The Best European Festivals You Won’t Have Heard Of

Stop Making Sense FestivalBy David Hillier

It might not feel like it, but summer is on its way. Honest.

As our limbs thaw out, the festival-minded among us turn our minds to what fields we are going to be rolling around in come the warmer months. Whether you want to see some great music, crack open a chemical suitcase or talk to strangers at dawn, there are loads of events across Europe that mean you don’t just have to go to Benicassim or Rock Werchter. Here’s some of the best.

Hove Festival Norway

Famed for its friendly atmosphere, the Hove spectacular kicks off on the tiny Norwegian island of Tromoya and though you’ll be taking more of a risk with the weather you’ll be guaranteeing yourself a festival environment that makes Glasto look like Gretna.

Last year they had Snoop, The Shins and M83.  Lined up for this year are Kings Of Leon, Phoenix, Rudimental and Joey Bada$$, so there’s something for all.  Another point worth noting with Hove is that Norwegian people are totally crackers – festivals are about meeting people as much as seeing music, and you won’t fail to come away with a whole new barking bunch of Scandi-pals here.

Meadows in the mountainsMeadow In The Mountains Bulgaria

Taking its influence from Secret Garden Party and Burning Man this truly unique event kicks off in a Bulgarian forest just south of Sofia, to a line-up of DJs you’ve never heard of.  Don’t let that put you off though; the organisers pre-pitch your tent for you and they suggest that you should “run through fields and forests with untamed abandon”.  That sentence alone will tell you if this is the sort of event you’ll like.

It’s cheap as Balkan wine, too, at just £65 a ticket.

Kazantip Festival  Ukraine

Festivals are so popular because for a small period of time they enable people to enter a world that is temporarily autonomous. (Basically you can run around like a wally and no-one will tell you otherwise, as long as you are nice.)  Nowhere is this truer than at Kazantip, which takes place over the course of a month on the banks of the Crimean peninsula, and is self-stylised as a ‘republic’.  The republic has its own government, ministers who – as far as we can see – are there to ensure everyone gets really wrecked, and opening and closing ceremonies. The line-up is strictly dance; the weird and the unknowns are dispersed with occasional heavyweights like Richie Hawtin and Carl Cox.

david nowhere 2Nowhere Festival  Spain

If your idea of a festival is drinking Kopparberg and watching Kings Of Leon, this is probably not the choice for you. Billed as “an experiment in creative freedom, participation and cash-free community,” the vibe here is very much that of love thy neighbour, as attendees set up their own barrios, camps and food kitchens in the Spanish desert, a couple of hours (on the Nowhere bus) from Barcelona. From here you are expected to fraternise, tell no lies, and, most likely, drop a load of acid.

Any music is supplied by Nowhere attendees (Nowhere-ers?), and you are encouraged to set up your own stages and P.As, from when you can entertain until an hour that you see fit.

With this in mind,  we accept no responsibility for the actions of anyone that camps next to a psy-trance tent.

Stop Making Sense  Croatia

Taking place on its own bay on the Croatian coastline, this 2000 person festival can lay claim to having one of the prettiest settings on the planet.  A collaboration between over a dozen mainly London-based promoters, it’s house, bass and Balearic-focused, and is famed for its boat parties that see an individual promoter taking over the music for the duration, causing all the not-so-hardy shipmates to pill themselves up like filthy pirates.


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