Europe's finest and biggest music festivals are also some of the heaviest hitters in the world. Glastonbury and Tomorrowland lead the way, with behemoths like Creamfields, Ultra Europe, Sziget, Primavera Sound and Rock am Ring heading up the chase.
Here's our run-down of 25 European bucket list festivals to hit up in 2021, in no particular order and covering all kinds of genres.
- Top 20 Music Festivals in the UK 2021
- TOP 50: The Best Music Festivals in the World
- TOP 10: Electronic Music Festivals in Europe
- Top 20 Rock Music Festivals in Europe
- TOP 10: Hip-Hop & Urban Festivals in Europe
Festival lineup (2021): deadmau5, Carl Cox, Martin Garrix, Adam Beyer, Tiësto, Timmy Trumpet, Erix Prydz, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
One of the two or three most prestigious dance festivals on the planet, Creamfields is always full to bursting with worldwide stars. Whatever flavour of electronic music you're into, you'll find more than you could ask for at Creamfields.
When & where: 26th - 29th August 2021; Daresbury
Festival lineup (2021): The Strokes, Gorillaz, Tame Impala, FKA Twigs, Tyler, the Creator, Jorja Smith, Iggy Pop, Disclosure
Indie King and forceful supporter of new music, Primavera Sound prides itself on pushing the alternative scene forward. Creativity is paramount, with headliners often standing out from the festival crowd.
When & where: 2nd - 6th June 2021; Barcelona, Spain
Rock am Ring & Rock im Park
Festival lineup (2020): System of a Down, Green Day, Volbeat, Deftones, Billy Talent, Korn, Weezer, Broilers
If rock and metal are your game, then Germany's Rock am Ring needs no introduction. Along with sister festival Rock im Park, it pulls unparalleled lineups year after year and can lay claim to being one of the best-attended weekends in the world.
When & where: 11th - 13th June 2021; Mendig and Nürnberg, Germany
Isle of Wight Festival
Festival lineup (2021): Lionel Richie, Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol, Duran Duran, Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, Razorlight, Jess Glynne
Isle of Wight Festival is renowned for exclusive, legendary headliners – Fleetwood Mac, The Stone Roses, Bruce Springsteen – and eclectic lineups that pay homage to its own incredible history. Now over 50 years on from the original edition, IOW is as strong as ever.
When & where: 17th - 20th June 2021; Isle of Wight
Festival lineup (2020): David Guetta, Afrojack, Pendulum – TRINITY, Armin van Buuren, DJ Snake, Marshmello, Richie Hawtin, Steve Aoki
Transported across the Atlantic from Miami's glamourous city centre, Ultra Europe wasted no time in establishing itself as a worthy successor to the original UMF. The biggest DJs in the world bring Croatia's stunning Adriatic coast to its feet.
When & where: 9th - 11th July 2021; Split, Croatia
Let it Roll
Festival lineup (2020): Pendulum, Sub Focus, Dimension, Alix Perez, DJ Marky, Dub Phizix & Strategy, Culture Shock, SpectraSoul
Let it Roll is, without doubt, recognised as the biggest and most influential drum and bass music festival across the globe.
As the fulcrum of the worldwide drum and bass, Let It Roll's lineup represents the most important artists within the scene, showcasing over 300 DJs and producers across its eight stages, all of which possess their own unique flavour and vibe.
When & where: 5th - 7th August 2021; Milovice, Czech Republic
Festival lineup (2020): Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, The Strokes, Kings Of Leon, Major Lazer, A$AP Rocky, Stormzy
Sziget is one of those festivals that could never spend another cent on marketing and still sell out every single year. Its reputation precedes it by almost a decade, and Budapest makes an incredible host city.
When & where: August 2021; Budapest, Hungary
Festival lineup (2020): A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert, D-Block Europe, Skepta, Meek Mill, AJ Tracey, Burna Boy, Young Thug
Rap and dance music form the perfect partnership at Wireless Festival, creating a distinctive weekend that embodies one of London's many subcultures with perfection.
When & where: 2nd - 4th July 2021; London
Festival lineup (2020): David Guetta, Tyga, James Arthur, Fatboy Slim, Kosheen, Boris Brejcha, Roni Size, Metronomy
Titans of dance are scattered with the occasional note of indie and pop – or even heavy metal, in the case of Motörhead in 2015 – at Serbia's EXIT Festival. Sister festival Sea Dance keeps the party going at the beautiful beach-side location of Budva, Montenegro.
When & where: July 2021; Novi Sad, Serbia
Festival lineup (2021): Tyler, the Creator, Thom Yorke Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, FKA Twigs, Floating Points, TLC, Moses Sumney, Mayhem, The Whitest Boy Alive
Naked runs and wild campsite parties don't define many modern music festivals, but Roskilde's deep sense of history brings people back year upon year for much more than just the music.
When & where: 26th June - 3rd July 2021; Roskilde, Denmark
Festival lineup (2020): Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Marshmello, Amelie Lens, Adam Beyer, Eric Prydz, NERVO
Tomorrowland is, simply put, the biggest electronic music show on earth. Massive lineups cherry-picked from any artist they could want, allied to an intense attention to detail, create an unrivalled wonderland that keeps on mesmerising the world.
When & where: 16th - 18th July & 23rd - 25th July 2021; Boom, Belgium
Mad Cool Festival
Festival lineup (2021): The Killers, Twenty One Pilots, Deftones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mumford & Sons, Faith No More, Pixies, Royal Blood
Only a few years old, Mad Cool is already one of Europe's most glittering, glaringly popular festivals. True, it doesn't have the history and reputation for breaking ground that its Barcelona rival Primavera Sound commands, but in Mad Cool, Spain finally has another festival that stands a chance of challenging the Primavera might.
When & where: 7th - 10th July 2021; Madrid, Spain
Festival lineup (2020): KISS, Iron Maiden, System of a Down, Deftones, Korn, The Offspring, Disturbed, Gojira
The grandfather of rock and heavy metal festivals around the world, Download represents the high water mark of many bands' careers.
When & where: 4th - 6th June 2021; Derby
Festival lineup (2020): Tyler, the Creator, Skepta, Lewis Capaldi, Khalid, Jorja Smith, Giggs, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Robyn
Parklife Festival is one of the UK's most popular and famous weekend music festivals, laying on a programme of diverse and cutting-edge music inside Manchester's Heaton Park.
Curated by a number of the UK's most renowned clubbing brands, the weekender has rubber stamped its position at the very front of the country's dance music scene.
When & where: 12th - 13th June 2021; Manchester
Festival lineup (2020): Carl Cox, Amelie Lens, Richie Hawtin, ANNA, Chris Liebing, Charlotte de Witte, Jeff Mills, Helena Hauff
Awakenings' iconic Gashouder venue in the heart of Amsterdam is left behind for the yearly festival, morphing the luscious Dutch countryside into an all-out natural dance floor.
When & where: 26th - 27th June 2021, Spaarnwoude, Netherlands
Festival lineup (2020): Sir Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey, Diana Ross
Glastonbury sets the bar when it comes to worldwide music festivals. It hosts the biggest names in music on its famous Pyramid Stage, but it's the other side of Glastonbury that really sets it apart.
From the immersive world of shenanigans that is Shangri-La, to the flame throwing Arcadia spider and the hidden, underground Piano Bar, every corner of Glastonbury is full of surprises just waiting to be discovered.
When & where: 23rd - 27th June 2021; Pilton
Reading & Leeds Festivals
Festival lineup (2020): Rage Against The Machine, Liam Gallagher, Stormzy, Migos, Lewis Capaldi
Reading Festival rightly sits among the world's genuine rock elite. Along with Leeds Festival – its northern English little brother – Reading has diversified somewhat over the last decade, but still packs a heavy punch each August.
When & where: 27th - 29th August 2021; Reading & Leeds
Super Bock Super Rock
Festival lineup (2021): Foals, Kali Uchis, Brockhampton, Local Natives, GoldLink, Slow J, Jungle [DJ set], Boy Pablo
Lisbon's kingpin festival boasts seriously impressive headliners every year, though its worldwide profile remains a little lower than it rightfully deserves. SBSR is also an unbelievable excuse to see one of Europe's most breathtaking cities.
When & where: 15th - 17th July 2021; Lisbon, Portugal
Hellfest Open Air
Festival lineup (2021): Deftones, Faith No More, System of a Down, Volbeat, Deep Purple, Judas Priest
Every sub-genre of metal in existence carves out its own corner of Hellfest, adding up to the darkest and heaviest festival on the planet. Not for the faint-hearted, but steeped in overdriven beauty.
When & where: 18th - 20th June 2021; Clisson, France
FIB: Festival Internacional de Benicàssim
Festival lineup (2020): Khalid, Martin Garrix, Foals, Liam Gallagher, Vampire Weekend, Two Door Cinema Club, The Lumineers, Steve Aoki
Now a European favourite, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim has become a gateway festival for music fans around the continent, drawn to it by the festival's huge and diverse lineups, as well as its sun-drenched, seaside setting.
When & where: July 2021; Benicàssim, Spain
Rolling Loud Portugal
Festival lineup (2020): A$AP Rocky, Future, Wiz Khalifa, Tyga, Meek Mill, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, Playboi Carti
Rolling Loud's Florida flagship festival has seen the hip-hop and rap brand become North America's biggest urban music festival of the past few years. It's debut edition in Portugal looks to cement the title of Europe's too.
When & where: 6th - 8th July 2021; Portimão, Portugal
Time Warp DE
Festival lineup (2020): Richie Hawtin, Nina Kraviz, Adam Beyer, Sven Väth, Charlotte de Witte, Amelie Lens, Seth Troxler
A bastion of techno music's evolution for nearly three decades now, Time Warp DE is still the quintessential rave for any techno purist; ground-breaking audio-visual production, the scene's biggest names, and like-minded electronic music enthusiasts consistently keep Time Warp DE at techno's fore.
When & where: 20th March 2021; Mannheim, Germany
Rock en Seine
Festival lineup (2020): Rage Against The Machine, Run The Jewels
Fast approaching it's twenty year lifespan, Rock en Seine has welcomed premier artists from the rock, indie, and alternative realm in what is now widely considered as France's most impressive rock music festival. Who are we to argue?
When & where: September 2021; Saint-Cloud, France
Festival lineup (2021): Burna Boy, Davido, French Montana, Skepta, Wizkid, Tory Lanez, Beenie Man, Chronixx
Afro Nation brings star-studded lineups ranging from dancehall, bashment, Afrobeats and R&B to occupy Praia da Rocha's blissful beach for a weekend of pure heat, both in temperature and vibe.
When & where: 1st - 3rd July 2021; Portimão, Portugal
Rock in Rio Lisboa
Festival lineup (2021): Foo Fighters, The National, Liam Gallagher, Black Eyed Peas, Anitta, Xutos & Pontapés, Ivete Sangalo, David Carreira
Rock in Rio Lisboa shares both it's name and it's legacy with the legendary Brazilian festival, annually alternating between Rio and Lisbon. One thing is certain, however; the calibre of artists, including iconic names from rock, pop, and more, remains at the same extremely high standard, year in, year out.
When & where: 19th - 20th June & 26th - 27th June 2021; Lisbon, Portugal