Our Favourite Foreign Festivals

Image by Danny Howe

Festival Internacional de Benicàssim – Spain

Words and images by Hope Docherty

Benicàssim, or the glorious ‘Beni’ takes place in shocker, the town Benicàssim. This music festival is held in Valencia, Spain every July for a full week and hosts thousands of festival lovers from across Europe. The first ‘FIB’ took place in 1995 with a focus on rock, pop and electronica artists. Since then, the festival has seen major names such as, The Killers, The Red-Hot Chili Peppers, Travis Scott, Fat Boy Slim and Lana Del Ray. For myself, a personal highlight was crying to Lana Del Ray as sunburnt as can be after a few too many sangrias!

However, the festival is so much more than music. It was my first trip abroad without parental control, which could explain the sunburn! The trip was cheaper than Reading festival and I cannot recommend it enough. It was both a holiday and festival in one with blazing sun, several beaches and the cheapest wine I have ever bought. An average day at the festival includes:

  • Waking up hungover and running to one of the festival stalls for fresh Spanish fruit and water.
  • Taking the festival bus into town to sunbathe (sleep) on the beach all day. (There are festival bus stops around the town that will take you from beaches to Aldi)
  • Have dinner at a restaurant in town- they are mostly Italian bistros and many do festival menus.
  • Buy alcohol for the evening.
  • Return back to the campsite, shower and start drinking.
  • Walk down to the stages and dance into the morning.

The festival also accommodates everyone. If you are not keen on camping there are festival apartments available in town. And if you brave the camping the tent situation isn’t as bad as you would think considering the weather, as they are covered and cold in the evenings. It is such a well-organized, friendly festival, where I met friends for life and I didn’t need to pack an emergency rain jacket!

FOMO Festival – Australia

Words by Martha Jennings

Australian and New Zealand touring festival FOMO, founded as a small event in Brisbane in 2016, rapidly grew to become a multi-site festival. It attracts crowds of more than 10,000 people and has hosted some of the world’s biggest hip-hop names. FOMO’s philosophy: ‘One Stage. No Clashes. Party Together.’ meant that my sister and I, attending the outside day festival in Adelaide 2020, were able to enjoy each act individually without worries of long walks to other stages.

Equipped with assorted food trucks and an open bar, it was hard to pick dinnertime as my sister and I were glued to the crowd with each act bringing their unique style to the stage. The act who truly dominated the stage was 3 time Grammy Award winner Lizzo, whose empowering hip/hop-rap songs were matched with on point choreography and her famous flute playing. The long awaited headliner of the night, Brockhampton, also stole the crowds’ hearts whilst simultaneously bringing the festival’s energy to its highest. Dressed in orange prison overalls, it was clear how much their lyrics resonated with the young Adelaide crowd. The variety of acts and simplicity of this young festival has successfully set it up for international attention, as I’m sure that over the years it will attract new talent and just keep getting bigger.

Open’er – Poland

Words and image by Maja Metera

Open’er is known as Polish Coachella. It takes place every year in either the last week of June or the first of July on the terrain of Gdynia-Kossakowo airport, so if you manage to get up early enough, you can catch some sun on the beach by the Baltic Sea before the concerts start.

Gdynia is one of the cities that is called a Three-City and people coming for the festival usually stay in one of the three – Gdańsk, Sopot or Gdynia. From there they take a train and then a free bus to the “airport”. The festival itself is one of the things I’m proud of as a Pole myself. It is powered by one of the main phone operators in the country, Orange, and has been running since 2002 as the biggest music event in Poland.

As artists don’t usually visit us on their tours – Open’er is the best occasion to see musicians perform somewhere else than Berlin – tongue-in-cheek called Polish during concerts as it’s the closest European city we have that has easy, direct access from every end of Poland.

For around £120 you get four days of great rock and pop performances, the opportunity to try the best churros and drink litres of cider. You also can test your fashionista skills as it’s always awfully cold in that region with great chances that it will rain – so how do you make a raincoat look cute?

It might not sound like fun but imagine dancing in the rain to Lorde or Lana del Ray with a cocktail in your hand knowing that on your way home you can release all the rage that has built up inside of you during the past year by screaming “Jarek!” (Polish name) at the top of your lungs, just like a woman who lost her husband a few years back did. Now – it’s a tradition and I love it.

Reading Festival

Words by Emma Williams

Since 2018, if you have ever spent more than 10 minutes with me, I can absolutely guarantee I have told you about Reading Festival. The first time I ventured to Richfield Avenue in 2018, having never been to a festival, I had pretty high expectations after spending £300 on a ticket. Reading did not disappoint. Constant British downpours could never rain on this parade. It was like a 4-day party, with a huge range of music genres and artists. The headliners included: Post Malone, Panic! At the Disco, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Fall Out Boy, Kings of Leon, The Wombats, The Kooks. Other acts included: Nothing But Thieves, Brockhampton, Dua Lipa, Lewis Capaldi (before he became highly successful and famous),The Vaccines, J Hus, AJ Tracey, Sum 41 and Rex Orange Country, amongst countless others.

From the moment the sun came up, until it nearly came up again, we moshed at the Smirnoff DJ house, sprinted from the Main stage to the BBC Introducing stage to the Pit stage, sang our lungs out, rode the colourful fair rides, danced our limbs sore in the silent disco, and gorged on pizza, chips, and burgers. Finding our way around became second nature within hours, even in the dark at night because each camp has little colour coded lights, and then huge lettered signs. If you got lost, or felt unwell, the staff were always right there assuring you were okay and doing everything they could to help you – very comforting when you got back to camp and realised you had only consumed alcohol (no water) since you arrived. Or, in my friends’ case, you break your ankle moshing too hard.

The only downfall I could possibly think of is that some of toilets are unsanitary, but this can be avoided by using the flushing ones in the arena, or buying a luxury loo pass for £75. I did the latter, which was awesome because a) each cubicle had a flushing toilet, a mirror, and toilet roll, b) there were tables where you could plug in hair styling tools (or just your phone), and c) I could brush my teeth at the sinks. Trust me, the luxury loos are certainly luxurious. Perhaps with COVID in mind, in future years the toilet situation will be rethought.

First time excitement was not lost when I went again in 2019. With headliners such as The 1975, Royal Blood, Blossoms, Billie Eilish, The Wombats, along with You Me At Six, Kawala, Pale Waves, Dave, Fredo, Slowthai, and Mabel,  there was an act that tickled everybody’s taste. Reading 2019 was just as thrilling as 2018, perhaps even more, as there were no first-time worries. 

No matter who you are, where you come from, even if you haven’t been before, you become part of a family (of approx. 105,000 members). Feeling more comfortable with my surroundings, I managed to get to the front of a few of my favourite acts, even securing a photo with Hoodie Allen, and I went into town (a mere 15 minute walk, or boat ride from the site). You have to keep an eye on each other though, as my mate managed to get on a boat ride at 3am and could not work out where he was; a manhunt ensued, he was only at Tesco. I am buzzing for the next opportunity I get to experience this lively celebration of music, and I highly recommend you do too.