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.
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
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
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.