The Only Good European Festival Preview Guide

Can't decide where to go? We asked five people who went to the five best European festivals last year how they got on

Primavera (Spain)

What is it and who’s playing? A gratifyingly eclectic festival situated in the heart of Barcelona, looking out over the very photogenic Balearic Sea. Heavy hitters in 2016 include Radiohead, Animal Collective, Dinosaur Jr, LCD Soundsystem, Pusha T and Vince Staples. Buy tickets.

The voice of experience: “Don’t make the mistake I did and get to the site too early. It doesn’t start every day until 4pm. Here’s a tip: stay until the end of DJ Coco on Saturday night (he plays the same slot every year) and head straight to the beach. Oh, and go to Barcelona Zoo the day after. After a few days of Primavera, the animals will be the only ones who understand you.” Dan Roberts

The Only Good European Festival Preview Guide 1

Roskilde (Denmark)

What is it and who’s playing? A very civil Scandinavian shindig that, like Primavera, boasts a diverse line-up taking in pop, rap, heavy metal and, inevitably, twee Danish indie. Highlights include Tame Impala, Action Bronson, At The Drive-In, Freddie Gibbs, Sleep and Dusky. Buy tickets.

The voice of experience: “Don’t miss out on the camping! I know people who don’t even care about the music and they still have the time of their lives. My only mistake was staying until the last night. All week people are the best, kindest versions of themselves and then when the clock turns 8pm on Saturday it turns into the apocalypse. Next time I will check in at a hotel on Saturday with all my stuff, go back to the festival, enjoy the last concerts and then go back to the hotel where all my stuff will be safe.” Jonas Christian Mandix Thorson

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Sonar (Spain)

What is it and who’s playing? Another Barcelona-based affair (don’t blame us, blame the idyllic weather). Sonar is more dance orientated so you can expect your fair share of sun-scorched wreckheads. Our favourites from this year’s crop: Bicep, Four Tet, James Blake, Oneohtrix Point Never, Richie Hawtin and Santigold. Buy tickets.

The voice of experience: “Nights at Sonar are quite hardcore, all-out parties but the daytime part is actually pretty mellow with a good educational element: tech companies do talks and demos. I loved all that but it’s not for everyone. I’d also suggest leaving some time after the festival and checking out the amazing stuff that happens in Barcelona at that time of year. I missed my flight back but got to take in a lot of street festivals.” Dan Garber, UK director of Record-Play

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Outlook (Croatia)

What is it and who’s playing? Set up around a mid-1800s coastal fort on an Adriatic peninsula, Outlook has, in just a few years, become a fixture for fans of reggae, rap, R&B, drum’n’bass and grime music. Acts to get excited about this year include Stormzy, Kano, Joey Bada$$, Damian Marley, Lil Simz, Slum Village and Section Boyz. Buy tickets.

The voice of experience: “It’s definitely one of the better festivals I’ve been to and as a result I don’t remember much. I’d recommend not staying in Pula – it’s an amazing town (and it hosts the opening party) but it was a mission to get to the festival every day. Get an apartment near the grounds.” Sophie Lynch

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Hellfest (France)

What is it and who’s playing? Only the truest and largest extreme music festival in the world! Situated it that most evil of locations: a picturesque provincial town in Nantes. This year’s eye catchers: Black Sabbath, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Enslaves and Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Buy tickets.

The voice of experience: “My favourite memory from last year was seeing Meyhna’ch from French black metal legion Mütiilation staggering around backstage with an empty bottle of Jack, passing out in the heat, waking up, vomiting, then sitting happily watching as a bloke showed him magic tricks. I’d suggest getting a hotel. The campsite is so crowded, and the amenities have huge queues all the time.” Nick Ruskell, associate editor of Kerrang! Magazine

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