Music Critic Nina Avitabile previews a selection of festivals across Europe this summer
Sónar, Spain: 15-17th June
Featuring a smorgasbord of electronic acts ranging from iconic names such as Aphex Twin to relative newcomers making waves like Amelie Lens, Sónar 2023 is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary in style. Set in the sprawling metropolis that is Barcelona, revellers can enjoy a wide range of international artists and dj’s across a variety of venues situated right next to the famous Plaça d’Espanya. With a particular emphasis on electronic music, other acts include Bicep, Oneohtrix Point Never and Honey Dijon, showcasing the diversity of sound that this more dance-orientated festival has to offer.
It is not just music that attendees can hope to enjoy at the festival, as Sonar celebrates ‘Music, Creativity & Technology’. The festival also includes the Sonar+D programme that is a collection of talks, debates and masterclasses with a focus on the intersection of creativity and a variety of current issues such as A.I. and Web3.
Bilbao, Spain: 6-8th July
Epic music, mountain skyline, and a cold can of San Miguel – Bilbao BBK has all the ingredients to be one of the top European festivals this summer. The festival already holds numerous accolades; it has previously been voted ‘Best Foreign Festival’ as well as ‘Best Medium-Sized European Festival’. Situated in the countryside of Spain, southwest of Bilbao in the Kobetamendi park, it’s the perfect camping festival surrounded by green space and trees. It is optional to add camping onto your ticket price, meaning you can find accommodation nearby if that’s preferable.
This year offers a truly world class line up with a stellar list of headliners: Florence + The Machine, The Chemical Brothers (Day 1), Pavement, Phoenix (Day 2), and ending the festival with a bang, Arctic Monkeys will be performing on the final night. IDLES, 070 Shake, Jamie xx and M83, along with many other phenomenal acts will also take to the stage.
Big Love Festival, England: 14 – 16th July
If you’re after a more intimate, UK-based festival that is small but mighty, Big Love may be the one you’ve been searching for. Held in the Monmouthshire countryside, it’s a 3-day music and arts festival, with a little something for everyone. There are over 130 DJs and live acts; genres include house, electronica, reggae, ska, hip hop and more.
Brilliant acts will be taking to the Love Live stage such as Nubiyan Twist – the groovy 9-piece band who are the perfect mix of Afro-jazz and soul, as well as English reggae punk band, The Skints. The Fire Engine stage will be smoking with the likes of internationally renowned drum and bass artist, DJ Marky as well as DJ Yoda (nominated by Q magazine as one of the ’Ten DJs To See Before You Die’). You can also catch The Orb in the Secret Woodland Stage before boogieing under a gigantic disco ball into the early hours (4am) at the Disco Barn (yes please).
Sziget Festival, Hungary: 10-15th August
Hungary’s Sziget Festival, literally translating to ‘island festival’ (due to its location on the Óbudai-sziget on the Danube), is held annually in August. Consistently ranked as one of Europe’s top festivals, Sziget Festival is a biggie attracting over 400,000 people from across the world – who, after arriving, are unitedly dubbed as ‘Szitizens’. This year the six day festival lineup boasts world-class headliners such as Billie Eilish, David Guetta, Imagine Dragons and Florence + The Machine. The likes of Sam Fender, YUNGBLUD, Foals, Jamie xx and M83 are also welcomed to the stage – with acts spanning a wide range of genres. The festival also offers a variety of sleeping options from free ‘basic’ camping, bell tents, wooden huts, love cabins and Eden Igloo (I’m intrigued too – photos listed on the website).
Rock en Seine, France: 23rd-27th August
Not that you need an excuse to plan a summer trip to Paris, but if you did, Rock en Seine would be it. Held west of Paris in the beautiful garden of Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, Rock en Seine is a three-day festival showcasing the perfect balance of recent pop artists alongside legacy rock bands.
Starting in 2003 with just two stages and ten bands, Rock en Seine has expanded and evolved year on year, featuring five stages, 58 artists, and 150,000 attendees last year. With high expectations for 2023, the line up has now been announced and it does not disappoint. Billie Eilish, Placebo, The Chemical Brothers, The Strokes and Florence + The Machine are due to headline as well as Christine and the Queens, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Fever Ray taking the stage. The Sunday (August 27th) in particular, is a knockout line-up with early noughties New York legends The Strokes headlining, as well as Bonobo, Foals, Angel Olsen and Radio 6 music favourite, Gaz Coombes. Wet Leg are also down for the 27th so if you, like me, want to shout along to “Chaise Longue” at the top of your lungs in a Parisian garden, look no further.
Moseley Folk & Arts Festival, England: 1st-3rd September
Not wanting to travel abroad for your music this summer? Or even venture too far from campus? Moseley Folk & Arts Festival could be the perfect match for you. The three day festival is located in the heart of Moseley Village, inside the gates of the beautiful Moseley park (green open space with woodland and a lake). The festival is family-friendly showcasing a variety of Folk and World & Roots music as well as workshops, comedy, poetry and arts & crafts.
The fabulous 2023 lineup has now been announced including headliners such as legendary new wave pop / rock band Squeeze (Friday), Irish rock sensation, The Saw Doctors (Saturday) and travelling from across the pond, Wilco – a 90’s American alternative rock band (Sunday). Also set to play this year are The Proclaimers, Gwenno, Chloe Foy, Elanor Moss and Blindboy. Moseley festival will be a treat for the taste buds as well as the ears with a variety of independent street food vendors (Zindiya and Original Patty Men, I see you).
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