More and more people are heading further a field for their festival action than ever before, but how to get there? Chris Eustace finds out...
With European festivals tending to be cheaper than their UK counterparts, you could see the same heavyweight acts for half the price, or go off the beaten track for something more specialist and off-kilter. Plus, it feels like more of an adventure than it would just going to, say, a field in Hampshire (illicit substances notwithstanding).
You could catch Coldplay, Kings Of Leon and System Of A Down among others at Rock Am Ring (3-5 June) at the Nurburgring in Germany for £134 – even with travel included which compares favourably against Glastonbury, T In The Park, Reading and co.
The Sonisphere festivals on the continent will get you more bang for your buck too – if you go to Sonisphere France (8-9 July) you can still get to see the Big Four and Slipknot. With tickets at 110EUR, that works out at just under £100.
Other European festival bargains include Off Festival (5-7 August) in Katowice, Poland where, for 45EUR, you can see Primal Scream playing ‘Screamadelica’, PiL, Gang Of Four, Mogwai and much more besides.
So you’re convinced, right? Now you have to decide exactly how you’re going to get out to it. We all know the fun of driving there: the battle royale that is calling shotgun, doing your best to avoid it being your turn to drive, plus – for the more squeamish traveller – a chance to get your throwing up out of the way early.
However, if you really can’t face another boiled sweet or the harrowing prospect of having to listen to your mate’s Stereophonics CD for the entire journey, there are alternatives. Try these out for size…
Eurolines coaches are providing travel to seven festivals this year, with coaches leaving from London Victoria on the hour. Departing the day before the festival’s start and returning the day after its finish, the cheapest fares tend to sell out in advance, so plan ahead.
A coach to Heerlen for PinkPop (11-13 June) in the Netherlands starts from £42 return and features Coldplay, Foos, Kings of Leon and more, Sonar (16-18 June) in Barcelona starts from £135 return with Underworld, M.I.A. and Aphex Twin shows, and Copenhagen for Roskilde (30 June to 3 July) is from £121 with M.I.A., KOL and Iron Maiden set to play.
£95 return is the minimum you’ll pay to get to Open’er (30 June to 3 July) in Gdynia, Poland with Coldplay, Pulp, Simian Mobile Disco playing, while Rock en Seine in Paris (26-28 August) prices start from £71 return with Foos, Arctic Monkeys, MCR and Interpol on the bill.
Lastly, Eurolines are also heading to Oxegen (8-10 July) where you can get see Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas, The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys from £48 return, while travel for Electric Picnic (2-4 September) with Arcade Fire, Pulp, The Chemical Brothers and PJ Harvey is from £58 return, with additional coaches leaving Birmingham, Bradford, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester.
French site Ontours will be making trips to a huge list of European festivals, from Dour (14 -17 July, 139EUR) and Rock Werchter in Belgium (30 June to 3 July, 289EUR). There’s also travel, ticket and hotel packages too, with a VIP package to Benicassim priced at 860EUR, and a hotel and ticket package to Roskilde priced at 494EUR.
Music Festival Holidays organise coach tours to European festivals, with ticket and hotel stopovers for “party nights” included. Coaches currently leave from Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, London and Dover, though they’re open to new suggestions, too. This year so far there are trips planned to Benicassim, Exit, Hideout, Melt! and Outlook.
Lastminute has tickets for a whole range of festivals and gigs at home and abroad, with accommodation and travel packages. Standing out at the moment is their coach travel, hotel and ticket package to Sziget Festival (Pulp, Dizzee, The Chemical Brothers) in Budapest on 10-15 August. Camping and travel starts at £383, with up to a three-star hotel single room package costing £619.
If the festival tickets are already booked but you haven’t decided how to get there, get yourself on cheapflights.co.uk. You can search by date to your destination, and work from a specific date or keep it flexible. With 300 different flight providers included on the site, you’ll be able to find a flight to pretty much anywhere for a decent price.
If you do want to drive, individual festival websites will probably have some information on how to reach there by car, and you can check out the AA’s advice for driving in Europe , which covers each country’s speed limits, road laws, customs, and the documents you’ll need to have with you.
One last thing: make sure there’s no sign of ‘Just Enough Education to Perform’ in the glove compartment before you set out and you should have a great time!
Why not enter our European festival south-west-four-sw4-2009? There’s a pair of standard tickets, plus travel to Rock En Seine to be won as well as plenty of other tickets up for grabs too.