European festivals are the ideal experience when you are looking for a fun and cultural experience. An opportunity to gather unique memories – ones to share with others or keep to yourself! If you are a music lover there are no end of options. Culture buffs are spoiled for choice too. If this takes your fancy while travelling around the continent – or want to add something new to a holiday – a festival could be an exciting new thing to try.
If you’re put off by the prospect of rowdy crowds and sacrificing creature comforts, there are options that mean you don’t have to compromise. You can experience a festival close to home, or go for one on the continent. There are plenty of European festivals for grown-ups. We have a selection below that you don’t have to travel far to reach.
First, let’s start in the UK…
1. Latitude Festival, England
If you’re planning a staycation, consider Latitude Festival in Suffolk. It kicks off in late July at Henham Park. Here, the best music, theatre, comedy, literature, and podcasts are celebrated. For a mix of family activities, you can explore The Enchanted Garden. Plus, there’s something for your mind and body too with activities like yoga, wild swimming, and paddle boarding available.
If a good night’s sleep is important to you, book early to stay in a luxury bell tent, wooden pod, yurt, or tee-pee. If you prefer, bring your own campervan, caravan, or motorhome. After a day of listening to energising music and watching unique entertainers into the night, you’ll be glad you planned ahead. When you’re ready to call it a day you can drop off and wake up in beautiful woodlands and in a comfortable bed.
2. Green Man Festival, Wales
The first thing to note about the Green Man Festival is that you don’t have to pre-book general, family, and quiet camping. So, it’s perfect for free spirits who’ve got the freedom to travel at their leisure. There are further comfortable options with a good range of local lodges, B&Bs, and hotels nearby.
In the festival itself, there’s something for everyone across 10 different areas. For instance, experience unique performing arts, animated films, charismatic comedians, and emerging musicians. Or, learn about the latest Green Man Trust science project.
To get your teeth into fresh ideas, join the thinkers and dreamers for a discussion about literature – perhaps while quenching your thirst at the Green Man Pub. You have plenty of choices when it comes to refreshments across the site. There are 100 Welsh beers and ales to be discovered at the beer and cider festival within The Courtyard.
The festivities close with a ritual. The Green Man, which sits at the festival’s centre, is set alight. As this bushy, bonfire blazes, shimmering fireworks adorn the skies, as the festival goers dance – some way to end an epic weekend.
3. Edinburgh Fringe Festival
To enhance your holiday in Scotland, visit Edinburgh in August for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Known as the single greatest celebration of arts and culture on the planet, there‘s something for every taste. The line-up includes live comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus acts, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, exhibitions, and more. It runs across hundreds of venues with many free street performances available – great to get sneak previews of the best shows or to just soak up the atmosphere.
The Fridge runs for over three weeks in late July and/or August. So, there are many opportunities to see some big names and emerging talent in Scotland’s capital. Why not plan a day trip to Edinburgh, while exploring this charismatic country by car?
Just remember to plan and book your favourite performances in advance. Then listen out for some surprises and ‘word-of-mouth’ wonders throughout. Away from the acts, give yourself time to absorb the city’s sights like Arthur’s Seat. At dusk, pay it a visit to admire a bird’s eye view of the whole city laid out below you.
4. Flow Festival, Finland
Fancy visiting a festival while exploring Finland? Find Flow Festival in mid-August for an alternative city festival experience. Flow is an internationally acclaimed festival in Helsinki. With sustainability at its heart, it was one of the world’s first carbon-neutral festivals and seeks to implement green initiatives at all times.
A great example is Flow’s Think Sustainably Service. The service helps you source sustainable places to stay, eat and experience the city. So, throughout the city, you’ll support its commitment to a sustainable way of life.
Across the weekend, engage with diverse experiences inspired by popular culture. For instance, you can listen to a broad selection of high-quality music and expose yourself to experimental arts. Afterwards, meet the talented artists behind them and discover their inspiration. To keep your energy reserves up, there are plenty of opportunities to try hand-picked world-class food and refreshments from Helsinski’s local businesses.
5. Body and Soul Festival, Ireland
Add soul to a holiday in Ireland by attending Body and Soul Festival. Body and Soul is located within the 17th-century grounds of Ballinlough Castle. On the south side of Cork, this forward-thinking festival has won awards for innovation, sustainability, and business across 12 years. Its future plans are to curate playful experiences for no more than 5,500 people.
If you can get a ticket, immerse yourself in intimate performances, tuck into forest feasts, and stumble upon secret stages. It’s a place with surprises around every corner! There is also the promise of creative and unique experiences although the organisers keep many under wraps. It is the festival to go to if you like the idea of surprising experiences to indulge in, such as taking a seat in a wood-fired sauna, happening across an exclusive ‘pop-up performance’ or having a dance in a disco yurt.
6. Inner State Festival, Albania
Stretching out along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Albania has many beautiful beaches off the beaten track. One of the most famous (due to its crystal clear waters) is Dhërmi on it’s southern coast. Situated along the Albanian Riviera, Dhërmi beach is home to Inner State Festival in mid-September. At Inner State, you can experience seven days of wellness, music, talks, and great food. You can also enjoy an ideal atmosphere to reflect on how they all interplay in your life.
Reflecting and meditating are regular activities during the festival, coupled with different mindful exercises like yoga. At sunrise, start with sun salutations and breathing experiences, before a swim – or try qigong meditation, which is great for a variety of health conditions. Then enjoy a vegan feast, served with inspiring talks from neuroscientists.
However, the music shouldn’t be forgotten here. Join beachside sessions, intimate gigs, and soundscapes, amplified by surrounding mountains. Then relax in your nearby hotel for some good sleep – vital to your wellbeing.
Don’t just refer to this travel guide for festival destination inspiration.
We have many blogs highlighting top cultural festivals. See some of them here.