Lindsay Lohan at Coachella? Whateever. Here’s our picks of the festival scene.

Lindsay Lohan at Coachelle

So Coachella, the sparkling, bro-filled diamond of the US festival circuit, kicks off this weekend. But who wants to be surrounded by alcohol funnels and teenage cries of “anyone seen molly?” while trying to spot Lindsay going into yet another shame spiral? We decided to cast our gaze closer to home for our summer of fun. Here are our personal European festival highlights – some more established, some brand spanking new. And unlike Glastonbury, all of them are still on sale right now.

Sleigh Bells live at Primavera

30th May-1st June | Porto, Spain

Think of this as the Optimus Prime of newbie festivals. The little brother to Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Optimus Primavera has the added advantage of being in the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal, which boasts its own UNESCO World Heritage site and was nominated as Best City in the 2012 Design Awards. Blur, My Bloody Valentine, Four Tet and Hot Chip are all lined up, while legendary act The Breeders are set to play Last Splash in full. Plus, discerning music fans will be pleased to know that Pitchfork will be curating a stage at the festival for the first time.

Weekend tickets are sold out but €125 (£69) day tickets are still available. www.optimusprimaverasound.com

Parklife Weekender festival


18-21st July | Spain

If sunning yourself on the Costa del Azahar’s langorious coasts, drinking Sangria and dusting down your embarrassing New Rock Revolution trillby doesn’t quite tick your summery boxes, scoot on down the road to Beni while you’re there. Hosting a Stellar (Artois) lineup, including Beach House, Queens of the Stone Age, Temples, The Child of Lov and Swim Deep. Aaaaand, breath. Aaaaaand book your tickets right away.

Weekend tickets are available from £150. Day tickets from £70. http://benicassimfestival.co.uk


19-21 July | Dublin, Ireland

The sister festival of Suffolk’s Latitude Festival, the inaugural Longitude is an open-air event set in Dublin’s Marlay Park. Taking place on the same weekend with Latitude, it shares the same stellar line-up and is one of Ireland’s leading summer events. German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk have been announced as headliners and promise another triumphant return with their 3D concert; Brit newcomer Tom Odell, Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend and Yeah Yeah Yeahs are scheduled too.

Weekend tickets are €149.50 (£127); day tickets cost €54.50 (£46). longitude.ie

Melt festival

19-21 July | Gräfenhainichen, Germany

For a German alternative to Longtitude, check out Melt, which happens over the same July weekend at Ferropolis, an open museum of old huge industrial machines in Gräfenhainichen, a city near Dessau, Germany. Reigning supreme for the last 15 years, Melt has well and truly established itself as a major player on the festival calendar, scoring a nomination for Best Overseas Festival in 2001’s UK Festival Awards. Ferropolis is known as the ‘City of Steel’, and its imposingly huge machinery exhibits give the festival the feel of a dystopian sci-fi. Confirmed acts that include Atoms For Peace, The Knife, Flying Lotus, Everything Everthing and Mount Kimbie.

Weekend tickets are €119 (£100.73) plus booking fee. www.meltfestival.de/en

Secret Garden Party Paint Powder Fight

25-28th July | Cambridgeshire, UK

This crazed blend of fancy dress, surreal art and music was initially inspired by Burning Man, the infamous drug-friendly hippie utopia. That pretty much tells us all about SGP, which has grown from being a tiny invite-only party to a thousands-strong contender on the boutique festival line-up. Set in a 220-acre landscaped garden (essentially the backyard of a British aristocrat), think of it as a prim garden party gone to the dark side. Django Django, Regina Spektor and Soulwax are playing, along with Wonderland favourites Wolf Alice and Bastille.

Tier 4 tickets are £185 plus booking fee. www.secretgardenparty.com

Way Out West Festival

8-10th August | Gothenburg, Sweden

This 3 day event plays host to some of the most sought after international artists, who take to the stage in various venues all over the city. Clubs, churches, theatres and cultural centres are all set to showcase emerging talent as well as more established acts such as Azealia Banks, The Knife, Local Natives, Solange and veteran musicians Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The big acts perform in Slottsskogen Park in the centre of Gothenburg, whilst the rest of the festival’s ‘Stay Out West’ line-up takes place throughout the city from Thursday evening onwards.

Standard weekend ticket are 1,895 kr (£189), with day options available. www.wayoutwest.se/en

Outlook Festival

Fort Punta Christo, Croatia
29 August-2 September5-9th September | Fort Punta Cristo Pula, Croatia

Croatia is shaping up to be the festival destination of summer, with both Dimensions, Unknown (below) and Outlook heading to its sunny shores. Outlook and Dimensions are organised by the same underground party crew, who can be relied on to bring epic soundsystems and a friendly, up-for-it vibe that makes dancing all night in flip-flops a true joy. In particular, Dimensions has gathered much critical acclaim since it launched last year, notably for having one of the most forward-thinking electronic music line-up. It’s less bass-heavy than its older brother, Outlook – though both boast the highest technical specification of soundsystem. Featuring everything from daytime beach sessions to boat parties, don’t be surprised if you’ll never want to get on the EasyJet plane home. This year’s Dimensions line-up includes Mount Kimbie, Gilles Peterson, Skudge, Blawan and Zed Bias while Outlook has nabbed Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Rustie and many others.*

Standard tickets are £135. www.outlookfestival.com / www.dimensionsfestival.com

Unknown festival in Rovinj, Croatia

10-14th September | Rovinj, Croatia

The brains behind The Warehouse Project and Field Day have developed something brand new for 2013 in the shape of Unknown. Enhanced by the beautiful backdrop of summery Rovinj, Croatia, the festival promises to incorporate what they already do best with an impressive collection of DJ sets and live performances. Alongside the forward-thinking music programme will be what the organisers promise as intimate design space projects to match the hedonistic mood. Entertaining the crowd will be Jamie xx, Joy Orbison, SBTRKT, Disclosure and Jessie Ware.

Standard weekend ticket costs £109. Various accommodation packages are available. www.unknowncroatia.com

* Want to win a pair of tickets to Outlook or Dimensions? Click here to find out more.

Words: Shane Hawkins


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