The first of our three-part 2023 music festivals preview zeroes in on 10 of the tastiest events from across mainland Europe this summer, from behemoths to genre specialists
In the first part of our 2023 music festivals coverage we focus on 10 events set to take place across mainland Europe, with parts two and three zeroing in on the UK and London respectively.
After the bumper editions of post-pandemic 2022, this summer looks more like a normal festival season as we’d understand it. And while some household names are to be found right across the continent, many festivals have secured exclusives. Some events are genre specialists while others, the behemoths, fold in something for everyone to their diverse programmes while showcasing local talent too.
With venues ranging from purpose built seaside locations via post-industrial reworked sites to city parks, the continent’s summer festival season is nothing if not a varied affair. Here’s to meetings of minds in music across Europe in 2023.
After 2022’s double-header made up for time lost to the covid emergency, the 2023 edition of Barcelona’s iconic festival by the sea at Parc del Fòrum returns to a more manageable size this year (with the Madrid leg taking place on the following weekend). Not that the headliners are any less world-bestriding.
A free show from Pet Shop Boys opens the four-day event, which goes on to feature Depeche Mode, Blur, Kendrick Lamar, Rosalía, Calvin Harris, New Order, St Vincent, Swans, Skrillex, and Alison Goldfrapp in her first solo festival turn. There’s a strong bill of local talents too, not least La Paloma, Núria Graham and John Talabot. In a country boasting way more than its fair share of top-notch music festivals (see also Madrid’s Mad Cool, Bilbao BBK, Benicassím and, below, Sónar), Primavera Sound unquestionably knows what’s what, who’s who and what to do with it all.
Primavera Sound takes place at Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona from 31 May to 4 June 2023. More here.
Rock En Seine
By the Seine, in the national estate of Saint-Cloud, Paris’s big noise this year brings together the assorted talents of Billie Eilish, The Chemical Brothers, Christine And The Queens, Tove Lo, Placebo, Fever Ray, Viagra Boys, Boygenius, Romy and Wet Leg on a bill that seems determined to have plenty to suit just about any tastes – just in case the “rock” in the name caused you to think this extravaganza was for guitar bands alone.
Rock En Seine takes place in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, Paris from 23 to 27 August 2023. More here.
Lil Nas X, Arctic Monkeys, Lizzo, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sam Smith, King Princess and Queens Of The Stone Age headline the attractions at the Portuguese capital’s laid-back estuarine site, sandwiched between the Algés river and the railway, in July. Some of those headliners are playing at the bigger festivals this summer; here’s a chance to see them in a somewhat smaller setting.
NOS Alive takes place at Passeio Marítimo de Algés, Lisbon from 6 to 8 July 2023. More here.
For 25 years, a small town between Berlin and Leipzig has played host to artists and bands in the shadows of disused coal excavators, on the edge of a lake and in the middle of forests. Róisín Murphy, Altin Gün, Bicep, Slowthai, Marcel Dettmann, Nia Archives, Daphni and Joy Orbison are amongst the draws to the repurposed former coalmine known as Ferropolis for the 2023 edition.
Melt takes place at Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen, from 8 to 11 June 2023. More here.
Blur, Susanne Sundfør, Boygenius, Sigrid, Viagra Boys, Moderat, Devo, Oxlade, Pusha T, Slowthai, Yo La Tengo and Dry Cleaning converge on the Norwegian capital’s Tøyenparken for Øya’s 2023 edition. Subject to capacity, festival tickets also get you in to Klubbdagen (Club day) and offer discounts for Øyanatt (Øya night) and Øyakino (Øya cinema). It’s a calendar highlight from a country that also hosts the picturesque Traena Music Festival and Trondheim’s compact Pstereo.
Øya takes place in Tøyenparken, Oslo from 8 to 12 August 2023. More here.
We Love Green
When the second day of the 2022 edition of Paris’s We Love Green festival was abruptly deluged off by the sort of downpour which can only adequately be described as ‘biblical’, local heroes Phoenix were left up the creek without a paddle. Happily, for this year they have been rebooked, along with a typically varied list of stellar draws that also includes Pusha T, Skrillex, Bon Iver, Jack Johnson, Caroline Polachek, Sudan Archives, Yung Lean, Jayda G, Honey Dijon and Yves Tumor, all in the gloriously expansive Parisian parkland setting of Bois de Vincennes. We hope the organisers have practised their sundances.
We Love Green takes place at Bois de Vincennes, Paris from 2 to 4 June 2023. More here.
Aphex Twin, Eric Prydz, Bicep, Fever Ray, Little Simz, Richie Hawtin, Honey Dijon, The Blessed Madonna, Oneohtrix Point Never are among the eye-catching names coming together for the 30th edition of Sónar by Night, Barcelona’s celebration of global electronic music. There’s also a Sónar by Day programme, “where music, creativity, and technology come together” with live shows, DJ sets, talks, installations, and more across five stages. Like its citymate Primavera Sound, Sónar has long since branched out across the continent, taking sites in Lisbon and Istanbul, and staking a claim to being a global brand in the process.
Sónar (by Night) takes place at Fira Gran Via L’Hospitalet, Barcelona from 15 to 17 June June 2023. More here.
The 2023 edition of Helsinki’s Flow festival will be the last at the former power plant area Suvilahti, its home since its 2007 foundation. Ramped up construction work in the area means the festival will move to pastures new next year, yet to be announced. In the meantime an eclectic bill is lined up for the last hoorah that features Blur, Tove Lo, Wizkid, Lorde, Suede, Sudan Archives, Devo, FKA Twigs, Caroline Polachek, Christine And The Queens, Horace Andy and many more.
Flow takes place at Suvilahti, Sörnäinen, Helsinki from 11-13 August 2023. More here.
Having celebrated its 50th edition in 2022, Denmark’s biggest festival returns with performances from Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Kendrick Lamar, Blur, Rosalia, Christine And The Queens, Queens Of The Stone Age, Fever Ray and Caroline Polachek amongst a gargantuan bill.
Roskilde takes place at Roskilde from 24 June to 1 July 2023. More here.
Belgium’s biggest festival, Rock Werchter – as with France’s Rock En Seine – is not all about rock, as a line-up featuring everyone from Lil Nas X via Rosalía to Fever Ray would testify. They do have a fair bit of rock though, with the likes of Muse, The 1975, Arctic Monkeys, Anna Calvi, Iggy Pop, Sam Fender, Liam Gallagher, Sigur Rós and Queens Of The Stone Age facing off against beyond-rock sorts Aurora, Stormzy, Christine And The Queens, Fred Again…, Paolo Nutini, Slowthai and Weyes Blood. One thing’s for sure: with a line-up this huge, nobody’s going to be bored.
Rock Werchter takes place at Werchter, near Leuven, from 29 June to 6 July 2023. More here.