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 Sziget 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
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?

The Pinkpop 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
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
Where: Biddinghuizen, Netherlands

4. Rock Im Park

Rock im Park is the twin festival to Rock am Ring and this year it stars the German punk band Die Ärzte, Tool, Slipknot, Slayer, Bring Me The Horizon, The Smashing Pumpkins, Die Antwoord, The 1975, Tenacious D and many more.

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
Where: Nuremberg, Germany

5. Isle of Wight Festival

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, George Ezra and Biffy Clyro 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
Where: Newport, Isle of Wight, UK

6. Southside Festival

I felt grossly ignorant when I found out about the Southside Festival which is the sister to the Hurricane Festival sharing its lineup. How could I not know about a three-day festival that’s right around the corner from me? And look at the line-up!

Foo Fighters, The Cure, Die Toten Hosen, Tame Impala, Mumforf & Sons and Macklemore, all included in a rocking weekend at this festival in the Southern German region of Baden Württemberg.

When: June
Where: Neuhausen Ob Eck, Germany

7. Primavera Sound

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

A true millennial festival, now blowing its 19th candle out, hosts the prime of the artsy pop and rock, with some very unusual guests. Stereolab are playing their first show together since 2009. Cardi B, Tame Impala, Stereolab, Solange and many others will also be performing at Primavera. Over half of the participating acts are women.

When: May, June
Where: Barcelona, Spain and Porto, Portugal

8. NOS Alive

JACK WHITE! QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE! NINE INCH NAILS!

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
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. Tool and The Cure are headlining the festival along with Florence + The Machine and MUSE at the Rock Werchter Festival.

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: June
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: June
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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