Previews

Summer Music Festivals 2024 preview – Europe



The first part of our preview series selects 10 of the best from across mainland Europe, from genre specialists to catch-alls. Where will you be going?

In the first part of our 2024 summer music festivals coverage we focus on events set to take place across mainland Europe, with parts two and three zeroing in on the UK and London. This is because we’re European, in the UK, and based in London. Do you see?

Some events mentioned here are genre specialists, while others fold in something for everyone and find space for local talents to shine too. All seek to showcase the best contemporary music playing live in 2024, so if music festivals are your thing, read on…

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Primavera Sound

Primavera Sound (Photo: Primavera Sound)

Primavera Sound
Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona’s iconic and perfectly poised festival by the sea returns to the spectacular setting that is Parc del Fòrum. Parisian favourites Phoenix warms up the festival proper, with the following sunny days and warm late nights featuring a who’s who of music mainstays like Pulp, PJ Harvey, Lana Del Rey, Troye Sivan, SZA, Mitski, Vampire Weekend, Charli XCX and Romy amongst very much else. As ever, there’s a strong bill of local talents to check out and become acquainted with too.

In downtown Barcelona meantime, Primavera A La Ciutat is back, with club shows on 27, 28, 29 May and 2 June featuring names as varied as Rozi Plain, Johnny Jewel, The Mountain Goats, Les Savy Fav, The National and Mandy, Indiana. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a music industry conference happening alongside, bringing together music figures from across the continent and beyond for masterclasses and panels. Or, of course, there’s the beach…

Primavera Sound takes place at Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona from 29 May to 2 June 2024. More here.

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Mad Cool

Mad Cool (Photo: Javier Bragado/Mad Cool)

Mad Cool
Madrid, Spain

Dua Lipa, The Killers, Garbage, The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Nia Archives… Madrid’s biggest summer music event never misses with its line-up, showcasing the most anticipated new innovators alongside crowd-pleasing bona fide music legends.

Positioning itself as a meeting point between international and national talent, the bill also includes Spanish acts such as Despresión Sonara and Nadye. And being in the Spanish capital, atmosphere and amazing food go without further mention.

Mad Cool takes place at Iberdrola Music, Madrid from 10-13 July 2024. More here.

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Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux Jazz Festival (Photo: Emilien Itim/Montreux Jazz Festival)

Montreux Jazz Festival
Montreux, Switzerland

Entirely different to every other festival experience, the 58th edition of the grande dame of them all pares back to a hyper-curated list of two acts across each of two venues… over a fortnight. This year the convention centre is having some work done, so events are taking place at the casino, and a main stage constructed “on the surface of Lake Geneva, with the backdrop of the Alps”. What’s not to like?

It is of course not at all about jazz (or lakeside views): the typically eclectic and top-notch bill’s acts range from Duran Duran to Deep Purple, from Alice Cooper to Air, from Jessie Ware to Janelle Monáe, and from Mayra Andrade to Massive Attack – and that’s merely scratching the surface. What’s more, free stages stretch along the quays – who knows what you might discover amidst this singular meeting of music minds.

Montreux Jazz Festival takes place on the shore of Lake Geneva from 5-20 July 2024. More here.

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Rock En Seine

Rock En Seine (Photo: Zélie Noreda/Rock En Seine)

Rock En Seine
Paris, France

Five stages play host over five days by the Seine, in the national estate of Saint-Cloud… and, do you fancy a dance? LCD Soundsystem, Fred again.., Gossip and Soulwax are on hand to assist at this, the 20th Edition of Rock En Seine. Or perhaps the moods of Lana Del Rey, PJ Harvey, The Smile, The Last Dinner Party or The Hives would be more your thing?

Whatever your tastes, it’s unlikely you’ll be bored at Paris’s essential summer music gathering with a line-up as strong as this – and in the city’s Olympics year to boot. 

Rock En Seine takes place in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, Paris from 21-25 August 2024. More here.

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Flow Festival

Flow Festival (Photo: Samuli Pentti/Flow)

Flow
Helsinki, Finland

The 20th anniversary edition of Helsinki’s three-day Flow festival is back at the instantly recognisable old power station site at Suvilahti, its home since its 2007 foundation.

There’s a typically eye-catching bill that ranges from Pulp to Raye, with serpentwithfeet, Idles, Arooj Aftab, Halsey, Janelle Monáe and Jessie Ware demonstrating the bookers’ commendably eclectic tastes and desire to please.

Flow takes place at Suvilahti, Sörnäinen, Helsinki from 9-11 August 2024. More here.

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We Love Green

We Love Green (Photo: We Love Green)

We Love Green
Paris, France

If you’re not already at Primavera Sound in Barcelona, you could do far worse in the same week than breeze into Bois de Vincennes, the gloriously expansive Parisian parkland setting of the just-the-right-size We Love Green festival, for a bit of an ethically-aligned shimmy.

From SZA to Justice, and from Kaytranada to Peggy Gou, the effortlessly cool vibe speaks for itself, with the likes of Etienne de Crecy, Chilly Gonzales, Four Tet and Skepta also joining the party. 

We Love Green takes place at Bois de Vincennes, Paris from 31 May to 2 June 2024. More here.

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Sónar

Sónar (Photo: Nerea Coll/Sónar)

Sónar
Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona becomes the global centre for electronic music as Sónar fires up the lights, AVs and speakers once more across four distinct strands, with a programme that’s part traditional festival but also a creative hub showcasing new technologies with masterclasses, forums and panels. And this is a festival with the scale to spotlight emerging and experimental music along the way.

Big namers Kalkbrenner, Richie Hawtin, Danny Tenaglia, Laurent Garnier, Octave One and Air performing Moon Safari join DJs, producers and stars from across the electronic music spectrum. Late lamented London venue Printworks fires up its first mainland foray, while OFFSónar maintains a focus on record labels and international club promoters, with parties across three stages. 

Sónar takes place at Fira Gran Via L’Hospitalet and Fira Montjuïc, Barcelona from 13-15 June 2024. More here.

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Melt

Melt (Photo: Alicia Creupelandt/Melt)

Melt
Gräfenhainichen, Germany

A small town between Berlin and Leipzig again plays host to artists and bands in the shadows of disused coal excavators, on the edge of a lake and in the middle of forests – if it’s atmosphere you require, look no further than Melt. The repurposed former mine known as Ferropolis presents a stunning backdrop to electronica, techno, drum’n’bass, pop, punk, indie, and jazz.

This year’s artistic assortment includes James Blake, Jayda G, Overmono, Yussef Dayes, Chase & Status, Sampha, Marcel Dettmann and (no, really!) Sugababes.

Melt takes place at Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen, from 11-13 July 2024. More here.

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Best Kept Secret
Tilburg, Netherlands

St Vincent, PJ Harvey, Slowdive, Altin Gün, English Teacher, Justice, CMAT and Jockstrap, all at one festival? That’ll be the Netherlands’ Best Kept Secret, then.

Set on a lake in the south of the country, in its 10th year BKS has a growing reputation – with bookings like these we can see why – and a more manageable size than some of the Roskilde/Rock Werchter sized behemoths. Alas, they’ve not sent us any pix (or anything else), so you’ll have to just imagine the atmosphere shot that would otherwise appear above these words. (We’ll add one in if we get one.) 

Best Kept Secret takes place at Beekse Bergen (Hilvarenbeek), Netherlands, on 7-9 June 2024. More here.

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NOS Alive

NOS Alive (Photo: João Silva/NOS Alive)

NOS Alive
Lisbon, Portugal

To the gorgeous setting that is Lisbon in the summer comes an array of global talent both established and upcoming. Headliners Arcade Fire, Dua Lipa, The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam head up a bill that also finds space for The Breeders, Jessie Ware, Sofi Tukker and Khruangbin.

If a mainstream time with some of the biggest names touring the continent this festival season with a side helping of sunshine is what you’re after, NOS could be just the ticket.

NOS Alive takes place at Passeio Marítimo de Algés, Lisbon, Portugal, from 11-13 July 2024. More here.


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