How to Choose the Perfect European Festival for Your Next Epic AdventureArticle by: David Hillier|@Gobshout
Fri March 10, 2017 | 10:00 AM
With the worldwide music festival scene being the ever-evolving, genre-splicing beast it is in 2017, sticking with just one festival could keep you from a new festival experience that might just change your life. But there are a lot of festivals; this much is true. Europe alone has something like 4,000 events, and picking the one that perfectly meets the needs of your squad can be a daunting exercise that leads you back to a trusty old faithful.
Here’s a handy guide to wading through the seemingly endless choices, and finding your perfect fit.
You’ll dig Secret Garden Party if you love: Burning Man, Down The Rabbit Hole, the Shangri-La area at Glastonbury
Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire, UK (July 20 - 23, 2017)
Lineup quality At SGP names veer towards crowd-pleasers at the top end (Crystal Fighters, Metronomy, Toots and the Maytals), with a splattering of hotly-tipped acts like Ray Blk, Let’s Eat Grandma, and Rejjie Snow. Across the site, though, you’ll find DJs dropping house, techno and disco warheads every hour of the day. Folk, indie, and an assortment of unusual musicians are all there to be discovered, sometimes in the depths of the woodland surrounding the festival site, so make sure you get out there and do some exploring.
Site and production Dressing up is SGP’s thing, and the effort the fest puts into styling this total immersion weekend will blow the most festival-weary of minds. The whole event ties into an annual theme – this year is "Sweet Dreams" – with 90% of attendees taking their fancy dress (that's British for festival-flamboyant wardrobes) very seriously (fitting for a festival whose tagline is "This Is A Serious Party").
Capacity Around 20,000.
Vibe and clientele SGP does have a reputation for a largely London-centric crowd, but don't hold that against it. There’s actually a surprising amount of families, and visitors from across the UK and Europe, considering the hedonistic, sleep-is-for-the-weak nature of some of its dedicated following.
You’ll dig Nuits Sonores if you like: Sonar, Convergence, Berlin Atonal
Nuits Sonores, Lyon, France (May 24 - 28, 2017)
Lineup quality At the top of the bill are Black Madonna, Nina Kraviz and Jon Hopkins, but there are top notch techno, house and electro names elsewhere with Optimo, Daniel Avery and Throwing Shade to keep your New Balance kicks dancing all day.
Site and production It’s really not just about the music. Across 40 indoor and outdoor venues in the city you’ll discover experimentation and perspective-shifting art, from exhibitions in La Sucrière (a sugar refinery turned modern arts space) to explorations of the city’s food culture (which, seeing Lyon is often dubbed the French culinary Eden, should not be taken with a pinch of salt).
Vibe and clientele Young, cool, creative and French. Expect to experience hourly bouts of acute cheekbone envy.
Capacity At night, 14,000 in the main Anciennes usines Fagor-Brand venue, with its three, vast industrial halls. 6,200 in La Sucrière during the days.
You’ll dig Love International if you were into: Hideout, Dimensions, Meadows In The Mountains
Love International, Tisno, Croatia (June 28 - July 5, 2017)
Lineup quality The list of artists booked to play this Croatian gem is total quality from top to bottom (or beach to sky if we’re being true to the Love International’s sandy locale). Craig Richards, Midland, Ben UFO, Black Madonna. It’s house, techno, disco and most of the songs you’ve ever loved alongside the songs you never heard but love even more. You'll come home humming a whole new batch of earworms.
Site and production Love International is on the same site as the now-defunct Garden Festival in Tisno, and it’s the kind of sun-swamped beachside idyll that’ll make you question why anyone throws festivals in fields anymore. There are numerous stages, 300-person boat parties and the open air nightclub, Barbarella’s, which is open until 6 am and considered by the festival's clientele to be mankind’s greatest club.
Vibe and clientele People come here to party hard and as the organizers – Dave Harvey and Tom Paine – are English, you’ll find a large contingent from that green and (mostly) pleasant land. But there’s also a Pan European contingent and a fair wedge of locals.
Capacity 2,500. Snug. Perfect for new pals and summer romancing.
You’ll love Electric Castle if you liked: Exit, Lowlands, Tomorrowland
Electric Castle, Cluj-Napoca, Romania (July 12 - 16, 2017)
Lineup quality For its headliners, Electric Castle generally pulls in the kind of names that would be playing at the very biggest festivals; there’s been The Prodigy, Bastille, Skrillex and Sigur Ros. This year, so far, alt-J, Moderat and Nero have been announced, with A-Trak, Dixon and Crazy P Soundsystem further down. There’s much more to come. Plus, you won’t find such colossal headline names at cheaper prices anywhere else – in our universe (or any other universe for that matter).
Site and production In a packed festival market where most festivals struggle to find one USP, Electric Castle has two. The first is the £60 ticket price; the second is the 16th-century Bánffy Castle that bequeaths the festival its name and in whose shadow the madness catches fire each night. Lasers light up the turrets as the sun goes down, and don’t shut down until the Transylvanian sun rises.
Vibe and clientele Over 30 nationalities attended Electric Castle last year, with the ticket price (not to mention the £1 beers onsite) pulling in a fair few students. If you’re a 24-hour type of raver, the dance stage goes on all night so you don't have to factor sleeping into your plans unless it's an essential disco nap.
Capacity 121,000 across the entire event in 2016.
You’ll dig Oasis Festival if you loved: Melt!, The BPM Festival, the rooftop parties at Sonar
Oasis Festival, Marrakech, Morocco (September 15 - 17, 2017)
Lineup quality: It’s a who's-who of on-point, international techno and house vanguards: Ellum label founder and Pacha resident Maceo Plex, Berhgain resident Marcel Dettman, Detroit badman Moodymann, and Bulgarian raw techno maestro KINK.
Site and production: Situated 25 minutes from Marrakech Menara airport, The Source is less festival site and more sumptuous den of tranquil opulence. It’s a luxe resort in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains, built with musicians in mind – it’s even got its own recording studio – whilst many of the boudoirs have their own rock n' roll theme (check out the "Paint It Black" room). The main stage is next to the pool and that’s the focus of the fest's chilled-out days, before things get more wavy as the night gets darker. DJs drop tunes as you suck up the rays, paddle in the pool or maybe unwind with a little yoga before you hit the cocktails. Yup. Sounds good. The full ticket package includes three nights hotel stay in the zen environs of The Source.
Vibe and clientele: Exclusive but inclusive, and reminiscent of the early days of Croatia’s iconic Garden Festival. Last year saw over 25 nationalities, and with a music savvy clientele that keep going until the music stops at 6 am.
Capacity: 2,500-3,000 guests a day.