The Top Five European Music Festivals

Summer is prime time for lovers of live music. It’s festival season. It’s the perfect time to be outdoors in the sun, watching your favorite artists take to the stage to deliver one incredible performance after another.

Europe is one of the best places to come for music festivals. There are a plethora of events across the continent, with some of the best gigs in the world taking place here. 

If you’re coming from outside the European Union and Schengen Area for a festival, make sure you get a visa, if necessary, as well as your ticket! If you’re from a visa-free country, just remember your passport. However, in the near future, the ETIAS will become mandatory for visa-exempt travelers. If that includes you, make sure to register online before going to Europe.

Mad Cool Festival

A recent addition to Europe’s roster of music festivals, Mad Cool launched in 2016. It has quickly become one of the biggest and most popular festivals on the continent.

Taking place in the Spanish capital of Madrid, Mad Cool features an eclectic mix of top artists from all genres. The 2022 edition saw Metallica, Florence + the Machine, The Killers, Jamie Cullum, Carly Rae Jepsen, Phoebe Bridgers, Twenty One Pilots, Jack White, and Pixies, among many others, take to the stage.

After a successful 5th anniversary in 2022, Mad Cool looks set to be a mainstay of Spanish summers for years to come. 

It has been described as “Europe’s answer to Coachella” by the Independent and reviews have been very positive. Critics praised the design of the layout, which allows concertgoers to move from stage to stage quickly and easily to catch their favorite acts.

One possible downside is that there is no camping at Mad Cool, so you’ll have to sort out accommodation yourself and make your way to the festival grounds each day.

Tomorrowland

Often described as “the biggest electronic music show on Earth”, Tomorrowland is the party to end all parties. This massive event features a huge lineup of the biggest names in electronic music. 

Tomorrowland takes place in July in the appropriately-named town of Boom in Belgium. The 2022 lineup features such talent as Martin Garrix, Eric Prydz, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Marshmello, Amelie Lens, Adam Beyer, and NERVO.

One of the unique and interesting features of Tomorrowland are the food areas. Like many festivals, there are many kinds of food on offer, from Indian to Greek to Italian. The big difference is that Tomorrowland 2022 featured a beautiful pavilion close to the Freedom Stage with a waterfall structure pouring from the ceiling.

Primavera Sound

The second Spanish festival to make the list, Primavera Sound is a classic. The legendary Barcelona-based festival offers a wide range of acts to enjoy in the summer sun by the glistening Mediterranean.

The 2022 lineup featured the likes of Massive Attack, The Strokes, Lorde, Dua Lipa, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Gorillaz, Tyler The Creator, Beck, and many, many more.

Primavera Sound is a must for any music festival lover and Barcelona is the perfect place in which to enjoy it. 

That said, if you like camping in a field, that’s not an option here. The festival takes place in the city, so you’ll have to find accommodation separately.

NOS Alive

NOS Alive is one of Portugal’s biggest music festivals, and it’s not hard to see why! The Lisbon-based event has been picking consistently great lineups since it started back in 2007, and the Portuguese capital is a wonderfully vibrant city to host it.

You can expect an eclectic mixture of up-and-coming artists, current hit-makers, and all-time classic acts during this epic weekend in July.

2022 saw Imagine Dragons, Metallica, The Strokes, Da Weasel, Faith No More, Phoebe Bridgers, Royal Blood, Caribou, and many more names grace the Portuguese stage.

Glastonbury

Not just one of the biggest festivals in Europe, but one of the biggest on Earth. Glastonbury is the UK’s mecca of music; the pinnacle of Britain’s festival calendar. Brexit aside, you can’t make a list of Europe’s top 5 festivals without including Glastonbury!

The huge roster of acts feature some of the best in the world. 2022’s festival included everyone from Paul McCartney to Billie Eilish; from the Pet Shop Boys to Lorde. Kendrick Lamar, Robert Plant, Diana Ross, Elbow, Foals, Olivia Rodrigo, Fontaines D.C., and Primal Scream were among the many other names on the bill.

The only thing to watch out for is the weather. Glastonbury may be in the middle of June, but England is notorious unreliable for good weather and many past editions of the festival have been known for becoming mud baths due to the rain. Pack boots and wet weather gear just in case!

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