From the parkland chic of We Love Green to the island life of Mallorca Live, via wellness-meets-music in Albania and industrial backdrops in Helsinki, Europe’s music festivals are returning from pandemical hibernation and bringing the good times
With covid travel restrictions at last beginning to recede into memory, festivals across Europe postponed from the pandemical times have been variously rescheduled, embiggened, finessed and hugely anticipated, and the continent’s summer of music is set to joyously reunite artists, events, and music fans.
While North American acts are notable by their scarcity on 2022 bills, UK-based acts in particular seem to have stepped up to the top rung, with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Gorillaz and Florence And The Machine likely to play to a million people each by the time autumn rolls around.
Down the bill at each event, of course, individual local scenes will be well represented. From Finland to Spain and Serbia to France, there are events large and small to mix the best of the international touring goliaths with one-off exclusives and acts you’ll wonder at never having heard about. With rail offers available to encourage greener transport too, the time has come to make some new music memories.
We Love Green
Billed as the world’s leading sustainable festival and set in Paris’s glorious Bois de Vincennes, the French capital’s largest park, the 10th anniversary edition of We Love Green brings together top-notch music performances with a laudable focus on reducing the environmental impact that a gathering of 80,000 people inevitably causes. The festival site will be operated using 100% renewable energies including green hydrogen generators, single-use plastics are banned, and 50% of the food offerings are vegetarian. They’re even planting a tree for every person attending. The Think Tank stage presents conversations, panels and debate during the day, all of which strive to spark ideas which can help for a progressive and sustainable future.
The opening day’s green-minded headliners chime with these commitments: Gorillaz’ 2009 album Plastic Beach highlighted the impact of environmental pollution. They’re joined by the recently reactivated coming-together of Apparat and Modeselektor as Moderat, and Grammy nominee Jorja Smith. Local heroes Phoenix top the upbeat second night’s bill which also features Canada’s Caribou and Britain’s Floating Points, while closing out the three days are fast rising Belfast electro duo Bicep, Mercury Prize winner Arlo Parks, chart-topping electroheads Disclosure, and a man with his very own line of underwear, grime anarchist Slowthai.
We Love Green takes place in Bois de Vincennes, Paris on 2, 4 and 5 June 2022. More at welovegreen.fr
Primavera Sound (x2)
While its international brand recognition extends to sister events in Santiago, Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Los Angeles (and across the border in Porto, on 9-11 June: day tickets still available), Primavera Sound lays claim to being Europe’s original biggest and best known music festival in its own right at its Barcelona base. After being postponed in 2021, at last Primavera is back – with the 2022 edition slated for the very next weekend. Taken together with the midweek events programmed as part of the festivities, it amounts to 10 sunny days in the purpose-built and easily accessible Parc del Fòrum on the sea and across the city, in the presence of a world-class line-up, many of whom play twice on a bill that reads like a who’s who of music right now.
The first weekend alone features – yes – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Beck, Tyler The Creator, Tame Impala and The Strokes, with everyone from Bauhaus to Paloma Faith, from Low to Fontaines DC, and Autechre to Einstürzende Neubauten along for the ride. Midweek shows include stars from both weekends and additional acts, while the second weekend features Interpol, Megan Thee Stallion, Lorde, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Dua Lipa, with an enticing bill that also includes shoegaze royalty Slowdive and Ride, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Mdou Moctar, Jessie Ware, Mogwai, John Talabot and Celeste. Dip in for a few days, stay for the whole thing; mix and match and be sure whatever you do, so long as you got tickets before it sold out, you’ll see some great sets.
Primavera Sound takes place at Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona and in city centre locations from 2-12 June 2022. More at primaverasound.com
The sometime coal mining pit of Ferropolis in Gräfenhainichen, with its repurposed industrial excavators and unique ambience, opens its gates once more for a four-day event showcasing more than 200 artists across 13 stages. It’s one of Germany’s – and Europe’s – biggest electronic music gatherings.
The line-up this time includes Little Simz, Greentea Peng, Mirrors, Arlo Parks, Peggy Gou, Koffee, Joy Orbison and Jamie xx, who share a bill with aerial artists and one-off collaborations, including with Germany’s biggest clubs and radio stations. And they’re rightly keen to point out that getting there from Berlin or Leipzig sets you back a mere €9 with Deutsche Bahn’s summer ticket offer, encouraging car drivers to let the train take the strain.
Melt takes place at Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen from 9-12 June 2022. More at meltfestival.de
If you like your music festivals served up with Balearic flavour and the promise of glorious sunshine and the laidback vibe of island life, the fifth edition of Mallorca Live should be high on your list for investigation. Taking place in the Old Aquapark in Magaluf, its stated aim of bringing “the best national and international live shows of the moment” tallies with an eclectic day-to-day line up of artists of many different genres and countries, indeed the organisers say it’ll be the most international edition to date.
Christina Aguilera plays her first show in Spain for 18 years, with a headline set from Muse also featuring on a bill that finds space for Franz Ferdinand, Cut Copy, Jeff Mills, Supergrass, Peggy Gou, Editors, Justice, Metronomy, Max Cooper and a long list of others. They’ll be opening a new, intimate space with a pyramidal stage, half hidden among the vegetation especially for their electronic music offer. Pack your best summer outfits, stock up on sunscreen and get ready to dive head first into a refreshing pool of musical delights.
Mallorca Live is held at Calvià’s Old Aquapark, Magaluf, Mallorca on 24-26 June 2022. More at mallorcalivemusic.com
A true veteran of the festival circuit returns once again, as Roskilde – the largest music festival in northern Europe – celebrates its 50th edition. It features a frankly enormous roster of talent performing over 10 stages. Names lined up to play include Dua Lipa, Tyler The Creator, Megan Thee Stallion, St Vincent, Post Malone, The Smile, The Strokes, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Phoebe Bridgers, Africa Express, Haim, Big Thief and Fontaines DC, but in reality these represent only a small percentage of the artists set to appear.
They’ve tried to incorporate emerging artists from genres less well represented in previous years also, which means Brazilian superstar Anitta, forward thinking R&B singer H.E.R. and LA rapper Baby Keem will all be there. As always, 100% of the profits will be donated to humanitarian and charitable causes so you can lose yourself in the music while also contributing in a small way to something positive and worthwhile.
Roskilde takes place at Festivalpladsen, Roskilde from 29 June – 2 July 2022. More at roskilde-festival.dk
Novi Sad, Serbia
If you have a desire to go overseas and experience something a bit different you’ll be well advised to check out Exit festival in Serbia. It’s an award-winning event that takes place at the Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia promising more than 1,000 artists who play over 40 stages and zones. It’s very big indeed.
Initial names announced so far for this year include – yes! – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Calvin Harris, Iggy Azalea, James Arthur, Napalm Death, Honey Dijon, Sepulchura, Molchat Doma and a host of local artists. The festival was formed with a desire to promote freedom in Serbia and peace in the Balkans, and this is now represented in their mission statement – to achieve social change with music. Social responsibility, environmental concerns, humanitarian activities and an interest in nurturing the creative industries all remain key festival focuses.
Exit takes place at the Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, from 7-10 July 2022. More at exitfest.org
Between Barcelona and Valencia sits Benicàssim, home for many years to a mid-sized indie and alternative festival that’s long punched above its weight in luring in international names and showcasing local stars, while enjoying a sunkissed coastal setting and laidback vibe. With the music not kicking off until each evening, daytimes are freed up for relaxing on the beach, exploring the local area or taking boat trips, going scuba diving, sailing, windsurfing, cycling and much else besides.
When the evenings do come round, this year’s bill brings together the respective worlds of the UK’s reordered Kasabian and France’s rejuvenated Justice, with eclectic and stellar support from the likes of Tyga, Becky Hill and Two Door Cinema Club.
Benicàssim runs in Benicàssim, Spain from 14-17 July 2022. More at fiberfib.com
Another festival keen to sport its green DNA with 98% of its power coming from renewables and 98% of attendees arriving by bicycle, on foot or by public transport, Øya also notes its 50/50 bill split between male and female artists amongst its progressive credentials.
Lining up local Norwegian talent alongside big international names, summer 2022 perennials Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Florence And The Machine and Gorillaz are joined by local star Aurora, Little Simz, Perfume Genius, Fred Again, Anz, Jenny Hval and Remi Wolf.
Øya takes place in Tøyenparken, Oslo from 9-13 August 2022. More at oyafestivalen.no
After three years away (dratted pandemic), Helsinki’s Flow returns with a line-up that’s at least a match of most. Once again held at Suvilahti, the evocative former power plant lot’s instantly recognisable backdrop sets up in August to welcome over 80,000 music fans, and its easily accessible city centre location allows the possibility of exploring the beautiful capital’s many delights beyond the site before and after.
The three-day bill is headlined by – yes! – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Florence And The Machine and Gorillaz, with everyone from MØ, Burna Boy, Jarv Is, Sigrid, Orchestra Baobab, Fontaines DC, Princess Nokia, Aldous Harding and Jamie xx to a slew of Finnish and Scandinavian acts setting out to make names for themselves. There’s also an art programme, set to be announced soon, which will likely include films, light installations and visual and performing arts.
Flow is held at Suvilahti, Sörnäinen, Helsinki from 12-14 August 2022. More at flowfestival.com
A new festival of wellness-meets-music takes place on the stunning coast of Albania in September as one of three events taking place in the coastal town of Dhërmi. Inner State brings together headline sets from Caribou and Laura Mvula with yoga, meditation, “breathwork sound journeys”, “astral projections”, calisthenics, “lucid dreaming”, and a general focus on fitness and relaxation. It’s a different take on both music festival and beach holiday, one that promises to return you at its end fitter than when you started.
The same site from 8-15 June hosts the dance paradise of Kala (kala.al) with headliner sets from Jocelyn Brown, 808 State and DJ Harvey, while 7-14 September finds the London ION (ionalbania.com) crew taking over with an extended summer party featuring Nina Kravitz, Helena Hauff, Maribou State and Daniel Avery amongst a slate of names scheduled to make you move in intimate beachside stage areas, some only accessible by boat.
Inner State takes place in Dhërmi, Albania from 15-22 September 2022. More at innerstatefestival.com
Rock En Seine
Back in France, and combining a city getaway with a weekend at one of Europe’s leading festivals, Paris’s Rock En Seine sports a four-day line-up by – as it says on the tin – the Seine, in the national estate of Saint-Cloud. And then adds another day, just for the heck of it. Talk about making up for pandemical lost time. The French know their stuff.
First off, there are the main festival headliners running from Thursday to Sunday: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Arctic Monkeys, Stromae and Tame Impala, with the rest of the very strong bill featuring Kraftwerk, James Blake, London Grammar, La Femme, Aurora, Jehnny Beth, IDLES, Beabadoobee and Squid. And then with a day off on Monday (Paris, you might have heard, has quite a few things to keep one busy) you return on the Tuesday for Rage Against The Machine, Run The Jewels, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and more. By the end of it you’ll surely feel it’s entirely normal to wake each day with a festival to go to.
Rock En Seine takes place in Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, Paris on 25-28 and 30 August 2022. More at rockenseine.com
• If you’re in the UK, you might want to take a look at our UK and London festival previews.