7 music festivals in extraordinary places

Where location is king…

Barcelona’s solar pergola. Photography: Dani Canto

Festival organisers know that to throw a truly exceptional event, you need more than just a great line up. With cross-continental competition heating up, they are getting ever more creative in a bid to offer travellers something unique.

Location is king in this crop of European festivals. Book tickets and you’ll find yourself roaming everything from an geodome-bearing island to a former blast furnace and a volcanic chamber.

Primavera Sound

Parc Del Forum, Barcelona, Spain; 1–4 June
Spanish staple Primavera returns to Barcelona’s sea-facing Parc Del Forum in June to showcase breaking artists and globally-renowned names. Venues include the Herzog & De Meuron-designed Forum building (home to Museu Blau) and two stages set beneath the dramatic solar pergola (also a functioning photovoltaic power station). This year the party expands even further into the architecturally-blessed city, with the Raval-based Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona inviting acts into its courtyard.

5 acts to catch: Holly Herndon, LCD Soundsystem, Methyl Ethyl, PJ Harvey, Radiohead

Photography: Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Secret Solstice

Reykjavík, Iceland; 16–19 June
Three days of mythologically-inspired, carbon-neutral festivities take place across manmade and natural spaces — in the city and beyond — all under the 24 hour sunlight. This year, partygoers are being offered the chance to helicopter out to the world’s first gig in a volcano’s magma chamber, 400 feet beneath the earth. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a $1 million VIP package available for purchase that includes private hire of the famed Blue Lagoon.

5 acts to catch: Action Bronson, Die Antwoord, Kelela, Lady Leshurr, Of Monsters and Men

Visio Festival

Teurastamo, Finland; 1–2 July
 The inaugural outing of this new festival of left-field electronic music and urban arts takes place in an historic slaughterhouse turned cultural and culinary centre on the grounds of the Helsinki Wholesale Market. A barbecue area, courtyard and urban garden maintained by local residents provides chill out spots away from the red-brick indoor venues.

5 acts to catch: Fred P, Levon Vincent, Max Graef & Glenn Astro, Roberto Rodriguez, Todd Terje & the Olsens

Courtesy of Colours of Ostrava Festival

Colours of Ostrava

Dolní Vítkovice, Czech Republic; 14–17 July
 Independent, genre-blurring shindig Colours of Ostrava takes over the vast Dolní Vítkovice industrial site. It boasts re-worked blast furnaces, gasometers, mines, iron and steel works that make up 22 novel stages. And should any ravers desire respite, a new cafe is set to open 80m above ground. Options for those with vertigo include a wine bar set in a bunker and an interactive exhibition inside a former energy exchange.

5 acts to catch: Actress, ANOHNI, Kiasmos, Nathan Fake, Tame Impala

Photography: Gus Webster


Obonjan Island, Croatia; 28 July — 6 September
 Known locally as the ‘island of youth’, pine-covered Obonjan lay abandoned for a decade until a British entrepreneur bought it in partnership with the state. Now it’s been transform it into a carbon-neutral culture and wellbeing destination. The team is working alongside Eden Labs to ensure the sustainability of both spruced up existing structures, such as the amphitheatre, and new additions including a geodome.

5 acts to catch: Floating Points, Four Tet, Jessy Lanza, Kate Tempest, Talaboman

Courtesy of Moondance Festival


Fortress Kamerlengo, Croatia; 11–13 August
 A 15th-century castle on the UNESCO protected island city of Trogir is transformed into a techno rave-zone for Moondance. As well as the main arena, the fun spills onto the water via boat parties and spreads amongst the Renaissance, Baroque and Romanesque buildings of the municipality with after-show sets aplenty.

5 acts to catch: Deetron, Jeff Mills, John Heckle, Sirra Sam, The Storytellers

Courtesy of Larmer Tree Gardens

End of the Road

Larmer Tree Gardens, UK; 2–4 September
Nestled into the Dorset countryside, the Grade II-listed Larmer Tree Gardens were first opened to the public as a Pleasure Ground for entertainment and enlightenment in 1880, presaging this well-beloved carnival of music and arts. As well as bucolic beauty, the site offers a chance to get better acquainted with Victorian architecture including an open-air theatre, Roman Temple and colonial-style pavilion — and a roaming peacock or two.

5 acts to catch: Anna Meredith, Animal Collective, Bat For Lashes, Jenny Hval, US Girls

Words Suze Olbrich

Originally published at thespaces.com on May 23, 2016.