by Miles Hardman
Festivals are at home in the UK, no doubt about it. Foreign artists hear legends of the mighty Glastonbury or the wild Reading & Leeds and dream of one day being asked to play them. More often than not they do, and they love them. Frequently regarded as the greatest crowds in the world, a UK festival audience is surely hard to beat for undivided musical passion.
Let’s not forget those lesser-known festivals elsewhere in Europe, though. Particularly in today’s economic climate, sunny beaches in Spain with fantastic line-ups are starting to push the wallet-destroying British field parties off their pedestal.
And it’s not just the locales of these festivals; many of them are considerably cheaper than UK festivals, even with travel costs considered. But which overseas festivals are putting the most pressure on their British counterparts? Here’s just a few for your interest…
As one of the more popular abroad festivals, Pukkelpop consistently plays host a varying and top-draw line-up. This year saw the likes of Eminem, Nine Inch Nails, Franz Ferdinand, Deftones, The xx, Knife Party and Alabama Shakes take to one of the festival’s eight stages over its three day run in August.
The festival site is an exotic one, even for Belgium. Lines of trees dominate the arena, while streams of lights swing above the crowd in one of the music tents. While the festival suffered some tragic weather conditions last year, Mother Nature is known to hold out for Pukkelpop to make one of mainland Europe’s most sought after attendances.
If you’re looking for a trip away from the UK with great music, Pukkelpop is definitely a contender – and it’s only about £140 for a weekend ticket (with camping), so there’s really no excuse!
Situated just outside Valencia, Benicàssim is a festival that prides itself in pretty much unbeatable line-ups year after year. While the Spanish event’s attractions are limited on the site, the nearby beach is as beautiful as they come, and a variety of nightclubs in the similarly adjoining town mean even the few days of camping before the music starts are never boring.
Camping at a festival is troublesome enough as it is, and the searing heat at Benicàssim makes pitching a tent a no-go for most newbie campers; hotels are available in the town, however, so look into these if you’re not ready to fight the climate for a week. Though for those more experienced with tent poles and those more used to the heat, a spot in the shaded campsite (that usually opens in the second day of camping) is a much sought-after one, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those!
The festival’s line-up this year was one of the best I’ve ever seen; headliners Queens of the Stone Age, Beady Eye, Arctic Monkeys and The Killers were joined by the likes of Primal Scream, La Roux, Jake Bugg and Hurts to add another job well done to Benicàssim’s long list of successes.
A trip to Spain for this will cost you around £200, including the price of the ticket, which is still cheaper than a Glastonbury ticket. Viva la Benicàssim!
To host a festival in the middle of a capital city is hard enough, but to keep it going for a whole week is quite an achievement. Say hello to Sziget Festival, situated on the bank of the River Danube in Budapest, Hungary.
Unlike Benicàssim, Sziget is much more interested in the cultural aspects of a festival. Whilst 2013 saw the likes of Blur, Enter Shikari, Biffy Clyro and Netsky take to its many stages, the Hungarians also offer a circus, theatre and various exhibitions for visitors to check out, of which there are on average 400,000 from over 70 countries.
Though similarly to other European festivals, Sziget is located across the river from the centre of Budapest, so finding things to do in your early days there shouldn’t be a problem. As for the site itself, the arena is cosy, if not intimate, and is surrounded by woodland. Not only does this add to the beauty of the area, but it also gives an entirely authentic camping experience for the more adventurous of you.
As for tickets, a full camping ticket will set you back about £200, so it’s slightly more expensive than some of its European counterparts, but no less worth the experience.