2022 shall be remembered as the year the music festival returned. After two years of pandemic disruption, festival-goers are gearing up to head out into the fields, warehouses and woodlands of Europe for weekends of dancing, raving, and mosh pitting (is that a verb?) once more. If you’re gutted to miss out on Glasto’s 50th anniversary or Gilles Peterson’s much-hyped Worldwide in France, beat the FOMO with our list of the greatest gatherings that still have tickets. From tiny boutique offerings to enormous parties on the outskirts of major cities, here’s the ROADBOOK selection of the best European festivals happening this year.
When: 10-12 June
Where: Oxfordshire, UK
Price: Weekend pass with camping 137.50 GBP / 173 USD
This brand-new festival held in the grounds of Kirtlington Park brings together a diverse curation of artists, speakers and comedians for a weekend of music and ideas. Music headliners include Grace Jones, Tom Misch and TLC, while the broader lineup come from various speakers like Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, drag queen Bimini Bon-Boulash, historian and presenter David Olusoga, former Labour MP David Miliband, chef and author Delia Smith, and frontman of Pulp Jarvis Cocker. Other music performances to look out for during the weekend come from afrobeat maestro Sean Kuti, fusion groovers Nubiyan Twist, and psychedelic folk rockers Flamingods. Come down for a party with a thinking cap on.
When: 16-19 June
Where: Barcelona, Spain
Price: Weekend pass 215 EUR / 230 USD
The week immediately after Primavera Sound Barcelona is blessed with another equally banging festival specialising in all things electronic. It’s a city festival, which means gigs occur across various venues, and there’s no camping included, so make sure to book an Airbnb or hotel room nearby. The programme covers a swathe of artists, from big hitters like The Chemical Brothers and Bonobo to experimental groups like Ugandan live drum and synth band Nihiloxica, while techno and house dependables like Or:la, Overmono and Helena Hauff round out the offering. Elsewhere OFFSónar, the series of parties that runs in parallel to the festival itself, has a lineup as exciting as the main event – Paul Kalkbrenner’s techno throwdown with Boris Brejcha is bound to absolutely bang.
North Sea Jazz Festival
When: 8-10 July
Where: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Price: Delux day tickets from 244 EUR / 261 USD
Running since 1976, Rotterdam’s North Sea Jazz Festival is the biggest indoor jazz festival in the world. A pantheon of jazz and soul greats have passed through in that time, and continue to do so – George Benson hits up the stage this year, as do Herbie Hancock, and bebop bass master Ron Carter, who turns 85 this year. Younger masters are also making an appearance, like Ambrose Akinmusire, Robert Glasper, and the young jazz prodigy and all-round whizz kid Jacob Collier. The curators have been paying attention to what’s been happening in the London music scene recently, with Tom Misch, Joe Armon-Jones, Nubya Garcia and Alfa Mist booked this year. But crucially, it’s not all jazz on offer – disco legends Nile Rodgers & CHIC are making a performance, as is soul master Erykah Badu, which should not be missed. There are only deluxe day tickets left for this year’s edition, but with a lineup like this, it’s bound to be worth it.
When: 28-31 July
Where: Wiltshire, UK
Price: Four-day pass from 250 GBP / 315 USD; three-day pass from 205 GBP / 258 USD
Womad is proudly international in its outlook, attracting as many artists as possible from across the world to perform in the rolling countryside of Wiltshire each year. This hasn’t got any easier with recent visa problems preventing international acts from travelling to the UK, so it’s all the more vital that Womad continues to push the importance of an international cultural exchange. Bonkers psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips, powerful spoken word poet Kae Tempest, and enchanting soul singer songwriter Lianne La Havas join Brazilian legend Gilberto Gil & Family, and Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo as this year’s headliners – the latter making a special performance of her interpretation of the Talking Heads classic album Remain In Light. Womad is much more than a line-up though – it’s more a constant series of joyful discoveries as the weekend unfolds. Get your tent pitched and keep your ears and eyes wide open.
When: 3-8 August
Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Price: Day ticket 50 EUR / 53.50 USD
Dekmantel week is a great time to visit Amsterdam. There’s not just the main camping festival in the lush surroundings of Amsterdamser Bos to the south of the city, there’s also a whole music programme on the Wednesday and Thursday scattered across industrial venues along the Ij river. The festival curates a great combination of pumping DJs and electronic acts with exciting left field live bands. This year has Fela Kuti’s son Sean Kuti teaming up with legendary MC Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) for a special performance. Elsewhere, Amsterdam-based Turkish psych band Altin Gün are contributing their retro trippy sound to the festival. Weekend tickets at Amsterdamser Bos are currently sold out, but there’s still tickets available for the Wednesday and Thursday programmes along the river, so snap them up before they go too.
When: 10-15 August
Where: Budapest, Hungary
Price: Six-day pass 335 EUR / 380 USD; weekend pass 235 EUR / 251 USD
Sziget, which means ‘island’ in Hungarian, is just that: an island in the middle of the Danube, on the outskirts of Budapest. Each year around half a million people populate it for a week of music and dancing, with some of the biggest names in pop, electronic and rock topping the lineups. 2022 is no exception, with Calvin Harris, Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala and Dua Lipa as headliners. But if you prefer to keep away from the mainstream, the festival is so massive you’re sure to find something to your tastes, with alternative stages, tents and hidden venues catering for everything from reggae to techno. Sziget was an early adopter of electronic passes so there’s no need to carry around a wallet, and the island is almost entirely forested so there’s plenty of shade to camp under – and even a riverside beach for cooling swims.
When: 11-14 August
Where: Norfolk, UK
Price: Weekend pass from 245 GBP / 309 USD
Houghton is a festival for the woodland ravers, set incongruously in the grounds of the neoclassical 18th century manor house Houghton Hall. Normally visited by art fans for its excellent sculpture garden exhibitions, the estate takes on an altogether different atmosphere on this particular weekend in August, when techno and house heads party in the woods non-stop for the whole three days (seriously, there’s a 24-hour music licence here). It’s one of the UK’s newest festivals, and with their third outing delayed by extreme weather in 2019 followed by two years of pandemic disruption, fans of the festival will make sure the third iteration will be an absolute belter. Each year their lineup is like an A to Z of the best electronic artists currently active right now, so have a read if you must, or just turn up and get dancing.
We Out Here
When: 25-28 August
Where: Cambridgeshire, UK
Price: Weekend pass at 194 GBP / 245 USD
If you’re a fan of the current wave of young jazz artists coming out of the UK, then you probably already know about We Out Here. Curated by Radio 6 DJ, record label owner and all-round tastemaker Gilles Peterson, the festival packs in all the best jazz and jazz-adjacent acts coming up in London and the rest of the UK, with the odd international act thrown in too (2021 had a surprise set from Thundercat on the Friday night). Set in what is probably one of the most beautiful festival locations in the UK (where Secret Garden Party used to be held, for those in the know), ravers can have a breather by the lakeside, go for a swim in the swimming ponds, or take some time out in the hot tubs in the wellness area. And that’s just the daytime: when night falls, things kick up a notch in the woods with a serious lineup of DJs keeping things ticking into the morning.
When: 25-29 August
Where: Lincolnshire, UK
Price: Weekend pass 260 GBP / 328 USD
Held in a private woodland near Lincoln, Lost Village is a fairly recent addition to the UK boutique festival offering. Only a few thousand revellers come to Lost Village each year, bringing an intimate, community atmosphere to the festival, as you’re very likely bump into the same people multiple times (whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to you). There’s a huge emphasis on the experience here, with incredible set and stage designs, and roaming actors and hidden areas obscured in the woods adding to the mystique. There’s also genuinely good food and drink, with brands like Patrón and Żubrówka hosting their own bars and serving proper cocktails, and a lineup from some of the UK’s and London’s best restaurants and chefs. Table in the Woods is a brand-new chef experience launching at the festival this year, with dinners from the likes of Rafael Cagali from Da Terra, Santiago Lastra of KOL, and Tim Siadatan of Trullo and Padella – talk about a way to refuel. On top of all this, Lost Village still manages to book some of the best artists in the electronic world, with Maribou State headlining a couple of times in the past, and Bonobo and Jamie xx taking over the duties this year. Tickets are officially sold out, but there are resale tickets still available on the website.
When: 1-5 September
Where: Tisno, Croatia
Price: 174 GBP / 219 USD
The 2022 edition of Dimensions is their 10th anniversary celebration, held for the second year running at Tisno Garden Resort on the Dalmatian coast, and it’s set to cement its position as one of the best festivals in Europe. There’s the usual lineup of festival classics, B2B exclusives, label parties, and debut sets, from DJs spanning house, techno, electro, breaks, minimal, D&B, and disco. If you’re looking for the gritty sounds of Chicago, Detroit, London and Berlin, but would rather experience them under the sun beside the azure waters of the Adriatic, then Dimensions is exactly where you need to be.