10 Of The Best Rock Festivals In Europe

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Cradle of Western civilisation, home of the most ancient cultures and epic rock festivals.

Does the Old Continent hide a wild side? Sure thing. There are so many music festivals, that not even a 30-points listicle would suffice. More often than not, rock festivals have a very heavy metal bill, but I get that the Devil’s music should have a softer side for those who don’t bang their head to the blast beat. Hence, here are the “purest” rock festivals in Europe (although some metal and pop acts show up every now and then).

From the one-size-fits-all festival on the Danubian island of Óbuda to the vast marshes of the Netherlands, we give you ten reasons to apply for a visa and embark on a rock and roll journey to Dear Old Europe.

1. Sziget Festival

Who wouldn’t dream of a one week party on an island in the middle of a dynamic city in Eastern Europe?

The festival is one of the longest lasting European events and has a menu for every taste: from acid house to heavy metal (friggin’ SLAYER played there!), this one-of-a-kind festival hosts the biggest names in the rock scene and it surely deserves an honourable mention on this list.

When: August 8th – August 15th, 2018
Where: Budapest, Hungary

2. Pinkpop

Who would have thought that pink was the colour of rock and roll?

Aye, there are some names that don’t quite belong to the genre, but one needs to vary the diet every now and then, isn’t it?

This festival is a real record breaker: it’s the longest-running festival in the Netherlands, with the first edition being held in 1970! Despite the location changing through the years, the gigantic site of Megaland is the official home of Pinkpop since 1988. After nearly 50 years, the event surely hasn’t lost its edge.

When: June 15th – June 17th, 2018
Where: Landgraaf, Netherlands

3. Lowlands

We do love our Dutch.

There would be at least two other names to add on this list (Best Kept Secret and the wonderful Down The Rabbit Hole), but then you’d have to quit your job, book a one-way flight to the Netherlands and move there forever.

The flat nation isn’t dull at all and they want to show how hard they rock with a selection of the best artists of the scene and TWELVE (yes, you read that right) stages to suit every palate.

When: August 17th – August 19th, 2018
Where: Biddinghuizen, Netherlands

4. Rock Im Park

This might be the hardest rocking festival in this list, as this year it stars the mighty Baroness, Meshuggah and none other than the Reverend of Darkness in person, Mr Marilyn Manson.

That headbanger friend of yours who wants to sweat its soul out is sure to find what they’re looking for. Three days, three stages, and…a LIDL shop?! No kidding, it’s really there. Anyway, there is space for electronic sounds, too, and you won’t go home unsatisfied.

When: June 7th – June 9th, 2019
Where: Nuremberg, Germany

5. Isle of Wight Festival

Kasabian, The Killers and the UK’s best music ambassadors of the latest three decades, Depeche Mode, are going to be there. Why the hell won’t you, then?

Speaking of festivals held on an island, we certainly couldn’t forget about the legendary Isle of Wight festival in the UK. The formerly known beat generation milestone found new life in 2002 and carries the torch of good vibe and rock and roll since then.

Here’s what your grandparents partied like.

When: June 21st – June 24th, 2018
Where: Newport, Isle of Wight, UK

6. Southside Festival

I felt grossly ignorant when I found out about this festival. How could I not know about a three-day festival that’s right around the corner from me? And look at the line-up!

The Prodigy, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys (well, you can actually see the latter pretty much everywhere, since they are engaged in a gruelling summer tour for the promotion of their latest album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino), all included in a rocking weekend in the Southern German region of Baden Württemberg.

When: June 22nd – June 24th, 2018
Where: Neuhausen Ob Eck, Germany

7. Primavera Sound

Primavera Sound, is about as close to a Coachella experience as you can get.

A true millennial festival, now blowing its 18th candle out, hosts the prime of the artsy pop and rock, with some very unusual guests. Would you believe that the occult black metal band Watain is playing there? It seems that Primavera Sound really likes to baffle its audience.

Speaking of, there’s a very big news for the fans of art pop. Performing at Primavera, in flesh and dramatic attire, the one and only Queen Bee of Iceland, Björk, and the astounding comeback of the pioneers of glam, Sparks. A real can’t-miss event (tips for next year: book your ticket weeeell n advance).

When: May, June TBA 2019
Where: Barcelona, Spain

8. NOS Alive


The explosive bill of NOS Alive is very much rooted into the Lusitanian musical heritage – an amazing chance to discover the traditional music of Portugal and enjoy the biggest names of rock (and many more).

Plus: you’re in Lisbon, and being there means nice places + nice weather = fun with a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean (or of the Tagus river, according to your position).

When:  July 12th – July 14th, 2018
Where: Passeio Marítimo de Algés, Lisbon, Portugal

9. Rock Werchter

As if you needed any more of a reason to visit the country besides a Trappist beer tour, Belgium fights fire with fire when it comes to music festivals. Nick Cave and David Byrne are headlining the festival along with Gorillaz and Fever Ray.

There’s also a wonderful camping site in the huge festival area. Mind to keep your bracelet safe and go enjoy the most colourful festival in Belgium with the locals – the biggest city in the surrounding area is Leuven, home of the Koeieschieters (cow shooters). Go ask them why and tell us how you liked it!

When: July 5th – July 8th, 2018
Where: Werchter, Belgium

10. Glastonbury Festival

Who doesn’t know Glasto?

The mainstream rock festival par excellence in the green fields of Somerset is the Eiffel Tower of everyone that counts in the show business. It’s a must for any festival lover.

Of course, the bigger the venue, the bigger the problems. Like that day in 1990, when a helicopter landed right during the set of The Cure, in the middle of Fascination Street (here’s the whole story, for a quick dig)? Anyway, just wait one year, lads. Glastonbury is a fundamental piece in the history of rock and a core event in your next European summer.

When: 26th-30th June, 2019 (they’re having a fallow year in 2018)
Where: Glastonbury, UK

Feature image credit: NOS Alive/ Hugo Macedo

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Maria Giulia Colombi

Italian, born in 1990, Aquarius. Someone seems to care about that, I absolutely don’t, but it allows me to tell some people to get their sorry arses out of my way and shrug my shoulders going “I’m Sorry Susan, I’m not bitchy, I’m just a real Aquarius”. My greatest superpower is going to concerts without taking pictures and being a dick to those who stand behind me.


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