Lifestyle & Culture

Volume 3: Dispatches’ 2018 list of the best music festivals in Europe (updated)

The music festivals 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 Arch Enemy and Exhorder; losing yourself in the wubs of Orbital and Helena Hauff; dancing in the moonlight with Skinny Puppy and Blutengel; or bouncing around to the sounds of Foo Fighters and Britney Spears, 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, continuing with our third volume, which covers July; these were originally in the second volume, but were moved here because summer in Europe is full of music. We’re working on Vol. 4, which will start with August.

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

[email protected]

[email protected]


Aarhus – Aarhus Jazz Festival: Looking to jazz up your July in Denmark? Then head over to Aarhus 14 through 21 July for the 30th edition of the Aarhus Jazz Festival.

In 1989, Musikhuset Aarhus, along with the city’s local venues, came together to “establish an event with international stars and new talents in jazz,” one that would liven up the otherwise “stagnant and quiet” summers in Aarhus. Today, the city’s summer is alive, and the Aarhus Jazz Festival is the second largest jazz festival in all of Denmark.

Come celebrate the pearl anniversary of the Aarhus Jazz Festival with this lineup:

Burt Bacharach; Pianotrio; Katrine Falkenberg & Kvartet; Michael Bladt & Frederik Vuust Trio; Claire Martin; HVID; Uffe Steen & Peter Vuust; Melody Gardot & Aarhus Jazz Orchestra; and many more

Tickets to the Aarhus Jazz Festival are sold by the participating venues per performance; thus, prices will vary.

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.

Boom – Tomorrowland: Boom, Belgium’s Tomorrowland is the one of most popular music festivals in the world, if not the universe.

Tomorrowland is so big — 400,000 attended in 2017 — it’s held on two separate weekends in July at a dedicated park. This is more than a music festival: it’s a global enterprise that can book your trip — including airfare/bus/train — then provides high-end food and beer, as well as a place to stay like DreamVille, where there are sleeping accommodations.

And it’s notoriously hard to attend; in 2015, the 10th anniversary of Tomrrowland, there were 2 million people on the waiting list after the festival sold-out in 8 seconds.

This year’s Tomorrowland is scheduled for 20 through 22 and 27 through 29 July. The theme is “The Story of Planaxis,” which refers to a genus of small sea snails; thus, lots of watery journeys and dreams this time around.

What sirens shall Tomorrowland’s sailors encounter in 2018?:

Vini Vici; Kölsch; Axwell; Armin van Buuren; Hardwell; Fatboy Slim; Charlotte de Witte; Nina Kraviz; Steve Aoki; NGHTMRE; Ace Ventura; Paul Oakenfold; Tiësto; and many more

The only way to purchase a ticket is to first register for the ticket sale; alas, registration ended in early February. And tickets are sold out. Thus, be sure to mark a reminder in December 2018 so you can register in January 2019 for a shot at a ticket to this unique extravaganza.

Cologne – Amphi Festival: Get ready to welcome the dark within in 2018 at the Amphi Festival in Cologne, Germany!

The two-day dark music festival on the Tanzbrunnen—scheduled for 28 and 29 July—has hosted a number of electronic, gothic, and alternative artists over the past 13 editions, including Project Pitchfork, And One, Front 242, and Skinny Puppy.

This lineup is ready to turn the day into night, if only for a while:

Assemblage 23; And One; Funker Vogt; In The Nursery; Midge Ure; Oomph!; Soviet Soviet; Solar Fake; and many more

Tickets to the 14th Amphi Festival are €83 for a two-day pass, €59.50 for either day of the festival. And if you want to start things off a day early, €6.60 will get you into the pre-party on 27 July, featuring guest DJs from some of the acts scheduled to perform at Amphi.

Copenhagen – Copenhagen Jazz Festival: Need your jazzy Danish July earlier? Then Copenhagen has you covered with the 40th edition of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival 6 through 15 July.

Since 1979, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival has been “one of Europe’s most important international music events based on eminent artistic quality and a sharp focus on new departures in both Danish and international jazz.” More than 250,000 fans flood the city over 10 days to enjoy over 1,200 performances in around 120 venues. And the festival welcomes all, from jazz believers to those who are experiencing jazz for the first time, young and old.

This lineup is ready to celebrate the ruby anniversary of Denmark’s biggest jazz festival:

Pharoah Sanders; Peter Vuust Trio feat. Veronica Mortensen; The Spirit of New Orleans; Scandinavian Old Stars; Brad Mehldau Trio; Christina von Bülow & Søren Kristiansen; Ray Charles Tribute feat. Bobo Moreno og Tricia Boutté; Jeff Beck; Billy Cross; Melody Gardot; and many more

A few performances at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival are free to all. For the rest, tickets can be purchased through the programme.

Gdynia – Open’er Festival: No part of the continent is lacking in music this time of year, including Gdynia, Poland, located just to the north of Gdańsk (a.k.a., Danzig) along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea. There, you will find the Open’er Festival, scheduled for 4 through 7 July.

Originally known as Open Air Festival (and held in Warsaw from 2002 through 2005), tonnes of big names have graced the stages of Open’er over the years, including Lorde, Radiohead and Pearl Jam.

Danzig won’t be at Gdynia this year, but they will:

Depeche Mode; Bruno Mars; Arctic Monkeys; Migos; Gorillaz; Fleet Foxes; Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds; Massive Attack; Young Thug; and many more

Tickets to the 2018 Open’er Festival are PLN 259 – PLN 659 (€62 – €157), depending on how many days you wish to attend and/or whether or not you want to camp at the festival.

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 got you 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.

London – The BBC Proms: For eight weeks during the summer each year, London becomes the Mecca of Classical Music when The BBC Proms take over Royal Albert Hall.

If you’ve never been to The Proms before, the summer-long music festival has nothing to do with the proms of your high-school youth, but with the idea of holding classical music concerts — called promenade concerts — against the informal setting of London’s many pleasure gardens. The first Prom kicked off 10 August 1895 in the Queen’s Hall in Langham Place, helmed by impresario Robert Newman, and conducted by Sir Henry Wood, whose name would go on to become the official name of the festival: Henry Wood Promenade Concerts

The programme for the 124th edition of The Proms—scheduled for 13 July through 8 September—will be announced 19 April. Meanwhile, you can subscribe to the festival newsletter to learn when ticket sales begin in May. And you’ll definitely want to subscribe, if only so you’ll be ready to buy your tickets to Last Night of the Proms and Proms in the Park, the big sendoffs for The Proms that are all about Britishness.

Madrid – Mad Cool Festival: Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival is celebrating its third anniversary 12 through 14 July in its new home, the Mad Cool Espacio in the capital city’s Valdebas-IFEMA neighborhood.

Though Mad Cool is a young affair, it’s already one of Spain’s biggest festivals, having already pulled in the likes of Neil Young, The Who, Jane’s Addiction, Foo Fighters, Foster the People and Wilco in its first two editions. The new location for this year’s edition can hold 80,000 per day, 35,000 more per day than its birthplace, Madrid’s Caja Mágica.

Wondering who will help christen the new crib this year?

Alice In Chains; Nine Inch Nails; Depeche Mode; Cora Novoa; Modelo de Respuesta Polar; Portugal. The Man; Underworld; Yo La Tango; Tame Impala; and many more.

Tickets to the third edition of Mad Cool Madrid are nearly sold-out, with only single-day tickets available for €85; VIP single-day tickets are €175.

Nibe – Nibe Festival: A 45-minute flight from Copenhagen to Aalborg and a half-hour drive southwest will lead you to the town of Nibe, home of one of Denmark’s six largest music festivals, the Nibe Festival.

For over three decades, the Nibe Festival has turned the Skalskoven into a music wonderland every July. Over 60,000 attend the festival’s 100 performances annually, carried out over five stages featuring the best in Danish and international music. Proceeds from the festival are donated each year to various non-profits devoted to growing the arts in North Jutland.

The midnight sun shines bright upon this lineup in Nibe:

The Script; Mew; Aqua; DJ Alligator; Faustix; Dizzy Mizz Lizzy; Big Boi; Velvet Volume; Go Go Berlin; Shotgun Revolution; and many more

Tickets to the 2018 edition of the Nibe Festival—scheduled for 4 through 7 July—are DKK 595 (€80) for single-day tickets, DKK 1,575 (€212) for a full festival pass. Camping tickets are also available.

Nijmengen – Valkhof Festival: Need more variety in your life? Then head up to Nijmengen, Netherlands 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.

Rüsselsheim – Love Family Park: This is Germany’s oldest EDM festival, celebrating its 22nd year in a new location after two years at Mainz, Germany’s Messepark. On 28 July, Love Family Park will bring an all-star line up some of the biggest names in underground music to Rüsselheim on the southwest edge of Frankfurt, Germany.

Also: Is Nina Kraviz booked at every EDM festival in Europe? (Yes; it’s better than working on the teeth of cosmonauts, though. – Cameron) (HAH! – Terry)

The 2018 lineup includes:

Richie Hawtin; Nina Kraviz; Sven Väth; Solomun; Fritz Kalkbrenner; Seth Troxler; Loco Dice; Ricardo Villalobos; Boris Brejcha; Amelie Lens; Pan-Pot; Chris Liebing; and many more.

Tickets to Love Family Park are €45 for the first-release group, €119 for backstage tickets.

Shepton Mallet – NASS Festival: Need some sports with your wubs? The NASS Festival at the Royal Bath & West Showground in Shepton Mallet, England 5 through 9 July is your hook-up.

Once through the gate, you can watch the world’s best skaters “compete for international acclaim in park and vert,” along with the best BMX riders competing in various programmes. There’s also street art to take in “from some of the country’s finest street artists from Bristol and beyond.”

And of course, a proper soundtrack for the concrete jungle of NASS:

Dizzee Rascal; Run DMC; De La Soul; Rebel Kleff; Gentleman’s Dub Club; Sox; Chucky; and many more

Tickets to the action of the Nass Festival start at £133 (€150) for weekend camping from Thursday on, £168 (€190) for VIP weekend camping from Thursday on.

Tisno – Hospitality On The Beach: Drum & Bass overlords Hospitalitydnb are bringing their finest sounds to Tisno, Croatia’s The Garden 12 through 16 July with their first-ever Hospitality On The Beach.

Lose yourself over five days of wubs and sand across multiple stages, boat parties, and the wildest gatherings of sound lasting until the sunrise.

They’ll provide the wubs… and maybe some suds:

Andy C; Camo & Krooked; Inja’s Fully Fuelled Flex feat. Pete Cannon; Kasara; Utah Jazz; Lenzman; The Prototypes; Total Recall; and more

A ticket to Hospitality On The Beach will set you back £159 (€186).

Tisno – SUNcéBeat: A couple of days after Hospitalitydnb move on to their next tour stop, The Garden becomes the setting for the ninth editon of SUNcéBeat 18 through 25 July.

Curated by the organizers of Southport Weekender, the annual festival brings a full week of disco, house, techno, soul, R&B, and funk to ensure a good time is had by all. Plus, SUNcéBeat was the winner of Clubbing Croatia’s Best Disco & House Festival in 2016.

Who’s got the SUNcéBeat funk in 2018?

Motor City Drum Ensemble; Jayda G; Hyenah; Helen Ting; Jamie 3:26; Terry Jones; The Menendez Brothers; and more

A full pass to SUNcéBeat is currently £165, but will rise in price soon enough. Children under 16 accompanied by a full-fare paying adult get in free.

Vig – Vig Festival: Looking to immerse yourself in the Danish music scene? An hour’s drive westward along Route 21 from Copenhagen will bring you to the town of Vig, home of the long-running Vig Festival.

Since 1996, the Vig Festival has presented a programme designed for the whole family to enjoy, providing a safe space for children in particular. Around 13,000 come to the festival annually to check out the best of the national music scene, from up-and-coming talent and current stars, to classic artists and tribute bands.

This lineup can be on your Danish-themed Spotify playlist:

Thomas Helmig; Nik & Jay; The Corridors of Power; Aura; Saveus; Jesper Binzer; Uncle Reje; and many more

Tickets to the 2018 edition of the Vig Festival—scheduled for 12 through 14 July—are DKK 1,100 (€148) for a three-day pass, DKK 600 – DKK 725 (€81 – €98) for a day ticket, depending on the day chosen.

Wateringen – Waterpop: Cool off from the hot summer sun in Wateringen, Netherlands 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:

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.

Werchter – Rock Werchter: Starting off as a small rock and blues festival in 1975, Rock Werchter in Werchter, Belgium has grown to be one of the biggest rock and alt music festivals in Europe. The Cure (who shared their thoughts about Robert Palmer by playing a long version of “A Forest” before Palmer’s set in 1981), Lorde, Imagine Dragons, Radiohead, Triggerfinger, R.E.M., and Muse are among the many who have played Rock Werchter during the festival’s four decades.

Scheduled to perform at this year’s Rock Werchter—set for 5 through 8 July—include: Queens of the Stone Age; Gorillaz; Pearl Jam; Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds; Nine Inch Nails; The Killers; Alice In Chains; David Byrne; and MGMT.

A four-day pass to the 2018 edition of Rock Werchter will set you back €238; day tickets are €102. Camping and resort packages are also available.

Zamárdi – Balaton Sound: Central and Eastern Europe are among the hottest regions for a beach holiday right now; why not throw a festival or two in the mix? Case in point: Balaton Sound on Lake Balaton in Zamárdi, Hungary 4 through 8 July.

The sister festival of the Sziget Festival, Balaton Sound’s “5-day, non-stop beach themed music festival” is like every non-stop beach party in Ibiza, and more. And if you’re wondering where you’re going to put your wallet while dancing in the sun, there are a few contactless payment options available, including a waterproof payment bracelet.

Every beach party needs a proper soundtrack:

David Guetta; The Chainsmokers; DJ Snake; Axwell /\ Ingrosso; Ty Dolla Sign; Vini Vici; Princess Nokia; and many more

A five-day pass to Balaton Sound is €210, €310 for the VIP experience. Prices go up 1 May, so don’t sleep on this.

You can see more of the 2018 music festivals here.


Website | + posts

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

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