Europe is known for its vibrant music and arts culture. It is also a hub for nightlife and boasts hundreds of clubs across the continent. Big music festivals are no stranger to Europe’s audiences, who flock in the thousands to watch their favorite artists performing live through the summers; a perfect time for music festivals.
In 2023, we give you a list of some incredible, even historic music festivals that need to be checked off your list. These festivals pack in all popular music genres through their extensive lineups spanning performances over days and complete weekends. Let’s have a look!
Location: Boom, Antwerp, Belgium
Visitors: 600,000 (in 2022)
2005 – present
Tomorrowland is the biggest dance music festival in the world that lights up the lovely Belgian town of Boom with its colorful stages, installations, and incredible music line-up year after year. With a legacy of putting some of the biggest and best acts onstage, the electronic dance music festival boasts massive line-ups spanning over several stages. In the past couple of years, the festival has expanded to three weekends of live shows. Some artists that have performed in the past include David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, Tiësto, Hardwell, Carl Cox, Paul van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, Skrillex, Afrojack, Steve Aoki, and many, many more!
The 2023 line-up will have 600s DJs from across the globe playing sets across 14 stages on the weekends of 21 – 23 and 28 – 30 July. This year’s edition will feature Afrojack, Alesso, Armin van Buuren, Claptone, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Dom Dolla, Don Diablo, Eric Prydz, Kungs, Lost Frequencies, Martin Garrix, Meduza, Netsky, Black Coffee, The Chainsmokers and many more.
Read our exclusive interviews with artists on the line-up – Like Mike, Mattn and Martin Jensen.
Location: Pilton, Somerset, England
Visitors: 210,000 (in 2022)
1970 – present
Glastonbury has been a treat for festival goers who enjoy multi-genre line-ups and live music. It is a greenfield music festival formerly known as Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. Glastonbury has been a pilgrimage for music lovers and musicians ever since its inception in the early 70s. It is one of the oldest music festivals, and has had some of the biggest names in music history on the bill in the past, including David Bowie, The Cure, Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, The Black Crowes, Johnny Cash, Rage Against the Machine, Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Oasis, The Prodigy, Led Zeppelin, Billie Eilish, to name very few!
This year, Glastonbury’s line-up announcements so far include Arctic Monkeys, Elton John, Lizzo, Guns N’ Roses, Lana Del Rey, Joe Badass, Fred Again…, and Thundercat, among others, from June 21 – 25, 2023.
Location: Northern Budapest, Hungary
Attendance: 452,000 (in 2022)
1993 – present
Sziget Festival is arguably one of the largest music and cultural festivals in all of Europe. The festival is home to around 1000 performances every year and is located on Óbudai-sziget, a 108-hectare island on the Danube (Sziget means island in Hungarian). Now in its 30th year, the festival has brought a variety of genres to its stages including rock, heavy metal, pop, indie, hip hop, reggae and electronic music. Previous editions of the festival have seen artists such as Dua Lipa, Martin Garrix, Major Lazer, Kasabian, Alt-J, Andy C, Sum 41, Dropkick Murphys, Queens of the Stone Age, and many many more over the years. The festival offers a bunch of activities beyond the music line-ups on stages, like dance, theatre, tattooing, sports, rock climbing, bungee jumping, and more.
In 2023, Sziget will take place over five days from August 10 – 15, with artists on the line-up such as David Guetta, Imagine Dragons, Florence + the Machine, Billie Eilish, Foals, Sam Fender, and many others.
Amsterdam Dance Event / ADE
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Attendance: 400,000 (in 2019)
1996 – present
Amsterdam Dance Event or ADE started off as a conference in 1993 spanning five days with a festival held in October. Over time, ADE evolved and now takes part in over 200 clubs across the city, featuring around 2,500 artists over five days. As one of the most critically-acclaimed centers for discovering dance music artists from around the world, ADE has drawn audiences to over 50 events, with even surprise daytime DJ performances. It’s all about being ready to storm the clubs and venues in the city on festival days.
This year, ADE will take place on October 18 – 22. The artist line-ups are yet to be announced, so keep an eye out for those!
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Location: Amsterdam and Haarlem, The Netherlands
Attendance: 300,000 (in 2022)
1997 – present
Awakenings Festival is the largest techno music entity – comprising of a collection of shows and festivals organized across Europe. The festival has been running since the late 90s, and the who’s who of techno music have had a slot in its various offerings. The spring festival at Spaarnwoude Park is one of their major events in Houtrak, along with the Summer Festival in Hilvarenbeek.
This year, Awakenings Spring Festival will take place on May 13 – 14, the Summer Festival on July 7 – 9, and an Easter 2023 show at Gashounder on April 7 – 9. The Easter special will include artists such as Innellea, Nina Kraviz & Adiel, Carmen Lisa, Mind Against, and more, while the Spring festival will include heavyweights Adam Beyer & Joseph Capriati, Adriatique, Adiel, Mind Against, Klangkuenstler, Indira Paganotto, Brina Knauss, Hector Oaks and more. The Summer Festival promises a slamming line-up too, featuring Ben Böhmer, Deborah De Luca, Kölsch, Alan Fitzpatrick, Joris Voorn, Maceo Plex, Nina Kraviz, and many more.
Location: Split, Croatia
Attendance: 160,000 (in 2022)
2013 – present
Part of the global Ultra family, it would only make perfect sense to have this multi-venue outdoor music festival at an ideal location within Europe. Previous editions of the festival have been home to some of the best electronic artists, keeping true to Ultra’s worldwide legacy across 20 countries, hosting the likes of Above & Beyond, DJ Snake, Steve Aoki, Adam Beyer, Martin Garrix, Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, and Sam Feldt, among plenty of others.
This year, Ultra Europe will take place on July 7 – 9 at Youth Park in Split, Croatia. Popular artists on the line-up this year include Adam Beyer, Afrojack, Boris Brejcha, Carl Cox, Charlotte de Witte, Hardwell, Martin Garrix and Timmy Trumpet.
Location: Petrovaradin, Novi Sad, Serbia
Attendance: 200,000 (in 2022)
2000 – present
The summer music festival started off as a student movement and has ultimately turned out to be one of the most massive and successful festivals in Europe. Ranging in genres from rock, metal and hip hop to techno and EDM, the festival is a destination many festival-goers flock to in the month of July. Its humble beginnings had a small line-up that has now extended to four stages over four days. Previous editions of the festival have hosted everyone from Sepultura, Decapitated, and Behemoth, all the way to The Chemical Brothers, David Guetta, Lauren Hill, and even artists such as Missy Elliot, Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg and Sheck Wes.
The 2023 edition of Exit Festival will be on July 6 – 9 in Novi Sad, Serbia. Line-up includes The Prodigy, Skrillex, Wu-Tang Clan, Alesso, Claptone, Chase & Status, Eric Prydz, CamelPhat, and many more.
Location: Madrid, Spain
Attendance: 60,000 (in 2022)
2016 – present
The annual music festival is held in Spain. Mad Cool is known for its consistent delivery of star-studded line-ups that people await, and the good crowd in draws in over three days. Focused on pop, rock and indie music, this festival is one that brings out the bands and immersive line-ups, unlike many festivals in this list. From The Who, Green Day, Pearl Jam and Franz Ferdinand, to Metallica, Alice in Chains, and Jane’s Addiction, many legendary artists have performed over the past five editions.
This year, Mad Cool will take place on July 6-8, clashing with Exit and Ultra Europe. The line-up includes Robbie Williams, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Queens of the Stone Age, The Black Keys, Sam Smith, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others.
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Location: Roskilde, Denmark
Attendance: 130,000+ (in 2022)
1971 – present
Starting around the same time as Glastonbury in the early 70s, Roskilde Festival in Denmark is one of the legendary music, arts, activism and culture festivals in all of Europe. Known for its extensive but chunky line-ups year after year, Roskilde Festivals is one of the most respected and popular festivals on the continent. The festival has hosted legendary artists such as Iggy Pop, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Nirvana, Billy Idol, Ray Charles, Coldplay, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, and Slipknot, to name a few.
This year’s edition of Roskilde will take place from June 24 – July 1. The line-up features Rosalía, Burna Boy, Kendrick Lamar, Queens of the Stone Age, Japanese Breakfast, Blur, Denzel Curry, and many more over the week of the festival.
Location: Gräfenhainichen, Germany
Attendance: 20,000 (in 2022)
1997 – present
To conclude our list of 10 European festivals you should visit, Melt! in Germany should definitely be on your list! Known to be a decent-sized electronic music festival, the line-ups are well-curated and make for an interesting weekend if you’re in Germany at the time. The festival makes it to multiple lists if you’ve been looking online, and some artists who’ve played at previous editions include Bonobo, Claptone, Kylie Minogue, London Grammar, Alt-J, Cakes da Killa, HVOB and more.
The 2023 edition of the festival will take place on June 8 – 11. Acts set to perform are FKA Twigs, Boys Noize, Solomun, Beabadoobe, Bru-C, Daphni and more.
We hope you took a good look at the list. If you’ve made plans to visit Europe this year, try and swing by 2-3 of these festivals, where you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
Cover image via the official Tomorrowland website.