When Australians head over to Europe for Summer, they’re expecting crystal clear water, sunshine and plenty of heat. Yet the mecca of European festivals, Glastonbury, provides almost the opposite- mud and almost a guaranteed chance of rain. If you missed out on tickets to Glastonbury or are looking for something more prone to stable weather conditions read below. Also read below if you are stuck in Australia and want ten minutes to day-dream that you’re on a yacht somewhere in Croatia. Ah, how the other half live.
Here are the best ten, Metallica-free, European festivals in 2014:
Located in an industrial area of Germany, Grafenhainichen (yeah, us either), electronica festival MELT! could just be the most unique of the bunch. If you’re looking for the mammoth headliners, this isn’t the one for you but if your kinda thang is a tightly curated, deeply interesting festival, then MELT! is definitely up your alley. You’ll be dancing in between giant cranes shooting flames and under disco balls suspended from trusses. What’s more, the mainstage runs from 3pm to 7am. Yep, not one for the weak-hearted. But, you can relax throughout the day as there is water to swim in.
Dates: 18-20 July
Cost: 359.90€(3 Day Ticket)
Latitude in England is a family-friendly festival that won’t break you. There’s colourful sheep, wide-open spaces and mystical woods with the line-up offering more than just music. Set in the English countryside, festival-goers can watch comedy, poetry and even opera, if that’s your thing. If it’s just music you’re after, there is more than enough to block out the arty stuff going on around. There are four stages and forest parties that run into the early hours of the morning. Just like a true Glastonbury experience there is also mud, and plenty of it.
Dates: 18-20 July
Cost: £195.50 (3 Day Ticket + Camping)
Robyn Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight
Bestival won Best Major Festival in 2012 and is continuing to churn out huge, eclectic line-ups. This year is themed Desert Island Disco so you’re likely in for a bit of a boogie, particularly if the addition of Chic is anything to go by. Just like Latitude, Bestival is not all about the music. There’s comedy and cabaret among other things to keep you entertained while you’re not sweating with Major Lazer. Nile Rodgers has challenged Bestival with the task of making the world’s largest disco ball so don those flares and boogie down like Disco Stu.
Dates: 4-7 September
Cost: £205 (Weekend Ticket + Camping)
Ikea, meatballs, Robyn- the Swedes just do everything right, so it should be no surprise that Way Out West is one of the best festivals going. Way Out West has been going on since 2007, expanding into a three-day festival in 2012. It goes on in the city of Gothenburg, with a complimenting festival Stay Out West running alongside it. Stay Out West is for those night owls who want to party on with after-hours gigs at clubs in the city. If you don’t fancy the idea of trudging out to a farm for three days then choose this one. You’re in the heart of the city and amongst a bunch of ridiculously well-dressed Swedes, enjoying Summer’s (literally) endless sunlight.
Dates: 7-9 August
Cost: 1895SEK (3 Day Ticket + Stay Out West)
If you’re looking for that big, hearty festival experience with masses of people, this is the one for you. It’s one of the largest music festivals in Europe with more than 110,000 punters in attendance. If The Rolling Stones playing to a crowd of 60,000+ people doesn’t grab your fancy, then stay away. If nudity is not your thing, also stay away. The festival organisers a nude run around the festival ground on the Saturday of the event. At eight days long, Roskilde is a marathon not a sprint, so it’s best to pace yourself. The line-up is so massive this year that all full-week tickets have sold-out.
Dates: 29 June- 6 July
Cost: 970DKK (Only one-day tickets are available)
Belgium’s second largest music festival, Pukkelpop was struck by disaster in 2011 after five people were killed by a massive storm that caused a stage collapse. It also made in headlines in 2010 after the Ou Est Le Swimming Pool lead-singer committed suicide at the festival. Not convinced? Understandable but the festival has bounced back, hosting names like Eminem, the xx and Major Lazer and also pulling massive crowds. 65,000 sweaty campers grace the festival, so you’re in for a Glastonbury-like experience. According to all reports, the people are friendly and the atmosphere is pretty special. There’s plenty of Aussies on the bill amongst alt-rock and EDM royalty. The festival kicks off with a Boiler Party on the eve of the festival, just incase three days of drinking and no sleep isn’t enough.
Dates: 14-16 August
Cost: 175€ (Weekend Ticket + Camping). Unfortunately it’s all Sold Out. Maybe next year…
The island of freedom, is what they call Sziget. Needless to say, that means anything goes. At eight days long, this is one that will take every inch of energy in your body. It’s held on an Island just out outside Budapest with 350,000 of your closest friends. Around 50% of visitors come from outside of Hungary, so you’re bound to get an eclectic crowd. And if we can stereotype Eastern Europe for a second, you’re also set to meet many colourful characters and see body parts you perhaps didn’t bargain for. When it all gets too much, the festival offers day trips into central Budapest during the day so you can recharge and see a few of the sights. Not that the line-up permits much time away.
Dates: 11-18 August
Line-up Highlights: Blink 182, Deadmau5, Lily Allen, The Bloody Beetroots, Calvin Harris, Outkast, Jagwar Ma
Cost: 249€ (All Week Pass + Camping)
Those who missed out on a ticket to its sister festival, Hideout, can take comfort in knowing that Unknown offers a similar experience. All that really needs to be said is island, boats, Croatia. Are you sold yet? If not, know that Unknown is hosted in the stunning old town of Rovinj with crystalline water and beautiful people. It’s five days of parties, which take place in the forest, on boats and on the island. The line-up is smaller than your big, central European festivals but it’s a tightly curated and eclectic mix of artists.
Dates: 8-12 September
Cost: 258.70€ (Festival + Camping)
If the Spanish are known for one thing, it’s partying until dawn. Benicassim is a four day festival on the East Coast of Spain that ensures plenty of sunshine and crystal-clear coastline. Think big stages, huge headliners and a bunch of wacky Mediterranean people. If you’re keen on the idea of Glastonbury sans the rain and mud, then Benicassim will seem like paradise.
Dates: 17-20 July
Line-up Highlights: Kasabian, Klaxons, The Libertines, Cat Power, Lily Allen, Alesso, M.I.A., Tame Impala
Cost: 159€ (4 Day Ticket)
Abbots Ripton, England
This Festival is your ultimate alternative to Glastonbury if you want less crowds, a tightly curated line-up and a, well, mystical adventure. Similar to NSW’s Secret Garden Festival, SGP encourages dress-ups in the woods, promoting a fairytale-like atmosphere. You won’t see The Rolling Stones on a mainstage nor will you see Skrillex tear apart a dance dome but you’re likely to meet a bunch of people and ‘discover yourself’ in ways you never thought possible. Unfortunately, if this sounds up your alley you will have to buy a ticket of a reseller or aim for 2015 as it is now sold out.
Dates: 24-27 July
Line-up Highlights: Public Enemy, Little Dragon, Hercules & Love Affair, Jagwar Ma, Wolf Alice, Gorgon City, Say Lou Lou
Cost: £142.50 (Weekend + Camping ticket)