For many people, music festivals are the cornerstone of their summer activities. There’s no thrill like packing up the car with good mates, camping equipment and a carefully curated playlist for a music-filled sojourn. But the late nights and festival festivities can leave you feeling like you need another holiday to recover.

So why not extend your break by combining a holiday with a festival abroad? Across Europe, festivals of all shapes and sizes can scratch your particular musical itch, while introducing you to unique locations. Here are ten of the most scenic and unusual festivals happening this summer, a stone’s throw away from European capitals.

Europe music festival - people pose in and on a honeycomb sculpture in front of a mountain backdrop at Meadows in the Mountains, Bulgaria © Meadows in the Mountains / Aron Klein
Discover music festivals in incredible locations around Europe this summer © Meadows in the Mountains / Aron Klein

Meadows in the Mountains

6 – 9 June, Polkovnik Serafimovo, Bulgaria

Who’s playing? Kokoroko, Scott Xylo, and Ego Ella May

Some 850m above sea level in Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains, Meadows in the Mountains provides both techno and tranquillity. As it works in harmony with the local village of Polkovnik, festival goers have the opportunity to camp or stay with local grandmothers, known as babas, and enjoy home-cooked meals alongside unique hospitality. The festival and its jaw-dropping views are a four-hour drive from Sofia Airport. Check it out if you’re into soundtracked sunsets and sunrises, views of surrounding forests and vistas of lakes, and want to switch off from the rest of the world for four days.

NOS Alive

11 – 13 July, Lisbon, Portugal

Who’s playing? The Cure, Robyn, The Chemical Brothers

Rolling hills, hidden alleyway bars, a buzzing nightlife, white-washed walls and terracotta-topped horizon – Lisbon is one of the best destinations to eat, drink and party. NOS Alive brings some of the biggest names in rock, pop, R&B, dance and rap music to join the party in July. Never too far from rich culture, a dip in the sea or some pastel de natas, this is one festival city break that you can probably tell your parents about.

Europe music festival - people gather around a huge paper lantern at Monticule festival in Causses du Quercy Natural Regional Park © Monticule / Monnier Ostermair
Monticule takes place in Causses du Quercy Natural Regional Park © Monticule / Monnier Ostermair


19 – 23 June, Domaine de Gayfié, France

Who’s playing? Blawan, Courtesy, Zenker Brothers

Tucked away in France’s sprawling Causses du Quercy Natural Regional Park, Monticule whisks music lovers away on a magical retreat, striking a perfect balance of music, wellness and hijinks. It's dotted with streams, woods, monastery ruins and an 80m-deep natural pool to explore, and it’s also one of Europe’s darkest places at night. The laid-back ethos is boosted by activities like yoga, meditation, astronomy lessons, cave visits and horse riding, while the line up is saturated with new wave, bass and techno acts.

Secret Solstice

21 – 23 June, Reykjavík, Iceland

Who’s playing? Patti Smith, Black Eyed Peas, Robert Plant and the Sensational Spaceshifters

As soon as you touch down in Iceland, the country’s dramatic landscape of black lava rocks contrasting with sharp blue skies is the first thing to greet you. A bucket list destination, Iceland has wildly varying conditions in summer compared to winter. Celebrating this, the Secret Solstice festival happens on the longest weekend of the year. In a country that experiences almost endless light during June and July, this festival is a non-stop case of shepherd’s delight. Festivals don’t get cooler than this.

Europe music festival - people swim in the sea off the coast of a small island at Love International © Love International / Khris Cowley
Clear any hangover from the night before with a swim in the sea at Love International © Love International / Khris Cowley

Love International

3 – 10 July, Tisno, Croatia

Who’s playing? Andrew Weatherall, Ben UFO, Peggy Gou

Sun, sea and boat parties are a siren call for the heat seekers among us, and Love International has all of the above. Taking place in the usually sleepy Croatian town of Tisno, it takes advantage of its location on the Dalmatian Coast, with all night parties on secluded beaches, boat parties and an open-air nightclub. There’s an element of seaside glamour here but you can also explore the neighbouring Krka National Park – home to the 17 waterfalls that make up the Skradinski Buk. For one unforgettable week in July, Tisno’s rich green pine trees, rocky landscapes and fresh waters of the Adriatic Sea will be tinged with disco, house and techno beats.


11 – 14 July, Traena, Norway

Who’s playing? Kate Tempest, Tommy Cash, Bendik Giske

Trænafestivalen proves paradise doesn’t have to be in the tropics. As an island in the Helgeland district of Norway, Traena is accessible only by sea. Official party boats will run regularly from the mainland towns of Bodø, Stokkvågen, Nesna and Sandnessjøen. South of the Arctic Circle, bordered by the snow-kissed Saltfjellet mountains and the Svartisen glacier, this festival is a slice of cool paradise. Book if you want a break from the norm and a deep education in local music and the Norwegian way of life.

Europe music festival - people gather around a small stage at Kala in Albania © Josh Hiatt / Kala
Mix beats and beaches at a music festival in Europe this summer © Josh Hiatt / Kala


12 – 19 June, Dhërmi, Albania

Who’s playing? Hercules and the Love Affair, Hunee, Honey Dijon

Golden beaches and azure sea are appealing at the best of times, but Kala’s location on the Albanian Riviera takes it to the next level. Described as a ‘dance paradise’, the festival includes stages on the sands of Gjipe Beach – accessible only by boat – and private coves. DJs play extended sets, giving you have time to explore the ancient castles, canyons and pirate caves (apparently) in the area. With an eclectic line up of obscure and contemporary acts, as well as some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, what’s not to love?


19 – 21 & 26 – 28 July, Boom, Belgium

Who’s playing? A-Trak, Young Thug, Charlotte de Witte

Tomorrowland is probably Europe’s most extravagant festival when it comes to dance music, technology, immersive installations and state of the art stage design. Making its home in the town of Boom, between Brussels, Antwerp and Mechelen, it’s an easy location to travel to from anywhere in Europe and as soon as you pass through the festival gates, you’ll feel like you’ve entered into a different realm entirely.

Wilderness Festival

1 – 4 August, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

Who’s playing? Bombay Bicycle Club, Soak, Ólafur Arnalds

Wilderness takes place in Cornbury Park, a sprawling 690 hectare forested estate that allows you to feel like the lord or lady of the manor as you roam about the grounds of the 16th Century property.  Aside from draw of eclectic music, Wilderness boasts a lush line up of outdoor activities like horse riding, nature therapy, foraging, paddle board yoga, and access to a lakeside spa and outdoor wood-fired hot tubs. There’s something quite grand about this festival, so much so that it might be hard to go back to city life once it’s all over.

Europe music festival - a pink canopy and grand house peak out from behind a leafy green forest © Another Love Story
Festivals like Another Love Story in Meath offer an intimate and unique experience © Another Love Story

Another Love Story

16 – 18 August, County Meath, Ireland

Who’s playing? Christian Loffler, The Redneck Manifesto, Maria Somerville

Another Love Story is one of Ireland’s best music festivals right now. The line up celebrates local and international acts on a site featuring chapel ruins in the forest, hot tubs in the Mellow Meadow and a riverside swimming deck. The ballroom acts as the main stage for the weekend, with music spilling out onto the lawns and fields through the sash windows. Gig goers can also enjoy talks in the library or nestle down in the cinema for some cosy moments.

If this article has you reaching for your backpack and blow-up mattress, check out our expert advice on how to pack for any festival.

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