Are you into dancing in the sun on the beach while sipping a colourful cocktail, or is hiding in a disused factory building dressed in black and listening to techno more your thing? Or maybe — just maybe — you’re into trumpets? Whatever your preferences, there is a New East festival for you. Read on for our selection of this summer’s best.
Russia, 10 — 11 June
Choose your best Cyrillic print attire and Adidas tracksuit to wear to Moscow’s biggest indie festival with rappers, trendy ravers and gloomy garage rock. Bol (‘Pain’ in Russian) attracts a young and cool crowd and is ideal if you want a festival experience without the camping or inconvenient travel, as it takes place in Moscow and could be easily combined with a city break. The festival usually takes place across multiple venues with the main stage in an industrial zone. Must-sees include rapper Husky, Russian electronic act Philipp Gorbachev, ravers IC3PEAK, singer-songwriter Monetochka and Estonian rapper Tommy Cash.
Hungary, 13 — 16 June
A new arts and music festivals nestled in the hills an hour’s drive from Budapest, Kolorado offers a smaller scale getaway for those who can’t handle Sziget, Hungary’s (and Europe’s) biggest festival. Kolorado is more low key — it’s in the outskirts of the city and advertises itself as a “boutique weekender combining the love of music and nature.” The festival offers camping surrounded by a forest and boasts an international lineup and a good selection of local acts on several stages. Apart from music, the festival offers art workshops and exhibitions and tasty Budapest food options.
Black Sea Jazz Festival
Georgia, 19 — 22 July
Come to Georgia for the jazz, RnB and soul on the sunny shores of Batumi. Georgia’s main sea resort has always been a summer destination, not least because of it’s famous Black Sea Jazz Festival that has been running for 11 years. This year’s headlining acts are Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Erykah Badu (DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown) and Wycleaf Jean, with more acts due to be announced during the three day event. With a wide choice of accommodation and the ever-seductive prospect of indulging in Georgian food and wine, what else could you want from a festival?
Albania, 20 — 27 June
If you want a beach festival but can’t handle crowds of bloggers dancing to EDM in fancy dress on the Croatian coast, maybe Kala is for you. It’s new, spread over seven days and takes place in a cove on the Albanian coast. The main stage will be situated on its own private beach with additional stages, dance floors and bars scattered in the forest and on nearby cliffs and beaches. You can choose to stay in a range of accommodation near the festival site. Among promised additional activities are yoga classes, water sports and unlimited lazing around on the beach. You can either get to the festival yourself or fly to Corfu, Greece and take the festival boat, complete with DJ and cocktails, across the Adriatic to Albania.
Southern Soul Festival
Montenegro, 28 June — 1 July
Situated on a white-sand beach on the Adriatic coast in Ulcinj, Montenegro, Southern Soul Festival is a small gathering full of music and sun. The lineup is a selection of soul, jazz, house, funk and disco, and the festival is town-based, so civilisation is close and you’ll be able to explore Ulcinj’s medieval fortress and narrow streets. The area is also popular with birdwatchers, and the festival is committed to being as green as possible. If you like to be active remember the area is famous for kitesurfing, but if you’re more inclined to snack than sweat you must sample the local seafood.
Poland, 22 — 23 June
If a proper rave is your thing, look no further than INSTYTUT in Modlin Fortress near Warsaw. The two-day festival features some of Europe’s biggest techno acts (including Nina Kraviz and Marcel Dettmann) spread over three stages. Modlin fortress, on the banks of the Narew River, is one of the longest buildings in the world and was fought over during both the Napoleonic Wars and the Second World War.
Croatia, early July — early September
Boutique festival Obonjan is comparable to Fyre Festival — only it hasn’t collapsed in ignominy. Taking place on a private island, “festival” is a term that should be applied loosely. There is a lineup and parties with DJs but the acts change over the festival’s two-month run and there is a wellness programme, restaurants, bars, swimming pools and beaches. Think of it as a sophisticated resort with none of the irritations that come with a family-friendly place (Obonjan is strictly adults only). There are several accommodation options from tents with beds and air conditioning to cabins with ensuite bathrooms, fridges and sun terraces.
Present Perfect Festival
Russia, 27 — 29 July
In recent years, Present Perfect Festival has turned from a factory rave to a fully-formed two-day event (in the same factory). It takes place on the outskirts of St Petersburg in a building that now houses the city’s Street Art Museum. The lineup this year is a series of stellar electronic acts. Because of the location the festival usually continues well into the morning and afternoon of the following day, but don’t worry: you can find everything you might need while partying: from Club-Mate drinks to vegan burgers.
Guca Trumpet Festival
Serbia, 8 — 12 August
You might think that a trumpet festival is not going to be your first choice for summer entertainment, but hear me out. Guca Trumpet Festival is well-known as the quirkiest, most fun way to spend three days in Serbia, and if you’re into brass bands, brandy and grilled meat, you really can’t go wrong. It takes place in August in the small town of Guca, about three hours drive south-west from Belgrade, and was set up by a dispossessed landowner in 1961. For years the goings-on were watched carefully by Yugolav officials trying to keep tight control on culture — but the festival continued to grow. While the nuances of Balkan music might be hard to explain in a few minutes (or even a few hours), the festival has managed to attract a significant international audience. Entry to all concerts has historically been free, and you can book transport and accommodation on the festival website.