20 top European summer festivals in August
If an epic summer holiday is on your to-do list, head to Europe for an unforgettable music, dance and creative art 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 2016 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 and arts 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.
Feature image: Untold Festival
Top 10 European music festivals in August
1. Sziget Festival | 10-17 August 2016
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. 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.
If you are looking to party to famous headliners and make friends from all over the world, you need to get your Sziget tickets stat.
Book a Sziget Festival tour here
2. Leeds/Reading Festivals | 26-28 August
The Reading and Leeds festivals occur simultaneously over a long weekend in England. Both festivals 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 does have 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.
Buy tickets to Leeds or Reading Festivals
3. Rock en Seine | 26-28 August 2016
Since its inception in 2003, this three-day rock music festival has seen the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters and Oasis 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.
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.
Buy tickets to Rock en Seine
4. A Summer’s Tale | 10-13 August 2016
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.
Buy tickets to A Summer’s Tale
Image source: https://untold.com/en
5. Untold Festival | 4-7 August 2016
Untold is Europe’s newest dance music festival, having only 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 will see 10 uniquely themed stages this year with a strong emphasis on Romanian culture. Confirmed acts include: Afrojack, Armin Van Buuren, Hardwell, Tiesto and Martin Garrix. This is the party of all parties.
Buy tickets to Untold Festival
6. Electric Fields Festival | 26-27 August 2016
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 2016 main stage will see the likes of Primal Scream and The Charlatans. 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.
Book flights to Glasgow
7. Groove Festival | 20 August 2016
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. Rave to Duke Dumont, Boys Noize and Leftfield this 2016 and prepare yourself for one helluva party.
Book flights to Edinburgh
8. Mysteryland | 27-28 August 2016
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 and 2016 is no exception, inviting Afrojack, Martin Garrix and Diplo as its headline acts.
Book tickets to Mysteryland
9. Defected | 11-15 August 2016
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, Dennis Ferrer and Julio Bashmore.
Book flights to Split
10. Way Out West | 11-13 August 2016
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 of Slottsskogen 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 served and merchandise made with organic materials. Feeling good about yourself yet?
The three-day festival will play 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.
Book flights to Gothenburg
Top 10 arts and culture festivals in Europe in August
1. La Tomatina | 31 August 2016
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. So pack your old clothes, shoes and goggles and be prepared to get down and dirty.
Book a tour package to La Tomatina
Image source: © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
2. Edinburgh Festival Fringe | 5-29 August 2016
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 2015 it spanned 25 days and saw 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 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.
Browse flights to Edinburgh
3. Notting Hill Carnival | 28-29 August 2016
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.
Browse flights to London
4. Puck Fair | 10-12 August 2016
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.
Browse flights to Cork
5. Wilderness Festival | 4-7 August 2016
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.
Buy tickets to Wilderness Festival
6. Boom Festival | 11-18 August 2016
Festival goers come to the Boom Festival in Portugal every two years for a week of musical performances, visual art exhibits and holistic workshops.
The main purpose of the festival is one of transformation through music and art performances. There are meditations and group therapy sessions for the mind and soul, lectures and debates on diverse themes and four dance stages dedicated to psychedelic music and beyond. Look out for alternate artistic genres and fantastic sculptures scattered throughout the festival grounds.
Browse flights to Lisbon
7. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta | 11-14 August 2016
Europe’s largest ballooning event is held annually in Bristol, UK. Now in its 37th year, the festival drew in over 500,000 people in 2015. Teams from the UK and all over the world participate in mass ascent of over 100 balloons between 6am and 6pm over the four day event.
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.
Book tours to Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
8. Helsinki Festival | 19 August - 4 September 2016
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 attracted over 200,000 people in 2015.
Book flights to Helsinki
9. Street Parade Zurich | 13 August 2016
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. Love mobiles and DJs spin on seven 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.
Book flights to Zurich
10. International Beer Festival | 5-7 August 2016
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 2,000 beer varieties from over 300 breweries worldwide. All this drinking fare is accompanied by traditional German music, which only adds to that fun folk festival atmosphere.
Book flights to Berlin
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