Given Europe's historic infatuation with dance music, it should come as no surprise that it leads the way for electronic music festivals. While the near-legendary Tomorrowland is the headline grabber, there’s no shortage of other incredible events spread across all corners of the continent.
Whether you’re fan of house or techno, bass or experimental, electro or EDM, there’s guaranteed to be something that can tick all your musical boxes.
From abandoned forts in the Eastern Bloc to boat parties on the Adriatic, here are ten of our favourites…
Headliners (2017): Armin van Buuren, David Guetta, Martin Garrix, Alesso
Belgium's dance behemoth is the undeniable emperor of Europe, attracting electronic music lovers from the world over with its famed staging, visual production, and lineups packed with the biggest names from EDM to hardstyle. The festival has since spawned satellite events across five continents, but the original in the aptly named Boom will forever be the ultimate archetype.
When & where: 20-22 & 27-29 July 2018; Boom, Belgium
Headliners (2017): Sven Väth, Adam Beyer, The Black Madonna, Nina Kraviz
A relative elder statesman of the European electronic festival scene. The iconic Dutch brand has celebrated over 20 years of combining mammoth lineups and spectacular effects for its hoards of European techno fans. The eight stages over two days regularly reads like a who’s who of techno music, and this year is sure to be no different.
When & where: 30 June - 1 July 2018; Spaarnwoude, Netherlands
Headliners: Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem, Diplo
Experimental electronic music from an almost unparalleled range of styles and genres. Sónar takes over the city of Barcelona for a weekend – literally. Venues range from clubs and bars to rooftops or pool-sides as the city welcomes industry professionals and music fans alike to witness the most exciting new trends alongside some of the most respected names in electronic music.
When & where: 14-16 June 2018; Barcelona, Spain
Dimensions / Outlook
Headliners (2017): Grace Jones, Jeff Mills, Moderat / Dizzee Rascal, DJ Shadow, Giggs
Europe’s premier ‘Soundsytsem Culture festival’, Outlook’s celebration of bass sets it aside from almost every other European festival. Welcoming MCs and rappers alongside DJs and producers: you can expect to skank to the best in dubstep, drum & bass, grime and hip-hop as well as techno, house and garage.
Sister festival Dimensions focuses on the slightly more refined side of electronic music, favouring disco grooves over enormous bass but without pulling any punches on the lineup or commitment to partying. The opening night for each festival is a must, taking place in an ancient Roman amphitheatre.
When & where: 29 August - 2 September 2018 (Dimensions) and 5-9 September 2018 (Outlook); Pula, Croatia
Headliners (2017): David Guetta, Tiësto, Martin Garrix, Hardwell
Staying in Croatia; the European edition of Miami’s renowned Ultra Music Festival sees the biggest names in EDM and big-room house descend upon the island of Split for a weekend of huge-scale production, big beats and beach & boat parties aplenty. Since the first edition back in 2013 the festival has welcomed hundreds of thousands of dance fans from over 75 countries, making the festival a truly global spectacle.
When & where: 6-8 July 2018; Split, Croatia
Headliners: Gorillaz (+ more TBA)
While the headliners might not suggest that this festival belongs on this list, a quick look down the lineup reveals it is well and truly deserving of a mention. The diverse combination of drum & bass, jungle, dubstep, reggae, ska, garage, house, hip-hop, electro-swing, gypsy-folk and much more make the annual knees-up arguably the most unique festival in Europe.
When & where: 9–12 August 2018; Winchester, United Kingdom
EXIT Adventure (EXIT Festival + Sea Dance)
Headliners (2017): Hardwell, Paul Kalkbrenner / Fatboy Slim, Sean Paul
Exit Festival has become one of the best-known in Europe, thanks to its ever-impressive lineup and stunning setting – an 18th Century fortress on the banks of the Danube. Its infant sister festival Sea Dance can stake a genuine claim for the ultimate festival location, on 'Europe’s best beach'.
Festival goers are invited to enjoy the Serbian all-night parties before heading down to the Montenegrin coast for a slightly more chilled-out vibe. And between the two, the selection of DJs and artists from across the electronic spectrum is pretty spectacular.
When & where: 12–15 July 2018; Novi Sad, Serbia / 2018 Dates TBA; Budva, Montenegro
Headliners (2017): Adam Beyer, Chris Liebing, Ricardo Villalobos, Seth Troxler
Croatia's techno showpiece for the summer comes in the form of Sonus Festival, as superstars of the genre make their way to the Adriatic coast for parties on the beach, on boats and in some of Croatia's best clubs: Aquarius, Kalypso and Papaya.
When & where: 19–23 August 2018; Novalja, Croatia
Headliners: Carl Cox (+ more TBA)
The UK's biggest dedicated dance music festival has been at the forefront of the scene since its debut almost 20 years ago. Spawning global spinoffs across Europe, the Middle-East, the Americas and even Australia, the brand has now become one of the most recognisable names in electronic music. But the UK edition, near its spiritual home in Liverpool, is still the one to beat.
When & where: 23–26 August 2018; Daresbury, United Kingdom
Headliners (2017): The Black Madonna, Nina Kraviz, Jon Hopkins
A Gallic showcase of the most forward-thinking and cutting edge underground electronic music, Nuits Sonores celebrated its 15th edition in 2017. The clubs, art galleries, rooftops and industrial wastelands of Lyon play host to an exploration of music and arts, both by day and by night as world famous DJs co-curate their own lineups.
When & where: 2018 Dates TBA; Lyon, France
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