties

We don’t like to think about it, but yeah, summer ends … usually with a bang, not a whimper.

Here are some of the closing parties:

Summer Closing 2018 at Zrce Beach, Croatia, 30 Aug. to 2 Sept. at two clubs, Aquarius Beach Club and Noa Beach Club.

Martin Garrix Closing Party at Ushuaïa, Ibiza, 30 August. Tickets start at 50 euros.

David Craig’s TSF Closing Pool Party, Ibiza Rocks Hotel, 25 September. Early-bird tickets start at 27.50.

Resistance Ibiza with Carl Cox, 11 Sept. Carl Cox will play a solo set and a first time B2B with Maceo Plex. Tickets are 60 euros.

• Anytime

Here’s a quick list of the best destinations to pull together your own pop-up parties:

Croatia:

• On the Southern Dalmatian Coast, Orebic and Korcula between Dubrovnik and Hvar.

• On the Middle Dalmatian Coast: Drvenik and Tucepi have beautiful beaches; Zaostrog is cheap and great for campers.

• On the North Dalmatian Coast: Primosten is literally breathtaking, with a quiet sandy beach on one side and a wild, stone beach with surfing possibilities on the other side.

Cyprus:

Ayia Napa is famous for two things: beautiful beaches and a wild party scene. On the Greek side of Cyprus, this is a huge destination for Brits … and incredibly affordable.

Greece:

Kavos started out as a quaint seaside village. Somewhere along the line, it morphed into a major party center through the summer, attracting 100,000 young Brits each year. There’s even a documentary about the madness.

Kos has a reputation as a party island especially popular with Germans. We’ve been there. It’s true.

Mykonos often gets compared to Ibiza. Check out Nammos Beach Club and Paradise Beach.

Balearic Islands:

Everyone knows Ibiza is THE party destination in Europe. But did you know Ibiza has Privilege, which claims to be the world’s largest nightclub, with a capacity of 10,000 people?

Bigger than Ibizia and (slightly) more sedate, Mallorca still knows how party hardy.

Magaluf west of Palma is the wildest of the party destinations

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