Who doesn’t love a music festival. That moment when the sun is out, you have a cool drink in one hand, your friends by your side, and one of your favourite bands is blasting out their best tunes; there’s little better.
After multiple years of cancelled music festivals, this is the second summer where all the main names are back in force. Unfortunately, that also has meant huge interest in music-deprived revellers and tickets are being snapped up at a faster rate than ever.
While Coachella may have all the social media influencers enraptured, and the online queues to buy Glastonbury tickets remain impossible to traverse, we’ve brought you a line-up of Europe’s finest festivals off the beaten track.
So if you’re yet to plan your perfect summer music experience, we’ve got your back. Here are Euronews Culture‘s personal recommendations for lesser-known but brilliant music festivals you have to check out.
Paleo Festival, Switzerland
The Paleo Festival, held in Nyon near Lake Geneva, is one of the oldest music festivals in Switzerland and one of the largest open-air events in Europe.
Paleo is also much more than a music festival; the annual event will be held on 18-23 July this year, featuring six days and nights of music in all sorts of styles spread over seven stages from pop, reggae, metal, electro, punk, jazz and even classical music, as well as circus and street arts.
Switzerland and Lake Geneva are extraordinary settings and the organisers take care to make the festival welcoming, with food and craft stands from all over the world.
The festival started in 1976 as the Nyon Folk Festival with 1800 spectators, its now capped at 300,000. It has had some epic line-ups, from Kiss, Sting, Rag’n’Bone Man (2022), Gorillaz, The Killers, Lenny Kravitz (2019) Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pixies (2018) to Placebo, Shaggy, Simple Minds, Sinéad O’Connor and Texas in 1997. Other names include Iron Maiden, Elton John, Johnny Hallyday and The Cure. This year features the Black Eye Peas, Placebo, and Franz Ferdinand.
A few changes were made to the Festival last year including new stages, blockchain ticketing and a cashless payment system.
Tickets are currently sold out but The Ticket market- the official resale platform of the Paléo -will be open until Sunday 9 July 2023
1500 tickets will also be on sale every morning of the Festival at 9am for the same evening:
One-day ticket – Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: CHF 88 €89 (adult) / CHF 73 (€74) (reduced)
One-day ticket – Wednesday, Sunday: CHF 98 (€99) (adult) / CHF 83 (€84) (reduced)
Six-day pass: CHF 400 (€407) CHF 325 (€331) (reduced). Katy Dartford
Green Man, Wales
Every August, since 2003, the Welsh hills are alive with music at Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons (which recently caused a bit of a stir by changing its name to Bannau Brycheiniog).
Once a tiny 300-person, one-day event, Green Man has grown to become one of the UK’s favourites, especially with indie, folk and electro fans, but also beloved for its non-corporate, environmentally-friendly and all-around inclusive ethos.
More than just a music festival, it’s also a celebration of art (the ‘Somewhere’ area is for 13-17-year-olds to get creative), science (‘Einstein’s Garden’ provides a hydrogen fuel cell powered workshop dome for conducting “mind-bending scientific experiments”) and – perhaps most importantly – Welsh culture.
Most of the beers and ciders on tap are from Welsh breweries, while Welsh comedians, gastronomes, crafters and, of course, musicians are given the opportunity to take centre stage.
Despite its snowballing into one of the better known European festivals in this list, the true joy of Green Man is how it manages to feel so small and humble (but much easier to confuse for mountains).
The festival runs from Thursday 17-20 August 2023, with a line-up that includes Swedish acoustic duo First Aid Kit, reggae songwriter Horace Andy and American rock band Devo.
Unfortunately, all tickets are sold out (maybe next year instead?)
Kingsland Festival, the Netherlands
Every year, 27 April is celebrated in the Netherlands as a national holiday to mark King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. Modern-day King’s Day really is just an excuse to party though. In fact, the Dutch are so dedicated to celebrate this day as inebriated-as-possible that if 27 April falls on a Sunday, the holiday is celebrated the day before to give people hangover time.
The city of Amsterdam is converted into a see of bright orange as people don orange clothes, eat orange frosted foods, and cover everything in orange decorations. Children set up stalls across the city to sell fun trinkets as adults meet up on streets and in boats for drinking parties.
Amongst the many festivities around the country is the Kingsland Festival in Amsterdam, a must-visit one-day dance event which runs from 12 noon to 8 pm. Last year’s line-up included artists such as Jonas Blue, Lost Frequencies, Armin Van Buuren, and Martin Garrix, but this year imagine yourself partying with the likes of AfroJack, Kris Kross Amsterdam, Lucas & Steve, and Purple Disco Machine.
Although the festival is coming up just next week, tickets are still being sold at the official website so get ready to deck yourself in orange and jam out to live music while raising a glass to King Willem’s long life!
The ticket prices are as follows:
Regular ticket: 49.50
VIP ticket: 99.50
While a regular ticket works just fine, the VIP tickets give you access to the special Kingsland VIP deck, a special entrance, a locker to store your belongings and a welcome beer to get you in the mood to party. In case of unforeseen circumstances, you also have the option to cancel until 23:59 the day before for a full refund (if you purchased a refundable ticket).
Nuits de Fourvière, France
Lyon is rich in ancient theatrical spaces and the Nuits de Fourvière festival makes the most of this.
Located on the hill of Fourvière, which was the first part of Lyon (back then called Lugdunum) to be settled and developed by the Romans, the festival takes place every summer among the ruins of the Théâtre Antique de Fourvière and in the Odéon de Lyon near the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière.
It really is a stunning location with views over the Saône and Rhône rivers.
Loosely translated as “Nights of the old forum”, the festival is rich in international names and has featured the likes of Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Florence and the Machine, Tim Robbins, Björk, and Robert Plant, as well as with theatre, circus, dance, and film presentations.
This year’s acts include Christine and the Queens, Simply Red, Queens of the Stone Age and the Black Keys.
Despite this Les Nuits de Fourvière does not have quite as high a profile as of the festivals of Aix and Avignon, possibly because Lyon is not viewed as such a holiday destination as these cities.
Be prepared as Lyon can get very hot in the summer, and apparently, there is a tradition for spectators to throw their seat cushions toward the stage at the end of the performance to show their appreciation.
This year tickets have already sold out – but you can go on a waiting list for any returns. The festival runs from 31 May to 28 July. Prices depend on who you see, and some shows are free. The above acts are between €55 and €58.
Best Kept Secret, the Netherlands
Best Kept Secret isn’t the unheard of festival it once was, but back when it first debuted in 2013, discovering it felt like a revelation. Tucked away in a safari park in North Brabant, the camping grounds were in the middle of woods, instead of the over-exposed fields of other festivals. Despite being its first year, the festival had managed to book a barnstorming line-up of mega-stars. Arctic Monkeys, Sigur Ros, Portishead and alt-j all made appearances.
Ever since, Best Kept Secret has gained legions of fans. Deservedly so, as despite being cheaper than many of its competitors, it routinely books the top-tier acts of the season. Last year’s headliners saw a return of alt-j as well as Jamie XX, The Strokes and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
This year, they’ve got another stacked line-up including The 1975, Aphex Twin, Christine & The Queens, and The Chemical Brothers.
When not enjoying the fantastic music acts, Best Kept Secret is also one of the nicest festival atmospheres with tons of great food trucks to enjoy overlooking the impressive lake at the edge of the festival grounds.
Running from 9-11 June this summer, tickets are still available.
Weekend ticket (including camping): € 265.00 incl. € 10.00 service fee
Day tickets (for Friday/Saturday/Sunday): € 129.00 incl. € 10.00 service fee