The pick of the European festivals this year may (as usual) take place in the Iberian Peninsula but 2012 also offers proof of the extent to which they are spreading throughout Eastern and central Europe and Scandinavia.
Primavera Sound has established itself as one of the leading European festivals and the line up this year is another excellent collection of new and returning bands. You can read the full list here but acts that stood out for us include Bjork, Beach House, The Cure, Spiritualized, Yo La Tengo, Shellac, The xx, Wilco and Jeff Mangum. Theyll all be playing in Barcelona over 28th May 3rd June.
In an exciting development there will also be a sister event taking place in Porto, Portugal a few days later (going by the name Optimus Primavera). All of the above bands will also be appearing while the organisers have also managed to secure additional performances by the likes of Flaming Lips, The Afghan Whigs, Saint Etienne, John Talabot and Forest Swords. It will all take place from 7th-10th June. Read about both festivals here.
Back over in Barcelona, the line up for Snar (or Barcelonas 19th International Festival Of Advanced Music And New Media Art to give the full title) appears to be slightly more band-orientated than previous years. It features live performances by the likes of New Order, Fatboy Slim, The Roots, Hot Chip, Nicolas Jaar, Squarepusher and Peaking Lights. Theres also DJ performances and much more taking place over 14th-16th June. Get full details here.
Meanwhile, just down the road towards Valencia Benicassim returns once more, promising appearances by The Stone Roses, New Order, Noel Gallaghers Flying Birds and Florence And The Machine. The line up is still in its infancy so expect additions to the bill over forthcoming months. Its all due to take place over 12th-15th July and more information can be found on the official website.
Up in the north of the country, Bilbao BBK takes place over 12th-14th July and sees appearances by The Cure, Radiohead, Bloc Party, Warpaint, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Garbage and Glasvegas. Find out more here.
Not to be outdone, Scandinavia offers plenty of festival opportunities also. Over recent decades Roskilde has established itself as something of a staple of the European festival scene and it returns this year brimming with a selection of lauded acts. Bjork, Bon Iver, Bruce Springsteen, The Cure, Lee Ranaldo, tUnE-yArDs and Niki & The Dove are all lined up to appear alongside many emerging/established Danish bands. It happens over 5th-8th July and you can read more here.
Over in Norway, the Oya festival takes place over 7th-11th August in Oslos medieval park and follows a similar structure in terms of line up with acclaimed international alternative acts sharing billing with promising local bands. The Stone Roses, Bjork, The Black Keys, Mazzy Star, Thurston Moore, St. Vincent, Nicolas Jaar and The War On Drugs will all be appearing and you can find out more from the official website.
Finland meanwhile has the Flow Festival which will take place over 8th-12th August in Helsinki. Arguably it boasts the most diverse, interesting line up of all Scandinavian events. It may contain a couple of festival ever-presents in Bjork and Feist but it also has the likes of Swans, Monolake, Flying Lotus, Korallreven, Oneohtrix Point Never, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Shangaan Electro and Orchestra Poly-Rythmo De Conotou. Get full information here.
Finally, there is the Iceland Airwaves event which has strived to showcase new music since 1999 and continues this noble aim over 31st October 4th November in and around Reykjavik. Names UK readers would be most likely to recognise on the bill include Friends, Django Django, Patrick Wolf and Jamie N Commons but there will be an extensive selection of local bands also appearing. It also provides an opportunity to take in some of the atmospheric, natural beauty that Iceland has to offer. Read more here.
Theres plenty going on festival-wise in Eastern Europe also. Poland boasts two festivals with strong, wide-ranging line ups. The OFF festival takes place in Katowice over 5th-8th August and features the likes of Tindersticks, The Fall, Black Heart Procession, Nils Frahm, Toro Y Moi, Efterklang, Fennesz, Tunng, A Hawk And A Hacksaw, The Flaming Lips and Matmos. You can find more information here. Another Polish festival that has attracted significant attention is Opener which takes place in Gdynia over 4th-7th July. Here, you will be able to enjoy Bjork, Orbital, New Order, The xx>, Janelle Monae, The Mars Volta as well as a live performance by Jonny Greenwood and Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. Full details can be found here.
Further south in Croatia two events take place that look well worth exploration. The Soundwave festival takes place from 19th-23rd July in Tisno and will welcome the likes of De La Soul, Plaid, Submotion Orchestra, Matthew Halsall, Oddisee and Ghostpoet. More information is available on the official website. Meanwhile, the island of Pag is the setting for the Hideout festival which has a electronic/dance-heavy line up featuring live shows by Ricardo Villalobos, Four Tet & Caribou, Skrillex and Simian Mobile Disco as well as DJ sets from Chase & Status, SBTRKT and Erol Alkan. It all happens from 29th June 1st July and further details can be found here.
Serbia has the EXIT festival which has secured the appearance of Duran Duran, alongside Guns N Roses, New Order and Plan B. It takes place at Novi Sad over 12th-15th July. Over in Hungary there is the week-long Sziget festival that sees performances by Anna Calvi, The xx, The Stone Roses, Deus, Flying Lotus, Placebo, The Horrors and The Vaccines. It all takes place in Budapest from 6th-13th August.
In Germany there is Melt that takes place in Ferropolis over 13th-15th July and has appearances by Caribou, Chairlift, Rustie, Destroyer, John Talabot, M83, Richie Hawtin, The Rapture, Yeasayer and Rufus Wainwright. Meanwhile, Belgium offers another long-running festival in Pukkelpop that includes sets by Bjork, Bloc Party, The Stone Roses, The Afghan Whigs, The Foo Fighters and Wilco. It takes place in Hasselt over 16th-18th August.