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Festival watch: Here are the unmissable European music festivals of 2024

Here are the unmissable 2024 European music festivals
Here are the unmissable 2024 European music festivals Copyright All Together Now - Best Kept Secret - Nuits de Fourvière - NOS Alive - Electric Castle (X)
Copyright All Together Now - Best Kept Secret - Nuits de Fourvière - NOS Alive - Electric Castle (X)
By David MouriquandAmber Bryce, Theo Farrant, Anca Ulea
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Coachella Shmoachella. Glastonbury? Glastonblurry. Here are the 12 European music fests you don’t want to miss this year.

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While everyone might be buzzing over the "big hitters" like Coachella, or eagerly awaiting Glastonbury's line-up, we’ve got some news for you: Europe does it better, and Glasto's overrated.

Anyone who’s ever been to Coachella can attest to the fact it’s impressive; however, it’s stupidly expensive, and filled with apathetic crowds who are more won over by the social media clout of “being at Coachella” than actually being present in the moment. The festival coasts on an iconic status that is, charitably speaking, overhyped in the extreme, and has become more of a haven for influencers with cash to burn than people actually excited to catch some great live music.

As for Worthy Farm’s finest, the tickets have already sold out even before the line-up is announced... So, let's move on. 

Euronews Culture has curated your ideal 2024 European music schedule so that you don’t have to spend a fortune heading to California’s Colorado Desert and its vapid Instagram obsessives, or wasting your time in festivals you'll end up regretting. 

We’ve selected one unmissable fest per country, and even proceeded chronologically.

Don’t say we don’t treat you.

UK – The Great Escape

(15 – 18 May 2024)

Brighton's The Great Escape
Brighton's The Great EscapeThe Great Escape

Instead of Glastonbury, we recommend that you head to Brighton for the appropriately titled The Great Escape. Over the course of three days, their eclectic line-up showcases the very best of upcoming new talent. Whether you’re a fan of punk, pop, electro or rap, there’s truly something for everyone. 

Granted, if you’re in the market for big, established names – move along. Scrolling through the line-up, you may not recognize many of the acts. However, that’s the fun part. This is the festival of joyful discovery, where you get to chance upon the Next Big Thing before everyone else. Bragging rights assured.

This year, there are some already known acts like Jalen NGonda (one of our favourites of 2023); King Hannah and their dark and witty soundscapes; Soft Play (formerly known as Slaves); the punk rush of Lambrini Girls; Lauren Mayberry (lead singer of CHVRCHES); and Northern Ireland’s addictive hip-hop trio Kneecap, who are on everyone’s lips right now, especially after a Sundance-premiering fictionalised version of their lives, which saw them explode onto the big stage. 

While these are must-sees, keep an eye out for the likes of Ireland’s Cruel Sister (angst alt rock with a touch of the Sonic Youths about her); multi-instrumentalist Francesca Pidgeon and her extravagant outfit Dilettante; in-your-face Swedish duo Lover’s Skit; Belgium’s Sylvie Kreusch and her experimental pop brashness; and France’s it-girl of the moment, Zaho De Sagazan.

As if that wasn’t enough to get you excited, the festival will also be dedicating a stage to Festival Republic’s groundbreaking ReBalance – an initiative that provides opportunities to women and gender-expansive artists across the UK on stage and in the studio. DM

Spain - Primavera Sound Barcelona

(29 May - 2 June 2024)

Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024 line up
Primavera Sound Barcelona 2024 line upPrimavera Sound Barcelona

One of the top music festivals in Europe (and probably the world), Primavera Sound has been ushering in the summer in style since 2001, and this year is no different.

With a predictably stellar lineup and its gorgeous outdoor beachside venue, it’s well worth the trip out to sunny Barcelona.

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The lineup is stacked – Lana Del Rey is hot off her sixth headlining tour for 'Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd', SZA is riding the massive success of her sophomore album 'SOS' and The National are kicking off their European tour for not one, but two new albums. Reunited British oddball rockers Pulp round out the top-billed headliners.

Get ready to dance to some club hits, too, with Charli XCX, Troye Sivan and Kim Petras performing music from their latest albums. AU

France - Nuits de Fourvière

(30 May – 25 July)

The Roman amphitheatre of Les Nuits de Fourvière
The Roman amphitheatre of Les Nuits de FourvièreNuits de Fourvière

France has so much to offer when it comes to music festivals. From Hellfest and Vieilles Charrues, Jazz a Vienne and Beauregard, to Eurockéennes and Rock en Seine, there’s something for everyone, and in some pretty damn charming settings.

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But out of the festival joys the country has to offer, we fly the flag for Les Nuits de Fourvière in Lyon, and its dramatic backdrop of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, ie: the stunning Roman amphitheatre built on the Fourvière hill.

It’s not a music festival in the three/four day sense. It takes place over two glorified months, and it’s jammers full of pluridisciplinary goodness, with ballet, dance and theatre offerings joining gigs galore.

This year’s line-up has PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem, Cat Power, AIR, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, MC Solaar, Justice, IAM, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Idles, Parcels, and the great Patti Smith gracing the stage. We’re also looking forward to Australian circus company Gravity & Other Myths bringing their show The Pulse to Fourvière, as well as Venice Biennale Golden Lion-winner Christiane Jatahy offering up her gender-switched take on Hamlet.

It’s a truly vibrant event, and the great thing is that you can dip in and out, and spend time exploring Lyon and its gorgeous surroundings while you recover from whatever night you’ve been to.

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Check out our full guide to this year’s edition, and don’t pass up on the opportunity to treat yourself to this Gallic glory. You won't regret it. DM

Netherlands – Best Kept Secret

(7 – 9 June 2024)

Best Kept Secret
Best Kept SecretBSK - X

Tucked away inside the Safaripark Beekse Bergen, within the village of Hilvarenbeek, in the south of the Netherlands, the camping grounds of Best Kept Secret are in the middle of woods, making the three-day event a far more welcoming and snug experience compared to the madness of many festivals. Not that the rather sheltered atmosphere means that the big names are missing, as no festival has managed to bring top tier names to its stages whilst maintaining its cozy intimacy quite like BKS. Whether it’s Pixies, Radiohead, Run The Jewels, Kraftwerk, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds or Aphex Twin, Best Kept Secret has gone from strength to strength.

This year, the festival turns 10, after two years of Covid derailed their 2020 and 2021 plans – and they’re celebrating in style. Consider the line-up: the peerless PJ Harvey; Irish country pop glory CMAT; the guitar-wielding marvel St. Vincent; French electro-dance outfit Justice; UK electro duo Disclosure; Fatoumata Diawara and her sensual Malaysian pop; shoegazers extraordinaire Slowdive; dream punkers Mannequin Pussy; French rockers La Femme; the glorious 16-piece group Floating Points; and Vince Staples, the relentless hip-hop innovator that is a great get for BKS.

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From the gorgeous setting of the waterfront stage to the diverse line-up and how cheap tickets are compared to its competitors, Best Kept Secret is not a festival you want to miss.

Oh, and we forget to mention that on top of the gorgeous nature surroundings, BKS doubles up as a food festival with a frankly delightful selection of food trucks serving everything from the best pulled pork burgers you’ll have on this continent, local ciders to die for, and even yummy oysters - should you wish to treat yourself... Who said festivals can’t have some gastro flair? DM

Belgium - Rock Werchter

(4 - 7 July 2024)

Rock Werchter
Rock WerchterRock Werchter

If there’s one festival you absolutely can’t miss in Belgium this year, it’s Rock Werchter.

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This annual music extravaganza, which has taken place in the cosy village of Werchter near Leuven since 1976, stands out not only as one of the largest festivals in Belgium but also as a major player on the European festival scene. 

The four-day lineup for this year is nothing short of spectacular, and there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy. Thursday and Friday jump-start the party with headliners like Lenny Kravitz, Eurovision winners Måneskin, Snow Patrol, and the enigmatic PJ Harvey. 

Not quite your cup of tea? Fear not. Saturday serves up the disco pop princess herself, Dua Lipa (blushes), as well as Khruangbin, Mercury-prize winner Arlo Parks, and the ever-rocking Avril Lavigne. 

And if your eardrums can handle it, the grand finale on Sunday includes the legendary Foo Fighters, Royal Blood, the soulful Michael Kiwanuka, and Jungle. 

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Sound good? We certainly think so. TF

Serbia - EXIT Festival

(10 – 14 July 2024)

EXIT
EXITEXIT Festival

If you're considering attending a festival in Serbia this year, look no further than EXIT - a Balkan paradise for all things drum n' bass, techno, and hip-hop. 

Euronews Culture had the privilege of attending the festival's 2023 edition, a spectacular celebration marking 50 years of hip-hop. The highlight of the event was an electrifying performance by the legendary Wu Tang Clan, accompanied by stellar performances from dubstep phenom Skrillex, iconic electronic group The Prodigy, and the mesmerising Swedish punk band Viagra Boys. And we can confirm, the Serbians know a thing or two about partying. 

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As anticipation builds for the upcoming 2024 edition, EXIT has unveiled an impressive lineup featuring headliners such as the Black Eyed Peas, the virtuoso guitarist of Rage Against the Machine Tom Morello, trap legend Gucci Mane, eminent English DJ Carl Cox, and the renowned producer-DJ Bonobo. 

Nestled within the historic confines of the stunning Petrovaradin Fortress overlooking Novi Sad, Serbia’s second-largest city, the festival boasts a colossal scale. It artfully harnesses the unique space, creating distinct visuals and backdrops for each of its numerous stages. 

So save the dates from 10 to 14 July on your calendars, as this is an experience you don’t want to miss. TF

Portugal - NOS Alive Lisbon

(11 - 13 July 2024)

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NOS
NOSNOS Alive Festival

With the motto 'beach by day, music by night,' Lisbon’s NOS Alive promises killer tunes that will keep you grooving all the way to the early hours of the morning.

It’s hard not to dance to the festival’s top-billed headliner this year – British-Albanian pop princess Dua Lipa, who is expected to drop her hotly-anticipated third studio album at some point this year.

Dua’s joined by fellow British pop icon Jessie Ware, whose latest record 'That! Feels Good!' was one of our favourite albums of 2023.

If pop isn’t your jam, no problem. US classic rockers Pearl Jam are also headlining, along with Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire. Chicago alt-rock legends The Smashing Pumpkins will be performing as part of the European leg of their “The World Is A Vampire” tour, and British singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka will grace your ears with his dulcet tones. AU

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Romania - Electric Castle

(17 - 21 July)

Electric Castle returns this July
Electric Castle returns this JulyElectric Castle

Taking place in Banffy Castle, in Cluj, Romania, Electric Castle is one of Europe’s few truly 24-hour festivals, bringing round the clock gigs, installations, stand-up, all in a Transylvanian castle and... Well, do you need more convincing?

In the absence of bloodthirsty vampires (sorry, we couldn’t help but lean into that old chestnut), Electric Castle has a powerhouse line-up for its 10th edition, featuring Massive Attack, Queens Of the Stone Age, Bring Me The Horizon, Chase & Status, Bonobo, DJ Shadow, Sleaford Mods and many more, for what promises to be an immersive fest you won’t forget in a hurry.

Europe's emerging festival sensation? Better believe it. DM

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Germany – Parookaville

(19 - 21 July 2024)

Parookaville
ParookavilleParookaville Festival

Aside from Tomorrowland, Parookaville is THE festival for electro dance music fans, taking place over three days within an elaborately created fake city at Weeze Airport.

Having first begun in 2015, Parookaville has already made a name for itself as one of Germany's biggest EDM festivals, with 225,000 people attending in 2023 and more than 300 DJs performing across the ten stages.

The lineup this year features a whole host of incredible DJ sets, including Armin van Buuren, Timmy Trumpet, Andromedik, Neelix, W&W, Cristoph, Mariana BO, Coone, MARTEN HØRGER and more.

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The impressively immersive design, big-love energy and vast array of performances - plus lots of good food - has the vibes just right at Parookaville, with the opportunity to lose your mind to thumping beats until 4am at the main stages or to experience lesser-known acts on smaller stages and mingle with fellow EDM fans. Coffee recommended. AB

Ireland - All Together Now Festival

(1 - 4 August)

All Together Now Festival at the Curraghmore estate in County Waterford
All Together Now Festival at the Curraghmore estate in County WaterfordAll Together Now

All Together Now Festival is a three-day event which takes place at the Curraghmore estate in County Waterford, between 1-4 August. Now in its fifth year, it is Ireland’s largest independent festival, with 18 stages of music, theatre, spoken word, storytelling, comedy, wellness, food and more.

“We welcome music lovers, mavericks, creators, families and curious minds alike for a weekend of exploration, escapism, and togetherness,” reads an official description of the festival.

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Go on...

“Indulge in sumptuous feasts and artisanal cocktails amidst our breathtaking landscape. Embark on a holistic wellness journey, where rejuvenation meets revelation.”

Intriguing...

“By embracing the very best from all of these forms of expression, we aim to create a true feast for the senses, and a welcoming place for families and people of all backgrounds.”

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Nice. Who’s playing?

Well, the festival has unveiled the first wave of acts for 2024, with The National, Jorja Smith and Róisín Murphy set to headline.

Right. They mean business.

There’s also James Vincent McMorrow, Slowdive, Future Islands, Floating Points and Barry Can’t Swim. Oh, and The Wailers are scheduled to mark the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley And The Wailers’ album ‘Legend’ with a special live set.

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Take. Our. Money. Now. DM

Hungary - Sziget Festival

(7 - 12 August 2024)

Sziget Festival
Sziget FestivalLászló Mudra http://www.mudralaszlo.hu - Rockstar Photographers/Photo: László Mudra http://www.mudralaszlo.hu - Rockstar Photographers

One of the biggest festivals in Europe, The Sziget will once again transform the island of Óbuda, in the 3rd district of Budapest, into a euphoric escape for six party-hazed days this August.

Entering its 31st year, the festival first began as a small gathering before snowballing into one of the continent’s favourites; it was even voted Europe's best festival by the European Festival Awards in 2012 and 2015.

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The 2024 lineup so far features exciting headliners Fred Again.., Sam Smith, Stormzy and Martin Garrix, with other acts such as Louis Tomlinson, Four Tet, AURORA, Fontaines D.C., Becky Hill, Big Thief and many, many more performing too. Keep an eye out for further announcements!

The beautiful isolated island of The Sziget Festival makes it truly unique; it’s like disappearing into another dimension, where the atmosphere is woozy with huge crowds of happy people and sonic elation.

Last year saw the event attended by roughly 420,000 people from around the world, and this year will undoubtedly be even bigger - and better. AB

Finland - Flow Festival

(9 - 11 August)

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Finland's Flow Festival
Finland's Flow FestivalFlow Festival

Looking for the world's first carbon-neutral festival, which includes a cutting-edge line-up and art installations?

Thought so. Well, search no further and head to the heart of Helsinki this summer for Flow Festival. Organised by the music collective Nuspirit Helsinki, the festival’s focus since 2004 has been about introducing music that the organisers personally found exciting and bringing the hottest international talents to the capital of Finland.

Celebrating its 20th this year, the festival sees a superbly curated selection of artists cementing its growing reputation as an international leader on the festival scene.

The full programme isn’t out just yet, but let us whet your appetite...

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PJ Harvey. Yes, she’s at several festivals on our list, but good lord, if you haven’t seen her live, you’re missing out.

The Smile, the Radiohead side project from Thom Yorke, Johnny Greenwood and drummer Tom Skinner. Their latest album, ‘Wall of Eyes’, is a thrilling release and essentially the album Radiohead should have released. In the absence of the band, The Smile more than fills that void.

RAYE. Oh, RAYE. Having taken the music industry by storm with her debut album ‘My 21st Century Blues’, one of our top records of 2023, and winning a whopping six BRIT Awards (out of seven nominations – becoming the most decorated artist in a single year), there is no excuse to skip seeing her live. Oh, she’s so good, it actually hurts a little.

Pulp. Yes, Jarvis Cocker and his merry bunch are back, and the Britpop icons' reunion "encore" continues. This one sells itself, really.

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Fred Again.. . (It’s hard to know where to put that full stop when the artist’s name already features two ‘..’) The Grammy-nominated Fred Again.. has become a towering figure in electronic music, and missing out on seeing him live is borderline criminal at this point. Trust us on this one.

More acts will be announced during the spring and summer, and it’s looking like one of the must-haves of the festival scene this year. DM

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