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6 European Music Festivals You Must Hit This Summer

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Are you a music lover trying to figure out the absolutely cheapest way to see weird and wonderful – and not so weird, yet still wonderful – parts of Europe this summer? The answer might be music festivals. Now, don’t go all funny on me because you’ve read about people spending (or you yourself spent) thousands at Coachella.

Two things work in your favor. One is the exchange rate between the Euro and the Dollar: you’ll be laughing all the way from the ATM. The other is European obsession with keeping culture and arts affordable. Hence, even the most expensive amongst the better-known festivals – the Glastonbury, if you must know, but good luck getting tickets to that – will only set you back about $350 per person. Many, particularly those with a more local flair, are free.

With some careful planning, you can even scamper from festival to festival (sleeping on trains, because Interrail) visiting more or less known parts of Europe. Planning is required because the thing far more expensive than the festival ticket itself is accommodation.

Fortunately, most festivals provide some sort of camping. (If there is no official camping, most cities have affordable camp sites. This is true even for the notoriously expensive Venice, if you’re into film and not music. And nobody will so much as bat an eye when you walk through the site red-carpet ready.)  A word from the wise: arrive super early to get a good spot if you plan to get some sleep at some point. (As in, within hours of the campsite opening. Quiet zones and family zones fill up quickly.) Trust me, the lesson was learned trying to do so behind the electro party central one year at Sziget.

Just like any continent, Europe has music festivals to cater for all tastes   But here, a completely arbitrary list of festivals based on lineups, reasonable prices, accessibility by public transport, sightseeing and activities. Line-ups often overlap, so if you want to see your favorite performers several times, you certainly can.

1. InMusic, Zagreb (Croatia) June 20th-22nd

Photo via Vedran Metelko

On a lake that is practically walking distance from the center of Zagreb. Florence and the Machine! The rest of the line-up. Activities. Tons of activities – culture and sports.

2. Bilbao BBK live, Bilbao (Spain) July 7th-9th

fest

Because everybody should go to the Basque country once. At the very least. In addition to Arcade Fire, there’s the Bilbao Guggenheim museum designed by Frank Gehry. And in case you’re one of those crazy souls who love running with bulls, the feast of San Fermin overlaps with the dates of the festival and is only about a 100 km away in Pamplona.

3. EXIT, Novi Sad (Serbia) July 14th-16th

Photo via globalpublicity.co.uk

Not called the best European festival for nothing (check others they list, you’ll be gone for days!).  The line-up is fabulous, without fail. They have a stage called No Sleep Novi Sad, and they’re not kidding about it. Novi Sad is a pretty town, but to be honest, nobody we know has ever bothered with sightseeing much.

4. Metaldays, Tolmin (Slovenia) July 24th-30th 

Photo via sebastjanvodusek.com

A tiny place near the confluence of two rivers up in the Alps hardly seems the first choice for a heavy metal music festival, but hey. It is objectively fabulous, but also subjectively my local, so there. The surrounding area is stunning and drenched in (very bloody) history, and there’s enough adrenaline activities to keep you occupied for days. A word of warning: if it rains, it pours.

5. Flow, Helsinki (Finland) August 12th-14th

Photo via hoxtonradio.com

Kind of expensive (because Helsinki), but seriously cool. So cool I am at loss for words.

6. Sziget, Budapest (Hungary) August 10th – 17th

Photo via lastminute.com

Everybody who’s anybody plays Sziget. They cater to all tastes: there’s music 24/7, of all genres you’ve ever heard of, and then some. There’s a corner for gamers. It’s on an island (hence the name) on the Danube. Tram into Budapest is great. So are the cakes in town.  I’ll stop short of saying that there’s literally everything, but it’s pretty damn close.

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