By Luke Caddel

Sziget

When: 6th-13th August 2012

Where: Óbudai Island, Budapest, Hungary

Line-up: The Stone Roses, Snoop Lion, The xx, Friendly Fires, Steve Aoki, Magnetic Man

Amongst the 379 thousand people who visited Sziget’s 20th anniversary this year, Glastonbury founder, Michael Eavis praised the festival for being even more colorful than this event.

Taking place on Óbudai, an island in the middle of the Danube, Sziget is one of the largest festivals in Europe and most recent winner of “The Best European Major Festival” award.

It feels like paradise, and I soon found myself immersed in all that is weird and wonderful about this seven day festival. I was taught the eccentric art of Hungarian folk dance, watched the heavy-metal marching band pass on multiple occasions, and experienced a group of Rabbis dancing to legitimate Jewish disco. In the main arena Snoop Dogg was reincarnated as the reggae artist Snoop Lion, and the Stones Roses performed a stellar come-back set.

The atmosphere is friendly and the drinks are ridiculously cheap – a pint of lager or a glass of wine and soda will put you back a mere £1.08. But of course, there’s still the £190 ticket price; add that to a set of flights and you will have still managed to burn a deep hole in your pocket.

Sonar

When: 14th-16th June 2012

Where: Barcelona, Spain

Line-up: New Order, deadmau5, Hot Chip, Flying Lotus, Nicolas Jaar, Azari & III

Sonar is a festival that combines music with multimedia art, to create a completely unique, and revolutionary experience. In Barcelona, Sonar’s program is divided between the concerts and exhibitions that occur in the day (Sonar by Day) and the awe-inspiring, headline performances at night (Sonar by Night).

The festival originates from Barcelona, but due to the driving force behind it’s success in former years, Sonar has expanded with events now being held across the world in London, New York, Sao Paulo, Chicago and Tokyo.

Sonar is a far more relaxing experience than any contemporary music festival, but there are still plenty of opportunities to party. It is clever, cutting-edge, and a perfect place to lose yourself within.

Hideout

When: 29th June-1st July 2012

Where: Zrce Beach, Island of Pag, Croatia

Line-up: Chase & Status, SBTRKT, Sub Focus, Four Tet & Caribou, Maya Jane Coles, Tiga

The first Hideout festival was held last year to both critical and commercial success. This year the festival was a complete sell-out again, thoroughly cementing itself as an outstanding entrant to the summer festival scene.

Hideout is set in the stunning beachside location of the Isle of Pag in Croatia, where the spectacular weather and breathtaking scenery add to an impressive line-up of modern dance music.

Pukkelpop

When: 16th-18th August 2012

Where: Kempische Steenweg, Belgium

Line-up: Björk, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Jamie Woon, Lykke Li, Hot Chip

Pukkelpop continues to succeed where other contemporary music festivals have failed. The festival is a unique and encompassing experience, and year after year the vast international audience that arrive in Belgium, embrace the event with heightened optimism and an open-mind towards new and exciting music.
This year Foo Fighters, The Stone Roses and Icelandic, signer-songwriter Bjork provided the headline performances on the main stage, whilst across the site other punters reveled in the eclectic eccentricity of experimental house artist Four Tet and electro/synthpop, seven-piece Hot Chip.

The campsite is still too small to cover the vast intake of festival-goers, and tents appear to cover square inch of land available. However, with live music available throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning – who needs sleep?

Outlook

When: 30th August-3rd September 2012

Where: Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia

Line-up: Fat Freddy’s Drop, Skream, Pearson Sound, Loefah, Pinch, Oneman

Outlook is the biggest bass music festival in Europe. Established in 2008 in an abandoned fort on the coast of Pula in North-West Croatia, the festival uses it’s unique location to it’s advantage. Stages are erected in various chambers and tunnels of the abandoned ruins, where architectural acoustics help to enhance the overall experience.

The festival also hosts a series of swashbuckling boat parties, where artists from the festival play to an intimate crowd whilst sailing around the coastline. Performances this year included Fat Freddy’s Drop, Skream and Bristol-based dubstep and grime artist, Joker.

Outlook was given the title of ‘Best Overseas Festival’ in 2011, and this year with double the capacity and a number of new stages, the festival is bigger than ever.

Melt!

When: 12th-15th July 2012

Where: Ferropolis, Germany

Line-up: M83, Justice, Lana Del Rey, Modeselektor, Rustie, Twin Shadow

Did you ever want to dance in an industrial graveyard, amidst colossal machines with disco balls, lasers and pyrotechnics? Melt! festival ticks all these boxes. It is an industrial fairground; a love child between Glastonbury’s Arcadia and the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Mad Max.

Unfortunately, the music is always cut-off too early, which seems unnecessary considering that the festival is located in the middle of nowhere. The campsite is alluring though, so you can expect a far superior night’s sleep than you would at the aforementioned, Pukkelpop.