If you’re a regular on the British festival scene, you’ll know the closest you’re likely to get to a tan while enjoying a summer of fun in the UK is from mud splashes up the back of your legs. However, the rest of Europe tends to actually get some sun in that elusive season between spring and autumn, tempting many rain-weary would-be Glastonbury-goers to waiver a weekend glugging cinder at Worthy Farm for seven days sipping sangria on the sand. If you opt for a European beach festival however, you can get your yearly dose of Vitamin D and world-class music in one neat little mud-free package.
Whether you want to see Blur in Barcelona, Crazy P in Croatia or Depeche Mode in Portugal, there’s plenty of great beach festivals out there worth the effort of dancing in sand. Check out this PAAM volunteer management guide to the beast European beach festivals of 2013 for our pick of the bunch.
Primavera Sound Festival 2013
Barcelona (Spain), 22-26 May 2013, EUR 145.00
For your earliest 2013 European beach festival fix, head to Barcelona in May for the Primavera Sound Festival. With six outdoor stages, some of which are right on the sand, and one of the biggest auditoriums in the whole of Europe, this fun and fresh music festival feels more like an exotic city in carnival season than the mud-caked muddles we’re used to in Britain. The festival – which started with just 8,000 attendees in 2001 but reached a capacity of 150,000 last year – claims a commitment to quality across all genres, with a particular focus on rock, pop, new talent, electronic and dance music. This year’s varied vets include Wu-Tang Clan, Blur, Phoenix, My Bloody Valentine, Tame Impala, Hot Chip, Crystal Castles, The Vaccines, The Knife, Shellac of North America and Simian Mobile Disco – it don’t get much more eclectic than that!
Hovefestivalen (Hove Festival) 2013
Tromoya Island (Norway), 2-5 July 2013, NOK 2,500 (approx. £276)
Hovefestivalen, also known as Hove Festival to us uncultured Brits, mixes international acts with Norwegian bands in a unique setting on an island outside Arendal city in Norway. This is the best European festival for those hardcore types that think sleeping is for wimps, as the sun only sets for two hours each night across the five-day party period. The festival became Norway’s biggest in its debut year of 2007, but still boasts some very impressive green credentials and an inviting family-friendly environment. Set to play at Hovefestivalen 2013 are Calvin Harris, Kings of Leon, Volbeat, Phoenix, AlunaGeorge, Modestep, Crystal Castles, Enter Shikari, Asking Alexandria, Bullet For My Valentine and Flatbush Zombies.
The Garden Festival 2013
Tisno (Croatia), 3-10 July 2013, £105
With an onsite apartment village and boutique camping on a pine tree-covered peninsula, The Garden Festival in Tisno, Croatia, offers the ultimate in luxury beach festival fun. The Dalmatian town of Tisno straddles the mainland and the stunning island of Murter, linked by a 20m bridge, with revellers able to swim in the sparkling Adriatic Sea, doze on the sand and dance under the stars at this incredible party complex. Starting with just a few hundred attendees in 2006, word of this out-of-this-world festival spread quickly until capacity reached 3,000 just two years later. The organisers have now promised to slim down to a crowd of 2,000 to keep the event as intimate as possible. Live dance bands and DJs, including Crazy P, Paqua, Auntie Flo and Outboxx, are due to appear this year across the two weekends.
Bilbao BBK Live Festival 2013
Bilbao (Spain), 11-13 July 2013, £85
Overlooking the north coast of Spain on the outskirts of Bilbao, the eighth BBK Live Festival is set to attract 40,000 party people to its four main stages, two dance tents and a pop tent. Bagging run-of-the-mill 2013 early confirmees Green Day, Kings of Leon, Editors, Two Door Cinema Club and Depeche Mode, the festival is also offering a few breaks from the norm in the form of The Hives, ALT-J, Toy, Delorentos and Delorean.
Optimus Alive Festival 2013
Lisbon (Portugal), 12-14 July 2013, £103
Optimus Alive Festival is the perfect European beach-city festival highbred, sitting halfway between the Portuguese capital of Lisbon and Ericeira, one of the country’s top surfing spots. This sun-by-day, stomp-by-night event offers a world-class international line-up, along with fancy camping complete with hot showers and even a swimming pool. The music starts at 17:00 each day, with this year’s hot tickets including Green Day, Depeche Mode, Two Door Cinema Club, Biffy Clyro, Editors and Kings of Leon.
Internacional de Benicassim Festival 2013
Benicassim (Spain), 18 -21 July 2013, £150
Situated on an unbeatable site within walking distance of a huge water park and the beach, the International Benicàssim Festival is pulling out all the stops for its 19th year. The festival has something for all tastes and fancies, with live music spreading across the spectrum from pop, rock and indie to dance DJs and experimental projects. There is also non-musical entertainment in the form of film, fashion, dance, theatre and art. Headliners so far confirmed for the four-day festival are The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age, who will be flanked by the almost-as-legendary likes of Azealia Banks, Chiefs, Hurts, Aluna George, China Rats, Deap Vally, Echo Lake and Rizzle Kicks.
Sziget Festival 2013
Budapest (Hungary), 7-12 August 2013, £170
Starting in 1993 as an outlet to showcase Hungarian artists, Sziget Festival has grown into one of Europe’s most exciting music and arts festival. Given a firm thumbs up last year by none other than festival pharaoh Michael Eavis – who said Sziget is: “a fantastic festival, more colourful and probably a lot cleaner than Glastonbury” – the event now attracts 400,000 daily visitors, half of who come from outside the country. Thousands of international artists will make their way to the Budai-sziget island in the River Danube this year to play across the event’s 60 stages, while arts, cabaret, literary presentations and dance will fill every other colourful corner of the unique site. Confirmed so far are Blur, Azealia Banks, Hadouken!, The Bots, Boys Noize, Triggerfinger, Oscar Mulero, Nicky Romero, Parov Stelar, Deichkind, Die Arzte and Seeed.
Outlook Festival 2013
Pula (Croatia), 29 August – 1 September 2013, £145
Set in the historic and beautiful beachside setting of Fort Punta Christo in Croatia, the sixth Outlook Festival is the 2013 European festival of choice for underground dance music snobs.
Billed as the largest Bass music and Soundsystem Culture festival in Europe, organisers claim: “When we talk about bass music, we don’t mean the bastardised commercial version currently being sold to children, we mean underground dancefloor music, whether it be house, techno, dubstep, reggae, dub, hiphop, garage, grime, electronica…” as Duke Ellington put it, “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind”.
Super-popular with artists as well as fans, Outlook 2013 is so far winning the race for the longest confirmed line-up list of the year. On the bill already are Goldie, Mr Scruff, Shy Fx, Ltj Bukem, Andy C, Taskforce, Talib Kweli and Jay Electronica, plus a bunch of other acts that we’re not cool enough to have heard of! Sister festival Dimensions 2013 takes place at the same location the weekend after, with a more techno-heavy and deeper electronic vibe. The Dimensions 2013 lineup includes Mr Scruff, Model 500 and Tony Allen.