Lifestyle & Culture

New for 2018: Dispatches’ list of the Netherlands’ best music festivals (updated)

Take it from us: No country parties like the Netherlands.

Exhibit A: The Flying Dutch, which features DJs crisscrossing the Netherlands by helicopter to play concerts in three major cities on the same day.

Of course, Dispatches Europe covers a tonne of music festivals across Europe every year, including our new music festival guides, which we are debuting this year.

However, we can’t ignore our own country’s festival calendar. The Netherlands has an insane summer music schedule for its citizens, expats, and international visitors every year. Thus, we bring you our new list of the best music festivals in our Oranje home.

The festivals on this year’s list are those which will take place from April through the end of 2018; a new list will be introduced in December 2018 to cover the entirety of 2019.

And of course, if you know of a music festival we should know about, email us at:

cameron@dispatcheseurope.com

terry@dispatcheseurope.com

Or hit us up on our Facebook page.

• JUNE

Amsterdam – Awakenings Festival: This is not just one event. Awakenings puts on concerts across the Netherlands and around the world throughout the year.

But the main event for 2018 is 30 June and 1 July. The summer Awakenings Festival is one of the biggest Techno/EDM festival of the year in the Netherlands, with 100 DJs in eight different areas at the Spaarnwoude recreational near  Amsterdam Sloterdijk between Amsterdam and Haarlem.

A lot of big names will be on hand including the ubiquitous Nina Kraviz, along with newbies such as I Hate Models. You can see the full lineup for 2018 in the vid above.

Tickets start at 52 euros, and there are hotel packages. Even with a capacity of about 100,000 people over the weekend, this could be a sellout is the weather is good.

Also, a word to the wise … even in the Netherlands, there’s a ban on drugs at festivals, even marijuana. So read the rules on the website, and be prepared to lose your stash when you enter.

Get your tickets here.

Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven – The Flying Dutch: This day of music scheduled for 2 June is absolutely something only the Dutch could dream up, then actually pull off.

Every year for The Flying Dutch, the 12 top Dutch DJs fly back and forth between The Flying Dutch Park in Amsterdam, E3-Strand in Eersel near Eindhoven and Ahoy Outdoor in Rotterdam, playing simultaneous concerts in three different cities on a 300-kilometer circuit.

(Who came up with this?)

And of course, this being the Netherlands, there are fireworks and whatever late into the night.

This year, the DJs are:

Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Brennan Heart, Don Diablo, Fedde Le Grand, Jebroer & friends, Lucas & Steve, R3hab, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, Tiësto and W & W.

The only huge name missing for The Flying Dutch 2018 is Martin Garrix. But Afrojack is pretty hot at the moment, working with Dave Guetta and Sia. And Tiësto and Armin van Buuren are also among the top-ranked in the world. (Yes, DJ Mag ranks the DJs. Come on … you knew that.)

So, who pays for all this? Hell if we know. Tickets start at only 49 euros, which is a DEAL in 2018. But, the three concerts draw a total of about 100,000 people and tickets go up to about 70 euros, so that’s about at 6 million euro gross. Which should be just enough for pay for the helicopters.

Get your tickets here, but don’t wait. All three venues will sell out.

Amsterdam – Luminosity: Four days of trance music on a beach (yes, Amsterdam has beaches.)

This is the 11th year of Luminosity, which runs from 28 June to 1 July. And of course, this is an Amsterdam-scale event. From the website:

100+ trance artists handpicked by pure trance lovers. Genres will range from progressive, over the finest in pure trance to the dirtiest in hard and psy trance and not to forget our beloved trance classics.

We count more like 120, but, yeah, it’s a big weekend.

Of course, all these DJs have to get paid. So tickets start at 120 euros. And there are hotel packages.

You can get tickets here.

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.

Take the red pill with this lineup to see how far down the rabbit hole goes:

Queens of the Stone Age; Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds; First Aid Kit; Franz Ferdinand; David Byrne; The Breeders; De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig; and many more

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.

Biddinghuizen – Defqon.1 Need a 21-bass cannon salute in your life? Then Biddinghuizen is where you need to be 22 through 24 June when Defqon.1 returns to begin its 2018 world tour.

Founded in 2003 by organizer Q-dance, Defqon.1 is all about electronic music, from hardstyle and hard techno to terrorcore and psychtrance. The Dutch event has drawn over 65,000 in recent years, with tickets sometimes selling-out as soon as they go on sale.

If you’re ready for the Maximum Force of this year’s Defqon.1, weekend passes are €145, €245 for premium passes. Day passes are available, as well.

You can see the full lineup here.

Hilvarenbeek – The Best Kept Secret Festival: Just outside the college town of Tilburg in Hilvarenbeek is an annual festival “all about giving you and your friends the opportunity to shape your own festival experience”: The Best Kept Secret Festival.

The festival is massive, with four stages of music and over 100 artists to experience, whether on the beach or in the woods. Interpol, Arctic Monkeys, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Beck and Radiohead are among the many to have performed at BKS over the previous five editions.

This year’s lineup may be the bestest best-kept secret ever:

Arctic Monkeys; LCD Soundsystem; CHVRCHES; Slowdive; The Internet; Tyler, The Creator; Cocaine Piss; Let’s Eat Grandma; Umfang; and many more

Weekend tickets to sixth annual The Best Kept Secret Festival—set for 8 through 10—are €175 with camping, €147.50 without camping. Day tickets are €84.


Hulst – Vestrock: There are lots of festivals in the Netherlands, but how many brew their own beer? Only Vestrock in Hulst can make that claim with Vestrock Blond, which you can drink to your heart’s content 1 through 3 June.

The intimate three-day festival boasts four stages and 65 acts performing for a crowd of 10,000 a day, all set on “a beautiful island in the fortified medieval city of Hulst.”

Raise your cup of Vestrock Blond to this lineup:

Mylene & Rosanne; Fource; Lil Kleine; Goe Vur In Den Otto; Lydmor; Equal Idiots; Blaudzun; Millionaire; and many more

A combiticket to Vestrock is €66.50, a collector’s ticket brings the price to €71.45. Day and camping tickets are also available.

Landgraaf – Pinkpop: Usually held annually on the Pentecost weekend (Pinksteren in Nederlands; thus, the festival’s name) in Landgraaf, Netherlands, Pinkpop is one of the country’s biggest music festivals around, born in Gellen in 1970.

The three-day festival from 15 to 17 June attracts 60,000 per day to its four stages, all gathered to see Rush, Muse, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, and more at the oldest and longest running rock and pop music festival in the world. This year’s lineup continues the legacy with headliners Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Bruno Mars.

Only the most righteous shall perform with the headliners on the Pentecost:

Snow Patrol; Editors; Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds; The Offspring; Triggerfinger; Jessie J; Lil Kleine; Ronnie Flex & Deuxperience; The Overslept; and many more

Tickets are €100 per day, €220 for a three-day pass. You can also obtain a collector’s ticket for an additional €4.95, the perfect keepsake for the fun you will have at Pinkpop 15 through 17 June!

Ouddorp – Concert at SEA: The Netherlands owes its current physical existence to the number of dams and land reclamation projects over the past centuries. So, why not have a music festival on one of those dams: Concert at SEA on Ouddorp’s Brouwersdam, scheduled for 28 through 30 June.

The Concert at SEA is a dream for music lovers, due in part to “the cozy and relaxed atmosphere at the festival site.” National and international acts are showcased at the festival, which includes a lot of street performers, lots of food and drink to go around, and camping.

Hold back the water with this seaworthy lineup:

Sting; Alanis Morissette; Ronnie Flex & Deuxperience; Wulf; Traudes; Danny Vera; Miss Montreal; and many more

Nearly all tickets to Concert at SEA are sold-out, with only Thursday tickets still available for €43.50. That said, there is a waiting list available, should tickets become available.

Tilburg – Festival Mundial: For 30 editions, Festival Mundial has brought the best of different worlds together to the heart of Tilburg, growing from a small, free gathering to the international city music and culture festival it is now.

Been around the world and I-I-I, found this lineup:

Armartey; Ebo Taylor; Nubiyan Twist; Secret Rendezvous; The Cool Quest; and more to come

Early-bird weekend tickets to Festival Mundial—scheduled for 23 and 24 June—are €52.50. Day tickets are €47.50.

• JULY

Amsterdam – Milkshake Festival: The rainbow flags will be out in full force when the absolutely fabulous Milkshake Festival returns to Amsterdam’s Westerpark 28 and 29 July.

Milkshake is a dance festival “that has been created from the thought ‘nothing should be a must, anything is possible’.” The festival welcomes all genders, sexualities, shapes, sizes and races, with the aim of bringing “courtesy and friendly manners back into society.”

Their milkshakes bring all the fans to the Westerpark:

Now&Wow; Less Drama More Techno; Flikker; Sexy Party; Liberated; Gaybar; and many more

A weekend ticket to Milkshake is €82.50, single-day tickets are €47.50. Camping and afterparty tickets are also available.

Amsterdam – Welcome to the Future: The future, it turns out, can be found 21 July at Het Twiske, a recreational area just north of Amsterdam Centraal train station.

Welcome to the Future, like most festivals in Amsterdam, has been going on for awhile, and top Dutch DJs such as Boris Werner have gone from kids to middle-age. But the festivals just keep getting bigger.

The WttF approach is to have all things for all people, with stages for:

  • House
  • Techno
  • Amsterdam
  • Circus
  • Basement
  • Forest

You can see the full lineup here.

WttF also has more of a social-consciousness theme than most of the festivals. A lot of the DJs are involved in progressive movements including Green and veganism. Since 2012 the festival has been rewarded with A Greener Festival award, and since 2014 with their highest rating.

Tickets start at 57.90 and you can get them here.

Hilvarenbeek – Woo Hah: If hip hop is what you’re after in the Netherlands, you need look no further than Woo Hah in Hilvarenbeek’s Beekse Bergen Safari Park 13 through 15 July.

Since the first edition in 2014, Woo Hah has always brought the best national and international hip hop acts to the house, including Method Man & Redman, Cypress Hill, Young Thug, Gucci Mane and Run The Jewels. The main lineup is complemented by a programme featuring art, sport and fashion.

Woo Hah! This lineup has gotchu all in check:

A$AP Rocky; Migos; Cardi B; Ski Mask The Slump God; Lil Pump; A$AP Twelvyy; Latifah; and many more

A weekend pass with camping to Woo Hah is €135, €99 without camping. Day tickets are also available for €59.

Lichtenvoorde – Zwarte Cross Festival: What happens when your mix motocross, music, theatre and stunts? Only the biggest paid open-air festival in the Netherlands (and the biggest motor event in the world), the Zwarte Cross Festival in Lichtenvoorde, only 10 kilometres from the Dutch-German border.

Named after illegal motocross races in the 1960s, Zwarte Cross has combined motorcycles and hard rock since its humble start in 1997. Blondie, Anthrax, Sepultura and K’s Choice are among the many to tear it up at the festival over the years.

Rev it up at Zwarte Cross with this year’s lineup:

2 Brothers On The 4th Floor; Birth Of Joy; BZB; Corpsessed; Crooxs; The Dyke; Death Alley; Kaiser Chiefs; Triggerfinger; and many more

Day tickets to Zwarte Cross are €27.50, camping tickets start at €120. And check out this year’s promo vid … it’s sublime.

Nijmengen – Valkhof Festival: Need more variety in your life? Then head up to Nijmengen for the 2018 edition of the Valkhof Festival 14 through 20 July.

For a whole week, experience more than 120 acts from the Netherlands and beyond, covering post-punk and prog, pop and rock, funk and hip hop, and so on. The festival is part of the International Four Days Marches Nijmengen, the largest multiple-day marching event in the world.

This lineup is ready to march into your heart at Valkhof:

45ACIDBABIES; Art of Bridges; Brass Rave Unit; Dakota; DJ Day Off; Iguana Death Cult; Yung Internet; and many more

Your wallet will only be needed for concessions and band merch, as admission is free.

Rotterdam – North Sea Jazz: North Sea Jazz in Rotterdam is the Netherlands’ biggest jazz festival, and has a long history dating back to 1976.

Both renowned artists and young talents take the stage at North Sea Jazz, and though jazz is a big part of the festival, blues, soul, funk, hip hop and pop music are also welcome. Over 150 performances will take place at the festival’s 15 stages during the weekend of 13 through 15 July.

Some of this year’s lineup’s art became vaporwave and future funk classics decades later:

D’Angelo; The O’Jays; Nile Rodgers & Chic; Earth Wind & Fire; N.E.R.D.; Sons of Kemet; Khalid; and many more

Three-day passes to North Sea Jazz are already sold-out; though VIP passes are still available for €1,010. Saturday day tickets are sold-out as well, while Friday and Sunday tickets are still available for €89.

‘s-Hertogenbosch – Electronic Family: We can’t leave ‘s-Hertogenbosch (aka Den Bosch) off the list.

This is for all the trance lovers.

Electronic Family comes to the leafy green edge of this rather posh city on 28 July. More than 50 international top DJs take over four stages at the Autotron Rosmalen, Den Bosch. Tickets start at 35 euros, so at that price, it’s worth taking your chances, right?

Here’s the initial lineup, which includes Vini Vici and Genix.

Wateringen – Waterpop: Cool off from the hot summer sun in Wateringen when Waterpop returns to rock the house at Hofpark 28 July.

Known as “the nicest festival in the Netherlands,” Waterpop began as a small party with two bands in 1978. Today, 13 bands provide the soundtrack for nearly 25,000 fans in attendance, the festival long-since becoming a household name in the Netherlands.

The nicest festival needs a nice soundtrack, after all:

Projekt Rakja; Leif de Leeuw Band; WULF; Blackbird; Blackwave; DJ Bombastic; and more to come

You’ll have plenty of cash to spend at Waterpop, as admission is free.

• AUGUST

Amsterdam – Dekmantel Festival 2018: In Amsterdam, like in Texas, they do things big.

Dekmantel is mostly held in a big forest. BUT, this 5-day festival and conference – 1 through 5 August – also has events in several other venues in and around Amsterdam including a concert hall on the IJ River. You should know up front that this is a bit of a logistical challenge. Check out the very detailed details right here about getting from one place to the other.

Okay … about the music. This is a seriously esoteric celebration of next-gen sounds. Or “genre-bending live sets and DJs,” as they say on the Dekmantel website. So no Afrojack or Kendrick Lamar.

From the website:

In 2018, we make way for contemporary tastemakers and emerging talent, without losing sight of dance music’s legacy and roots. As our most seasoned visitors know, there will be loads to explore.

We count about 130 artists announced.

Tickets start at about 32 euros and go to about 145 euros for a multi-day pass. About 9,200 people have checked “going” on the Dekmantel FB page and 24,000 are interested. Some tickets are sold out, so don’t delay.

Biddinghuizen – Lowlands: Proclaimed by the Dutch as “the event of the summer,” A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise — Lowlands, for short — returns 17 through 19 August to rock the village of Biddinghuizen, around 55 kilometres to the east of Amsterdam.

Lowlands is a successor to one of the first Dutch pop music festivals, A Flight to Lowlands Paradise, which was held in November 1967 and December 1968. The revival—under its current full name — began in 1993, and has since drawn an annual audience of 55,000 to its many stages (each stage — other than main sponsor Grolsch’s stage — named after the NATO phonetic alphabet).

Lowlands can’t be “the event of the summer” without this lineup:

Gorillaz; Kendrick Lamar; N.E.R.D.; The War On Drugs; Dropkick Murphys; Gogol Bordello; De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig; Patti Smith; Leafs; Zeal & Ardor; and many more

A full festival pass to Lowlands is €195. Cancellation insurance brings the price to €197.95, a collector’s pass comes to €199.95. And that’s before the camping and glamping add-ons.

Haarlemmermeer – Mysteryland: Near Amsterdam in Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands is one of capital city’s biggest music festivals, Mysteryland. And this year is a special year for the long-running extravaganza “renowned for its creativity and jaw-dropping production.”

From 24 through 27 August, Mysteryland will celebrate its 25th anniversary among “the beautiful fields, forests and lakes of the Floriade Terrain” with tonnes of big names and rising superstars!

The Spartans have nothing on this 300-plus lineup:

Hardwell; Paul Van Dyk; Ronnie Flex & Deuxperience; Fatboy Slim; Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike; and many more

Weekend tickets for the 25th anniversary of Mysteryland are €119, €284.50 for the VIP treatment. Camping and single-day tickets are also available.

Roermond – Solar Weekend Festival: Since 2005, Roermond’s Solar Weekend Festival has always brought the wubs and dubs together with pop sounds over four days under the early August summer sun, this year from 2 through 5 August.

What began as “a progressive initiative,” Solar Weekend has grown to become “a multi-day festival full of creativity, color and love!” This year’s theme, Imagine: Defining Creativity, brings Solar Weekend back to its base as a festival “where — in creative fields— everything is possible, and everything is allowed.”

Kriss Kross Amsterdam is first out the gate with its Solar lineup:

Kriss Kross Amsterdam; Geza; Raywell; Sanka Soundsystem; Kevin D; and more

More areas and lineups will be announced in the coming weeks. In the meantime, 3- and 4-day passes are available for €115 and €135. Weekend and day tickets are also available. Prices will go up on the passes as soon as the current phase sells out, which is close to happening as of this writing.


Scheveningen – Schollenpop: The second largest free open-air festival in The Hague area, the beaches of Scheveningen will come to life with sound and vision 25 August for the 2018 edition of Schollenpop.

What once was a beach party for a few friends in 1997, Schollenpop has grown to a really big beach party, drawing several national and international acts to the shores of the North Sea, including: Killing Joke; Bettie Serveert; Danny Vera; Sepultura; and Playground Zero.

You can see the initial lineup here.

Your wallet will remain fat for concessions and band merch at Schollenpop, as admission is free.


Vlieland – Into The Great Wide Open: Bid farewell to the Dutch summer holiday season on the island and city of Vlieland 30 August through 2 September when Into The Great Wide Open returns to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

The annual festival’s core is music, and is augmented by cutting-edge programming, visual arts, cinema, challenging activities and more, all cradled under the summer sky by the trees and sand of the Netherlands’ finest tourist spots.

Into the great wide open, these performers will play under them skies of blue:

Big Thief; Damien Jurado, Destroyer; Hauschka; Jeff Tweedy; Protomartyr; Rico & Sticks; The Posies; Wende; William Fitzsimmons; and more to come

Alas, tickets to Into The Great Wide Open sold-out 30 minutes after going on sale in early February. Thus, you’ll have to mark this one on your calendar for January 2019.

• SEPTEMBER

Tiel – Appelpop: Say hello to autumn in the heart of the Netherlands when Appelpop returns to the town of Tiel 7 and 8 September.

One of the largest open-air festivals in the country, Appelpop draws over 100,000 to the town centre to see national and international artists like Golden Earring, Bush, Anouk, Bombay Show Pig and Madness.

Get ready for this year’s apple harvest:

Golden Earring; Chef’Special; Jeangu Macrooy; Traudes; Wulf; and 21 more to come

You’ll only need money for concessions and band merch at Appelpop, as admission is free.

• NOVEMBER

Utrecht – Le Guess Who?: Entering its 12th year in 2018, Utrecht’s Le Guess Who? festival turns the entire city into a full celebration “of global sounds and musical boundary-crossing” over four days and 150+ performances in venues as varied as churches, art galleries and warehouses.

They just announced the lineup for the 2018 edition, scheduled for 8 through 11 November, and you can buy your full festival pass now for €117.50.

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