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.

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