Get ready for the best time of the year — festival season! The weather is finally getting warmer, and that means just one thing: time to dig up your sturdiest pair of boots, favorite band tees, a sleeping bag, and prepare yourself for a summer of mosh pits, sing-alongs and, of course, the inevitable mud. Nowhere in the world is there a better selection of festivals than Europe. Whether you prefer swaying to classic-rock ballads or get sweaty in the pit, there’s something for everyone. With so much to offer, it can be tough to decide which festivals to put on your list. Luckily our friends from EMP Merchandising — Europe’s biggest rock and metal merch retailer — are on hand with the definitive guide to the events you absolutely can’t miss this year. So grab your tent and get ready for your ultimate festival summer!
Metal Fest Open Air – Pilsen, Czechia – 31 May – 2 June
Czechia’s biggest metal festival has really pulled it out of the bag this year with an incredible lineup including everyone’s favorite Viking metallers Amon Amarth, classic Swedish death metallers Arch Enemy and British extreme metal stalwarts Cradle of Filth. Kick your festival tour off at the end of May with Czech beers, excellent music and a rather quirky site that even boasts its own zoo!
Sweden Rock Festival – Sölvesborg, Sweden – 5 – 8 June
If you miss Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy at Metal Fest Open Air, never fear as they’re also hitting up the epic Sweden Rock Festival, alongside other legends from Dream Theater to ZZ Top, depending on your taste. This year’s festival also marks Slayer’s last-ever show in Sweden – a bittersweet occasion that’s not to be missed! We can’t promise what the weather will do, but we can promise 5 stages with a mix of hard rock and metal to suit most tastes, and one of Europe’s best organized and cleanest festivals thanks to those hard-working Swedes.
Download – Donington Park, UK – 14 – 16 June
The next stop on our rock and metal tour of Europe is the UK’s biggest rock and metal festival, the massive Download. This year you can treat your ears to headliners Def Leppard, Tool and Slipknot, as well as loads more bands including Trivium, Lamb of God and Halestorm! Download has been the UK’s rock mecca since 2003 and always promises a great time for rock and metal fans.
Hellfest – Clisson, France, 21 – 23 June
If you’ve had enough of muddy campsites and huddling under a poncho to watch your favorite band, maybe Hellfest in France should be your festival of choice. Pack your sunscreen and try to remember how to order a beer in French – this is one festival not to be missed. With some of the usual suspects, Manowar, Tool and Kiss headlining, there are loads of other cool bands waiting for you, from Finnish power metallers Sonata Arctica to the French behemoths Gojira and plenty of extreme metal too, headed up by the legends themselves, Emperor.
Tuska Open Air Festival, Helsinki, Finland, 28 -30 June
Next stop, beautiful Helsinki for three days of non-stop Scandinavian rock and metal, including Finnish melodic death metallers Amorphis, Swedish legends Opeth and Norwegian symphonic black metallers Dimmu Borgir. There’s also yet another headline set from Slayer to look forward to, as well as a good dose of smaller Finnish bands to check out, and plenty more. Finns are known for their party spirit and their love of really heavy metal, so get ready for some crazy moshpits and three days of solid partying, the way only the Finns know how.
Resurrection Fest, Viveiro, Spain, 3 – 6 July
If you’ve had your fill of Scandinavian metal (for now), it’s time to head to sunnier climes for Resurrection Fest. With awesome bands like Parkway Drive, King Diamond, Within Temptation and Gojira to look forward to, this promises to be a summer to remember. What’s more, the festival ground is located just minutes away from the beach, so you can top up your tan and catch some waves in between checking out your favorite bands. Metal on the beach? Sign us up!
Norway Rock, Kvinesdal, Norway, 11 – 13 July
Norway is known as one of the most metal countries in the world, and for good reason. The birthplace of black metal in the 90s, it’s also the home of countless amazing extreme metal bands from Dimmu Borgir to Emperor to Darkthrone. If smaller festivals are your thing, Norway Rock is an excellent choice. Situated on a site surrounded by pine trees, this is one of the most atmospheric festivals of the summer, with headline sets from Arch Enemy and Dee Snider to look forward to.
Dynamo Metal Fest, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 19 – 20 July
Another smaller European festival, Dynamo Metal Fest in the Netherlands is just two days long but packs in plenty of great bands including Steel Panther, Airbourne and Eluveitie. Tickets cost just 38.50 euro too, so it’s also a great value festival if you’re on a smaller budget!
MetalDays, Tolmin, Slovenia, 21 – 27 July
From the Netherlands it’s over to Slovenia for a 5-day metal odyssey that packs in more bands than you can shake a stick at. Just some of the highlights include Tarja (of Nightwish fame), Tiamat, Rotting Christ and Architects. With a relaxed atmosphere, a site set in the beautiful Slovenian Alps, amazing music and 2 festival beaches, MetalDays is your ultimate metal holiday this summer. MetalDays is also one of Europe’s greenest festivals – they’ve replaced plastic cups and cutlery with biodegradable versions, all toilet paper and napkins are made from recycled paper and you can refill your water bottle at dozens of drinking water stations around the site.
Wacken – Germany, 1 – 3 August
Wacken is one of Europe’s most legendary rock festivals, and should be top of your bucket list if you’re a heavy music fan. The festival is simply massive, with so much going on and so many incredible bands we can’t even begin to list them all here! Bullet For My Valentine, Hammerfall, Kverlertak, Meshuggah and Powerwolf are just a few of the top bands you can expect to see this year. And if you’re getting tired from rocking out at some of the 8 different stages, never fear! EMP’s got your back with its exclusive Backstage Club chillout area. Here you can kick back like a VIP with a huge terrace and private bar, phone charging stations, free drinks and an interview zone where you can meet your favorite bands close up. If you haven’t already joined the Backstage Club, now’s the time to do so and get access to this exclusive members-only zone, join here.
Bloodstock Open Air – Derbyshire, UK, 8 – 11 August
If you’re a fan of the heavier things in life, save the date for Bloodstock Festival in the UK. Every year the festival offers a solid, heavy lineup across four stages over four days, with other attractions including a metal market, fairground rides, a real ale bar and late night entertainment. Get ready to bang your head to Sabaton, Scorpions, Children of Bodom, Anthrax and many more over this epic long weekend.
Summer Breeze Festival – Bavaria, Germany, 14 – 17 August
If you haven’t quite had your fill of rock and metal yet (and let’s get real, you can never have enough!), then get ready to finish your summer with a bang at Germany’s iconic Summer Breeze Festival. Meshuggah, Lordi, In Flames, Enslaved and dozens more incredible bands are all on hand to get you in the festival mood, so grab some beers and get ready to party. Once again, EMP will be there with their Backstage Club area, offering cool freebies and an exclusive chill-out area that’s only open to BSC members. If you’re tired of queuing with the masses for toilets and drinks, head on over to meet the crew and relax in comfort.
Hopefully this is enough to whet your appetite for destruction and get you in the mood for some serious festival action. Choose your favorites from our list and we hope to see you there!