With Coachella just finished we are well and truly ready to start this year’s festival season. While summer is still a month or so away, now is the perfect chance to work out which of the many musical weekenders are worth your time, money and energy. We at PURPLE CAMERA are here to sort the top-tier European Festivals from the rest of the rabble. Take a quick glance below to read about our picks for the Essential European Music Festivals 2017.
Note: the following list in chronological order.
When: 29-30 April 2017
Where: Meerhout, Belgium
Who’s Headlining: Deftones, Parkway Drive
First up is Belgium’s punk rock two-dayer, Groezrock, which is now less than a week away. Taking place in the small Belgian town of Meerhout, the line-up as ever is a riotous mix of hardcore, ska, pop-punk, emo and pretty much all other flavours of punk rock. This year brings the especially impressive Deftones as a slightly overweighted headliner on the Saturday with Parkway Drive closing the festival on the Sunday. Joining them are proggy post-hardcore types Thrice, metalcore legends Underoath, classic skatepunks Pennywise, Oi forebearers Cock Sparrer and the politically charged Anti-Flag.
When: 27-29 May 2017
Where: Birmingham NEC (27th), Leeds City Centre (28th) Hatfield Forum (29th)
Who’s Headlining: Enter Shikari
The nearest the UK has to travelling punk circus Vans Warped Tour, Slam Dunk is a three-locations-in-three-days one-dayer. Having gradually become the defining UK festival for a certain demographic, Slam Dunk is the best place to get your pogo on this summer. Slam Dunk offers eight mostly drinks-sponsored stages for your varying needs. You want the best in contemporary rock music? Enter Shikari, Don Broco and Deaf Havana at the Jagermeister Stage have you covered. Want nostalgia, ska and good times? Bowling For Soup, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger at Fireball. Want the finest in modern punk rock? Against Me!, The Bronx and Frank Iero at the Signature Brew stage. Seriously, there’s something for anyone who has ever sported an emo fringe or worn Converse.
When: 31 May-3 June 2017
Where: Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona, Spain
Who’s Headlining: Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Frank Ocean, The xx
Leaning more on the indie side of the things, Primavera Sound may be the best European festival for snapping up those oft-lauded reunion gigs first. In past years they’ve hosted comeback performances from Pavement, The Replacements, Lush, Ride, Brian Wilson and many more. If there’s any European festival that’s going to get the fabled impossible Smiths reunion it’s going to be this one, and with near-guaranteed sunshine Primavera Sound should already be on your radar. This year’s headliners are alt-heavyweights Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Frank Ocean and The xx with Aphex Twin, Death Grips, The Make Up, The Zombies and Descendents making up this year’s reformation quota.
When: 9-11 June 2017
Where: Donnington Park, UK
Who’s Headlining: Aerosmith, Biffy Clyro, System of a Down
Still the number one UK metal festival (unchallenged since Sonisphere’s last bow in 2014) Download continues to remain strong in the face of a shifting hard rock landscape. Headlining the hallowed site for the festival’s fifteenth year will be nu-metal survivors System of a Down, Scottish alt-rockers Biffy Clyro and the “never touring again” Aerosmith. Further down the line up are Prophets of Rage (who seem to be playing pretty much every rock-leaning European festival over the summer), Slayer, Mastodon, Alter Bridge, AFI, Sum 41 and the last ever UK date for The Dillinger Escape Plan.
HELLFEST OPEN AIR
When: 16-18 June 2017
Where: Clisson, France
Who’s Headlining: Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Linkin Park
For those that believe that Download has gotten too soft, there’s France’s HELLFEST OPEN AIR. In past years their line-ups have been a who’s who of metal history. While last year’s triple-bill of Black Sabbath, Twisted Sister and Rammstein had something for any self-respecting metal-head, this year’s Aerosmith, Deep Purple and Linkin Park closers are not to be sniffed at. They are joined by pretty every metal band you’d want to see this summer: Slayer, Five Finger Death Punch, Prophets of Rage (again), Rob Zombie, W.A.S.P., Saxon, Opeth, Obituary, Alter Bridge, In Flames, Kreator, Dillinger Escape Plan, Steel Panther as well as Rancid and The Damned to mix things up a bit.
When: 6-8 July 2017
Where: Upcote Farm, Gloucestershire, UK
Who’s Headlining: Deaf Havana, Lower Than Atlantis, Mallory Knox, Nothing But Thieves, Slaves
While not as high-profile as some of the other fests on this list, 2000 TREES has more than enough to be worth your time. Its leafier -than-most setting, community atmosphere and constant championing of up-and-coming underground talent have built the festival a devoted following. Plus it’s the only festival in this list whose headliners have all made their name for themselves in the past decade. No past-glories nostalgia runs here. Joining the best-of-British headliners platter are fellow UK acts Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Jamie Lenman, Honeyblood and Pulled Apart By Horses, not to mention US talent in the forms of Wonder Years, The Front Bottoms, Beach Slang and The Menzingers.
When: 9-16 August
Where: Budapest, Hungary
Who’s Headlining: Kasabian, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Major Lazer, Pink, Wiz Khalifa
Now having run for an very impressive quarter century, Budapest’s SZIGET is one of Eastern Europe premiere music festivals, with its performances spanning not just a long weekend but a full week. The most pop-leaning of the festivals on this list featuring headliners like Pink and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as well as Major Lazer, Wiz Khalifa and Kasabian. Also announced for Sziget are Clean Bandit, Flume, alt J, George Ezra, PJ Harvey as well as the more left-field selections of DJ Shadow and Bad Religion. Check it out if you’re looking for something a bit different.
READING & LEEDS
When: 25-27 August 2017
Where: Richfield Avenue Reading, UK and Bramham Park Leeds, UK
Who’s Headlining: Eminem, Kasabian, Muse
Growing up twin festivals Reading and Leeds were the ones to get excited about. The definitive UK festival experience. They had the funding to get the best possible bands, your non-music loving mates would be alright going to and it was there where erroneous main stage bands were bottled unmercilessly. But in recent years with headlining missteps and festival organisers unwavering conviction that flavours of the week were worthy of extremely lofty positioning, the festivals’ joint crown may have slipped slightly. That said, this year boasts one of their strongest line-ups in years with the very welcome return of Mr Marshall Mathers (previously having headlined with Travis and Manic Street Preachers in 2001). Other under-card coups include Fatboy Slim, At The Drive-In, Haim, Hasley, Black Lips, Japandroids and, for a record tenth time, Brit Pop heroes Ash. Hail to the king.
So what festivals are you thinking of heading to this year? Give us a comment below.