Here's our guide to the best in Europe, whether you're looking to mosh at metal festivals or planning your next rock festival experience...
Best rock and metal festivals in Europe 2023
8 - 11 June, Donington Park, United Kingdom Plenty of choice for rock lovers in the United Kingdom this summer: Reading Festival and Leeds Festival well and truly know how to stack their lineups with indie, rock, and metal acts. The two festivals take place in the last weekend of August, but if you can’t wait that long and need your guitar fix even sooner, Download Festival is the place to be. Dedicated to the harder genres, the four-day event covers pretty much all loud styles. From punk to rock all through post-hardcore, catch bands like Metallica, Bring Me The Horizon, Carpenter Brut, Alexisonfire, Ghost, Pup, and Bad Religion in Leicestershire this year.
8 - 12 June, Český Brod, Czech Republic Where to begin with this line-up? Rock for People kicks off this weekend, just outside of Prague. This is your chance to see many massive names like Slipknot, Architects, Billy Talent, The Menzingers, Incubus, and Lorna Shore set the stage on fire over the four days of absolute mayhem.
7 - 10 June, Sölvesborg, Sweden The festival’s name might suggest otherwise, but if you’re a true metalhead, this is where you'll need to be this summer. And, Sweden Rock Festival pays tribute to the founders of the harder genres this year with the theme ‘Celebrating 30 years of rock’.
9 -11 June, Hilvarenbeek, The Netherlands Best Kept Secret is often described as one of the finest rock festivals in The Netherlands because of the idyllic festival site. It's just next to a lake with a massively relaxed atmosphere and an expertly curated lineup. Big Joanie, Crack Cloud, Cumggirl8, Interpol, Kurt Vile & The Violators, The Mars Volta: you get it. If you’re into avant-garde, niche genres: this one’s for you.
15 - 18 June, Festivalpark Stenehei, Belgium When we say metal meeting, we mean metal meeting. Graspop is where metalheads from all over Europe come together every year to stomp the holy grounds of Festivalpark Stenehei. Since 1996, this is the stage that artists want to play. Amon Amarth returns alongside Carnation, Danko Jones, Disturbed, Gojira, In Flames, Machine Head, and many more.
22 - 24 June, Ysselsteyn, The Netherlands Starting as an independent and small festival somewhere on some grass fields in the south of The Netherlands, Jera On Air has quickly become a staple in the punk rock scene. Parkway Drive, Rancid, and Flogging Molly headline the three festival days, next to performing bands like Hollywood Undead, Meshuggah, Enter Shikari, H2O, and The Bennies. Did we mention the punk rock parties in the evening?
29 June - 2 July, Lac de Malsaucy, France Les Eurockéennes is a must if you’re into bands like Phoenix, Dry Cleaning, Wet Leg, Jinjer, and Yard Act, and if you’re not afraid to dance a little. Fatoumata Diawara, Meryl, and Shygirl bring their danceable hits to France this summer, where you can camp at the lakeside of the blissful Lake Malsaucy.
29 June - 2 July, Werchter, Belgium Four days, four stages. Rock Werchter is one of Belgium’s largest festivals and draws people in from all European countries. We can see why: Amenra, Black Box Revelation, The Black Keys, Fever Ray, Liam Gallagher, Sam Fender, and Touché Amoré all in one weekend? You bet.
30 July - 5 August Lake Velenje, Slovenia 12.000 metalheads from 70 countries gather yearly in Slovenia to celebrate ‘a metal holiday’ - sounds like a vibe, if you ask us.
Dive into the gorgeous blue lake, sunbathe, or go all out at performances by Bullet For My Valentine, Kreator, Killswitch Engage, Beartooth, Terror, and many more. The lush green festival terrain is the perfect destination for rockers wanting to make the most of their holidays, so head over to Lake Velenje and start headbanging.
8 - 12 August, Tolmin, Slovenia Into punk rock? Another green and sunny holiday destination where you can catch the hottest rock bands is Slovenia’s Punk Rock Holiday, where Dropkick Murphys, Pennywise, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Stick To Your Guns, and Jaya The Cat blow you off your socks. Dive in!
Another tip-off for those seeking out something in warmer climates (especially if you like your rock with a side of rap and fustion). Valencia's Pirata Beach Fest offers more than 70 artists across 5 stages, and this year's edition (which celebrates its 5th anniversary) boasts Ska-P, Mala Rodríguez, SFDK, Pole. and many more on the bill.
11 - 13 August, Kortrijk, Belgium Alcatraz: another legendary (and brutal) festival you don’t want to miss this summer. With Powerwolf, Alestorm, Sepultura, Madball, it’s clear that this isn’t one for the light-hearted. Forget escaping Alcatraz; after three days of guitars and fun, you’ll be sent home with some new mates and good stories.
Edited by Kate Pasola