Sonisphere: Rocking all over Europe

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The Independent Culture

Seven countries in 10 days. "Exhausting" sums up following the world's only touring music festival, Sonisphere. So far I've travelled with it from Turkey, up through Eastern Europe, into Croatia and Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. I've clocked up 5,000km on the car, passed through four countries in one day and slept in a Swiss barn. I am on first name terms with border guards and a reluctant expert on Euro motorway cuisine.

Finally, this weekend it reaches the UK with Metallica, Biffy Clyro and Slipknot headlining the bill at Knebworth in Hertfordshire.

"I always thought there was a market for a travelling festival," says founder Stuart Galbraith, "and I knew there was a gap for a rock event. There is an appetite for it across Europe but bands rarely go and play in places like Istanbul.

"We're still testing new territories to see which ones work. We tried Romania last year, but the economics weren't good for ticket sales. We're happy we played Greece this year. There was a riot in Athens, but they needed cheering up."

Iron Maiden and Slipknot have co-headlined most of the dates. Maiden singer and professional pilot Bruce Dickinson announced with relish he'd flown in from New York on an airline job just in time to perform to 80,000 fans in Switzerland. Next Sonisphere rumbles on into France and Spain.

Sonisphere, Knebworth House ( today to 10 July