Surfin’ in a foreign field: The best music festivals abroad this year

Fancy some festival action as part of your summer holidays? Ed Power selects the ten best events around Europe

Surfin’ in a foreign field: The best music festivals abroad this year

PRIMAVERA SOUND Barcelona, Spain, June 1–5

A home from home for Irish festival-goers, Primavera returns with one of its strongest line-ups of recent years, including Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Sigur Ros, PJ Harvey and Tame Impala.

Granted, most of those performers are also playing big outdoor shows in Ireland (with the notable exceptions, at time of writing, of Radiohead and Harvey). However, with events taking place across the Catalan capital through the night, Primavera is a fully immersive undertaking rather than conventional festival. With Barcelona easily accessible from Ireland, this is one of the easier summer music events to get to.

Tickets: Weekend tickets are sold out, though day tickets for Thursday (when LCD Soundsystem play) are still available priced €80.

ROCK AM RING Mendig, Germany, June 3 – 5

This venerable German festival has a diverse guitar-orientated line-up, with Red Hot Chili Peppers, The 1975, Black Sabbath and Biffy Clyro among the big names. That’s a lot of ways to head-bang. Rock Am Ring takes place in Mendig, 64km from Cologne in the Rhineland region and has a long-standing reputation among heavy rock fans. However, across recent years it has attempted to widen its appeal and is thus no longer regarded as strictly a ‘metal’ fest.

Tickets: Almost sold out at time of writing.

SONAR Barcelona Spain, June 16–18

The second major festival in Barcelona in a fortnight welcomes New Order, John Grant and Fatboy Slim as headliners. There are also many intriguing acts further down the bill, such as Anthony and the Johnsons performing as Anohni, plus the premiere of a new collaboration entitled Hopelessness, featuring esoteric composers Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke

Also on show is the European première of John Luther Adams’s climate-change opera Become Ocean (acclaimed minimalist composer John Luther Adams should not be confused with acclaimed minimalist composer John Adams). This is one of the most varied music events on the continent and the 2016 line-up features such innovators as Kenny Dope of Masters at Work, grime rhymer Skepta and electronica pioneer Fennesz.

Tickets: Weekend ticket €180

GLASTONBURY Somerset, UK, June 22-26

Britain’s most venerated festival had an awkward 2015, with Kanye West sulking through his set and Florence Welch a last-minute replacement for headliners Foo Fighters (lead singer Dave Grohl having injured himself on tour).

However, this year matters ought to be back to business as Coldplay perform along with the world’s favourite warbler Adele, Muse, ZZ Top and LCD Soundsystem, who seem contractually obliged to put in a turn at every festival taking place in the world this year (they will be in Ireland in August for Electric Picnic).

The biggest adjustment when going to Glastonbury is the scale. You could have an entertaining weekend without going anywhere near the main stage. The British fetish for those huge bendy flags remains inexplicable. How are the rest of us supposed to see anything? Bear in mind that even if you can’t make Glasto, the BBC offers extensive live, and mud-free, coverage through the weekend.

Tickets: Sold out. There will be a resale of cancelled/returned tickets after April 7, with details to be published on the website.

ROSKILDE Roskilde, Denmark, June 25 - July 2

With the exception of Glastonbury, Roskilde has one of the longest lineages of any European festival, with the first event held on this site 30km west of Copenhagen in 1971. This is an old-school, mud-on-your boots affair, with a line-up to match. There are nine stages, with headliners including Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, PJ Harvey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, New Order and (them again) LCD Soundsystem.

Tickets: €270 for weekend camping pass.

BRITISH SUMMER TIME Hyde Park, London, July 1–10

Urban festivals don’t get any more picturesque than this week-long event held in one of London’s most stunning green spaces. Massive Attack kick the week off, followed by Florence and the Machine and Carole King, playing her classic album Tapestry from 1971 all the way through. The true highlight arguably will be the July 10 turn from Stevie Wonder, performing in its entirety his landmark 1976 LP Songs In The Key Of Life.

Tickets: Prices vary, with entry to Stevie Wonder from €156 to €373

EXIT FESTIVAL Novi Sad, Serbia, July 7–10

Taking place in and around the stunning 18th century Petrovaradin Fortress on the banks of the Danube, this 15-year-old Serbian festival scores points regardless of who is actually performing. The line-up is generally first rank, and is distinguished by a vast dance arena (which can cater to 25,000). Ellie Goulding, Bastille, the Vaccines and Wiz Khalifa are the big names in 2016, with Manchester retro synth artists Hurts headlining the dance stage.

Tickets: €149 including accommodation on site and transfer from Belgrade airport.

VIEILLES CHARRUES FESTIVAL Carhaix, France, July 14–17

Established in 1992, the Old Ploughs festival has rapidly become the major French out-door music event, with some 170,000 flocking to Brittany each summer. The line-up is reasonably idiosyncratic , bringing together Lana Del Rey, The Libertines, Pixies and Suede. Plus there are views of the gorgeous Chateau Kerampuil.

Tickets: €149 for weekend pass.

SUNCEBEAT Tisno, Croatia, July 20–27

Ireland will be represented at this Adriatic dance festival by Cork house DJ team Fish Go Deep. The groove is strong in this event, with the line-up also including DJ Jazzy Jeff, Louie Vega, Derrick Carter and Joey Negro. In addition to the rollicking beats, there is also the small matter of the stunning setting of Tisno, a gorgeous Dalmatian coastal town with incredible sea views.

Tickets: €165

PUKKELPOP Hasselt, Belgium, August 17–20

Another old-school festival, taking place close to the Belgium-Dutch border. The 2016 festival is a fantastic examples of odds‘n’sods programming, with Rihanna, The Tallest Man On Earth, Eagles of Death Metal, Bloc Party, Chvrches, The Chemical Brothers and … (drum roll) LCD Soundsystem. Tickets: Weekend tickets €199

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