Europe’s best Glastonbury alternatives

So. The big day has come and gone. In less than 20 minutes, 200,000 tickets for Glastonbury Festival have flown off the shelves and into the hands of lucky punters. If you’re anything like us you’ve missed your alarm, overslept and, sadly, missed out on tickets for this year’s bash. But never fear, RIOT is here to bring you the Glasto alternatives that will help you combat the mid-morning blues.

Picture this: all of the joy that you experience during festival season; big-name headliners with confetti cannons, forming weekend-long friendships with all walks of life and the little-known acts that steal the show. Now imagine – if you can – all of these sensations without the flooded tent, trench foot and rainproof poncho flapping in the wind.

Catapulting you away from the shores of the UK, to the sun-filled fields of Europe, we take a look at some of the continent’s biggest festivals, alongside some of its hidden treasured which are sure to lift you out of that glasto-less slump.

With presale tickets slowly coming out and flights still cheaper than a London pint, now is as good a time as any to jump ship to an overseas festival. So grab your flip-flops, sun cream and tents and catch your favourite acts: continental style.

*Sunshine not guaranteed

Name:  Primavera Sound 

Where:  Barcelona, Spain 

When:  30th May – 3rd June 

An undisputed titan of the European festival scene, Barcelona’s Primavera Sound needs little introduction. Famed for cherry-picking some of the very best talent on offer rather than overwhelming its 200,000+ visitors, Primavera’s 20 stages play host to over 250 of the biggest artists, in and around a site that stretches over 187,000 m².

With a lineup that never disappoints, this year’s edition is no different, with Arctic Monkeys, Björk and The National being joined in sunny Catalonia by the likes of Lorde, Haim, Fever Ray, CHVRCHES, Beach House, Warpaint, Lykke Li Deerhunter, Father John Misty, Belle & Sebastian, Ariel Pink, The Breeders, Spiritualized, Ty Segall and The Freedom Band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Panda Bear, Vince Staples, Tyler, The Creator… we could go on, but we don’t feel we need to hear – Primavera is quite clearly worth the time of anyone – Glasto tickets or no – who likes their cities sunny and their festival lineups behemoth.

Find out what else Primavera Sound has to offer with our Festival Profile

Name:  Mad Cool 

Where:  Madrid, Spain 

When:  11 – 13 July 

Taking over Madrid in July, Mad Cool is set to bring a massive lineup to the Spanish capital. Having seen Arctic MonkeysQueens Of The Stone Age, Depeche Mode, Jack White and Pearl Jam headline alongside Wolf Alice, Nine Inch Nails, Tame Impala, Kasabian, Snow Patrol, Fleet Foxes, MGMT and hundreds of other acts last summer, Mad Cool has everyone covered from psychedelia to screamo, and 2019 is set to bring a bigger, better lineup to the Spanish capital.

Mad Cool Festival takes place in the Espacio Mad Cool, Valdebebas-Iferma, Madrid on July 11th 12th and 13th. With its immense lineup, cheap connections to the UK, and even cheaper booze it’s no surprise the Spanish festival has sold-out well before the gates open – so best act now before the weekender sells out.

For more info, tickets and everything else visit

Name:  Roskilde 

Where:  Roskilde, Denmark 

When:  29 June – 6 July 

If all you want from a festival is mud and a great lineup, then Roskilde might be the festival for you. Set in the Danish town of Roskilde, the Scandinavian festival is infamous for its mudbaths, beer and a fiercely competitive camping system (just see below), the festival has also seen lineups in the past few years that rival Glastonbury. Featuring the famous orange feeling – you have to be there to believe it – the festival creates an atmosphere that’s hard to beat. One that will keep you coming back year after year, no matter what.

Kicking off this year’s lineup is Travis Scott alongside Scarlet Pleasure (DK), Testament (US), Alma (FI), Blawan (UK), Ghetto Kumbé (CO), Full of Hell & The Body (US), Julia Holter (US), Nicola Cruz (EC), Parquet Courts (US), Rival Consoles (UK) and Tirzah (UK). With 168 more acts to be announced, we’re sure Roskidle will once again be a party not to be missed.

This year’s Roskilde Festival takes place from 29th June to 6th July on the outskirts of the Danish capital, Copenhagen. Spanning eight days, the non-profit festival sees some of the biggest and best artists around descend onto Denmark. Tickets for this year’s edition go on sale on October 30th, head over to the Roskilde website to find out how to get your hands on them.

Find out what last year’s Roskilde had to offer with our Festival Profile

Name:  Oya Festival 

Where:  Oslo, Norway 

When:  7 – 11 August 

Set slap bang in the middle of Oslo, Øya Festival has seen some of the biggest and best acts around grace Norway’s shores for the past 10+ years. More intimate than its other European counterparts, the festival sees only a few thousand people pass through its gates, but in doing so creates one of the most incredible atmospheres the scandi scene has to offer.

With last year having seen Arctic Monkeys showcase their inimitable swagger, Arcade Fire do what they do best and blow the crowd away, and Lykke Li return home after a five year hiatus, Øya 2019 has a lot to live up to, but we’re sure it’ll manage.

Name:  Lollapalooza Berlin 

Where:  Berlin, Germany 

When:  7 – 8 September 

Celebrating its fifth birthday in 2019, Lollapalooza Berlin is no doubt going to be one to remember next year. Bringing the name of one of America’s biggest festivals to Europe, the German outfit has quickly established itself as a priority for music lovers both on the continent and further afield, and provides a perfect end to any summer. 

Taking over Berlin’s Olympiastadion, the two day-er last year saw incredible headline sets from The Weeknd and Germany’s own Kraftwerk, supported by Dua Lipa, The National, David Guetta, Casper, Imagine Dragons, Liam Gallagher, Years & Years, Wolf Alice and The Wombats.

With tickets for 2019 not yet released, you can keep an eye on them by signing up to the Lolla Mailing list, or you can whet your appetite with a glimpse of what 2018 had to offer below.


Name:  NOS Alive 

Where:  Lisbon, Portugal 

When:  11th – 13th July 

NOS Alive has been one of Europe’s leading festivals for a number of years now. Having set up shop in 2007, near Lisbon’s downtown district and 15 minutes from the beach, their first lineup gave the spotlight to two up-and-coming independent artists by the names of Pearl Jam and The White Stripes

Raising the bar for festivals everywhere since its inception, NOS Alive was on form again last year, with Arctic Monkeys, Pearl Jam and Queens Of The Stone Age taking headline spots, accompanied by support from messrs Jack White, Franz Ferdinand, CHVRCHES, The National, Two Door Cinema Club, Nine Inch Nails, Wolf Alice, Khalid, Jain, The Kooks and more.

With tickets for this year’s festival starting off at €139, there’s no doubt you’ll once again be getting an immense lineup for next to nothing. For more info on NOS Alive head over to their webiste.

Name:  Rock En Seine 

Where:  Paris, France 

When:  23th – 25th August 

Set in Paris’ city centre, Rock En Seine is a gem of the European festival calendar. With an epic mix of hard-hitting headliners and incredible French artists waiting to be discovered, the Parisian three day-er is not one to be ignored.

Taking the first headline slot for 2019 are The Cure, who will no doubt bring one of their famous three-hour sets to the Parisian festival.

Just a 20-minute metro ride from Gare Du Nord, or an easy journey from any of Paris’ airports, Rock En Seine might be the most accessible of the European festivals.

Having seen headline sets from the likes of The xx, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Flume, Liam Gallagher and many more in the past three years, there’s no doubt this year’s edition will be one not to be missed.

With tickets for 2019 set to go on sale on November 7th, you can keep up with all the latest developments for Rock En Seine here.

Name:  Sziget 

Where:  Budapest, Hungary 

When:  7th – 14th August 

Sziget main stage

Making Glastonbury look like a quaint family gathering, Sziget festival last year saw over half a million people pass through as it took over its own island in the heart of Budapest. With a lineup that matches its immense scale, the festival spans an entire week, bringing seven headliners, and thousands of acts to the Hungarian capital.

Having named Ed Sheeran as its first headliner for 2019, and with many, many more acts to come, last year’s lineup should be reason enough to start planning next summer’s trip to eastern Europe.

With tickets going for peanuts compared to what you’d find here in the UK, Sziget might be one of the best bang-for-your-buck festivals around, and what’s more, with its own beaches, private island and surprisingly short walk right into Budapest’s city centre, there really is nothing else quite like this European festival giant.

Find out more about Sziget with our Festival Profile.

Name:  Bilbao BBK Live 

Where:  Bilbao, Spain 

When:  11th – 13th July 

Set atop Bilbao’s idyllic Kobetamendi hill, and overlooking adjacent mountains, Bilbao BBK Live has hosted some of music’s biggest names since its inception in 2006.

Just a short flight away from London, BBK Live sees music run from mid-afternoon to the early hours. Admittedly a gruelling weekender, the festival will see you come back exhausted but rearing for next year. And isn’t there something to be said for being exhausted in the midst of the Basque heat rather than whatever the British weather decides to do during Glastonbury?

Headlining last year’s edition was an incredible trio of London acts: Florence + The Machine, Gorillaz and The XX, all topped a mouth-watering lineup which also included Childish Gambino, Alt-J, Bomba Estereo, Cigarettes After Sex, The Chemical Brothers, Friendly Fires, Jungle, Noel Gallagher, and Yonaka, to name but a few.

Find out more about what BBK Live has to offer on the BBK Live website.

So there you have it. Glastonbury tickets may already have passed us by in their customarily frantic blur, but all that really does is give you an excuse to jet off to sunnier climbs, work on the tan, and catch all the action Glasto has to offer in some of the most idyllic spots the continent has to offer. Being in Europe has never looked so tempting…

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