Exit, Bilbao BBK Live, Open-er & more...

Ruined castles, temporary republics, and festivals behind the former iron curtain are all available for anyone who wants to travel further afield for their flailing opportunities. Where did we put our passport?

SLOTTSFJELL Tønsberg, Norway - 14th-16th july

For a picturesque setting, it doesn’t get any better than this off-kilter little festi. Slottsfjell is set in a ruined viking castle on top of a hillside right by a fjord. We can almost breathe the fresh air just thinking about it. Pretty much every genre enjoys representation here, with some of the choicest cuts of the whole summer season booked to play.

Eighties thrash metallers Anthrax will be rubbing up against the extreme punk rock of Gallows, while Caitlin Rose and her husky country ways will be off doing her own thing. While the international acts are great ‘n’ all, Slottsfjell also presents a fantastic opportunity to check out what’s happening on the home turf of norway, and we strongly recommend doing so - our Scandinavian companions are a talented bunch.

Synth-pop wonders Erasure are also set to do a turn - it’s their first performance in norway for twenty-three years, apparently. Guilty pleasures a-go-go.

If you can't wait to see the bands onstage, head down to the waterfront. Some of the acts actually arrive by speedboat. They're the new helicopters, you know.

It’s a charming quirk of Scandinavian festivals - they always finish on a Saturday for some reason, meaning Sunday can be spent recovering. That’s certainly alright by us.

And one other thing: don’t try to score drugs here. Police apparently come down harder than most on anyone indulging in the wacky baccy. It’s booze all the way, and the locals certainly know how to drink. Our poor livers.

Line-up: Anthrax, Biffy Clyro, Crystal Castles, Grinderman, Röyksopp, Deerhunter


BILBAO BBK LIVE Bilbao, Spain - 7th-9th july

With flights from the UK straight to the city, Bilbao is a winning alternative to the faff of getting to Benicassim. Holding two main stages running alternating acts (no monstrous Glastonbury-style timetable clashes here), and three further tents, the forty thousand capacity festival is just the right size to enable geeks to run around ticking off every artist they want to see. Clinic-botherer Amy Winehouse will be belting out the hits, while indie gets more than its fair representation from Beady Eye and Kasabian. Lighters will no doubt be in the air for Coldplay.

Line-up: Coldplay, Amy Winehouse, Black Crowes, Blondie, Beady Eye, Kasabian, The Mars Volta, TV on the Radio.


EXIT Novi Sad, Serbia - 7th-10th july

Political activism has given way to good times in Serbia’s Exit Festival, an event that was launched in protest at Slobodan Milosevic’s regime twelve years ago.
Voted the Best Overseas Festival in the UK Festival Awards for the past four years, Exit’s action takes place in a dusty fortress that holds twenty stages.
Arcade Fire will be whipping up their inspirational live show, while Pulp continue their reunion roadshow. Electronic music gets a significant representation, with Underworld leading the way.

Line-up: Arcade Fire, Pulp, Jamiroquai, House of Pain, Portishead, Underworld, Deadmau5 ‘unhooked’


OPEN’ER FESTIVAL Ggdynia, Poland - 30th June-3rd July

Open’er may have only come onto our international festival radar a few years ago, but this music event has quickly caught Europe’s attention, having been named the winner of the Best Major Festival prize in both the 2009 and 2010 European Festival Awards.

Celebrating its tenth year in 2011, it started as a humble one-day festival with the Chemical Brothers headlining. now stretching to four days, and over a hundred artists, this event is making an impression on the increasing number of UK festival fans jetting east across to Gdynia, a port town on the Baltic Sea.

It’s all about the best in alternative music here. The outspoken M.I.A. is due to give a blistering performance of her unique blend of electronic and world music, Foals will no doubt stun with their sweeping math rock concoctions, and The Strokes are back to deliver a cooler-than-thou no frills set in support of latest album ‘Angles’.

If you want to give your ears some respite from the sounds coming from Open’er’s seven stages, there are films and theatre performances on offer to satisfy those multimedia cravings. With the action starting late afternoon and going on until the early hours, there’s plenty of opportunity to kick back during the day, replenishing the batteries for another round of festivities as the sun starts to dip in the sky.

Organisers could be stuck in the ’90s, the ticket prices are so cheap. A four-day camping pass, the most expensive ticket available, costs a measly £90. Factor in the budget airlines flying to Poland - there are three of them - and tickets are still cheaper than the major festivals on the home circuit. See you there.

Line-up: M.I.A., Coldplay, Pulp, The National, The Strokes, Caribou, James Blake, Cut Copy, Foals


BURN SELECTOR Krakow, Poland - 3rd-4th June

A long weekend of electronic music, mental partying and the potential for cramming in some culture (if you can be arsed) beckons at Selector. Set in the green space of Blonia Fields, the two massive tents of Burn Selector try their best to blow any residents in the near vicinity out of the water with their massive sound systems. There’s no camping option, but that’s not an issue with so many beds in town. And you’ll have more cash to splash on accommodation with a two-day festival ticket only costing £46. Bargain.

Line-up: La Roux, Klaxons, Crystal Castles, Ladytron, Hercules and Love Affair, The Orb, Sebastian, Katy B


COKE LIVE Krakow, Poland - 18th-20th August

These Polish promoters are a busy lot. Held at the end of August to wave out holiday season, Coke Live is Poland’s answer to our T4 On The Beach, with top pop and rock acts rubbing shoulders on the bill. Most of the line-up was yet to be announced as we went to press, but acts from previous years paint a pretty comprehensive picture: Muse, The Chemical Brothers, N.E.R.D., The Killers, 50 Cent, The Prodigy, Timbaland and Rihanna have all graced these fair stages in the past.

Line-up: Interpol, The Kooks, White Lies, You Me At Six, Further acts to be announced



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