Best European festivals 2015: From Benicassim to Tomorrowland and Roskilde

Catch some rays as well as music

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The Independent Culture

Those prepared to look beyond these shores have a huge array of options to pick from, with enchanted forests atop stunning mountain ranges, glistening coastlines soundtracked by the best DJs on the planet and historical fortresses taken over for no other purpose than having a good time.

Der Ring 29-31 May

Nürburgring, Germany

Perfect for: Metal heads

Headliners: Kiss, Metallica, Muse

In Germany. At a racetrack. Perfect for those who like their music loud and heavy. The event is making its debut this year at the Nürburgring F1 race track, but based on the incredibly strong line-up (also: Faith No More, Incubus, Limp Bizkit), it could become a prominent fixture in the festival calendar.

Despite normally playing host to the loudest cars on the planet, the heavy riffs and cranked-up decibels across the festival's three stages (named Big, Boom and Bang) look certain to create more noise than this race circuit has ever heard.

 

Secret Solstice 19-21 June

Laugardalur, Reykjavik

Perfect for: Adventurers

Headliners: Wu Tang Clan, FKA twigs

This festival, now in its second year, is something special. It's held during the summer solstice weekend on a volcanic island in Iceland, and is the only festival where you can party at a time when the sun doesn't set for three days. There's a mix of UK, US and Norwegian acts. Check out MØ, Denmark's hottest singer, and Icelandic reggae group Hjálmar.

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FKA Twigs

Meadows in the Mountains 12-14 June

Rhodopes Mountains, Bulgaria

Perfect for: Anyone seeking a bit of local authenticity

Headliners: Binh, Beat Pete, Brand New Wayo

Most of the friendly international crowd who attend this small-scale festival are put up by the locals. It's a set-up that ensures truly unique experiences while providing a flavour of the real Bulgaria. The eclectic music – hip-hop, rock'n'roll, EDM – continues well after the sun rises, at which point the real draw is revealed: the location.

In inspiring surroundings, revellers dance above the clouds in the forests and meadows that sprawl the stunning Rhodopes mountain range.

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Up and under: the village of Gella, in the Rhodope mountains

Eurockeennes 3-5 July

Belfort, France

Perfect for: Bargain hunters

Headliners: Ben Harper, Chemical Brothers, Sting

An affordable ticket price (approximately £103), coupled with a location closer to home, makes Eurockéennes an excellent option for those venturing abroad on a budget. The festival site juts out into a lake within a picturesque corner of French countryside.

Slipping around an array of local artists is an eclectic line-up of big names. With a wide variety of food and drink stalls, the promise of the not-for-profit festival that there is "more to France than strikes and snails" looks guaranteed.

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Tom Rowlands (L) and Ed Simons of the British electronic music duo The Chemical Brothers

Benicassim 16-19 July

Benicassim, Spain

Perfect for: Sun-worshippers

Headliners: Blur, The Prodigy, Portishead

In the small port town of Benicassim between Valencia and Barcelona, this is the ideal option for those who want to party all night and sunbathe all day.

The main beach, about a 15-minute walk from the campsite, gets busy – but stroll a little further along the coast and serene spots can be found. When the sun sets the action gets going at the concrete playground festival site. Hotel options are available.

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The Prodigy

Sziget 10-17 August

Obuda, Budapest

Perfect for: Pop music and beer fans

Headliners: Robbie Williams, Alt-J, Paloma Faith

Spanning seven days, attracting an international audience of around 400,000 people and held on the island of Obuda, in the middle of the Danube river flowing through Budapest, Sziget is among the biggest events in Europe. In addition to big-name acts there's circus troupes, painting studios, international cuisine and a riverside beach. A carefree attitude pervades.

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Alt-j perform at Alexandra Palace, September 2014

Exit 15-18 July

Petrovadin Fortress, Serbia

Perfect for: Party-goers

Headliners: Faithless, John Newman, Motörhead

Its beginnings as a student movement fighting for peace and democracy perhaps explain why those who attend believe there is something special about Exit. Thanks to the welcoming attitude the local Serbians give the international audience, and the full-on party vibe, it retains its place as one of the best events of the year.

Roskilde festival 27 June-4 July

Roskilde, Denmark

Perfect for: Chart music lovers

Headline acts: Paul McCartney, Pharrell Williams, Disclosure

Just a short journey from Copenhagen, Roskilde has a reputation as the Glastonbury of mainland Europe; with a history steeped in hippie culture, there's campsite parties, lake-swimming and yoga. Muse and Florence and the Machine also appear.

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Pharrell Williams performs in Brisbane

TOMORROWLAND 24-26 July

Boom, Belgium

Perfect for: Dance music fans

Headliners: Sven Väth, Derrick Carter, David Guetta

Imaginative and complex stage designs compensate for the inconvenient truth that the main acts spend the majority of their sets standing motionless behind their turntables. Paired with an Ibiza-type crowd in terms of wild energy, there's a psychedelic, full-on carnival atmosphere.

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David Guetta to headline Tomorrowland

Electric Picnic 4-6 Septembe

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Stradbally Hall, County Laois, Ireland

Perfect for: Artistic types

Headliners: Florence and the Machine, Underworld, The War on Drugs

The founding principles of this once boutique festival endure – despite it growing to become a major fixture on the Irish music calendar. A relaxed, eco-friendly mindset shares space with an eclectic bill at a festival where the music is just the tip of the iceberg amid a sea of other distractions.

Festival guide: Big Festivals, Glasto to Reading
Day Festivals, from sound city to British summer time
Family Friendly festivals, from camp bestival to somersault
Boutique festivals, from lounge on the farm to festival no 6
To more than the music, from latitude to bestival
Festival foods, from field day to port eliot

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