Europe has been known for decades as the place for massive festivals, and event organizers on every other continent look there to understand how to pull off the most successful ones. Within Europe, more and more festivals are springing up, and audiences in different countries are getting to enjoy their unique atmospheres. Here are our top five picks for those who may find themselves in eastern Europe this year.
1. Sziget Festival, Budapest, Hungary
With a wide mixture of styles that leans electronic but doesn’t disappoint in any other field, Sziget is a rapidly-growing festival that now attracts over 350,000 people and lasts for more than seven days. It’s mostly about music, but there are also a wide range of alternative activities (Indoor rowing? Cinema-going? Roma tent? Bungee jumping?). Held on an island on the Danube, it won the 2011 award for Best European Festival. Hungarians know how to party.
2. EXIT Festival, Novi Sad, Serbia
Held in an ancient fortress, this four day festival has been used to forward social and political messages but is still all about the music. Once again, electronic music is featured heavily, but you can also find plenty of great rock, dance, and reggae. A sandy beach on the Danube makes a perfect chillout zone, but for those that never want to stop partying there is always music happening somewhere. This is another award-winner.
3. Garana Jazz Festival, Garana, Romania
You wouldn’t expect this small village deep in the mountains of Romania to be a Mecca for jazz, but it is. Aficionados come from across the continent to listen to some of the most respected names in the genre. Accommodation can be difficult to book, but camping is free, and tickets are cheap. In addition to getting access to amazing music, you can also just enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings. The festival is known for being an intimate and unforgettable event.
4. INmusic Festival, Zagreb, Croatia
Located on an idyllic lake island, this festival has multiple stages with music styles ranging from metal to electronic to indie. Given its location and tendency to draw some of the biggest names, it has won numerous awards and placed on several “best of” lists. Croatia has become a popular destination for European tourists, and the popularity of INmusic and other summer festivals has contributed as increasingly large crowds are brought in each year.
5. B’estfest Summer Camp, Bucharest, Romania
Hundreds of thousands of people make it to this lakeside festival outside Bucharest each year to catch top headliner names. There is a lot of music packed into just three days, along with a surprising amount of crafts (a Romanian tradition, perhaps?). This has become a popular stop on the international festival-hopping circuit, as Romania is known for being friendly, inexpensive, and off the beaten path. Definitely worth checking out.
Checking out festivals in eastern Europe is a great way to meet new people. All of the events on this list enjoy a healthy mix of locals, visitors from nearby countries, and international travelers who may be coming across the world just for one week of musical mayhem, or are lucky enough to be passing through at a convenient time. Either way, everyone finds themselves in exactly the right place to be.