If you believe sunscreen should take priority over wellies when it comes to festival season, it might be wise to go European. Here, we round up the best music festivals in Europe for 2023, from a French wine and music festival in a chateau to a star-studded extravaganza on a Hungarian island.
The Ultimate European Music Festival Calendar
- June: Primavera Sound (Spain), Balaton Sound Festival (Hungary)
- July: Savonlinna Opera Festival (Finland), Bilbao BBK Live (Spain), Sani Festival (Greece), Electric Castle (Romania)
- August: Way Out West (Sweden), Sziget (Hungary), Flow Festival (Finland)
- September: Cala Mijas (Spain), MEO Kalorama (Portugal)
- November: Iceland Airwaves (Iceland)
Best Music Festivals in Europe 2023
Primavera Sound is a staple music festival in Europe, since its first edition in 2001. It celebrated its belated 20th anniversary this June by expanding to a two weekend event, with a music line-up boasting names such as Tame Impala, The Strokes, The National and Jorja Smith. The 2023 line-up features the Pet Shop Boys, Blur, Halsey, Kendrick Lamar, Depeche Mode, and countless more acts – an eclectic mix that’s sure to be a hit. Held in the city’s Parc del Fòrum beside the backdrop of the Mediterranean sea, there’s also sister festivals in Madrid and Porto, Portugal if Barcelona doesn’t take your fancy.
When? 1–3 June 2023
Where? Barcelona, Spain
BOOK IT: primaverasound.com
Balaton Sound Festival
Where? Zamárdi, Hungary
When? 28 June–1 July 2023
Each year over 150,000 music lovers flock to Zamárdi in Hungary for Balaton Sound, an open-air dance music festival located on Lake Balaton. It’s known for hosting some of the greatest artists and DJs in the pop and electronic world, with the 2023 line-up (so far) featuring Armin van Buuren, Dimension DJ Set and Don Diablo. Relax on the beach during the day before partying into the night – the beach parties are particularly fun.
BOOK IT: balatonsound.com
Savonlinna Opera Festival
Where? Savonlinna, Finland
When? 1–30 July 2023
It’s not all pop at Europe’s music festivals. Savonlinna’s annual opera festival will return this summer, typically attracting around 70,000 music lovers from around the world. For 2023, expect to experience renowned operas such as Romeo and Juliet and The Flying Dutchman, alongside newer productions like Finnish composer Outi Tarkiainen’s A Room of One’s Own and Bela Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle.
BOOK IT: operafestival.fi
Bilbao BBK Live
Where? Kobetamendi, Bilbao, Spain
When? 6–8 July 2023
Enjoy international music surrounded by nature and Spain’s breathtaking landscapes at Bilbao BBK Live. The 2023 line up is stellar, including Arctic Monkeys, Florence + The Machine, The Chemical Brothers, Fever Ray, IDLES, Jamie xx, Phoenix, M83 and more.
BOOK IT: bilbaobbklive.com
Where? Sani Hill, Kassandra, Greece
When? 15 July–26 August 2023
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year is the Greek Sani Festival. What started as a small jazz festival has transformed into one of the country’s foremost cultural institutions. Making the most of warm summer nights, Sani Festival is this year headlined by Andrea Bocelli – who will close the festival on 20 August – and promises a lineup of the greats, as well as incorporating rock and pop into the itinerary for the first time. Chucho Valdés, Paquito D’Rivera, Al Di Meola, Jack Savoretti, and Bob Geldof will all perform, as well as a plethora of Greek legends. The festival is as kind on the eyes as it is the ears: situated on Sani Hill, where the sea, sky and greenery all meet against the dramatic backdrop of the ruined Byzantine tower and the Aegean Sea.
Stay Up To Date: sani-resort.com
Where? Banffy Castle, Transylvania, Romania
When? 19–23 July 2023
As music festivals in Europe go, the 15th-century Bánffy Castle in Transylvania is a pretty special one. It’s the setting for Electric Castle, an immersive festival which offers a unique day-to-night experience, with round the clock music and entertainment. There’s music to suit all tastes, with highlights this year including Twenty One Pilots, Gorillaz and Disclosure, plus stand-up comedy, artistic performances and an eclectic array of food and drink vendors. This year, expect The Chemical Brothers, Iggy Pop and George Ezra.
BOOK IT: electriccastle.ro
Way Out West
Where? Gothenburg, Sweden
When? 10–12 August 2023
One of Sweden’s most celebrated music festivals, Way Out West takes place in a secluded woodland setting in Gothenberg. Some of the world’s biggest artists have performed there since it began in 2007, from Kanye West to Stormzy and Florence + The Machine – and the 2023 line-up does not disappoint, featuring Blur, Wizkid and Caroline Polachek. Music spans a range of genres, from hip-hop to rock and indie, and, outside of the music, you can expect great vegetarian food – plus it’s big on sustainability, holding an ISO 20121 certification.
BOOK IT: wayoutwest.se
Where? Budapest, Hungary
When? 10–15 August 2023
You’ll need some stamina for Sziget, the six-day music festival extravaganza set on a Óbuda-Island in Budapest. A whopping 60 stages are spread across the site – nicknamed the ‘Island of Freedom’ – with endless music, art, theatre, installations and talks to explore. The 2023 line-up is music line-up is unparalleled, with Billie Eilish, David Guetta, Florence + The Machine, Imagine Dragons, Sam Fender and Diplo. It’s also surrounded by the Danube, which means you get the benefit of a beach, with boat parties taking place throughout the festival.
BOOK IT: szigetfestival.com
Where? Helsinki, Finland
When? 11–13 August 2023
Founded in 2004 as a small jazz and soul event, Flow Festival has grown into a key player in the world of music festivals in Europe. Wizkid, Blur and FKA Twigs are all performing this summer, alongside a cultural programme of talks and art. Flow has impressive eco-credits too, being one of the world’s first carbon-neutral festivals – which you can read more about here.
BOOK IT: flowfestival.com
Where? Mijas, Malaga, Spain
When? 31 August–2 September 2023
The Strokes, Florence + The Machine, Arcade Fire, Foals: expect all of these exciting artists and more at Cala Mijas 2023, alongside calming sunsets, outdoor dancing and a party vibe. The perfect end to the summer.
BOOK IT: Tickets from €150. calamijas.com
Where? Bela Vista Park, Lisbon, Portugal
When? 31 August–2 September 2023
Located at Bela Vista Park, one of Lisbon’s biggest urban parks in the city, MEO Kalorama is no less exciting with its later date in the season. Lisbon offers a stunning city break, and MEO Kalorama is all the more enjoyable as the weather cools off. Expect iconic names such as Arcade Fire, Florence + The Machine, The Blaze, Foals and Metronomy, with a mixture of 80s and modern electronic music sitting side-by-side.
BOOK IT: meokalorama.pt
Where? Venues across downtown Reykjavík, Iceland
When? 2–4 November 2023
Whoever said music festivals in Europe have to take place in the summer? Breaking out of the proverbial mould, Iceland Airwaves will draw together the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Squid and Daði Freyr this winter for the world’s most northerly music festival.
BOOK IT: icelandairwaves.is
Featured image: Balaton Sound.