Summer: strawberries, deckchairs, wasps – and grand-scale gatherings of the worldʼs top bands rocking out alfresco.

Yep, European summer can mean only one thing - music festival time. Every year the entire continent lets loose with a whole swag of musical fun in the sun - from sun-n-song in Spain to pop-n-poetry in Suffolk. Here's a  rundown of the biggest, boldest, bestest events to keep in mind when you're planning your European summer holiday.

Roskilde, Denmark

In a nutshell: 100,000 Scandinavians in a field, rocking, raving, hip-hopping and chilling out at Northern Europeʼs biggest music bash.

When: 2011's festival happens 30 Jun-3 Jul and artists include Arctic Monkeys, Iron Maiden, Mastodon, PJ Harvey and TV On The Radio.

Bʼestfest, Bucharest, Romania

In a nutshell: Heavyweight and handy. Romaniaʼs biggest, booming-est gathering is played out in a lakeside field just ten minutes from Bucharest airport. And the beerʼs cheap too.

When: 2011's festival happens 1-3 Jul, headliners include Skunk Anansie, Mika, Asian Dub Foundation, Pendulum and Roger Sanchez.

Exit Festival, Serbia

In a nutshell: Political mouthpiece turned new-music-cool, nestled on the banks of the Danube. From its student-activist beginnings, Exit now sees Novi Sad’s Petrovaradin Fortress blare out four award-winning days of punk, rock, hip-hop, electronica and social comment.

When: 2011's festival happens 7-10 Jul, headliners include Arcade Fire, Portishead, MIA, Editors, Pulp, Underworld and Jamiroquai.

Oxegen, Co Kildare, Ireland

In a nutshell: Gaelic gala on a grand scale: 80,000 revellers plonk themselves in Punchestown for a craic-ing weekend. Expect huge names, funfairs, foodstalls and communal silliness.

When: 2011's festival happens 7-10 Jul, headliners include The Black Eyed Peas, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Beyoncé, The Script, Arctic Monkeys and Slash.

Latitude, Southwold, England

In a nutshell: More than music – bring brain as well as listening tackle to Latitudeʼs lovely Suffolk setting: thereʼs axe-thrashing, drum-bashing acts, yes, but also a pot pourri of poetry, literature and comedy types, too.

When: 2011's festival happens 14-17 Jul, headliners include The National, British Sea Power, Suede, Foals, Brendon Burns and Louis de Bernières.

Benicàssim, Spain

In a nutshell: Supreme bopping by the beach. Banish the wellies for Benicàssim, the festival where camping – by the sparkling Med, under the Spanish sun – is actually a pleasure. And the music – an eclectic pop, hip-hop, rock mix – ainʼt bad either.

When: 2011's festival happens 14-17 Jul, headliners include The Streets, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, Brandon Flowers, Paolo Nutini and Mumford & Sons.

Øya Festival, Oslo, Norway

In a nutshell: International clout, Scandinavian heart. This mash-up of music in the Norwegian capital mixes acts you know and love with local favourites, in one of the prettiest settings on the festival scene.

When: 2011's festival happens 9-13 August, headliners include Kanye West, Pulp, Fleet Foxes, Aphex Twin, Grant Lee Buffalo and The Jayhawks.

Sziget Festival, Budapest, Hungary

In a nutshell: No-holds-barred dancing on the Danube. This raucous rave-up on the river-island of Óbudai combines Pop-Rock, European and World Music main stages with a smatter of Roma, reggae and roots too.

When: 2011's festival happens 10-15 Aug, headliners include Amy Winehouse, Gotan Project, Dizzee Rascal, Kasabian, The Chemical Brothers and The National.

Spirit of Burgas, Bulgaria

In a nutshell: Super sounds on super sands. The beautiful Black Sea coast plays host to Bulgariaʼs biggest blow-out, a moonlit music marathon of big names and new finds.

When: 2011's festival happens 12-14 Aug, headliners include Moby, Skunk Anansie and Deftones.

Leeds Festival, Bramham Park / Reading Festival, Richfield Ave, England

In a nutshell: Rock on! One weekend, two mighty field-fests – acts pootle between the two venues, spreading their music magic north and south.

When: 2011's festivals happen 26-28 Aug, headliners include Muse, Pulp, My Chemical Romance, Elbow, The Strokes, The National and Interpol.

Bestival, Isle of Wight, England

In a nutshell: Boutique carousing in the Garden of Eden – quirky music mayhem takes over leafy Robin Hill Country Park in this fine, festival-season finale.

When: 2011's festival happens 8-11 Sept, headliners include The Cure, Fatboy Slim, Primal Scream, Katy B, Paloma Faith and The Maccabees.

Berlin Festival, Germany

In a nutshell: Festival fun down at the Flughafen – and beyond. This genre mix in the German capital is held at the old Tempelhof Airport, and in the hip city itself.

When: 2011's festival happens 9-10 Sept and headliners include Suede, Primal Scream, Mogwai, Boy George, The Rapture, Santigold and Aloe Blacc.

There's a whole world of global good times in Lonely Planet's A Year of Festivals.

Explore related stories

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 17: Revellers prepare for the St Patrick's Day Parade on March 17, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland. 17th March is the feast day of Saint Patrick commemorating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Festivals & Events

St Patrick’s Day 2024 in Dublin: everything you need to know

Feb 23, 2024 • 6 min read