European summer festivals are epic. They are arguably the largest, longest, most drug and sex filled, multi-cultural parties in the world. There is so much drinking and fornicating going on that no doubt thousands and thousands of babies are conceived there each year. If this is one of the EU’s population schemes to promote a more unified Europe, then it is definitely working.
However, while the prospects of inebriated sweaty tent sex is a big draw for many, the main attraction of the European festival is its music scene. The line up is generally world class. It is as rhythmically varied as the multi-national audience to which it caters. Essentially, there is a beat for everyone.
So, if you are backpacking Europe this summer and want to experience a party of a lifetime and a series of unforgettable concerts, the European summer music festival is where it’s at.
The following guide is intended to teach you everything you need to know, from choosing the coolest festivals, buying tickets, or even sneaking in, to must bring gear and general survival tips.
Finding the Festival for You:
Nearly every European country hosts some kind of annual summer music festival. While some are laid back and of the free love variety, others are enormous and provide a sense of lawlessness and unconditional freedom from the bounds of society, life, and this world. Whichever festival you choose, liver damage and random sex is highly probably.
For chaos and an epic experience, check out:
Open’er Festival, Poland. (Early July)
For a more laid back time, check out:
Slottsfjell, Norway (Mid July)
Buying Tickets vs. Sneaking In
European festivals can be expensive. They often range from 200 to 500 Euro’s for the week. Day passes aren’t much cheaper either, usually going for between 40 and 60 Euros. Tickets can often be bought at the entrance and online. However, for the most popular festivals such as Glastonbury, be sure to purchase tickets online and well in advance.
While the price isn’t too bad for the short term summer backpacker, as it usually includes camping, it can be a stretch for the long term budget backpacker or runaway. And so you might be thinking that it would be a good idea to sneak in. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult and if you are caught, it can result in a few nights in jail. As someone who has jumped international borders and failed to sneak into a festival, I can’t recommend it.
Surviving the week:
No matter what music festival you decide on, there are a few things you should know in order to survive the week. For starters, if you want to get your monies worth, and enjoy all the festival has to offer, and ultimately survive, you are going to want to pace yourself.
For instance, postpone the “drink myself to oblivion” date to the final night. Steer clear of horse tranquilizers (Ketamine) simply because they were intended for horses. Also, don’t underestimate the consequences of cigarettes. Overdosing on nicotine can leave you with a pretty pounding headache, not to mention the early stages of emphysema and black boogies. Other things to refrain from to improve your rate of survival includes, heroine, acid, crack, ingesting random pills, drunken swimming in strong currents, passing out on your back, climbing things, and lighting candles in your tent.
Essential Gear :
Since most festivals only offer campsite accommodation, the most important piece of equipment is a strong waterproof tent. Although it is summer, much of Europe can still be quite cold and rainy, so be sure ample warm and waterproof clothes. Even if it doesn’t rain, festivals somehow manage to become incredibly muddy. This is likely due to the amount of beer and urine that is thrown during concerts. So, unless having your feet covered in a cocktail of beer, urine, and faeces turns you on, remember to bring your wellington rain boots.
Additionally, if your not the type that blacks out often, and needs a good nights sleep, remember to bring your earplugs. It is not uncommon for drum and base music to blast throughout the night or have noisy neighbours. Other comfort items to be along that will also save you money include, toilette paper, shampoo, soap, condoms (long term savings), bottles of water, bottles of liquor (liquor often isn’t sold and beer is overpriced), canned food, and good friends (for support and mooching off of).
Getting Out Of Dodge:
The morning after the last night marks a return to reality. Everyone begins to sober up, except for a special few, and all that unprotected sex and drug use begins to plague ones conscious. The best cure for this awful state is to pack up your shit as quick as possible and get the hell out of there. Make sure to have a bottle of water in hand. Next, hit train station, and be on your way to a nice relaxing beach. If your in Eastern Europe, the beaches of Montenegro and Bulgaria are good choices. In the end, unless you’re a real mess, you will have some great stories to tell and will look back upon your European summer festival with fond memories.