Over the years, traveling to new countries to attend a festival has become as important as the festival itself. And the further East I trek across Europe, the more amazed I am by the festival scene out here. Over the last four years, I’ve danced and shouted the night away in the moat of an ancient fortress, outside the walls of a castle, on an island in the middle of a city, inside a former factory, and on the shores of the Dalmatian Coast.
There’s plenty of music genres to choose from for your next adventure, like the rock-heavy vibes of INmusic Festival in Croatia, the beautifully curated indie rock OFF Fest in Poland, the bumping house music of Defected, and the “everything-under-the-sun” seven day Sziget Festival in Hungary.
The festivals of the east tend to be budget-friendly with tickets, transportation, lodging, and food, all coming in well under normal fest prices. English is widely spoken, the campgrounds have been some of the cleanest I’ve seen in the world (shout out to Pohoda and OFF), and the people have just been incredible. So if you’re looking for you next festival adventure, check out our recommendations below and I’ll see you on the road this summer.
INmusic Festival 2020
Perhaps the only music festival in the world that runs from Monday to Wednesday, Croatia's largest open-air fest straddles two national holidays. It may not be on the beach, but INmusic boasts a sweet lakeside venue with camping on Youth Island in Zagreb. The international lineup always features huge acts (some of them playing Croatia for the first time) like Florence+the Machine, Arctic Monkeys, Pixies, Arcade Fire, New Order, and Billy Idol.
Photo Credit: Julien Duval
Electric Castle Festival 2020
In just a few years years, Electric Castle has already become one of Romania’s most successful fests. Held under the shadow of the five century old Banffy Castle and surrounded by the rolling green hills of the Romanian countryside, EC still maintains the semblance of a much smaller fest. The lineup is designed to please, with artists performing mainstream EDM, hip-hop, reggae, drum & bass, metal, and indie rock. -100 Nights of Summer
EXIT Festival 2020
Novi Sad, Serbia
For those of you tired of festivaling in a field, check out this Serbian festival. One of longest running music festivals in the East, the annual EXIT Festival distinguishes itself by being held in an ancient Petrodovian fortress. The constantly evolving festival has recently added a sister festival held on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.
Sea Dance Festival 2020
For those of you not tired of partying in an ancient Serbian castle for seven days straight, the organizers of EXIT recently spun off a second festival of fun on the ocean. Sea Dance takes the techno to the shores of Montenegro for an idyllic weekend of sunbathing and dancing in the waves.
Photo Credit: Sea of Dreams
OFF Festival 2020
Still unspoiled by hordes of backpackers, Poland is a treat for travelers. And nothing makes that treat sweeter than the similarly unspoiled OFF Festival in Katowice which after ten years still keeps its lineup fresh and surprising.
Photo Credit: Adam Jedrysik
Ultra Europe 2020
Hosted every year on the idyllic Dalmatian Coast in Croatia, the European edition of the massively popular Ultra Festival has become one of the largest electronic festivals on the continent. The multi-venue event is known for changing up venues around Split, so expect everything from a massive stadium to intimate beach parties.
Sziget Festival 2020
Welcome to the Island of Freedom! Every August thousands of festival fans around Europe descend on Budapest for one of the most unique festivals in Europe. Cross the bridge from downtown onto a 250+ acre idyllic island for a week-long celebration with artists from around the world. Need a break? Head into Budapest and explore the city.
Featured Artists: A$AP Rocky, Alison Wonderland, Calvin Harris, Caribou, Clutch, Diplo, Dixon, FKA Twigs, Foals, Foster the People, Glass Animals, Jamie Jones, Jon Hopkins, Kaytranada, Kings of Leon, Lewis Capaldi, Little Dragon, Major Lazer, Of Monsters and Men, Parquet Courts, R3hab, Sasha, Stormzy, The Strokes
Photo Credit: Vito Valentinetti
Pohoda Festival 2020
Major festival line-up, boutique festival vibe, and the comfort of a garden party at your best friend’s place for a fraction of a regular ticket price. The annual Pohoda Festival takes place on the spacious grounds of an airport which means every seat is within site of the stage and castle topped mountains. Our editor-in-chief called this his favorite fest of the summer.
As the sun sets on summer, underground electronic fans flock to Tisno for the last major music fest of the Croatian summer scene. A spin-off of the hugely popular Outlook Festival, diehards can stack these two festival weekends together for one mega-run of electronic goodness.
Positivus Festival 2020
One of our picks for a undiscovered gem – Positivus takes place in the pretty coastal town of Salacgriva in Latvia. The lineup includes international headliners, underground talent, and plenty of art – all of which combine into one super-chill festival. Camp in grassy fields, see artists performing in the forests, and dip your toes into the Baltic Sea.
Kostrzyn nad Odra, Poland
The festival formerly known as Przystanek Woodstock has transformed once again into Pol'and'Rock! One of the largest free music festivals in the world, this Polish institution has been rocking out for twenty-five years. It's one of the most unique events on the European fest calendar and well worth the trip.
Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia
'The extremely budget-friendly Lovefest is a solid addition to the quickly growing Balkan electronic music festival circuit. In the United States and England, we have all these archaic laws about noise past midnight, but Serbia has no such qualms, and the music stays bumping literally into the dawn. The gates don’t open until sunset, and it’s empty until around midnight, at which point you can barely move until sunrise.' - 100nightsofsummer.com
Photo Credit: Vito Valentinetti
Zaxidfest, just an hour outside of Lviv, is one of Ukraine's largest open-air camping music festivals. A costume-clad crowd gathers for three days of rock and metal, partying all night in the forests and ponds of the aptly named Magic Valley.
Volt Festival 2020
Festival, party, camp, repeat. VOLT is one of the largest multi-genre fests in Eastern Europe with 100,000 screaming festies enjoying a wide range of music over five days all in the middle of a forest. Like its sibling festival, Sziget in Budapest, you can expect a similar vibe and well curated roster of artists.
Photo Credit: Rockstar Photographers
Meadows in the Mountains 2020
Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria
For those of you looking to get away from everything, including the oversized crowds of mega-fests, we suggest sneaking away to the incredible Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria and the secret oasis of Meadows in the Mountains. Community is at the heart of the festival and this forested sanctuary offers up four stages of music along with yoga and wellness classes.
Photo credit Aron Klein
Hungary may be a land-locked country, but you wouldn't know it once you've stepped onto the shores of Balaton Lake. The summertime party reaches its climax with the annual B.my.Lake Festival which brings four days of wall to wall electronic music to the tranquil waters.
Photo Credit: Bruce Szemerey
Colours of Ostrava 2020
Set in a venue filled with the remnants of blast furnaces, mines and ironworks, Colours of Ostrava fills this industrial complex with music and festies. Wander around the amazing grounds and check out some of the other offerings which include film, theater, workshops, discussions, and poetry.
Untold Festival 2020
The Untold Festival of Romania unfolds another chapter this summer in the charming city of Cluj. The heart of Untold is the open air Cluj Arena where international superstar electronic headliners play sets until the sun comes up. The soul of the festival lives in Central Park, a shady expanse of trees and grass filled with hammocks, small stages, art, and straight relaxing.
Featured Artists: Above & Beyond, Afrojack, Alesso, David Guetta, DJ Snake, Eric Prydz, IGGY AZALEA, Lost Frequencies, Martin Garrix, Paul Kalkbrenner, Richie Hawtin, Rudimental, Steve Aoki, Tale of Us
Open’er Festival 2020
Poland's mega-festival Open'er brings major acts to the country, most of them for their first time. This is an absolute monster of a camping festival with a stacked four days of headliners like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Florence + The Machines, and LCD Soundsystem.
Let It Roll 2020
The world's largest drum and bass festival is a mandatory bucket list stop for fans of the genre. Appearing for the first time on the Czech dance scene in 2003, Let It Roll has become on the most successful festival in the country with diehards visiting from every corner of the globe.