Channel vision: 10 European Festivals picks

Austria Austria | by Daniel Fahey | 25 March 2008

10 – Sziget – 12-18 August – Obuda, Hajogyar Island, Hungary
Held slap bang in the middle of the River Danube on Hajogyar Island, Hungary, this huge week-long festival has quickly evolved from a student gathering to a major European event. Crowds of around 400,000 enjoy a plethora of great global artists from a myriad of genres across 24 stages. And for those a bit Hungary for some culture there is cinema, dance, theatre and art installations too.

Click here for our more information on Sziget.

9 – Hultsfred Festival – 12-14 June - Hultsfred Folkets Park, Sweden
Pete Doherty famously fell off the stage at Hultsfred after turning up an hour late. What? Sorry? He was always doing that? Oh. Well anyway, the Hultsfred Festival runs from Thursday to Saturday with 30,000 revellers turning up to enjoy a programme of over 150 acts. Organisers have employed an open-genre musical policy which means the crowds can expect anything from a metal band to a chill-out DJ and everything in between. Babyshambles return in 2008, let’s just hope Pete remembers to put his watch forward an hour.

Click here for our more information on Hultsfred Festival.

8 - Les Eurockeennes de Belfort – 4-6 July - Site Du Malsaucy, Belfort, France
So you spot a stunning peninsula jagging out into the River Savoureuse, NW France, and what do you do with it? Leave it to look pretty? Nah, bung a big three-day festival on top and invite some of the world’s top musicians to make ripples in the water. The likes of Marilyn Manson, The Hives and Arcade Fire all took up the invitation last year, so expect more big acts this time around alongside the foray of French talent that’ll be on show. If you have an eye for beautiful locations and an ear for rock/hip hop/Latino/dance/world music then grab your passport and make your way to France.

Click here for our more information on Les Eurockeennes de Belfort.

7 – Lowlands – 15-17 August - Biddinghuizen, Netherlands

Organisers describe Lowlands as ‘Glasto meets Goa,’ with the latter reference not quite as explicitly obvious as the first one. However, this three day alternative music affair pulls together a music line-up littered with global glitterati such as The Killers and Editors, as well as offering a cultural insight to the Dutch way of life through films, art, comedy, literature and street theatre. With three massive areas and eight stages of aural pleasure there will be something to cater for most tastes – especially in the onsite international restaurants.

Click here for our more information on Lowlands.

6 – Snowbombing – 31 March – 6 April - Various, Mayrhofen, Tyrol, Austria
Festivals and mud: definitely, festivals and sun: sometimes, but festivals and snow? Not on your Nellie! But this is where Snowbombing bucks that trend. Think: a skiing holiday but without the whisky in the chalet and the early night’s kip afterwards. Instead some of the world’s top DJs and live acts get the week-long party going at some top venues including an igloo disco. There are plenty of Arctic eccentricities to feast on as well! 

Click here for our more information on Snowbombing.

5 - Open Air St Gallen – 27-29 June – Sittertobel, St Gallen, Switzerland
Open Air St Gallen is the Swiss equivalent to Glastonbury. Not only has it been running almost as long, it is also held over the same weekend and, as such, manages to bag the odd band also playing Worthy Farm, such as Kings Of Leon this year. 90,000 fill its sculpted fields to enjoy a packed programme that flips between internationally-renowned bands to a selection local artists spanning a plethora of genres from rock and indie to world music and electronica. Other entertainment includes comedy and poetry. You’d be cuckoo to miss it…

Click here for our more information on Open Air St Gallen.

4 - Benicassim (FIB) – 17-20 July – Benicassim, Castellon, Spain

Benicassim (FIB) has cemented itself as a firm festival favourite for Brits abroad with four-days of top acts, cultural goodies and plenty of superb weather. Not only do the organisers secure stellar acts like previous faves Arctic Monkeys and Amy Winehouse, before adding cultural delights in fashion, art, theatre, dance and films, but they also let revellers camp up to three days before the festival and two days after. One for those who want to turn a festival into a holiday but don't get fooled into thinking this is the beach festival people often mistake it for. It's held on a concrete air strip.

Click here for our more information on Benicassim (FIB).

3 - Rock Werchter – 3-6 July – Werchter, Rotselaar, Belgium
Once a small blues event, Rock Werchter has since grown into Belgium’s largest music festival that regularly houses some of the biggest acts in the world, from Radiohead and The Cure to Bowie and The Chemical Brothers. The festival is now annually attracting around 70,000 revellers at each of its four days and the site is just down the road from the Stella Artois brewery for those who like to see a bit more fermentation at their festivals.

Click here for our more information on Rock Werchter.

2 – Roskilde – 3-6 July – Roskilde, Sjaelland, Denmark
Roskilde is dubbed the ‘Danish Glastonbury’ and for good reason. It’s been kicking around as long as it’s English counterpart and shares the same rootsy ethos and vibes. Arguably attracting the best line ups across the continent, organisers have managed to secure Radiohead to for 2008, among others. 75,000 festival-goers descend on the event each year to see over 150 artists perform, but there is much more on offer too ranging from wall climbing, skating, and cinema to book readings and poetry slams.

Click here for our more information on Roskilde.

1 – Exit – 10-13 July - Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, Serbia

Held in a stunning 18th Century fortress this four-day festival has already received a stamp of approval after grabbing the Best European Festival award at the UK Festival Awards last year. Hidden in the Balkan States away from the more popular British holiday destinations, the festival mixes local artists with world-renowned bands and DJs. The Sex Pistols, The Hives and Paul Weller will all feature this year with plenty of alternative entertainment over 22 stages including DJs pumping out tunes until the sun comes up…

Click here for our more information on Exit.

Do you disagree? Or want to see more away from our shores? Then click here for our Overseas Festivals section.

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