Are UK festivals as good as their European counterparts?
The UK has long had a reputation for fantastic, large-scale line ups with immersive production and a great atmosphere. In fact, the UK was the European leader for festivals, since the 1960’s, with Glastonbury and Reading Festival stretching back as far as 1970 and 1971, respectively. But European festivals have been building themselves a formidable reputation in recent years, and 3 of the worlds 10 biggest festivals are located in mainland Europe.
UK festivals mainly benefit from the fact that a large number of the world’s biggest acts are British. Most major British festivals have stellar line ups, including the cream of the British music scene, usually alongside some of the US’s biggest acts too. Acts play best on home soil, a bit like football teams, and for example, regional acts largest and most memorable shows are often on home turf.
This one might not be seen as a benefit to outsiders, but is definitely is to Brits. UK festivals have the reputation for being the messiest, booze-fuelled events of the year. It is not uncommon to find drunk people tied to lamp posts, people urinating (or worse) in the middle of crowds, and a hell of a lot of experiences. To many festival goers in the UK, this is one of the best parts of going to a festival: the atmosphere of complete hedonism that it creates. Where US festivals like Burning Man actively encourage stepping away from society through their entire ethos and aesthetic, UK festivals don’t encourage this – but festival-goers do it anyway.
The beauty of the UK is that it is relatively small – there is probably going to be a large festival relatively close to where you live. The Southwest have Glastonbury & Boardmasters; the South East have a smorgasbord of festivals, including Boomtown, Bestival, and loads of day festivals in London; The midlands have Download, V Fest; and the North have Leeds, Radio 1’s Big Weekend; and Scotland have T in the Park.
Travel to these festivals is therefore never too remote. All can be accessed via public transport, and journeys won’t be too long! You can use Fest Intentions as a travel provider for UK festivals at https://store.festintentions.co.uk/
European festivals certainly trump UK festivals on size. As mentioned earlier, 3 of the world 10 biggest festivals are in Europe – more specifically Sziget in Hungary, Woodstock in Poland, and Donauinselfest in Austria, which hosts a whopping 3.1 million guests annually. Compare that to the UK’s largest festival, Glastonbury, with a max capacity of 135,000. The size allows festivals to expand to an unprecedented scale, which in turns creates a great experience for both the crowds and the performances, and some artists biggest performances come at European festivals.
Festivals like Sun’n’Bass, in Sardinia, and Outlook, in Croatia, are two examples of when the natural beauty of a festival can really shine through. Set on magnificent, sunny beaches, this is where the line between holiday and festival becomes blurred. Outlook festival is also located in the ruins of Pula Arena, the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre. Not the worst place to see Goldie and the Outlook Heritage Orchestra perform on the first night of the festival, eh?
More than anything due to its size, European festivals have a great variety of music to choose from. They literally have a festival for pretty much every genre of music, and more. Rock Werchter in Belgium has a reputation as one of the finest rock festivals on the planet. Last years line up included the Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Pearl Jam & Noel Gallagher, among others. For the EDM crowd, Tomorrowland is Europe’s answer to the huge EDM festivals of the States. Regular acts include Martin Garrix, Carl Cox and Calvin Harris, among tons of other EDM big names. They are also known for their impressive stage design.