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.

Europe went from cold to hot without warning in April, and at the summer solstice, it’s only going to get hotter.

June is spring break time in Europe, and 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

Ayia Napa, Cyprus, Spring Break Ayia Napa 2018: This is a relatively new destination in southern Cyprus … and known for its unrestrained British partiers.

The island heats up early, with an average daily high temperature in the 30s in June. So “Spring Break” here lasts now till way into June. Which makes it easy to schedule a trip.

You can get a Spring Break package deal here at Clubbing Destinations. Or you can go your own way, as Christine McVie used to say, and stay in one of the beach hotels.

(Editor’s note: Thanks to Stefan Arestis for pointing out that Cyprus is NOT part of Greece as we stated in the original post. Our apologies ….)

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.

Dhërmi, Albania – Kala Festival: Yes, you’re reading this right. Party in Albania.

Having actually been to Albania, we can’t believe we’re recommending this. But hey, times change. Places change and suddenly, Albania is a travel destination.

And why shouldn’t it be? Think of Albania as an extension of Croatia’s Adriatic coast, but with far fewer tourists.

This is a debut, so there’s no track record as with most festivals/summer destinations. The website says to expect a boutique festival with sandy beaches, crystal-clear water and “shockingly good food” with a shockingly low price for tickets and accommodations of 245 pounds for eight days, 20 thru 27 June.

Performers are connected “more by spirit than genre, according to the website.

They include BBC 1 fave The Black Madonna, Moodyman from Detroit and Todd Terje from Norway.

The facilities look basic, but the sea looks sublime. You know, someone had to be the first person to show up for a festival/beach party in Croatia, right?

You can get tickets here, as well as more information about how to actually get to Dhërmi via Corfu.

Pag  Island – Hideout Festival 2018: Yet another huge summer party for the EDM crowd in Croatia. Hideout Festival, which runs from 25 June to 29 June, is on Zrce beach, near Novalja, at a string of open-air venues; Papaya, Aquarius, Kalypso, Euphoria & Noa. So, this is kind of a continuation of Spring Break Island above.

As with most of the Croatian parties, there are parties on land and on boats.

We count at least 26 acts/DJs – mostly from London – including rapper AJ Tracey (“Pasta”) and DJs Chris Lorenzo and Horse Meat Disco.

Tickets start at 149 pounds, and you can get them here.

• July

Northern Spain – Nowhere FestivalCan’t make it to Burning Man? Why not head out to nowhere with a few thousand friends at the annual Nowhere Festival in Northern Spain 3 through 8 July.

Held between the towns of Zaragoza and Lleida, the Nowhere Festival is a week-long “culmination of the music, languages, art, outfits, workshops, words, parties and people of a diverse, international community.” The biggest tenants of the gathering are to leave no trace it ever happened, and to be free to express yourself.

Tickets are 160 euros, and you can them here until 22 June. After that, you can monitor the Nowhere Festival’s FB page for unwanted tickets. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until next February to experience the Burning Man of the Iberian Peninsula.

PS – Make sure to bring an Identification to Nowhere Festival. The Spanish police are requiring organizers to keep a log of the name, nationality and an ID number for everyone on site. This will be kept in an actual log at gthe ate – NOT digitally –  only to be used in cases of emergency.

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.

Zarautz, Spain – Zarautz Surf Camp: From the same holiday company that brings you Ibiza Beach Camp comes this pop-up surf camp in Zarautz, Spain from 30 June through 22 July.

The all-inclusive camp includes two-hour surfing lessons, cold beers, pre-organized party nights, and more. And since the beach camp is held at the same time as the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, those adventurous (insane) enough to risk getting stomped on or gored (or both) by very angy bulls can take a bus from the surf camp to the Bull Bite Base Camp outside the famed Spanish city.

You can get tickets here.

Bilbao, Spain – Bilbao BBK Festival: Meanwhile, those who prefer music festivals over running away from stampedes can check out the nearby Bilbao BBK Festival 12 through 14 July.

Bilbao BBK Festival is a BFD, as Joe Biden likes to say.

Here’s just part of the lineup:

Chemical Brothers; The XX; Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds; Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover), Florence + the Machine and Gorrilaz

There also XX Nighy+Day Festival, an event with Jaime XX at the Guggenheim Bilbao before Bilbao BBK Festival.

Packages start at 60 euros/night, and you can book your trip here.

Le Barcarès, France – Electrobeach Music Festival: If your idea of the perfect summer is some of the biggest names in EDM on a beach in the south of France, this is your party.

From 12 thru 14 July, Le Barcarès, France near Spain is the place, and Afrojack, Carl Cox, Martin Garrix and Diplo are just some of the big names. There are three days, three stages and at least 43 DJs, by our count.

There are still tickets available starting at 149 euros, but we’re guessing you’ll be on a waiting list if you wait much longer.

You can get tickets here.

Split, Croatia – Ultra Europe 2018: This isn’t just another festival in Croatia. This scene has spread around the world since Ultra began with British entrepreneurs and Dutch DJs in Miami!

If you’re looking for (and willing to pay for) The Big Names, Ultra Europe is your summer destination from 5 to 11 July.

How big are the names for Ultra Europe? Legends, such as Carl Cox and Dave Guetta and global phenoms such as Chainsmokers, Afrojack and Hardwell. Just to name a few.

Ultra Europe is kind of two events – the first at a stadium in Split, and the second at a beach resort in Hvar. The major acts will play at the stadium 6, 7 and 8 July, with Tier 2 acts at the beach party on 10 July.

Everything starts with a pre-party on 5 July. The 149 euro tickets are sold out. Prices now start at 175 euros and you can get them here.

Madrid – Mad Cool Festival 2018: Of all the festivals on this list, there’s only one with this many major acts – new and retro – squeezed into three days, 12 thru 14 July: Mad Cool Festival.

Let’s just get right to the Big Names:

Pearl Jam; Sofi Tukker; Dua Lipa; Wolf Alice; Tame Impala, Arctic Monkeys; Jack White; Depeche Mode; Queens of the Stone Age; Nine Inch Nails.

Yeah, it would have been nice to have Chain Smokers, Camilla Cabello and Kendrick Lamar, but Mad Cool Festival looks pretty, well, mad cool.

Predictably, this is almost sold out, with just day entry tickets and VIP. You can get them here.

France – Musilac Aix-Les-Bains: This is the summer version of  Musilac Mont-Blanc.

From 12 thru 15 of July, the storied French spa resort on a lake at the foot of the Alps will be the setting for one of France’s biggest festivals. Musilac Aix-Les-Bains dates back to 2004, starting out with a lot of big-name acts including Peter Gabriel, The Cure, Franz Ferdinand,  Iggy Pop and Patti Smith. Now it’s more of a hodge-podge of big names and French acts.

But back for 2018 are Franz Ferdinand, Depeche Mode, The Stranglers and Deep Purple along with lesser-knowns French acts such as Mc Solaar, who’s actually pretty good!

Tickets start at 59 euros and you can get them here.

Faroe Islands – G! FestivalAny plans around mid-July? If sun and sand isn’t your thing, why not sauna and sand?

The annual G! Festival 11 through 14 July in the tiny village of Syðrugöta on the island of Eysturoy in the Faroe Islands (between Denmark and Iceland)  is more than a music festival: it’s an experience. The festival’s stages are built on the beach and the village’s football pitch, all surrounded by grass-covered mountains and the dark waters of the North Atlantic.

You can camp or stay in a B&B, check out the many popular bands on the Faroe Islands music scene, then relax in one of four Finnish hot tubs and a sauna on Göta Beach.

Steam and ice, light and dark, you don’t need foam in the Faroes: Rag & Bone Man Faithless, Benjamin Gibbard, Son of Fortune, Iris Gold, Elinborg, Frum, and a few more are booked for 2018.

Tickets start at 107 euros, and camping access begins at 13 euros/night. You can get them here.

Tromsø, Norway – Bukta Open Air Festival: This is about as far from Croatia and Ibiza as you can get, literally and figuratively. It’s almost 2,000 kilometers north (yes, north) of Oslo in the very top of Norway. Which means Bukta Open Air Festival – operative words “open air” – could mean less than ideal weather, even in mid-July.

Also, no EDM much less Skrillex.

But on a fjord and surrounded by mountains, this festival from 19 to 21 July is one that’s incredibly Instagramable … and one you’re not likely to forget. This is also the only festival in the world where you can buy Mack beer, made at the worlds’ most northerly brewery.

This festival dates back to a small free festival in 2004, run by volunteers. Today, Bukta is a really big festival with a mix of Norwegian acts and big-names such as Television. Well, a big-name act if you were part of the New York City art scene circa. 1975. Also on the bill are Nordic acts such as Hellacopters, Glucifer, Bel Canto and that Norwegian favorite, Heave Blood and Die.

Tickets start at 939 Norwegian Krone – or about 97 euros – and you can get them here.

The Bukta website has a ton of crucial information including how to get to the festival. Did we mention it’s 2,000 kilometers NORTH of Oslo?

• August

Kastellaun, Germany – Nature One: This is one of the few destinations in Germany that made our list, but it’s the Read Deal.

Nature One is in up in the Hunsrück Mountains due west of Frankfurt, an area we know well. And an area where you can’t really bother anyone. To that end, this is a festival that has the rather un-German ethos of “just do it.” Want to camp next to your car? Just do it. Want to lug your own sound system, trampoline, wading pool or foam cannon to Nature One in the trunk of your car? Just do it.

From 3 thru 5 August, you can just do it with 350 acts, 23 floors and 50,000 German, Dutch and French kids dancing to Nina Kraviz, Boris Brejcha and AKA AKA. There are different stages for different types of EDM/Techno, from commercial to the latest stripped-down format.

The different forums have different feels including one that recreates the Berlin club feel. There are 1 million m2 of camping space, so there should be room for everyone.

Tickets start at 84 euros and you can get yours here.

And do we really need to say it? Okay, just do it ….

Ibiza – BBC Radio 1 Weekend Ibiza 2018: This is the highpoint of the island’s party season. Exactly when it will be isn’t set yet. Though our guess is 3 thru 5 of August.

This is the weekend promoters showcase top DJs at clubs and parties. It’s also known as the “Scouse Weekend,” a reference to the Liverpool accent and the vast number of people from that English city pouring into Ibiza.

While we don’t have the details yet, it’s a pretty safe bet that Annie Mac and other BBC DJs will be on hand. That, and you’d better book tickets ASAP because the island is known to hit capacity with this event.

More as we know more.

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.

Presque’Île de Crozon, France – Festival du Bout du Monde: This translates to the Festival at the End of the World. And it kind of is, held in Parc Naturel Régional d’Armoriqua on a peninsula in the Atlantic in far, far western Brittany.

So this is a vacation and a place to hear everything from jazz to French folk music.

You can see the full lineup here.

Bout du Monde is a world-music festival run by a cooperative, and unlike most of the events/destinations here is family friendly, with space dedicated to kids and the adults who mind them.

The festival runs from 3 to 5 August, and the big name is Rag’n’Bone Man. French rapper/reggae star Naâman will also be there. But most of the acts are lesser knows from around the world – literally. We count 21 countries represented including Côte d’Ivoire, Israel-Ethiopia, Serbia and of course, world-music hub Senegal.

Tickets start at 35 euros, and you can get them here.

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, 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.

September

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.

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.

• 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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