20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year

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Chris Sayer

You feel that? That peculiar sensation all over your skin? That’s called ‘warmth’, and means we’ve finally busted out of winter and are heading face-first into a summer filled with days under the sun, afternoons in pub gardens, evenings spent in parks and road trips to the beach.

And then there are the festivals. Oh boy, the festivals.

By now, you may have made up your mind about which festivals you and your tent-dwelling pals will be hitting this year. At least, you think you’ve made up your mind. We’re here to throw a big and beautiful spanner in the works, because away from the mud, portaloos and £18 ciders of UK festies, there lies a smorgasbord of epic partying abroad. We’re talking huge city festivals in LA. We’re talking drum’n’bass in a crumbling old Serbian fortress. We’re talking utterly stunning European mountain scenery for you to lose your mind in.

All that stands between you and these 20 incredible overseas festivals is remembering to pack your passport…

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year

    FYF Fest

    What is it: Oh, only a huge downtown party with Hollywood celebs in Los Angeles, the coolest/weirdest/awesomest city on the planet.

    Must-watch headliners: The biggest name in modern hip-hop, King Kendrick Lamar, of course.

    Can’t-miss performance: Let the sun toast your neck and the beer cloud your brain as you lose yourself in the instrumental ambience of Explosions In The Sky.

    Deal-breaker: Is every other festival just a little too, well, nice for you and your hard-partying ways? Then know this: FYF stands for F*ck Your Face. Lovely.

    27-28 August, from $125, fyffest.com

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 1


    What is it: Described as “the best festival in the world, for real” by The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett, this is a Serbian force to be reckoned with.

    Must-watch headliners: Ellie Goulding heads this one up, with Wiz Khalifa and Hurts in the ranks.

    Can’t-miss performance: At the time of writing there was still a whole lot more to come.

    Deal-breaker: It’s held inside an 18th-century Serbian fortress.

    7-10 July, from £95, exitfest.org

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 2


    What is it: Meaning “good stuff” in creole, it’s a music and arts festival way out in Tennessee that attracts major musical players.

    Must-watch headliners: We’re thinking Pearl Jam. Yeah, let’s go see Pearl Jam.

    Can’t-miss performance: Of course, you’ve got your pick of bands like Ween, Tame Impala and Miguel, but being an ‘arts’ festival too means comic heroes such as Judd Apatow (and friends) will be in attendance to provide some a-grade stand up. 

    Deal-breaker: It’s Tennessee, which is a pilgrimage in itself for any self-respecting music fan.

    9-12 June, from $324.50, bonnaroo.com

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 3

    Hangout Festival

    What is it: Super chilled beachside surf vibes on the sandy shores of Alabama, dude.

    Must-watch headliners: There’s a bit of a British theme going on here, with Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding and Florence And The Machine all sitting up top on this bill, alongside The Weeknd.

    Can’t-miss performance: We can’t imagine seeing cool wavy Californian rockers The Neighbourhood in a more suitable setting than here.

    Deal-breaker: It’s a real one-of-a-kind. Most seaside festivals abroad have a heavy dance focus, whereas this is a very different beast.

    14-15 May, from $249, hangoutmusicfest.com

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 4


    What is it: A huge mix of all sorts in a Dutch theme park. Even your pickiest mates will be happy here. Yeah, even him.

    Must-watch headliners: Muse, Disclosure and LCD Soundsystem are the triple-headed threat here across the nights. Pretty darn massive.

    Can’t-miss performance: Totally depends on how you’re feeling, as there’s so much to choose from. Up for chilling? See Damian “Jr Gong” Marley. Need to wake the heck up? Aussie metalcore troupe Parkway Drive will revive you back to life.

    Deal-breaker: It’s been around for almost fifty years, making it one of the longest running in the whole of Europe. Good on you, Lowlands.

    19-21 August, from €195, lowlands.nl

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 5


    What is it: Massively varied Polish festival working with big names just as much as all-out crowd pleasers. What that means is you’re in for a hella good time.

    Must-watch headliners: Still waiting for the big names to come in…

    Can’t-miss performance: Flatbush Zombies are down. Go see ‘em if you want to slow things right down with some weed-infused hip hop. 

    Deal-breaker: Thirty-eight quid for a ticket! That’s about the same price as one lager at Reading and Leeds! Madness!

    5-7 August, from £38, off-festival.pl

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 6


    What is it: Another eye-pleaser set in the idyllic Swiss countryside with a lot less yodelling and a lot more rock’n’rolling.

    Must-watch headliners: The ultimate festival band, The Prodigy. No two ways about it.

    Can’t-miss performance: Frank Carter, the former lead singer/crazy horse of Gallows, brings his new band The Rattlesnakes here with a catalogue of furious hardcore tunage that’ll disrupt the scenery. 

    Deal-breaker: Nothing cures a hangover like a lungful of mountain air.

    8-11 June, from 129CHF (approx. £93), greenfieldfestival.ch

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 7


    What is it: Go to a beach in Croatia. Stay awake for four days. Lose your mind to live music beside the pool/on the beach/in a boat. Come back a husk of a human.  

    Must-watch headliners: Skepta will be INCREDIBLE here. Lord have mercy on all of your souls.

    Can’t-miss performance: If you have a pair of ears where your ears should be, My Nu Leng from Bristol should do it for you.

    Deal-breaker: Sorta like Glastonbury’s famous secret sets, Hideout throws down some hush-hush superstar acts for those in the know.

    26-30 June, from £139, hideoutfestival.com

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 8

    NOS Alive

    What is it: Big, fat, epic city party in the sun-kissed streets of Lisbon.

    Must-watch headliners: Robert Plant, the frontman of a little band called Led Zeppelin, will turn up with his band The Sensational Shape Shifters on the opening night.

    Can’t-miss performance: Wolf Alice can do no wrong right now, so catch them before they start closing festivals instead of playing during the day.

    Deal-breaker: Lisbon is a totally on-trend city break right now for hip holiday goers.

    7-9 July, from €56 (day tickets), nosalive.com

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 9

    Nova Rock

    What is it: Now into its second decade, this beautiful Austrian heavyweight near Vienna is sorta like The Sound Of Music, if the Von Trapp family were a team of beer-chugging, head-banging metal heads.

    Must-watch headliners: They’re doing the rounds this year, but Red Hot Chilli Peppers would be worth a watch.

    Can’t-miss performance: Our homegrown noisemaking duo Slaves get a criminally early slot on Saturday.

    Deal-breaker: They sell lager on site for one euro. Hey, British festivals, are you listening? One EURO.

    9-12 June, from €144.50, novarock.at

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 10

    Open’er Festival

    What is it: Poland’s premier outdoor party, taking place in 75 hectares of airfield.

    Must-watch headliners: We’ll put money on Foals having a stand-out show on the Thursday.

    Can’t-miss performance: It’s worth camping out at the Tent Stage all day Saturday just to catch a glimpse of returning post-hardcore heroes At The Drive-In.

    Deal-breaker: One of the cheapest we’ve come across. It’s an absolute steal at just over a ton.

    29 June – 2 July, 549PLN (approx. £101), opener.pl

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 11

    Rock AM Ring

    What is it: The pinnacle in the crown of absolutely enormous rock and metal festivals, done spectacularly by the Germans since 1985.

    Must-watch headliners: This is one of a few festivals that get to bid a big “auf wiedersehen” to metal gods Black Sabbath before they retire forever. 

    Can’t-miss performance: Sheffield thrashers While She Sleeps will tear that stage to pieces, but only after climbing all the way to the top of it, no doubt.   

    Deal-breaker: This is the first time it’s been moved from the Nurburgring racetrack and onto an airfield up in the mountains. What does that mean? EVEN MORE METAL.

    3-5 June, from €195, rock-am-ring.com

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 12


    What is it: Utterly stunning outdoor festival with a monstrous and excellently varied bill, taking place in the Gorge Amphitheatre, Washington, USA.

    Must-watch headliners: Boy oh boy, you best pace yourself through the day here because the nightly closers are biiig. There’s Disclosure. There’s A$AP Rocky. There’s Major Lazer. There’s The Cure, for heaven’s sake.

    Can’t-miss performance: Kurt Vile. Please please make sure you see Kurt Vile. His music is practically made for a place like this.

    Deal-breaker: Forget broken tents and the scent of stale beer in the air: here, you’ll wake up to breath-taking scenery that includes the Columbia river and Cascade mountains.

    27-30 May, From $350, sasquatchfestival.com

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 13


    What is it: Probably the coolest indie fest in Europe, hosted in arguably the hippest city in Europe, Barcelona. 

    Must-watch headliners: Couldn’t face coughing up the thousands of pounds to see Radiohead at London’s Roundhouse in May? They’ll be doing their thing here too.

    Can’t-miss performance: Brian Wilson, as in the co-founder of the Beach Boys, will be doing the iconic album Pet Sounds in full, half a century since its release in 1966. That’ll be pretty spesh.

    Deal-breaker: Pre-drinking here means having a few sangrias down on Las Ramblas, instead of chugging warm vodka while wearing wellington boots.

    2-4 June, VIP passes for €250, primaverasound.com

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 14


    What is it: All-out French mosh.

    Must-watch headliners: It’s gotta be another “au revoir” to Black Sabbath, hasn’t it. German industrial heavy metallers Rammstein put on a total brain melter of a performance too, so stick around for them also.

    Can’t-miss performance: Rest your weary ears upon the drone metal ditties of Sunn O))) when it all gets a little too much.

    Deal-breaker: You’ll see things here you’ll never see again.

    17-19 June, ticket info here, hellfest.fr

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 15

    Sonar Barcalona

    What is it: Travelling around like a party juggernaut, Sonar heads to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Iceland and Sweden, but only after getting the experimental electro started in Barca.

    Must-watch headliners: Sonar is waaay too cool for ‘headliners’. Big names include Skepta, Santigold, New Order and Jean-Michelle Jarre.

    Can’t-miss performance: Check out BadBadNotGood, who’ve got this epic jazz-funk-hip-hip-electronic thing going on. It’s better than it sounds, one hundred per cent.

    Deal-breaker: It’s a full-blown assault on the senses, with huge light shows for your eyes as well as all that electro down your lugholes.

    16-18 June, from €125, sonar.es

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 16

    World Club Dome

    What is it: A Frankfurt arena transformed into THE BIGGEST CLUB IN THE WORLD with 15 stages, 200 DJs and 700k square metres of ground to tear up with your dancing shoes.

    Must-watch headliners: Steve Aoki likes to have a good time, doesn’t he.

    Can’t-miss performance: If you need something a little more minimal, bounce over to the All Trap Music stage for some Waka Flocka Flame time.

    Deal-breaker: The bragging rights that come with getting out of THE BIGGEST CLUB IN THE WORLD alive?

    3-5 June, from €129, worldclubdome.com

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 17

    Way Out West

    What is it: Eco-friendly festy in Sweden that reeks of Scandi cool.

    Must-watch headliners: It’s a toss up between Jamie XX, PJ Harvey and Sia (who’s performing in Sweden for the first time ever).

    Can’t-miss performance: Jack Garratt deserves your eyes here.

    Deal-breaker: The food is next level, with the event roping in acclaimed local organic chefs to fuel you up.

    11-13 August, from £190 (approx), wayoutwest.se

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 18

    Fresh Island

    What is it: Three days of hip hop and RnB on the Croatian island of Pag.

    Must-watch headliners: Wiz Khalifa seems to be doing every festival under the sun this year, and this one’s no exception.

    Can’t-miss performance: There’s plenty left to be announced, but turntable maestro DJ Premier should rank highly in your priorities.

    Deal-breaker: It’s only been going since 2012, but already Fresh Island has earned major kudos thanks to previous headliners Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg and A$AP Rocky. You’ll look like a right trendsetter to your mates if you put this option on the table.

    12-14 July, from €95, fresh-island.org

  • 20 festivals you’ll want to travel abroad for this year 19


    What is it: An end-of-season, last-chance-to-dance final drum’n’bass blow-out in Croatia.

    Must-watch headliners: You’re here for drum’n’bass, so you’d be a lunatic to miss out on seeing Metalheadz pioneer Goldie (who now has an MBE at the end of his name).

    Can’t-miss performance: Irish rapper Rejjie Snow is making waves right now, so stay a step ahead of everyone else and go see what all the fuss is about.

    Deal-breaker: The bill could take you to a host of epic locations to dance in, including a 1000-year-old amphitheatre, a boat in the middle of the ocean and a mother flippin’ fort.

    31 August-4 September, from £130, outlookfestival.com


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Chris Sayer

Chris Sayer is a freelance journalist and editor based in London. Chris has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and travelled the world doing an all manner of adventures for lots of brilliant magazines. He writes for Shortlist about booze but would probably prefer we let him write about fishing instead. Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSayer00

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