It’s only May, yet many of both Ireland and Europe’s best festival offerings are now the preserve of those who bought early, or can afford the risky and overpriced world of the black ticketing market. Electric Picnic sold out without a single act announced. Glastonbury has undergone its annual (extremely brief) Spring resale and will offer no more. The biggest gigs of the summer – including U2 and Radiohead – have largely seen tickets fly.
The summer still holds plenty of promise for those music fans with a little less foresight, though, with some fantastic festival offerings still on sale both at home and abroad. As prime time for late ticket buyers arrives, we explore six of the best offerings you can still access, both at home and abroad…
Indiependence (€119) The steadily growing festival in Mitchelstown, County Cork has always had a monster of an atmosphere and well-curated quality deep into its lineup, in particular with its strong selection of local acts. Already on the last of their tickets for 2017, it’s a real bargain by Irish festival pricing standards, with the added bonus of being walking distance from the town’s pubs (where you’ll also find an additional music trail).
Starring: Manic Street Preachers, Frank Turner, The Coronas, All Tvvins, Tom Odell and The Riptide Movement.
Roskilde (€269) One of only a handful of European festivals to hold a torch to legendary Somerset offering Glastonbury, Danish super-fest Roskilde is also one of the most expensive festivals to get through the gates of, but makes up for it with eight days of camping for your money. Highlights of that extended stay (which sees punters build their own villages amid the tents) include the traditional naked race, a penchant for the unusual when it comes to music, and a truly stellar headline line up. As well as the music, it comes with countless artsy zones and a charitable philosophy.
Starring: Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, A Tribe Called Quest, The Weeknd, The XX and Blink-182.
Sea Sessions (€125) Combining surfing and music in beautiful Bundoran, Donegal, Sea Sessions has been growing consistently since the first edition in 2007, and has a unique selling point for an Irish festival, in that for many attendees the musical aspect of the event is very much an evening thing. Surfing and skating play a key role during the day. That’s not to say there’s not plenty of live musical entertainment too, and having sold out a few weeks before the event last year, they might do so earlier this time around, having pulled a mega-headliner in Primal Scream.
Starring: Primal Scream, The Coronas, Sigma, Badly Drawn Boy, Mr Scruff and Dreadzone.
Colours of Ostrava (€105) The most ambitious festival on our list, perhaps (you’d need to fly to Prague and travel onwards to Ostrava, in the East of the Czech Republic), Colours of Ostrava rewards your efforts with bargain entry, beer (around €2 a pint) and food (around €4 a meal), as well as arguably the best setting of any European festival, the stunning, rustic grounds of a Soviet-era power plant. Amongst it all, there’s also a design zone, arts installations and 20 different stages, and plenty of side events to choose from.
Starring: Alt-J, Norah Jones, Jamiroquai, Justice, Benjamin Clementine and Imagine Dragons.
Body and Soul (€195) Clear the diary (it’s just a couple of weekends away), Body and Soul is billed as the Irish festival with an ethos. To many long-time Irish festival goers, it’s the spin off of the very best bits of Electric Picnic. Known for using its forest setting to improve atmosphere, it’s also strong on wellbeing aspects and artistic flair. The Westmeath-based event also features plenty in the way of talks and theatre on top of an impressively ‘of the minute’ alternative music line up.
Starring: Sleaford Mods, Austra, Metronomy, Vitalic, Lambchop and Mykki Blanco
Reading/ Leeds Festivals (circa €250) The UK’s twin rock festivals are very rough around the edges, and to be brutally harsh, don’t offer a whole lot beyond the music. That said, with densely packed programs, a wild after-show campsite life and a penchant for big-name special guests, that’s never seemed to hold them back too much (and there’s always the air guitar competitions). Think setting up in front of sweaty stages and watching all kinds of chaos unfold, fuelled by a lot of cider. Unusually, this year’s offerings are not yet sold out.
Starring: Eminem, Muse, Kasabian, Liam Gallagher, Bastille and Haim.
This article is part of my weekly music column for the Dublin Gazette, reproduced here with permission. Note: this column is published in the Dublin Gazette several days ahead of on this website, so at times, some columns may be slightly out of date. The Gazette is a freesheet paper available across Dublin, published on a Thursday. Pick up copies at these locations.
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