• European Festivals Take Centre Stage

European Festivals offer great value for money, quality artists, and some of the world’s most picturesque locations. This is not a comprehensive list, but with summer coming up it’s worth taking a look at some of the best festivals that Europe has to offer. And the nominees are.....

Sziget Festival – Budapest [11 August – 18 August]

This non-stop week long celebration of the arts is set right in the heart of beautiful Budapest on the ‘Island of Freedom’. Boasting 50 program venues and 200 programs daily, Sziget dwarfs many of the other contenders, offering diverse cultural programs such as theatre, circus performances, and exhibitions. For those only interested in the music, this year’s line-up features A-listers from all genres, including Queens of the Stone Age, The Prodigy, Macklemore and Outkast. The bill also features an impressive amount of British talent, with relative new comers such as London Grammar and Jake Bugg rubbing shoulders with more established acts like Manic Street Preachers.

A week long ticket with camping is unbelievable value at around 200 euros (approx. £160), with a Sziget-Budapest city pass costing under £30, which entitles you to free public transport and discounts on Budapest museums/zoos. Summer in Budapest can be dry and very hot, with temperatures reaching over 30oC, so dress appropriately and be prepared to bathe in sun cream for the duration.

Exit – Serbia [10-13 July]

Winner of last year’s ‘Best Major European Festival’, Exit is hosted at what is considered to be one of the best venues in the world, the city of Novi Sad’s Petrovaradin Fortress. The event originally started as a student movement which strived for peace and democracy in Serbia and the Balkans. Now run by a non-profit organisation, Exit still strongly aims to support youth in the Balkans. Announcements are still being made as we speak, but already the bill is plastered with class acts like Damon Albarn, Disclosure, Rudimental, Sub Focus, Gorgon City, and even Gloria Gaynor.

Tickets are roughly £100, but explore the website as there are a lot of packages that include transport, food and accommodation for not a whole lot more. There is also the option of buying a ticket for the Sea Dance festival on Jaz Beach in Budva-Montenegro. This is held a few days later, with Exit providing transfers.

Sonar – Barcelona [12-14 June]

Sonar is a perfect way to kick start the season in the famous Catalonia capital and second largest city in Spain, Barcelona. The focus of the festival is on the relationship between technology and creativity, so expect a lot of cutting edge electronic music and unique audio-visual displays. The event also takes pride in promoting a lot of up and coming artists from around the world, so don’t be put off by the apparent lack of major names as you may just discover a new favourite. Nevertheless, familiar faces in the line-up include Massive Attack, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers and Bonobo.

The weekend admission will cost you around the £160 mark and it’s hard to imagine travel costs to Spain will be extortionate. Just watch out for the notorious pickpockets and bag snatchers in certain areas.

The Garden Festival – Croatia [2-9 July]

Croatia has become one of the go to holiday destinations, and it seems that sprawling beaches and near constant sunshine is also a good recipe for live music events. Situated right on the coast, The Garden festival welcomes a global crowd for some high energy dance acts and DJs across seven nights. A week may seem like a long time, but with crystal clear aquatic waters and tropical islands just a short boat ride away, leaving may provoke some strong emotional resentment towards the pilot.

If you happen to enjoy the company of others the site offers group discounts, if however you don’t want anyone disrupting your personal ‘flow’, tickets will cost around £120.

So there you have it, a few of the best and most affordable European festivals abroad for 2014. One thing to bear in mind is that festivals can attract some unsavoury characters targeting tourists for scams and theft, so do take the proper precautions before you touch down, and keep your wits about you. To get truly prepared for an international adventure, check out some travel advice resources. The Foreign Commonwealth Office website has an entire section dedicated to festivals (https://www.gov.uk/festival-travel-checklist). You can also follow their travel feeds on Twitter (@fcotravel) and Facebook (/fcotravel). Most importantly, go outside of your comfort zone this summer, and experience the best the world has to offer.

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