3 Awesome Festivals in Europe
January 26 2017
There’s no time like the present to start planning your summer festival season. Europe is one of the best places to be for festival season — thanks to the huge variety of cultures and peoples, the types of festivals available are seemingly endless. Personally, I go for the types that are decidedly indie — not necessarily in their music selection, but in their atmosphere. I want to see people with flowers in their hair, dancing in hula hoops, or half-naked men and women laying out on the grass in between acts.
If you’re planning to visit Europe for a festival, start with choosing an indie festival that fits your style. Always make sure to buy a ticket in advance, because most festivals (especially the great ones) will and do sell out. And then, it’s a matter of knowing what to pack. My festival recommendations below are all-day festivals — ones where you can’t camp overnight — so that should save you packing space. But, be prepared for any type of weather. It can get messy out there!
Milkshake Festival (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
My first time at Milkshake Festival started like any other European festival. It was grey and rainy out, and I stumbled up to the entrance in a bright yellow poncho that was generously donated to me by a stranger on the street. After just a few hours, though, the rain let up, and eventually a rainbow appeared. Of course it did: Because this is the Milkshake Festival, whose motto is, “For all who love.” It’s not an explicitly gay festival, but it is closely associated with Amsterdam’s Gay Pride. The crowd here, though, is mixed — men, women, drag queens, leather daddies, artists, and muscle boys. Something for everyone.
The music, too, is mixed. Milkshake takes place in Amsterdam’s expansive Westerpark, outdoors, but with at least 10 different stages. There are techno DJs, indie music acts, queer performers, and pop bands. Again, something for everyone.
Sonar Festival (Barcelona, Spain)
Around since the 1990s, Sonar is a three-day electronic and music-industry festival. In Barcelona, the festival is cushioned between the city’s two other big summer events — Primavera and Cruilla — both equally amazing festivals, but it’s Sonar that wins as one of the leading electronic festivals. Alongside the bands and DJs that play, there’s a technology track for creative professionals.
Sonar takes place in two spots in Barcelona, split into a daytime and nighttime festival. The daytime festival includes tech events as well. But, the real parties start at night, when the festival takes over the convention center with massive crowds filling up the space, dancing until the morning. At last year’s festival, Anohni and James Blake opened parts of Sonar by Night, with DJs like John Talabot and Fatboy Slim closing out each morning.
Lollapalooza (Berlin, Germany)
Lollapalooza runs globally — from Chicago to Berlin and Buenos Aires — but the newest edition in Berlin is making waves. In the past two years, the festival has taken over two of Berlin’s coolest spots — first at Templehof (the former airport), and most recently in Treptower Park. The two-day festival has featured plenty of amazing headline indie acts, both international and local, from German band Seeed, to Macklemore and Years & Years.
The Lollapalooza festival sells out each year in Berlin and is heavily-attended by international tourists and visitors, making it a great place to find friends and have some fun. And when the festival ends each night, there’s still the 24-hour Berlin nightlife to keep the after-parties going
Have you ever been to any of these festivals? If so, what’d you think? Any suggestions for other festivals you like? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!