Architecture I 25.05.17 I by

11 music festivals in extraordinary places

Where location is king

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 and North African festivals. Book tickets and you’ll find yourself roaming everything from an geodome-bearing island to the ruins of a former prison and a volcanic chamber.

Via the MAXXI museum

Spring Attitude Festival

The Maxxi Museum in Rome, Italy; 25-27 May
Zaha Hadid’s Maxxi Museum returns as the main host for the 2017 instalment of electronic music festival Spring Attitude in Rome. The angular steel-and-glass fronted museum – the city’s only gallery dedicated purely to contemporary art – is a suitably futuristic backdrop for the event, while the surrounding Guido Reni district will also host stages.

Who’s playing: Jenny Hval, Jon Hopkins, Chassol, Bonzai, Nite Jewel

The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona is a new venue for this year’s Primevera.
The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona co-hoststs this year’s Primavera Sound. Photography: Adria Goula

Primavera Sound

Parc Del Forum, Barcelona, Spain; 31 May – 4 June
Spanish staple Primavera returns to Barcelona’s sea-facing Parc Del Forum in early 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). The party continues in the Raval neighbourhood of the architecturally-blessed city, with the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona inviting acts into its courtyard.

Don’t miss its sister festival NOS Primavera Sound, which kicks off in Porto from 8 – 10 June.

Who’s playing: Arcade Fire, Solange, Grace Jones

Secret Solstice's magma chamber venue. Photography: Vilhelm Gunnarsson
Photography: Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Secret Solstice

Reykjavík, Iceland; 15 – 18 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. Partygoers can venture beneath the surface of Europe’s second largest glacier, or step into a volcano’s magma chamber some 400-ft beneath the earth for two intimate gigs.

Who’s playing: Richard Ashcroft, Chaka Khan, Foo Fighters, The Prodigy, Rick Ross

Obonjan island
Photography: Gus Webster


Obonjan Island, Croatia; 23 June – 3 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 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.

Who’s playing: Gilles Peterson, Horse Meat Disco, Norman Jay MBE, Hercules & Love Affair, Mister Saturday Night

Via Into The Valley

Into the Valley

Rummu Quarry, Rummu, Estonia; 29 June – 1 July
This summer sees the meticulously curated, Scandinavian house and techno party unfurl on the white sands surrounding an abandoned, partially-submerged prison in the Estonian wilderness. As well as art installations and sets from the likes of Craig Richards and Kim Ann Foxman, a ruined jail block will house a pop-up restaurant by Tallinn’s acclaimed Noa.

Who’s playing: Craig Richards, Kim Ann Foxman, Antal, KASK, Ø [Phase]

Club Megà on Stromboli. Photography: Michael Wilkin

Volcano Extravaganza

Naples and Stromboli, Italy; 13 – 16 July
Eddie Peake and The Vinyl Factory are co-curating this year’s explosive Volcano Extravaganza, with the arts and music festival starting in mainland Naples before setting sail for the volcanic island of Stromboli on 15 July.

One of the Stromboli venues is the former home of artist Marina Abramovic, and Peake will lead revellers on a 96-hour dance across several other stunning locations. Not to be outdone, the island’s legendary amphitheatre club Megà will also host a dance party against backdrop of the island’s sputtering volcano.

Who’s playing: Actress, Gwilym Gold, Leo Mas, Jonjo Jury

The Colours of Ostrava Festival industrial site
Courtesy of Colours of Ostrava Festival

Colours of Ostrava

Dolní Vítkovice, Czech Republic; 19-22 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, there’s a cafe set 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.

Who’s playing: Jamiroquai, Justice, Imagine Dragons, Laura Mvula, Norah Jones

Suvilahti power station

Visio Festival

Tiivistämö, Helsinki, Finland; 21 – 22 July

For its inaugural outing, the left-field electronic music festival commandeered a historic slaughterhouse turned cultural and culinary centre on the grounds of the Helsinki Wholesale Market. It’s sophomore outing expands into the new Kalasatama district, taking over the Suvilahti Power Plant and yard, with its backdrop of industrial gasometers.

Who’s playing: Artefakt, Conforce, Steve Bicknell, Spacetravel, DJ Aleksi

Moondance festival is held inside a 15th-century castle
Courtesy of Moondance Festival


Fortress Kamerlengo, Croatia; 10 – 12 August
One for the techno-heads, Croatian festival Moondance is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year and its bumper birthday bash promises a stellar cast of underground techno artists and after-parties. As with previous years, Moondance is taking up residence at a15th-century castle on the UNESCO protected island city of Trogir. 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.

Who’s playing: DJ Deep, Handmade, Ben Sims, Jonas Kopp, The Analogue Cops

The Larmer Tree Gardens are dotted with 18th and 19th century follies
Courtesy of Larmer Tree Gardens

End of the Road

Larmer Tree Gardens, UK; 31 August – 3 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-loved 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.

Who’s playing: Father John Misty, Mac Demarco, Lucinda Williams, Real Estate, Band of Horses

The Source spa, Marrakech
Via The Source

Oasis Festival

The Source, Marrakech, Morocco; 15-17 September
Situated between Marrakech and the Atlas mountains, The Source – a luxury music and wellness resort – is set to host boutique electronic rave Oasis Festival. It offers attendees the opportunity to dance through the night to acts such as Charlotte De Witte, Pantha du Prince and Nicolas Jaar, before recuperating at the on-site spa.

Who’s playing: Nicolas Jaar, Maceo Plex, Richie Hawtin, Charlotte De Witte, Solomun

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