If an epic summer holiday is on your to-do list, head to Europe for an unforgettable music, dance and creative arts experience.
Festivals in Europe have become synonymous with summer, with tens of thousands making their pilgrimage to dance and music festivals across the continent.
August 2018 sees a lineup of some of the biggest names in the industry playing on elaborate stages set in picturesque European countrysides. Europe's festivals go beyond that of music so festival goers can expect an eclectic mix of culture, arts, entertainment and culinary delights all in the same place.
Or for something a little different, why not attend the biggest food fight in the world or take part in a festival honouring a wild mountain goat?
Whatever your fancy, we have you covered with our list of the best summer festivals this August and the flight deals to get you there.
Image source: Sziget Festival
1. Sziget Festival | 8-15 August 2018
- Where: Budapest, Hungary
- Music genre: Electronic dance music (EDM), indie, rock, pop, rap and more.
- Top tour: Book your Sziget Festival holiday with Contiki and travel from Berlin to Budapest in time to party for 3 days at Sziget.
Sziget is a must on every die-hard festival fan's checklist. One of the largest festivals in Europe, you can expect an international lineup of the industry's heavyweights. This year's event features Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar, Gorillaz, Dua Lipa and Lana Del Ray.
Held on a beautiful island in the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary tickets sell out every year as everything from electronic dance music (EDM) to hard rock is played on over 60 official stages. It's much more than just good music – check out theatre shows, circus acts and art projects.
Image source: Leeds Festival
2. Leeds/Reading Festivals | 24-26 August 2018
- Where: Leeds and Reading, England
- Music genre: Various, from rock and pop to indie and electronic.
- Top tour: Contiki's Reading Festival tour travels to England and Wales before landing in Reading for 3 days of musical madness.
The Reading and Leeds festivals occur simultaneously over a long weekend in England. Both feature rock, pop, indie, electronic and alternative music, with comedy acts, live stand up and beatboxing thrown in as well. The Reading site is older, more renowned and is held close to Reading town centre making it easily accessible.
On the flipside, Leeds has more ground to move around so you’ll truly get that festival atmosphere. While both sport a very much a relaxed vibe, they aren't very family friendly as after-parties that last until the next morning are standard at both.
This year's lineup features Fall Out Boy, Kendrick Lamar, Panic! at the Disco and Kings of Leon.
Image source: Rock en Seine Facebook
3. Rock en Seine | 24-26 August 2018
Since its inception in 2003, this three-day rock music festival has seen the likes of PJ Harvey, Flume, Massive Attack, Foals and Iggy Pop grace its stages. Set in a Parisian historical monument, festival goers rock out to big stars and new talents in rock, pop, electro and folk.
This year's headliners set to rock the venue include Justice, Macklemore, Thirty Seconds to Mars, PNL and Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park fame).
Unlike other rock festivals, this one caters to families well. It features a mini-rock concert for children 6-10 years old which is safely away from the adult crowd.
Image source: Untold
4. UNTOLD Festival | 2-5 August 2018
- Where: Cluj-Napoca, Romania
- Music genre: Various pop, rock and EDM
- Tickets: UNTOLD Festival
UNTOLD is Europe's newest dance music festival, having staged its first edition in 2015. But this new contender has since evolved into a multi-genre superstar, even winning the title of Best Major Festival at the 2015 European Festival Awards.
Pumping out the best of EDM, pop and urban music from international and local artists, this city-centre festival in Romania features uniquely themed stages with a strong emphasis on Romanian culture. Confirmed acts include: The Chainsmokers, Afrojack, Jason Derulo and The Prodigy. This is the party of all parties.
Image source: Electric Fields Festival
5. Electric Fields Festival | 30 August - 1 September 2018
- Where: Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
- Music genre: Rock and alternative rock
- Tickets: Electric Fields Festival
If you are looking to escape the city and relax in open spaces, head to Electric Fields. Set on the stunning grounds of the majestic Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland, the festival promises a weekend of good music, new experiences and good fun for the whole family.
The 2018 main stage will see the likes of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Leftfield. But beyond enjoying rock, indie, house and electro sounds, make sure to explore the various culinary delights, ale sampling, fairground activities and a dedicated lineup of activities for the little ones.
Image source: Groove Festival
6. Groove Loch Ness | 18 August 2018
- Where: Inverness, Scotland
- Music genre: Dance
- Tickets: Groove Festival
You won’t find the famed Loch Ness Monster here but what you will find is an epic party. For one night only, party under the stars in one of Scotland's biggest nightclubs at Groove Festival.
This basic back-to-dance festival features one main stage that attracts the big names without losing its intimate vibe. Last year revellers raved to Duke Dumont, Boys Noize and Leftfield. This year get prepared for another helluva party.
Image source: Mysteryland Facebook
7. Mysteryland | 24-26 August 2018
- Where: Haalemmermeer, near Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Music genre: EDM
- Tickets: Mysteryland
Mysteryland is the longest running music festival in the world. This two-day Dutch dance festival focuses on music, culture, arts and talent and is famed for being a sustainable one, too.
The stages at this festival are quirky and imaginative – no one is quite like another. The atmosphere reads much like a carnival with revellers lapping up the art installations, dance and meditation grounds and food options like the festival hounds they are.
Every year big names play here. This year's lineup are Alesso, Axwell λ Ingrosso, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Fatboy Slim and Hardwell.
Image source: Defected
8. Defected Croatia | 9-14 August 2018
- Where: Tisno, Croatia
- Music genre: House
- Tickets: Defected Croatia
Defected has it all: big names, rising talents and the perfect idyllic coastal town of Tisno in Croatia as host.
You can expect a curated selection of DJs playing the best in house music at this five-day festival. In between sets, live it up on daily boat parties and beach sessions because, well, you can.
This year, Defected will be rocking out to sets by Basement Jaxx, Camelphat, Claptone, Derrick Carter and Dimitri from Paris.
Image source: Way Out West Festival Facebook
9. Way Out West | 8-11 August 2018
- Where: Gothenburg, Sweden
- Music genre: Rock, pop, electronic and hip-hop
- Tickets: Way Out West
This scenic Swedish festival plays host to a dizzying array of artists – from international superstars to hometown heroes – mainly from the rock, electronic and hip-hop genres.
The green space in Slottsskogen, Gothenburg makes room for five stages, film screenings, creative art exhibitions and food stalls during the festival. Which, by the way, is eco-friendly, with vegetarian meals and merchandise made with organic materials.
The three-day festival plays to a standing-room only crowd but the after parties are legendary with the crowd spilling out to local cinemas, bars and clubs to party until dawn.
Headliners Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys, Lykke Li, Arcade Fire, Patti Smith, MIA, Thastrom and Iggy Pop have already signed on the dotted line.
Image source: Bestival
10. Bestival | 2-5 August 2018
- Where: Isle of Wight, England
- Music genre: Variety of pop, rock, dance, hip hop, Bollywood, reggae and more
- Tickets: Bestival
This four-day open air festival serves up more than music on the Isle of Wight. This fan favourite has festival goers worldwide dressing up according to the yearly theme, this year of which is Circus.
Better dust that top hat off.
While some activities are permanent fixtures, Bestival keeps it fresh with new features every year. If you are looking for a music festival with equally tempting side activities, Bestival is your best bet.
Top 10 arts and culture festivals in Europe in August
Image source: La Tomatina Tours Facebook
1. La Tomatina | 29 August 2018
- Where: Buñol, Spain
- Festival type: Cultural
- Top tour: Take a day trip tour from Valencia to go tomato throwing and dancing in Buñol with Festivals All Around.
A festival that needs no introduction, La Tomatina is the world's biggest food fight. Held annually in the town of Buñol in Spain, it’s a tradition that dates back to 1945 and continues to draw in over 20,000 people yearly.
The artillery? Over 140 tonnes of ripe tomatoes from big trucks. Festival goers, the streets, even storefronts will be covered in pulp at the end of the hour-long battle. Pack your old clothes, shoes and goggles and be prepared to get down and dirty.
Image source: © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
2. Edinburgh Festival Fringe | 3-27 August 2018
- Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
- Festival type: Arts
- Tickets: Edinburgh Festival Fringe
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the largest arts festivals in the world. Since its inception in 1947, this initiative has grown every year. In 2017 it spanned 25 days and saw 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows in 399 venues.
This year we can only hope it’ll be bigger and better. Its popularity is perhaps rooted in the fact that there really is something for everybody here. The main genres of entertainment include theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children's shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. (Can we breathe now?) And that’s just the main genres.
Got a spare week or two? You’ll need it.
Image source: Notting Hill Carnival
3. Notting Hill Carnival | 26-27 August 2018
Every year in August, the streets of Notting Hill in London are taken over by parades, steel bands, floats and classic Caribbean foods. Dubbed the biggest street festival in the world, revellers from all over come for a taste of the flamboyant costumes, family-friendly entertainment and delicious foods like fried plantain and jerk chicken.
Live music with the sounds of reggae, salsa and calypso adds to the atmosphere. This street festival is free of charge and can get crowded so get in early to nab a good spot.
Image source: Puck Fair
4. Puck Fair | 10-12 August 2018
- Where: Killorglin, Ireland
- Festival type: Street, carnival
- Tickets: Puck Fair
Puck Fair, otherwise knowns as The Fair of the He-Goat, is one of Ireland's oldest festivals. Inspired by a crowning of a wild mountain goat as king in 1603, the origins of this festival are as quirky as its events.
The three-day festival will see a parade with floats and colourful costumes, a horse fair where one can buy and sell horses, ponies and donkeys and a brilliant fireworks display to end the celebrations. While you are there, be sure to check out live open air music, puppet theatres and Ireland’s premier funfair, the Euroshow.
Image source: Wilderness Festival
5. Wilderness Festival | 2-5 August 2018
- Where: Oxfordshire, UK
- Festival type: Arts, music, workshops and wellbeing
- Tickets: Wilderness Festival
The Wilderness Festival celebrates the best of arts in the rolling hills of the Oxfordshire countryside. Come for an experience filled with music, good food and live performances with a dash of festival magic.
This multi-award winning four-day festival offers revellers woodland parties, wild swimming and a host of escapist activities. Hungry? Score a seat at the long table banquet helmed by leading chefs for a luxurious, communal dining experience.
If an escapist weekender is your cup of tea, book your tickets now.
Image source: Bristol International Balloon Festival
6. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta | 9-13 August 2018
- Where: Bristol, England
- Festival type: Hot air balloon
- Top tour: Fly among the 130 balloons by nabbing a spot in one of the hot air balloons when you book a sunrise or sunset ride and toast via Viator.
Europe's largest ballooning event is held annually in Bristol, UK. Now in its 40th year, the festival is celebrating big with four days of family fun. Teams from all over the world participate in mass ascent of over 130 balloons between 6am and 6pm each and every day.
Highlights of the event include the creatively-shaped balloons themselves and the night glow where the balloons are inflated and glow to music after dark. There is also a spectacular fireworks display during opening and closing nights. Over the years, the festival has included smaller aerobatics displays.
Image source: Helsinki Festival
7. Helsinki Festival | 16 August - 2 September 2018
- Where: Helsinki, Finland
- Festival type: Arts, music, dance, film and visual art.
- Tickets: Helsinki Festival
Finland's largest art festival showcases a diverse lineup featuring classical and world music, circus, dance, theatre, a children’s program, cinema and a range of urban events. The main concerts are held in a large festival tent but many of the performances are also held outdoors.
Feast your senses in the Night of Arts where all the city is open for anyone to perform. This annual event aims to make art more accessible to everyone across all ages and attracts over 200,000 people annually.
Image source: Street Parade Zurich
8. Street Parade Zurich | 11 August 2018
- Where: Zurich, Switzerland
- Festival type: Street and music festival
- More info: Street Parade Zurich
For one day only, the streets of Zurich, Switzerland are overrun by a street parade like no other in what is heralded as the largest annual parade in the city. DJs spin on 30 moving stages (love mobiles) and eight stages throughout the day and the throngs of punters go wild.
Electronic music is the name of the game at this parade, which attracts over a million locals, visitors and families to its doorstep. Festival junkie? You'll feel right at home here.
Image source: Visit Berlin
9. International Beer Festival | 3-5 August 2018
- Where: Berlin, Germany
- Festival type: Food and drink
- Tickets: International Beer Festival
Celebrating the unofficial favourite beverage of Germany is the International Beer Festival. Started in 1997, this three-day event has since become a major tourist attraction in Berlin.
Here’s how it works: festival goers buy a beer glass with a strap holder to be used for the next three days. They then walk along a 2.2km stretch to sample over 2,400 beer varieties from over 300 breweries across 87 countries. All this drinking fare is accompanied by traditional German music, which only adds to that fun folk festival atmosphere.
Image source: A Summer's Tale
10. A Summer's Tale | 1-4 August 2018
- Where: Luneburger Heide forest, Germany
- Festival type: Arts and culture with a focus on workshops, talks and DJ sets
- Tickets: A Summer's Tale
If you are looking to experience something a little more than your typical festival, give A Summer’s Tale a whirl. This four-day event in Germany showcases a diverse lineup of musical acts and creative experiences amongst the beautiful backdrop of the German Luneburger Heide forest and alongside its enchanting Luhe river.
Packed full of fun activities for the whole family, festival goers can watch international bands and artists on the main stage, attend workshops and talks and even go on inventive culinary adventures here. For those of you seeking to make the most of your surroundings, canoeing, hiking and cycling are just a few activities available to help you further connect with nature.
Check out the best Europe deals we have available:
Feature image: Untold Festival