The sound of summer: great European festivals

Pop music in Serbia, or rock in Budapest — the best festivals are a short flight away.

G! Festival, Faroe Islands
You want quirky? Head to the Faroe Islands from July 14-16 for this intimate gathering, where accommodation options include bedding down in the school gym. The musical line-up is eclectic, so you can look forward to Songhoy Blues from Mali, the Hot 8 Brass Band from the US — listen to their cover of Sexual Healing on YouTube if you want to put a spring in your step — and the drum-and-bass duo Dub Phizix and Strategy from Manchester. Stick around afterwards to enjoy the long summer nights in the capital Torshavn, as well as hiking and boat trips to see puffins and cliffs with storm petrels.
Details Two-day tickets are £100. Campground access is £31, but for a (much) more civilised stay try the Hotel Foroyar (, where B&B doubles start from £325 a night. Fly nonstop from Edinburgh ( or take the ferry from Denmark (

Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland

Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland
The 50th anniversary of this prestigious festival, which has expanded beyond jazz to feature other genres, takes place from July 1-16. Since the 1960s David Bowie, James Brown, Miles Davis, Deep Purple, Prince, Ella Fitzgerald and the like have taken to the stage. This year Devon rockers Muse have been confirmed.
Details Tickets cost from £45-£270, depending on the artist and seats. BA (, Swiss ( and easyJet ( fly to Geneva, from where direct trains head to Montreux in 75 minutes ( The Grand Hôtel Suisse Majestic ( has room-only doubles at this time from £308 a night.

Sziget Festival, Budapest, Hungary
Sziget means island in Hungarian, and this week-long shindig (August 10-17) takes place on a leafy one with sandy beaches in the middle of the Danube. You might have trouble staking out a quiet spot for your towel, though. Last year more than 400,000 music fans turned up to enjoy Robbie Williams, Paloma Faith, Kasabian and Avicii, while this year Rihanna, David Guetta, Noel Gallagher and Sia are confirmed.
Details A seven-day festival pass costs £200, including campground access. BA, easyJet, Ryanair ( and Wizzair ( fly to Budapest. If a week under canvas doesn’t appeal, try Brody House (, which has B&B doubles from £65 a night, or for a group of up to 14, hire its Writer’s Villa with pool from £485 a night.

Sonar, Barcelona
This three-day Catalan gathering (June 16-18) celebrates the best in electronic and “advanced” music. Sonar by Day features concerts with up-and-coming DJs, along with talks on the latest in the digital creative industries, while Sonar by Night has sets by some of the biggest names in the business. Jean-Michel Jarre, “the godfather of electronic music”, will perform on the Friday night, while “global rhythms and updated folk” will include artists from Ethiopia and Colombia.
Details A three-day pass to Day and Night sessions costs £145. BA, easyJet, Ryanair, Vueling ( and Jet2 ( fly to Barcelona. For good-value accommodation, bed down at the Room Mate Emma (, where room-only doubles start at £100 a night.

Obonjan, Croatia
Fancy your own “private” music event with a good group of friends? Obonjan is not a festival as such, but this newly revamped Croatian private island retreat gives you the chance to create your own gathering. The 130-acre, pine-forested island has been uninhabited for ten years, but it has been brought back to life by a UK-based musical events company, whose offerings include international bands and DJs or a resident 20-piece orchestra playing in the amphitheatre. The co-founder is the man behind Croatia’s Hideout and Unknown Festivals, so he knows his tunes. It’ll be open for two months from July 28.
Details Room-only prices range from £60 to £100pp a night, depending on accommodation types (which include shared-bathroom tents and en suite safari-style lodges). Airlines flying to Split or Zadar include Ryanair, easyJet and Jet2.

Eistnaflug Festival, Neskaupstadur, Iceland
The country that gave you Björk, Sigur Rós and Of Monsters and Men brings you this heavy rock gathering, which translates as “flying testicles”, although we’re not sure why and feel safer not asking. Come here from July 6-9 and you get awesome scenery (made more accessible by new flights to east Iceland from Gatwick), plenty of daylight, local bands, groups from Scandinavia, and some pretty heavy drinking. When the party’s over and the Alka-Seltzer has kicked in, put on your walking boots to discover a beautifully isolated part of the country.
Details An all-days pass is £115. Book flights from Gatwick to Egilsstadir through Discover the World ( Accommodation options in town are limited — your best bet is the Hotel Hildibrand (; room-only doubles from £152 a night) — so bring a tent (campground fee, £15).

Ravenna in eastern Italy

Ravenna, Italy
This two-month festival in eastern Italy, which started on May 13, has outgrown its classical and operatic roots and embraces jazz, folk, dance, drama and film. Picturesque venues include Byzantine basilicas, church cloisters, pine groves and the town’s piazzas. Confirmed artists for this year range from Joan Baez to the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow.
Details Tickets to individual performances cost from £12. The nearest airport is Bologna, served by BA, easyJet and Ryanair. A three-night B&B package at the Terme Beach Resort (, which offers transfers to the city for the festival, starts at £270pp.

Exit, Serbia
This Serbian festival, which this year takes place from July 7-10, has been moshing for 16 years and has achieved a cult status for its friendly vibe. It takes place in Novi Sad, about 100km north of Belgrade, at an old fortress on the banks of the Danube. This year Ellie Goulding, Bastille, Wiz Khalifa, the Vaccines and the like are on the main stage.
Details A £99 all-days pass includes admission to the follow-on sister Sea Dance Festival (, July 14-16) in Budva, Montenegro. Book transfers and accommodation in Novi Sad through A campsite pass for July 5-12 is £25, or the Hotel Leopold ( has a festival rate of £145 a night for a B&B double. Air Serbia ( and Wizz Air fly to Belgrade.

NOS Summer Opening, Madeira
Hip-hop, reggae, funk and soul may not spring to mind when you think of this Portuguese island. But this festival on July 22 and 23 puts the fun into Funchal, the mad into Madeira. Acts such as Jazzanova featuring Paul Randolph, Orelha Negra, Jimmy P and Da Chick are confirmed, and if you want to mix adrenaline with music, the “4 elements pack” allows you to add paragliding, surfing and catamaran sailing.
Details Two-day passes start at £21. Pestana Casino Park (, five minutes away, has B&B doubles from £97. BA and easyJet fly to Funchal.