12 great music festivals to attend in 2023

Summer is finally here, and that means festival season is about to kick off.

With some of the world’s biggest artists coming to Europe this year, there are plenty of reasons to start planning a summer break around one of the following events.

From the biggest rock and electronic festivals to jazz and world music, here’s a list of the best festivals in Europe to attend in 2023.


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Positivus Festival

Where? Riga, Latvia
When? July 14–15

If you love music, arts, and culture, you won’t want to miss the Positivus Festival in Riga. Every summer, this amazing event transforms the green Lucavsala Island into a paradise of sound and creativity.

The Positivus Festival in Riga transforms the green Lucavsala Island into a paradise of sound and creativity

Photo by Krists Luhaers on Flickr

You’ll get to see some of the hottest artists in the world perform live (Sam Smith, Metro Boomin, and Alt-J are the headliners for 2023) and explore the Positivus Bazaar, the festival’s famous marketplace selling unique and beautiful items to take home as souvenirs.

Explore the Positivus Bazaar - the festival’s famous marketplace, to buy souvenirs

Photo by Krists Luhaers on Flickr

The Positivus Festival started in 2007 and has since cemented itself as one of Europe’s best festivals, regularly bringing some of the biggest acts in the world to the Baltics.


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Flow Festival

Where? Helsinki, Finland
When? August 11–13

Emerging from humble origins as an intimate jazz and soul gathering in 2004, the Flow Festival in Helsinki has steadily blossomed into a prominent force on the music festival circuit.

The Flow Festival in Helsinki are urban boutique city festival

Photo by Petri Anttila on Flickr

This summer, Flow promises an extraordinary lineup featuring huge artists such as Blur, Wizkid, Lorde, Tove Lo, and more, all of them descending on Suvilahti, a former industrial area that’s now a cultural centre.

Enjoy delicious food and restaurants at the Flow festival

Photo by Kim Öhman on Flickr

In addition to the music, there are also captivating art installations, delicious food and restaurants on site, and an unwavering commitment to sustainability. Flow proudly holds the distinction of being one of the world’s first carbon-neutral festivals.


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Where? Boom, Belgium
When? July 21–23 & 28–30

If you love EDM, you know Tomorrowland. It’s the ultimate festival for electronic music fans, with the biggest names gracing the festival’s stages since its inception in 2005.

In 2023, the 360,000 tickets sold out in record time, so mark your calendars already for 2024.

Tomorrowland is the ultimate festival for electronic music fans

Photo on Instagram

And for those who think it’s just a party, think again; this community takes great care of each other, and the festival has a sustainability angle that encourages good environmental practices as well.

Fireworks at the end of Tomorrowland 2019

Photo on Unsplash

For past lineups, you need just think of the most famous DJs and electronic artists in the world – from Avicii to Tiësto to Swedish House Mafia, Tomorrowland is where the magic happens. This is without a doubt one of the best music festivals in Europe.


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Sziget Festival

Where? Budapest, Hungary
When? August 10–15

Taking place on Óbuda Island in Budapest over six days in August, the Sziget Festival has become one of the best music festivals in Europe.

Born in 1993, Sziget was inspired by the hopeful spirit that enveloped Hungary after its transition to democracy in 1989.

The Sziget Festival is held on Óbuda Island in Budapest

Photo on Instagram

This year marks the festival’s 30th anniversary, and it’s set to celebrate with a bang: headliners include the likes of Billie Eilish, David Guetta, Florence and The Machine, Imagine Dragons, Sam Fender, and more.

The vibe here is inclusive, friendly, and alternative, and the multi-genre lineup draws eager festivalgoers from around the world.

At the Sziget Festival, you will find various activities, from circus and theatre performances to foam parties and art installations

Photo on Sziget festival

The island is completely transformed into the festival site, boasting around 60 stages, with plenty of other things going on as well, from circus and theatre performances to foam parties and art installations.


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Exit Festival

Where? Novi Sad, Serbia
When? July 6–9

Probably the most popular festival in the Balkans region, Exit is a captivating event that offers a musical smorgasbord spanning genres from tech house and ska to hardcore punk and rock.

The annual Exit Festival is held at the picturesque Petrovaradin Fortress

Photo by EXIT photo team on Flickr

This year’s headliners include the legendary acts Prodigy and Skrillex, who will be joined by a variety of musical acts that span every genre imaginable.

As such, it’s a festival that attracts a varied crowd from around the world, but it does so in style; Exit is a two-time winner of the prestigious Best Major European Festival award.

Exit festival is probably the most famous festival in the Balkans region

Photo by EXIT photo team on Flickr

Originating as a student movement, the festival played a significant role in unifying the Balkans after a decade of division. There are still undercurrents of activism today, and the event has attracted millions of visitors since its inception in 2000.


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Nice Jazz Festival

Where? Nice, France
When? July 18–21

It was in Nice, in 1948, that the world’s first jazz festival took place, headlined by one of the greats, Louis Armstrong.

Since then, the Nice Jazz Festival has gone from strength to strength, an explosive jazz extravaganza taking the French Riviera in its grasp every summer.

The Nice Jazz Festival are the world’s first jazz festival, from 1948

Photo by Veran Inlien on Nice jazz festival

The city is the perfect setting for a jazz festival; there’s something timeless about both the genre and the location, the warm summer air filled with lilting melodies, the velvety tones of trumpets and guitar, the sultry pianos, and the echo of drums.

The Nice Jazz Festival going on two stages that guarantee that you will be able to enjoy every performance you want

Photo by David NOUV on Nice jazz festival

This particular event is also surprisingly intimate, with only two stages and plenty of time to see the acts you want to see.

Still going strong in 2023, the Nice Jazz Festival is a testament to the enduring allure of the genre.


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Mad Cool

Where? Madrid, Spain
When? July 6–8

The Mad Cool Festival in Madrid – a huge celebration of rock, indie, and electronic music – has swiftly earned its place among the elite festivals of Europe.

Despite only being around since 2016, it has attracted some of the biggest names in music, from Metallica and The Who to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Arctic Monkeys.

Metallica's concert at the Mad Cool Festival in Madrid in 2022

Photo by Paco Poyato on Instagram

Picture a passionate crowd basking in the Spanish sun, embracing the frenetic energy of some of the world’s best artists. Impeccable sound quality amplifies the impact of each performance, while the festival’s sold-out full-weekend tickets testify to its irresistible allure.

The Mad Cool Festival combines impeccable sound quality from some of the world’s best artists and a passionate crowd

Photo on Instagram

With a unique late start time to the daily schedule, attendees can explore Madrid’s culture, nightlife, and architecture before the music takes centre stage.


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NOS Alive

Where? Lisbon, Portugal
When? July 6–8

Taking place by the river on the outskirts of Lisbon, NOS Alive offers an immersive and captivating blend of vibrant festival energy and urban exploration.

The entrance of the NOS Alive festival in Lisbon

Photo on Facebook

This esteemed music festival has showcased an electrifying lineup each year since it began, with some major heavyweights in the rock and indie world gracing the stage, including Bob Dylan, Radiohead, and The Strokes.

But those genres aren’t all that’s on offer here. NOS Alive also extends into genres such as pop, hip-hop, R&B, disco, and house, further drawing enthusiastic crowds from around the globe.

NOS Alive - one of Portugal's biggest and most popular music festivals every year

Photo on Facebook

The festival’s beautiful location on the banks of the Tagus River near the Atlantic Ocean is also incredible. Within ten minutes, you can be exploring Lisbon’s historical centre, lazing on a nearby beach, or surfing the world-class swell.


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Musikfest Berlin

Where? Berlin, Germany
When? August 26 – September 18

For something completely different to most other festivals on this list, we have Musikfest Berlin. This festival is for fans of classical music, with the three-week event ushering in the Berlin concert season as summer fades.

Music Festival Berlin - festival for fans of classical music

Photo by Martin Walz on Berliner festspiele

Chamber orchestras, choral ensembles, soloists, and symphony orchestras all take to the stage at two venues in Berlin.

Each year there’s a different theme, and the performances tend to focus on rare and unusual works, both from the modern day and those forgotten in history.

Andris Nelsons - one of the performances you can experience in the 2023 festival

Photo by Marco Borggreve on Berliner festspiele

Travellers to Berlin for the festival can also expect other interesting events to go to, such as art exhibitions and professional panels.


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Way Out West

Where? Gothenburg, Sweden
When? August 10–12

Arguably Sweden’s most highly acclaimed music festival, Way Out West is a stunning music extravaganza taking place in the serene woodlands of Gothenburg.

Way Out West is a stunning music extravaganza in the serene woodlands of Gothenburg

Photo by Way Out West

Since its inception in 2007, this captivating event has welcomed renowned artists such as Kanye West, Stormzy, and Florence and The Machine, and the 2023 lineup promises nothing short of brilliance, with appearances by Blur, Wizkid, and Caroline Polachek.

From hip-hop to rock and indie, the festival delivers a diverse musical experience, while the enchanting location in Gothenburg’s Slottsskogen lets you immerse yourself in the beautiful nature and bright summer evenings in Sweden.

At the Way Out West festival, you will feel a strong, sustainable element - vegetarian food and an eco-friendly environment

Photo by Way Out West

The vibe here also has a strong sustainable element: food is vegetarian, and the festival has been awarded the environmental ISO 20121 certification thanks to its eco-friendly efforts.

At night, the festival continues across venues in Gothenburg.


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Calas Mijas

Where? Malaga, Spain
When? August 31 – September 2

While summer may be ending for other parts of Europe, the sun still sizzles in southern Spain, the perfect backdrop for the Calas Mijas music festival in Malaga.

2023 marks only the second year for this music festival, but it’s in good hands; the creators are the same people who are behind the famous Bilbao BBK festival in northern Spain.

The Calas Mijas music festival in Malaga, where DJs play late into the night

Photo on Calas Mijas

The vibe here is infectious, a bit of a beachside party, with lots of dancing and DJs playing late into the night after the day’s acts have finished up on the stage.

Nestled between the mountains and coast of Andalucía, with Malaga only a stone’s throw away, this is a great choice for capturing the feeling of an endless summer; especially when you consider the 2023 headliners Arcade Fire, The Strokes, and Florence and The Machine.

Extend your summer in Malaga at the Calas Mijas music festival

Photo on Calas Mijas


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Méra World Music Festival

Where? Méra, Transylvania, Romania
When? August 3–6

For something truly special, we have the captivating Méra Festival, a small event that abounds with local pride.

Nestled within the heart of Transylvania in Romania, the quaint village of Méra reveals its enchanting secrets with a big focus on world music, the different cultures harmoniously coming together through music to intertwine with the humble village setting and Transylvanian culture.

Get to know the different cultures in the heart of Transylvania in Romania at Méra Festival

Photo on Mera world music

This is an intimate festival, with only around 12 to 14 artists taking to the stage in the small, barn-like venue each year. And the organisers are committed to keeping it that way, much to the delight of fans who cherish the atmosphere – this is truly something special.

Méra Festival - an intimate festival, with only around 12 to 14 artists taking to the stage

Photo on Mera world music

The village itself, known for its vibrant Hungarian heritage, picturesque old homes, and folk traditions, is just as captivating as the music.


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Cover photo on Unsplash
Text by James Taylor

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