The best rock and pop festivals on foreign shores, from celeb-heavy Coachella to eco-friendly European options.
1. Coachella, Palm Springs, US
Coachella is the festival to be seen at if partying with Hollywood celebrities appeals. Held at a polo club in the desert outside Palm Springs, it kicks off the season with a headline-grabbing line-up of rock and pop, including some decent British acts. With beer gardens set away from the stages and not much happening after the headliners finish though, it’s a fairly clean-living affair. Pack for hot weather.
April 12–14 and 19–21 (coachella.com).
2. AMP Lost and Found, Malta
Staged in scenic locations and curated by Radio One DJ Annie Mac, this small but diverse dance festival in Malta is now a firm favourite with Britons and is celebrating its fifth year across the May Day bank holiday. An early line-up includes Skream, Chase & Status and more. The main stages are compact and easy to navigate, while parties are planned on the beach, in boats, in castles and at the seafront Café del Mar in time for sunset.
May 2–5 (lostandfoundfestival.com).
3. Primavera Sound, Barcelona
Primavera pits cult names alongside the freshest new bands and, with a programme that bursts at the seams, has a reputation for being genuinely exciting. Mornings are for exploring the cultural and culinary attractions of the city, before joining the crowds that pour down the concrete ramps of the Parc del Forum. Bands and DJs play through the night until around 5am, when the sea breeze becomes decidedly nippy and sends you finally off to bed. A sister weekend follows in Porto, Portugal.
May 30–June 1 (primaverasound.es)
4. We Love Green, Paris, France
Set in leafy Bois de Vincennes just outside Paris, this growing festival has strong eco-friendly credentials and attracts an open-minded crowd with critically acclaimed indie acts that last year included Björk and King Krule. Drinks prices drop when you recycle your cup and the site contains hidden art installations. Camping options include pretty wooden bungalows and the food is reliably delicious, as well as being sustainably produced.
June 1–2 (welovegreen.fr)
5. Roskilde, Denmark
Providing the opportunity to tour Copenhagen before heading to Roskilde, 20 miles (32km) away, this festival is the biggest in northern Europe – a Scandi Glastonbury, if you will. It is not-for-profit, showcasing a number of musical genres. Pre-pitched tents are available and campsites are lively communities. Last year’s more dubious highlights included a naked race and a food stall offering crickets. Parquet Courts, The Cure and Julia Holter play in 2019.
June 29–July 6 (roskilde-festival.dk)
6. NOS Alive, Lisbon, Portugal
International big-hitters and one of Europe’s most fashionable cities are the draw at this traditional-style festival. Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters headlined last year but NOS mixes things up by reserving stages for the stars of Portuguese fado and Afro-house music, too. Nothing much starts before the early evening, giving festivalgoers a chance to enjoy the city. The Cure and Bon Iver are promised for 2019.
July 11–13 (nosalive.com/en)
7. Sziget, Budapest, Hungary
Stay in Budapest, soak up some culture and tour its eclectically furnished “ruin” pubs before taking the train or river boat to one of Europe’s larger festivals, set on an island in the Danube. With a beach, themed parties at the main stage, countless mini-stages and playful installations dotted about, there is plenty to discover. In fact, the festival lasts for a week. Acts span rock, pop, indie, dance, reggae and folk music.
Aug 7–13 (szigetfestival.com/en)
8. Way out West, Sweden
Nominated for best medium-sized festival last year, with a line-up that included Arcade Fire and Kendrick Lamar, Way Out West is set in a green park in Gothenburg. The festival prides itself on offering great food for vegetarians. Attendees can stay in the comfort of the city which is handy too for Stay Out West, the festival’s programme of club nights that take place after hours and are included in the ticket price.
Aug 8–10 (wayoutwest.se)
9. Flow, Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki’s summer weekender is a good bet for those who like their festivals a little more refined and enjoy the long luminous nights of the north. There is plenty more to the experience than the festival itself: stay in stylish city digs, pop out for a sauna and choose from an array of food from Michelin-star restaurants on site, for example. The organisers possess impeccable taste in both design and music, so expect plenty of quirky areas, along with a bill of indie and hip hop from the US, Europe and Scandinavia.
Aug 9–11 (flowfestival.com/en)
10. Oasis, Marrakech
A spa resort in Marrakech is about as chic and exotic a spot as you can get for a music festival. Hosted by The Source, Oasis’s line-up features world-class house and techno DJs (think Carl Cox, Derrick Carter, The Black Madonna, Sasha) and north African artists. Attendees are a more mature crowd, either found dancing or lounging with a cocktail by the pool. It’s expensive but civilised, with a side plate of Moroccan street food and a beautiful backdrop looking towards the distant ridges of the Atlas Mountains.
Sept 13–15 (theoasisfest.com)