Ultimate Escapism: The Musical Festivals You Don’t Want To Miss This Summer

// by Clara Dijkstra //

As much as I hate the idea of a week designated to being gloomy no matter what, this term those 5th week blues really hit. I found myself dealing with it in a classic escapist way.

While the pile of reading I haven’t done keeps growing and internship applications remain incomplete, I’m on Skyscanner browsing cheap flights to Spain/Portugal/Belgium/Sweden or literally anywhere hosting a music festival this summer.

The rain pours down on the windows of the library, but in my head, I’m dreaming of crowd-surfing at Glastonbury.

In this day and age of free music conveniently at everyone’s reach, is it even still worth paying quite a lot of money for a potentially very muddy weekend getting semi trampled in a field? Yes. Yes, it is. It’s worth it for that moment of pure joy when Damian Flowers/Alex Turner/Oliver Sim stops singing and turns the mike to the audience, and you feel yourself being carried on a wave of voices, passion and emotion. It’s worth it for that feeling of really being completely present in a single moment, something I find hard to achieve here in the whirlwind of uni. A recent psychological study also claims that listening to music live helps reduce levels of stress hormone. Although it’s true that the experiment involved participants attending classical music concerts, the bottom line is live music is now apparently good for your health as well as your soul.

So goodbye 5th week blues! From smaller, more budget friendly ones here in the UK to the slightly more extravagant ones further afield, here are my top 5 music festivals to get excited about this summer:

All Point East (25 – 27 May)                                                 

If you can’t wait for the summer to get your dose of musical energy, and don’t mind writing off a bit of Trinity term (what Prelims/finals/dissertation?), this East London festival beckons. All Point East is relatively accessible budget-wise and showcases some excellent alt rock acts such as LCD Soundsystem, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phoenix, Glass Animals, Chet Faker, The xx, Justice and Björk. A little under two hours away from Oxford in Victoria Park in London, there couldn’t be a more convenient and exciting festival.

Glass Animals (live in Melbourne July 2016)

 Primavera Sound (30 May – 3 June)

As well as being described as a ‘music festival for people that care deeply about music’, Primavera Sound offers the perfect beach-y summer festival vibes. Plan the perfect weekend away with a quick flight to Barcelona, to go see an incredible selection of music while overlooking the ocean. Dance term-time stress away to Belle and Sebastian (because why not see this Glaswegian band perform under the Spanish sun?), Cigarettes after Sex or A$AP Rocky. Primavera Sound also features the return of (contain your excitement) Arctic Monkeys to the stage – this band hasn’t been seen in concert since 2014, so expectations are high. Lorde will also make an appearance here, showcasing her new and excellent album Melodrama.

Arctic Monkeys (live in Cardiff in 2014)

Lollapalooza Paris (21 – 22 July)

It’s only the second year that the French edition of Lollapalooza is taking place, underlining the city’s efforts to branch out musically. The quick train trip away from London is definitely worth it for this amazing line up, including Depeche Mode (yes, they are still performing), Gorillaz, The Killers, Dua Lipa, Bastille and more. Hopefully the festival will be complete with the same apparently excellent food and relatively cheap pitchers of wine as last year.

The Killers (live in Odense in 2017)

Rock Werchter (5 – 8 July)

Only 2 hours away from Brussels, this staple of music festivals is perhaps a little rougher around the edges, characterized by cheap beer and relatively large amounts of mud, but if you manage to go this summer you’ll pretty much be set for the next decade’s worth of concerts. The Killers and Arctic Monkeys headline here as well, along with some more indie rock classics such as Angus and Julia Stone, Fleet Foxes, Gorillaz, Jack Johnson, London Grammar, MGMT, Pearl Jam, The Vaccines – and (excitingly) the up and coming 17-year old French electro artist Petit Biscuit… could this possibly be heaven?

Angus and Julia Stone (live in Sydney in 2014)

Way Out West (9 – 11 August)

Way Out West has been described as ‘one of Scandinavia’s most respected festivals’. Completely eco-friendly, vegetarian and very brand conscious, this festival is probably the most polished of all of these. With stages all across the city of Gothenburg, Sweden, expect beautiful scenery combined with the presence of Arcade Fire, Bonobo, St Vincent, Patti Smith, Kendrick Lamar and Lykke Li.

Arcade Fire (live in London in 2017)


Maybe this isn’t the most productive way to deal with the waves of panic at this point in term – but dreaming about music will always be a dependable escape route.



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