European Festivals - Festival Week on BTR


The kaZantip Festival in 2007. Image by Wikimedia Commons.

As Madonna sang in one of her most famous hits, “Music makes the people come together.”  During Festival Week on BTR, we are focusing specifically on those occasions in which people come together to listen to their favorite artists, all over the world.

BTR investigated which European festivals are worth booking a flight and taking a few days off from work. Here is a reasoned selection of the ones you can’t afford to miss.


A must-go for all club lovers since 2000, Sensation is an indoors music festival that gathers the best trance, house and electronic artists from all over the world to tour all year long in a growing number of international venues—13 shows in 13 different venues are scheduled in 2011.

The festival was once known as Sensation White or as Sensation Black, depending on which of the two colors was chosen as a theme for the show. The choice of the color scheme dictated a strict dress-code for guests, who were asked to come dressed in full white or black to blend in with the dramatic, monochromatic scenes characterizing the party.

The festival is now articulated into four main theme parties: ‘The Ocean of White’ (which still keeps the all white dress-code), ‘Wicked Wonderland,’ ‘Celebrate Life’ and ‘Innerspace.’ The last of which is the newest in the Sensation family, premiering in Amsterdam on July the 2nd (and already sold out). Full schedule, ticket information and venues list can be found here:

Isle of Wight

Started in 1968 and closed three years later after having earned the title of “Britain’s Woodstock,” the 1970 festival featured the last performance of Jimi Hendrix. Reportedly, the island was so packed the British Parliament passed the “Isle of Wight Act” to ban the festival. Luckily enough, the ban was revoked nine years ago and the festival’s thirteenth edition will take place at the Seaclose Park (Newport, Isle of Wight) on June 10, 11 and 12.

The line-up is juicy: Kings of Leon, Kaiserchiefs, Foo Fighters and Kasabian will be performing, together with Joan Jett, Manic Street Preachers, The Courteneers, We Are Scientists, Pixie Lott, Beady Eye and Pulp, just to mention a few of the main acts.


If you’re into Metal, you definitely want to attend Sonisphere.

It’s only been three years since the first Sonisphere Festival took place in six different locations across Europe (The Netherlands, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Germany and the UK), but the fest is already famous as the largest touring heavy metal and hard rock festival in the world.

With a little help from Metallica, who liked the idea from the beginning and helped curate the festival since its first season, Sonisphere’s music palette is hand crafted for metal-heads.

The festival will tour 12 countries this year, including Italy, Turkey, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Greece.

This year’s Sonisphere will open in Warsaw on June 10 and close in Madrid on July 16. Some of the big names in the line-up are Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Metallica, Guano Apes, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper. Information and detailed line-ups for each venue can be found here:

Montreux Jazz Festival

Founded in 1967 by Claude Nobs, at the time an employee at the Montreux Office for Tourism with a passion for good music, the Montreux Jazz Festival has become an institution for jazz lovers all over the world. After forty-four years of hosting great music, the little town of Montreux, Switzerland is now a world famous stage having featured artists such as Ray Charles, Miles Davis, David Bowie and Prince.

The festival lasts for a couple of weeks and most of the events in the program are free of charge. This year’s festival will take place from July 2 to 17 and the line-up features Carlos Santana, B.B. King, Chick Korea, Liza Minnelli, Mogwai, Sting, Ziggy Marley and Paul Simon among many others.


There’s only one way to describe Glastonbury: it is massive. Whereas the other rock festivals mentioned so far gather an unbelievable number of great acts and scatter them all over Europe, Glastonbury works in exactly the opposite by concentrating the musical extravaganza all in one place.

This year’s edition of the festival will take place from June 22 to 26. It will host five main stages for music, but as the Festival focuses traditionally on performing arts in general, Glastonbury will also feature other kinds of performances.

The audience will be given the chance to wander around and choose between a Circus area, a campground (called ‘Strummerville’), an area dedicated to the green movement and open air activities aimed at raising environmental sensibility in the audience (‘Green Fields’), a Dance Field, a kids-dedicated-area (Kidzfield) and much more.

To meet all kinds of musical tastes, Glastonbury will also feature a number of side stages dedicated to specific music genres, like ‘Bourbon Street,’ which recreates a New Orleans blues club, or the ‘West Holts’ area for dubstep, techno and underground music.

Another highlight of the Festival is the Shangri-La, an after-hours “pleasure city” with a storyline that changes each year for a completely immersive partying experience.

The line-up is too packed to be true, and if you’re wondering if your favorite band is going to perform, there is a 90% possibility they actually are.

Italia Wave Love Festival

Italia Wave Love Festival takes place in Lecce, Puglia, one of the most interesting locales of the boot shaped country as far as music and creativity are concerned, and one of the most fascinating in terms of natural beauty. For all the cool kids in Europe, Salento (the area where Lecce is located) is the new place to be during the Summer.

This year marks the 25th edition of the festival, which will run from July 14 to July 17.  It features four stages divided per genre: a main stage for the established acts, a ‘Psycho’ stage for the new comers, ‘Wake Up’ for warm up performances before the night falls, ‘Elettrowave’ for electronic music and digital arts. The festival also offers side events: ‘Cult Wave,’ a series of cultural events and workshops that take place in Lecce, and ‘Sport Wave,’ which features activities for the fitness addicts and the open-air-fun lovers.

The line-up includes international and Italian artists, and great importance is given to “Italia Wave Band,” a contest for unsigned bands that each year are given a chance to share the stage with world famous artists such as Lou Reed, Kaiserchiefs, Paolo Nutini and Jimmy Cliff.


kaZantip may take place in Ukraine, however, the entire festival claims to be its own country. In fact, kaZantip is a self proclaimed republic that has its own Constitution, prints passports (or tickets), and allows people to get married during the four week duration of the craziest and longest festival in Europe.

Since 1992, kaZantip has brought more than 150,000 people every year to Popovka, in the Krimean Peninsula, in a 60,000 square meters resort on the beach that is the territory of this non-existent country of music and endless parties.

kaZantip celebrates its own “New Year’s Eve” on July 31st and has its own cultural traditions, such as giving free passes for guests who come to the party with a yellow suitcase. (A Russian tale about a man bringing happiness to people in a yellow suitcase is the reason behind this odd custom.)

This year’s kaZantip will pre-open on July 30th, the opening ceremony will take place on August the 8th and the closing day will be August the 20th, which suggests that kaZantip is more than a festival—it’s a month long holiday. Partying for a month and not being hungover when September arrives takes skill. Be prepared.

Written by: Francesca Giuliani