Festival Guide 2017: Europe

Whether you fancy wandering through Hamburg's Reeperbahn district, exploring electronic music in Croatia or finding your new favourite band in Utrecht, you can bet we've got something for you – here's our guide to music festivals in Europe this year

Preview by Tallah Brash & Will Fitzpatrick | 28 Mar 2017

Sónar Istanbul
Istanbul, Turkey, 24-25 Mar
Having first taken place in Barcelona back in 1994, Sónar festival has now set its sights further afield, with bonus editions taking place in Reykjavík and Turkey’s largest city. It’s an electronic music festival with a difference, where the focus is squarely on sounds and styles from forward-thinking artists from across the globe: Moderat, Floating Points, Róisín Murphy, Tim Hecker, Nina Kraviz… not shit, basically. Definitely not shit at all. (from £38)

Mayrhofen, Austria, 3-8 Apr
Snowbombing is unique as far as festivals go; for a start it’s set in the Mayrhofen Ski Resort, 8,497ft above sea level in the Austrian Alps, letting you combine a skiing holiday with a music festival. With live sets from Run the Jewels and De La Soul, plus a jam-packed DJ line-up including Groove Armada, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Koze, Mike Skinner and Roni Size, you can hit the slopes by day and party hard all night. (from £299)

Annie Mac presents… Lost & Found
St Paul’s Bay, Malta, 13-16 Apr
Fancy getting away for the Easter Weekend? You could do worse things than head to a music festival on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta. This will be the second year that Mac will be bringing her all night raves, pool parties, boat parties and castle raves to St Paul’s Bay, and as well as catching Nadia Rose, Heidi and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard you can also treat yourself to a slice of J.E.S.u.S (Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Seth Troxler und Skream). (from £85)

Primavera Sound
Barcelona, Spain, 31 May-4 Jun
Barcelona’s Primavera Sound celebrates its 17th installment this year; now based mainly at the magnificent Parc del Fòrum overlooking the sea. Arriving during the day, partying through the night and leaving when the sun comes up, often via the beach, makes long days at Primavera some of the best days. This year the line-up includes Aphex Twin, Frank Ocean, Slayer, Death Grips, Solange, Arcade Fire, Grace Jones and more! The full festival is sold out but day tickets are still available. (from £68)

Explosions in the Sky at Primavera 2016, photo: Eric Pamies

NOS Primavera Sound
Porto, Portugal, 8-10 Jun
The Portuguese offshoot of Barcelona’s Primavera Sound; NOS Primavera Sound enters its sixth year of hosting their festival on the sublime grassy surroundings of the Parque da Cidade, translating quite literally as Porto City Park. When you’re not stuffing your face with piri-piri chicken or Portuguese egg custard tarts, you’ll be revelling to the sounds of Bon Iver, Justice, Aphex Twin, Teenage Fanclub, Run the Jewels or maybe even Michael Gira’s Swans. (from £93)

Ballinlough Castle, nr. Dublin, 23-25 Jun
Appealing to electronic music lovers and nature lovers alike, Body&Soul is an arts and music festival where like-minded people come together for three days to explore and discover new music, secret hideaways and glittering late night discos in the woodlands. Featuring art trails, spoken word, a masquerade ball and steaming hot tubs, Body&Soul celebrates life in all shapes and colours. Metronomy, Vitalic, Anna Meredith and Optimo are already confirmed. (from £140)

Gydnia, Poland, 28 Jun-1 Jul
Award winning festival Open’er is based on the north coast of Poland in the city of Gdynia. 2016 saw them celebrate 15 years of parties with performances from Red Hot Chili Peppers and LCD Soundsystem – the 16th installment sees them welcome Radiohead, James Blake, Foo Fighters, Mac Miller, The Weeknd and The xx to the festival. With day, weekend and full festival tickets available, pick the days you like or go for the whole damn thing! (from £47)

Bilbao BBK Live
Bilbao, Spain, 6-8 Jul
How many festivals take place at a complex specifically designed for that very purpose? OK, you’ve got us there: we don’t know. Still, it’s just one of the many impressive facets of this summer shindig, and with Depeche Mode, Die Antwoord and Phoenix lining up among the headliners this summer, we’d wager you’ll find a few more things to admire about it. Three days in the glorious Spanish sun? Why, that’s just a bonus… (from £98)

Electric Castle
Banffy Castle, Cluj, Romania, 12-16 Jul
Electric Castle is another festival in a unique setting, this time on the amazing site of Banffy Castle, near Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania. It shakes up the way people interact with a festival by combining an eclectic musical line-up with arts, technology and a visually innovative concept. Musical offerings this year include a strong cross-section of dance-heavy acts from deadmau5 to Moderat, Duke Dumont to Sohn and House of Pain to Soom T. (from £75)

Powell at Trans Musicales 2015

Melt! Festival
Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen, Germany, 14-16 Jul
Kamasi Washington. M.I.A.. Bonobo. MØ. Hercules and Love Affair. Huh? Whassat? Oh sorry, just reading through this year’s line-up at Germany’s biggest open-air festival of electronic music… as you can see, it’s pretty rad. Now in its 21st year, Melt!’s secret largely lies in the tried and trusted method of an excellent booking policy – hey, it’s done us right thus far, and this year looks set to be no exception. (from £119)

Kiewit, Belgium, 16-19 Aug
Or ‘pimple pop’, if you want us to get all Babelfish about it. First held in 1985, it plays host to a wide variety of what used to be known as ‘alternative music’ and is now largely known as ‘music’, and with The xx, Chance the Rapper and Bastille set to play, it looks as though they’re doing their usual sterling job of selecting both the biggest and the best artists around. Lovely stuff. (from £84)

The Lost Disco
Garden Tisno, Croatia, 17-20 Aug
Scotland’s much loved Eden Festival, renowned for being one of the most colourful and laid-back festivals in the UK, is taking its most popular stage, The Lost Disco, to Croatia’s Garden Resort for a festival all of its own with boat parties and DJs aplenty. Enjoy the cooling waters of the Adriatic Sea by day and dance the night away to a packed programme of funk, soul, Balearic house, Italo disco and party beats: The Skints, JFB and a Jazzanova DJ set top the bill at this one. (from £99)

La Route du Rock
St Malo, Brittany, France, 17-20 Aug
Four days on France’s Northwest coast? With some of the best music in the world? Aye, go on then. A stellar, indie rock-centric line-up confirms our annual suspicion that something excellent awaits: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ty Segall, Angel Olsen and Car Seat Headrest all feature, as well as Interpol playing their 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, in full.  And for the committed festival-goer, why not look ahead to next February and their winter edition? May as well, eh? (from £83)

Suuns at Le Guess Who? 2016, photo: Jan Rijk

Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia, 30 Aug-3 Sep
Dimensions is an underground electronic music festival, staged at a legit fort, which has been running since 2012. With a higher technical specification of sound systems than you’re likely to find at other festivals of its size, Dimensions is the perfect place to enjoy the deep end of electronica, the finest in house, techno, world, disco, dubstep and other electronic sounds. Grace Jones, MNDSGN, Romare, Daphni, Nina Kraviz, Gilles Peterson and Joy Orbison are just some of the acts you can catch this year. (from £140)

Hamburg, Germany, 20-23 Sep
Like most club festivals the world over, Reeperbahn includes its own set of business platforms and art programmes, but the music is undeniably the focus: last year it was held across more than 70 venues in the St Pauli district, and 2017’s scope should be equally vast. Indeed, it’s the biggest festival of its type in Germany, and while the line-up has yet to be unveiled, you can bet its dizzying enormity will leave you spoiled for choice. (from £25)

Pitchfork Paris
Paris, France, 2-4 Nov
Festivals aren’t all about sunshine, which is where we turn to Pitchfork Paris. Usually taking place over the last weekend in October it’s set at the Grand Halle de la Villette in the science park in the north of the city. Two stages face each other and it’s back-to-back hand-picked Pitchfork (the online mag) artists for three days – this year's line-up includes The National, Run the Jewels, Sylvan Esso, Kamasi Washington, Cigarettes After Sex and Loyle Carner. (from £87)

Le Guess Who?
Utrecht, Netherlands, 9-12 Nov
A club festival that takes place across one of the Netherlands’ prettiest cities, Le Guess Who? takes the multi-venue arts complex of TivoliVredenberg as its centre, providing a stage for indie rock heroes, experimental adventurers and obscure gems alike. It’s a music nerd’s paradise, in fact; not only are there chances to see your heroes up close and personal, but concurrent spin-off festival Le Mini Who places the spotlight on up-and-coming acts from Europe and beyond. The line-up's yet to be confirmed, but trust us: it's a genuine must-attend. (from £78)

Trans Musicales
Rennes, Brittany, France, 6-10 Dec
A lovely retreat just before Christmas will take you to the picturesque city of Rennes in the northwest of France. Not only are the old streets and architecture breathtaking, but Trans Musicales will blow you away. You may not have heard of anyone who’s playing, but the production and staging of the festival is such that you’ll leave confused as to why you didn’t. And who knows, you might discover the next Nirvana or Björk, because – you guessed it – they both played some of their earliest shows there, a fact the locals are very proud of. (£TBC)