5 combined festival holidays you don't want to miss

Sun, sea and sweltering in a tent

26th February 2018

If you’re one of the 177,000 annual Glastonbury Festival goers then 2018 is going to have a gaping hole as the behemoth festival takes a well-earned year off.

Of course, you could simply pick one of the other handful of UK festivals taking place that weekend — or one of the countless others taking place throughout the summer months (let’s face it, the last weekend in June has always been a bit hit and miss weather-wise). Or perhaps, for the price of your Glastonbury ticket, you could enjoy a holiday abroad and hit up an awesome festival to boot?

European festivals are a totally different beast to the UK-style pitch up in a field affair — taking place in abandoned forts, on remote islands and golden beaches. They attract people from across the globe and offer you the chance to see some big name acts without breaking the bank.

With Glastonbury tickets now stretching the purse strings at around £250, we look at how you could divert these funds and have a blast partying in Europe instead. Tag on a few days at either end and you’ve got yourself a proper holiday, too.

When it comes to spending money, you’ll be quids in as the average food and drinks prices for festivals overseas range from £1-4 (rather than the fiver min Glastonbury standard) — even with the Brexit effect on the exchange rate.

Anyone who’s been to Glastonbury will know just how challenging getting there can be too — your choice comes down to a rammed coach or train, stopping at a station miles away or getting stuck in miles of tailbacks and waiting hours to get in and out of a car park.

European festivals tend to be much better served by transport links — metro systems, affordable taxis and other quirky additions such as trams. Many are also city-based, meaning there’s no trekking to the middle of nowhere. And where they are a little further afield, they often run free all-night shuttles.

A lot of European festivals start in the evening and finish just shy of sunrise, which means that you have time to explore the local area during the day… hangover permitting.

Weather-wise, you’re onto a much more sure-fire thing too. Think of Glastonbury and chances are images of mass mud fights, tents floating through flooded fields and a sea of umbrellas fill your mind. The world’s best-known festival may take place around the arrival of the British summer, but that doesn’t mean those sunnies and suncream will get an airing.

Head south towards the Med and you’re much more likely to get a good dose of vitamin E while you catch some of the hottest live acts. Of course, this isn’t a guarantee but the odds are stacked in your favour.

You might be thinking: “I’m sold, but where do I go?”

With years of festival-going under our belts, we bring you the top five European festivals where you can — if you book early enough — bag a ticket, flights and accommodation for around the same cost as a Glastonbury ticket. Here they are in date order…

Nos Primavera Sound, Porto, Portugal (7-9 June 2018)

NoS Primavera Sound Porto by Hugo Lima
Nos Primavera Sound is by the beach 📸Hugo Lima

The smaller sister festival for the main Primavera Sound offering in Barcelona, Spain, takes place a week after the main event and features a lot of the same acts but comes in at about half the price. It also takes place in one Portugal’s picturesque coastal city with its half a dozen port wineries. Taking place in the city park out by the beaches, there’s a large food area selling pasteis de nata – famous Portugese custard tarts – as well as popular cocktail bars selling quality caiphirinas. The line-up is yet to be revealed, but previous headliners have included The National, Patti Smith and FKA Twigs.

Ticket: £95

Flights: From £65 from UK to Oporto

Accommodation: £75 each based on 2 people sharing private AirBnB for 3 nights

Total cost: £235

More info: www.nosprimaverasound.com

INmusic, Zagreb, Croatia (25-27 June 2018)

INMusic by Julien Duva
Nick Cave is playing INmusic this year 📸Julien Duval

If you’d already booked time off for Glastonbury Festival before remembering this year’s the fallow year, then this could be the one for you. Taking place around the same time that Glastonbury would have, INmusic is a worthy replacement. Situated on three beautiful islands on a lake near the Croatian capital, the festival attracts some big names — some of this year’s acts have already been announced and include Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Alice in Chains and Skunk Anansie. There are also workshops a la Glastonbury’s Green Fields and excursions on offer to catch the local sights.

Ticket: £50 (£80 with camping included)

Flights: From £165 from UK to Zagreb

Accommodation: £45 each based on 2 people sharing private AirBnB for 3 nights

Total cost: £245-260

More info: www.inmusicfestival.com

EXIT, Novi Sad, Serbia (12-15 July 2018)

EXIT by Benny Gasi
EXIT is staged in an actual fortress 📸 Benny Gasi

EXIT is so much more than a festival. It began as a freedom movement in the then conflict-ridden Serbia and, 18 years on, it marks its origins with the Freedom theme and maintains its strong social mission. The flagship event is also accompanied by festivals across the Balkans – Festival84 at the Olympic Mountain Jahorina in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sea Star Festival in Croatia, Revolution Festival in Romania and Sea Dance Festival in Montenegro. EXIT itself is set in the Petrovaradin fortress in Novi Sad and caters for metalheads and ravers as much as it does for indie rock fans and technoheads. Last year’s bill included The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Princess Nokia and Nina Kraviz.

Ticket: £115 (including accommodation and airport transfers)

Flights: From £180 from UK to Belgrade (you’ll probably need to change planes for this)

Total cost: £295

More info: www.exitfestival.org

Off Festival, Katowice, Poland (3-5 August 2018)

OFF Festival
OFF Festival is the opposite of every festival in the UK because drinks are cheap

The cheapest offering of the five is Poland’s OFF Festival. It’s a little-known festival near the southern town of Katowice. Previous headliners include The National, Flaming Lips, Primal Scream, Smashing Pumpkins and acts already unveiled for 2018 include John Maus, Grizzly Bear and Marlon Williams. The only downside is the bar and food area is in a separate enclosure in the middle of the site so you can’t take alcohol to the stages — or you face a big fine and “deprivation of your liberty”. Don’t let that put you off though — at about £1-2 a drink, you can neck ‘em up and head on in.

Ticket: £55 (£70 with camping included)

Flights: From £95 from UK to Katowice

Accommodation: £60 each based on 2 people sharing hotel for 3 nights

Total cost: £165-210

More info: www.off-festival.pl

Le Guess Who, Utrecht, Netherlands (8-11 November 2018)

Le Guess Who
Le Guess Who contains the world’s biggest record fair

The only non-summer festival on the list here — a worthy winter venture — is a muso’s festival. Centred around Utrecht’s TivoliVrendeburg venue, an architectural masterpiece with 5-6 perfectly designed venues within a venue, you can expect to come away with a wave of new music to listen to. It coincides with the world’s biggest record fair and incorporates venues elsewhere in the city, including churches, theatres and warehouses. It’s experimental but not in a contrived way, featuring a brilliant mix of artists, 50/50 male to female, from across the world — with lots of Middle Eastern influences. Last year’s acts included Kevin Morby, Sun Kil Moon, Liars and Moon Duo.

Ticket: £105

Flights: From £75 from UK to Amsterdam Schipol

Accommodation: £75 each based on 2 people sharing private AirBnB for 3 nights

Total cost: £255

More info: www.leguesswho.nl

(Prices based on ticket prices and Skyscanner, AirBnB and Booking.com searches for the relevant dates in January 2018. Please note that these could rise the later you leave it to book).

26th February 2018