Festival Guide 2019: European festivals not to miss!

21st May 2019 Lee Hall

Whether it’s discovering new underground acts or indulging a travel buzz, music fans demand an extraordinary experience from festivals these days. A festival no longer means piling into a field for a weekend and accepting the meagre facilities on offer. More often it’s a wallet-friendly trip to a different country, to combine music with local culture, nightlife, sightseeing and gastronomic delights.

From partying in a 17th century Balkan fortress or an Icelandic glacier, to pool parties, beach raves or lakeside gigs, there’s something here for everyone.

SeaDance - 2019 music festivals
SEA STAR FESTIVAL – SUPERSTAR DJs AND MEDITERRANEAN POOL PARTIES IN CROATIA

May 24-25 | seastarfestival.com
Acts Announced: Sven Vath, Nina Kraviz, IAMDDB, Illario Alicante, Enrico Sangiuliano, Petar Dundov live, Vojko V, Krankšvester, High5, Fox, DJ Jock, Lawrence Klein, Unique, Hazze, Buntai, Smoke Mardeljano

Sea Star is another coastal dance extravaganza hatched by the experts behind EXIT, so it’s no surprise that it’s been nominated in the Best Medium Sized Festival category in this year’s European Festival Awards – less than two years after its first edition (it was also nominated for Best New Festival last year). Sea Star will return this year to the idyllic Stella Maris lagoon in Umag, Croatia on May 24 and 25, with special opening and closing parties on the 23rd and 26th.

With over 70 artists on six stages, from local Balkan heroes to international superstars, Sea Star is an event with high production values in a stunning Mediterranean paradise. And if you need a time-out from dancing, Umag’s historical Baroque and Renaissance buildings and winding streets are a hive of quaint bars and restaurants. Still, it won’t be long before you’re drawn back to the lagoon with that 4/4 pulse nearby… Sea Star festival takes place from May 24-25, with an opening party on May 23 and a closing party on May 26.

Secret Solstice - 2019 music festivals

SECRET SOLSTICE – GLACIER RAVES AND SURREAL MIDNIGHT SUNSHINE IN ICELAND
June 21-24 | secretsolstice.is
Acts announced: Black Eyed Peas, Robert Plant and the Sensational Spaceshifters, Martin Garrix, Rita Ora, Patti Smith, Morcheeba, The Sugarhill Gang with Grandmaster Melle Mel & Scorpio, Foreign Beggars, Pussy Riot, Kerri, Chandler, MK, Mr.G, Jeremy Underground, Boy Pablo, SMASH TV, ALXJ, Ari Árelíus, Árstíðir, Ása, Auður, BenSöl, Birgir Hákon, Birnir, Captain Syrup, Carla Rose, Chris Hirose, Clint Stewart, ClubDub, Dilivius Lenni, Doctor Victor, Exos, Floni, Grúska Babúska, Hatari, Högni, Ingi Bauer, Joey Christ , Johann Stone, JóiPé & Króli , KrBear, Logi Pedro, Mike The Jacket, Monello, Nitin, Oktavdj, Pink Street Boys, Ragga Holm, Ricoshëi, Rokky, Séra Bjössi , Skaði, Sólstafir, Sprite Zero Klan, Sturla Atlas, Svala, The Vintage Caravan, Una Stef, Vibes, Vök, Vom Feisten, Warmland.

Secret Solstice is all about unique experiences – the most obvious being the fact that the sun doesn’t set for the whole 96 hours, so get used to midnight pool parties in bright sunshine. As well as an eclectic line-up of US, European and local acts, Iceland’s premiere music festival is a bucket list party in the capital Reykjavik during the magical summer solstice.

The carbon-neutral festival prides itself on using Iceland’s stunning natural spaces and rugged landscape as a backdrop – while the main stage hosts many of the blockbuster acts, you can literally have an underground vibe, at exclusive raves in a glacier and a 5,000-year-old lava tunnel. Back above ground, catch DJ sets in naturally heated lagoons or at boat parties in the midnight sunshine – and marvel at glistening waterfalls, black sand beaches, caves and vast volcanic fields on special day trips. Secret Solstice is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and 2019 is set to be its biggest edition yet.

Exit Festival - 2019 music festivals
EXIT FESTIVAL – PARTY IN A 17th CENTURY FORTRESS OVERLOOKING THE DANUBE IN SERBIA

July 4-7 | exitfest.org
Acts announced: The Cure, Skepta, Amelie Lens, Boris Brejcha, Carl Cox, Charlotte De Witte, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Desiigner, Dj Snake, Greta Van Fleet, IAMDDB, Jeff Mills, Lost Frequencies, Maceo Plex, Paul Kalkbrenner, Peggy Gou, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, Tom Walker, 65daysofstatic, Adriatique, Atheist Rap (30 Years), Bad Copy, Boston 168 Live, Dax J, Hazze, HIgh5, I Hate Models, Johannes Brecht Live, Krankšvester, Krešo Bengalka, Monika Kruse, Peter And The Test Tube Babies, Sajsi MC, Satori Live, Shdw & Obscure Shape, Sofi Tukker, Soilwork, Tarja, The Selecter, Van Gogh, VojkoV, Whitechapel, 30Zona, Akioki, Ana Rs, Arcturus, Asphalt Chant, Atlas Erotika, Bajko Felix, Bekfleš, Black Lotus, Black Serbs, Blend Mishkin, BoBadu, Bokee, Booze & Glory, Bronze, Buntai, Bush Mad Squad, Butchaa, Cake Boys, Coeus, Das Ich, Deadly Hunta, DJ/Mc Killo Killo, DJ Danjahras, DJ Laki & DJ Rokam, DJ One, DJ Spery, DJ Verso, Dfndr, Dub Duba, Dunkelbunt, Elioh, Elon, Enforcer, Entombed A.D., Fam, Global Village People, Goran Kan, Grade 2, Grimegod, Herbal Queen, I.N.D.I.G.O, Ilija Djokovic, In Da Klub, Irie Scratch & Shorty P, Ital Vision, Jahmessenjah Sound System, Joma Maja, Kk Banda DJ’s, Kaoz, Katja Rubikova, Kawiar Mangueira, Kayda May, King Calypso, Klinac, Lawrence Klein B2b Forniva, Lil Yung, Little Shuja, Luka Brasi, Marcella, Marko Vuković, Martyrium, Miloš Vujović B2b Ranchatek, Mladen Tomić B2b Siniša Tamamović, Neki, Nevena Jeremić, New Wave, October Tide, Otvoreni Prelom, Palace, Pale Origins, PLYZ, Ponor, Runy, Siberian Meat Grinder, Scandal, Shi-cu, Shuba Ranks, Sid Data, Skadam, Soft 85, Sorriso, Stas, Steppa Style, Sur Austru, Thundersteel, Tommy T., Total Chaos, Traples, Trepaj Il Krepaj, Two Pauz, Vaske, Vatra, Vitamin X, Waggles, Yung Rosh, Zguubi Dan, Zimski

For four days every summer, the 17th century Petrovaradin Fortress opens its gates for EXIT – the award-winning music festival in Serbia’s second city, Novi Sad. EXIT began in 2000 as a student protest fighting for political change, and over the years it’s grown into one of Europe’s biggest festivals, with [thousands] partying in the stunning citadel perched high on a cliff overlooking the River Danube.

The positive activism remains in the air, and each year has a specific theme (it was ‘Freedom’ in 2018). EXIT has possibly the most diverse line-up of any European festival, with 20 outdoor stages that feature everything from death metal to pop, indie, reggae and techno – among cobbled paths, courtyards, grass verges, ramparts and underground tunnels. The Dance Arena is the festival’s energetic hub, with 20,000 raving in the fortress moat waiting for the awe-inspiring moment when the sun rises above the ancient walls. Many DJs say the Dance Arena is the greatest place in the world to play, and after Nina Kraviz closed EXIT 2018 with an extended set until 9am, she called it “one of the most special places on Earth”.

Down The Rabbit Hole festival

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE – WHERE YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE WHEN NO ONE CAN SEE YOU
July 5 – 7 July | rabbitresort.nl
Acts Announced: Editors, Janelle Monáe, Underworld, Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Foals, Vampire Weekend, De Staat, Balthazar, dEUS plays The Ideal Crash, Grace Jones, Robyn, The Roots, Ronnie Flex & Deuxperience, Rosalía, Skepta, AURORA, Beirut, Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles, David August, Kamasi Washington, Khruangbin, Lewis Capaldi, LP, Mahalia, Maribou State, Matt Corby, Ólafur Arnalds, Parquet Courts, RY X, Porto Parties X Desperados, Sofi Tukker, Agar Agar, Amber Arcades, Donny Benet, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, HENGE, Jordan Rakei, Low, Nona, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, slowthai, The Comet Is Coming, Altin Gün, Benny Sings, DāM-FunK (DJ-set), Ezra Collective, George FitzGerald, Jonathan Wilson, Liniker e Os Caramelows, Orpheu The Wizard, Sam Fender, Sampa The Great, Sho Madjozi, SONS, Tshegue.

Down The Rabbit Hole says adventure, confusion, surrealism and psychedelics, which has been an inspiration for (psycho) rockers, DJs, artists, designers and filmmakers ever since the rise of the pop culture in the uncurbed 1960s… Good company, so get ready to tumble! We have all the time in the world, there’s no rush. Take your time to dine in dozens of restaurants from all corners of the earth, go meditate in the forest, lie down in the green pasture, swim for a bit, strum by the campfire, discover hidden discos…

Have a ball with brand-new bands or finally see that classic artist in full swing. We’re out and we’re loose! Build your own party and celebrate, enjoy what you do, all with an open mind and in a sustainable way: we’ll keep it green & clean. A trip to Down The Rabbit Hole is a perfect summer getaway! Bring your own camping gear or rent luxurious accommodations at our Rabbit Resort at Groene Heuvels – Beuningen (near Nijmegen).

Lowlands Music Festival
LOWLANDS – MUSIC, ART AND CULTURE CLASH AT THE DUTCH CAMPING PARADISE

August 16-18 | lowlands.nl
Acts Announced: Tame Impala, Twenty One Pilots, A$AP Rocky, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, The National, New Order, Royal Blood, Anne-Marie, Billie Eilish, Franz Ferdinand, Giorgio Moroder, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, James Blake, Jon Hopkins, Jorja Smith, Jungle, Lil Uzi Vert, Paul Kalkbrenner, Ronnie Flex & Deuxperience, Agoria (live), Antal, Camo & Krooked, Colin Benders, Denis Sulta, Denzel Curry, Donnie, FKJ, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Helena Hauff, Honey Dijon, Hunee, IAMDDB, JOJI, Jungle by Night, Lowlands Science,Loyle Carner, Mall Grab, Marcel Dettmann, My Baby, Parcels, De Sluwe Vos Live, The Streets, Tamino, Thomas Azier, The Vaccines, Weval, Willem, Ziggy Marley, Bamba Pana & Makaveli, Black Midi, Bodega, Boy Pablo, The Chats, Clairo, Code Orange, Courtesy, Dimension, Dub Inc., Eskorzo, I Dont Know How But They Found Me, Idles, Marc Rebillet, Moonlight Benjamin, LB, Slaves, This is Lovski, Two Feet, Whitney.

A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise is the Netherlands’ most prestigious music festival that’s been a rite of passage for the Dutch since 1993. It takes place in rural Biddinghuizen – only an hour away from Amsterdam, so there’s even a chance to add in a city break either side. It’s a true music, arts and culture weekender, featuring the world’s biggest headliners on the circuit, as well as installations, theatre, comedy, film, debates and even science workshops. Each of the uniquely designed stages are covered so you can party rain or shine, and the iconic ‘Armadillo’ area is the festival’s power station, quirky bars, DJ booths and artisan restaurant areas that surpass regular festival food stalls.

The Dutch are world-renowned as expert festival organisers, and Lowlands is a perfect smooth operator, from the intuitive layout to the lack of queues for bars, food and bathrooms – with the best campsite facilities of all the big European festivals. It’s a proper lost weekend too – Lowlands doesn’t do day tickets, so once you arrive on the Thursday you’re on a journey with your fellow happy campers until Sunday. This vibe was picked up by 2018 headliner Nile Rodgers, who posted: “Lowlands was fire! This was an amazing f-ing crowd! Truly insane, and that’s how we like it!”

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Lee Hall

Lover of all things FAST. If I am not in the office, you can find me near a track or under a car. I also work with a great people in TrendLife's Editorial team.