From Albania to Morocco: 10 music festivals worth making a song and dance about

The soundtrack to the summer is here, packed full of jazz, funk, pop and good old rock 'n' roll

Soul singer Don Byrant was one of many performers at the 2019 Jazablanca Festival in Casablanca, Morocco. The festival returns this summer. Photo: Sife El Amine.
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Music festivals are well and truly back this summer.

After a cautious start last year, which saw a number of events held with limited capacity due to Covid-19, the circuit is back on song in 2022, with more than a dozen festivals taking place across Europe and North Africa.

Along with the UK’s Glastonbury, featuring headliners Kendrick Lamar and Billie Eilish, and the EDM haven that is Belgium’s Tomorrowland, there is a growing number of small boutique festivals well worth tuning into.

From reggae music in the forests of Slovakia to jazz and rock in Morocco's Casablanca, here are 10 festivals you won't want to miss.

June 3 to 5: Vestrock

Where: Hulst, Netherlands

Headliners: Editors, Wolfmother, Martin Solveig and The Darkness

Why go? Held on an island in the fortified medieval city of Hulst, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Amsterdam, the festival is renowned for its intimate vibe, with up to 10,000 people watching more than 50 acts across four stages. The line-up is slanted towards the early 2000s, featuring big rock and indie music acts.

How to get there: Flight time to ­Amsterdam from Abu Dhabi is 7 hours and 5 minutes. For more information, go tovestrock.nl

June 17 to July 30: Rock in Roma

Where: Rome, Italy

Headliners: Herbie Hancock, Patti Smith, Deep Purple, the Chemical Brothers and Suicidal Tendencies

Why go? Running across three different venues, this festival is the perfect reason to take a summer break in the Italian capital. The line-up is eclectic, with seasoned acts sharing the bill with new talent from Italy and northern Europe.

How to get there: Flight time to ­Rome from Abu Dhabi is 6 hours and 10 minutes. For more information, go torockinroma.com

June 24 to 26: Mallorca Live Festival

Where: Mallorca, Spain

Headliners: Muse, Christina Aguilera, Franz Ferdinand and Justice

Why go? Taking place in the Calvia region of Spain, the festival site — a two-hour flight from Barcelona — sits between the lush green hills of the Serra de Tramontane. In addition to attracting big names, the festival has built a reputation as a major tourist attraction, with attendees often extending their stay to hike and explore the stunning surroundings.

How to get there: Flight time to ­Barcelona from Dubai is 6 hours and 50 minutes. For more information, go tomallorcalivemusic.com

July 1 to 3: Jazzablanca

Where: Casablanca, Morocco

Headliners: Ben Harper, Multatu Astatke, Sean Kuti and Ibrahim Maalouf

Why go? This boutique city festival provides a solid mix of travel and entertainment. Held across two venues, the festival offers both indoor and outdoor shows, and features rock and jazz legends along with breakout stars. Musicians can also attend masterclasses by some of the headlining acts.

How to get there: Flight time to ­Casablanca from Abu Dhabi is eight hours and 10 minutes. For more details, go to jazzablanca.com

July 1 to 3: Afro Nation

Where: Algarve, Portugal

Headliners: Burna Boy, Chris Brown, Wizkid, Davido and P Square

Why go? The stature of this festival has grown alongside the international appeal of the Afropop and Afrobeats scene. If you are a fan of these sounds, this festival is unmissable as most of the genre's leading stars assemble for a weekend of music in the beach city of Algarve, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Portugal's capital, Lisbon.

How to get there: Flight time to Lisbon from Dubai is 8 hours and 40 minutes. For more details, go to afronationfestival.com

July 7 to 10: Exit Festival

Where: Novi Sad, Serbia

Headliners: Calvin Harris, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Masked Wolf, Afrojack and Sepultura

Why go? This festival has amassed a growing buzz over recent years because of its dynamic line-up and its setting in an 18th-century Petrovaradin Fortress. The gigs are played over more than two dozen stages located within the fort, which also features moats, trenches and tunnels.

How to get there: Flight time to Belgrade from Abu Dhabi is five hours and 40 minutes. For more festival details, go to exitfest.org

July 15 and 16: Positivus Festival

Where: Riga, Latvia

Headliners: A$AP Rocky, Megan Thee Stallion, Jamie xx, Caribou and Thundercat

Why go? The Positivus Festival is back in a new location in Riga to ensure easier access for international visitors. The event boasts a strong line up of hip-hop and electronic music acts.

How to get there: Flight time to Riga from Dubai, including stopover, is 7 hours and 55 minutes. For more information, go topositivusfestival.com

August 27 and 28: Uprising

Where: Bratislava, Slovakia

Headliners: Morgan Heritage, Max Romeo, Roni Size and Suns of Dub

Why go? Because it's a chance to hear smooth reggae tunes in a beautiful setting. Held in the picturesque lakeside summer resort of Zlate Piesky, Uprising brings together the biggest musical acts from Jamaica, in addition to art and yoga classes and a reggae-inspired street art market.

How do I get there? Flight time to Bratislava from Dubai is six hours and 15 minutes. For more festival details, go to www.uprising.sk

September 3 and 4: Superbloom

Where: Munich, Germany

Headliners: David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Stromae, Megan Thee Stallion and Rita Ora

Why go? Europe’s newest music festival, the inaugural Superbloom will take place in Munich’s Olympic Park across several stages, featuring international and local acts. The festival also has 11 “experience areas”, with themes ranging from fashion and science to sustainability, dance and acrobatics.

How to get there: Flight time to ­Munich from Abu Dhabi is 6 hours and 25 minutes. For more information, go to superbloom.de

September 7 to 14: Ion Festival

Where: Dhermi, Albania

Headliners: Carl Craig, Jeff Mills, Nina Kraviz and Helena Huff

Why go? This is a tastefully curated electronic music festival, without the large crowds. Located in the quaint coastal village of Dhermi, a three-and-a-half hour drive from the capital Tirana, Ion Festival is held on a beachside festival site. The line-up comprises influential and up-and-coming DJs and producers.

How to get there: Flight time to ­Tirana from Dubai is 5 hours and 45 minutes. For more information, go toionalbania.com

Updated: May 19, 2022, 8:43 AM
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