The European festival landscape is vast and multifaceted, and its scope seems to be ever-expanding. Festivals are implementing outstanding productions from dragon-shaped stages to fire- and light-shows that blow our minds. Although we have such a great assortment to pick and choose from, for many of us the top-notch standards of European festivals make it harder to decide which one of them is worth spending our heard-earned money on.
Festivals of such magnitude open the door to supernatural experiences and visual stimuli that give stage to extraordinary adventures. However, we cannot neglect the fact that most mainstream festivals are not eco-friendly (yet) and the impact they have on our environment is enormous. At mainstream festivals in the UK alone, an average of 2.000 tonnes of waste is produced every year, the majority of which goes straight to landfill or incineration.
If you are looking for a festival at which the pyrotechnics are replaced by a scenic mountain view and peaceful waterscapes take the place of the landfills – a more slow-paced and eco-aware environment to treat yourself and the planet, these four festivals might be something for you.
MS DOCKVILLE // HAMBURG // DE // 16-18 AUGUST 2019
MS Dockville is a festival that makes use of its outstanding location, surrounded by the river Elbe in the outskirts of Hamburg. Here you can sling your hammock around the trees of the arboreous area of the camping site. Its visitors treat the site as a blank canvas to create their own world to which everyone is welcome to contribute, always being aware of the preciousness of their immediate environment. The festival is eager to combine political discourse, with outstanding art installations and discussions that truly inspire and evoke a new way of approaching modern issues.
Festivals seem to be a great location for political discourse as people from different places of the world come together to celebrate what they love. If that doesn’t set the tone for peaceful and rewarding exchange, I don’t know what does. For this festival it is worth it not to leave all current issues at the doorstep of the security scan.
MEADOWS IN THE MOUNTAINS // POLKOVNIK // BG // 6-9 JUNE 2019
‘Where the land touches the sky and the sun cuddles nature’. This is the slogan for Meadows in the Mountains in the most scenic landscape of Bulgaria: the Rhodope Mountains. This festival is highly appreciative of the native community in which this event takes place and never hesitant to incorporate Bulgarian traditions such as the local Kukeri dancers into their programme. This results in an authentic cultural experience that serves as a deceleration of mainstream festival programming.
You can stay there at the homes of local villagers and incorporate daily wellness routines that are offered on site, such as yoga and spa sessions. Meadows in the Mountains is one of the pioneers when it comes to festival sustainability and waste reduction – they don’t offer disposable cups at any of their bars and therefore inspire visitors to always carry their reusable mugs or flasks. Musically, this festival is known for booking smaller and up-and-coming bands and DJs that set you up for a very atmospheric experience while never seeming to neglect the need for superlative partying.
POHODA FESTIVAL // TRENČIN // SK //11-13 JULY 2019
At Pohoda Festival you can spend three jubilant days in an environment that combines music from two opposing ends of the spectrum and does not fail to make you feel like an extended part of the family. Pohoda is currently said to be on the ascending branch both in terms of their line-up and eco-friendliness. Due to their recently extended waste separation efforts they are currently priding themselves with being ‘Europe’s greenest festival’. This in combination with a line-up that reminds us of Glastonbury or Lollapalooza, puts Pohoda in a truly outstanding position. There are hardly any excuses not to travel to this very affordable country while saving the planet. It’s an 11-hour train ride from Amsterdam to Vienna from where you can easily reach the festival with regional trains. Don’t miss out on spending a couple of days in Vienna too!
FLOW FESTIVAL // HELSINKI // FI // 9-11 AUGUST 2019
Finns have a reputation of living in harmony with nature. The majority of their land is covered by forest, lakes, and swamps, and even their capital ranks as one of the cleanest capital cities in the world. It is no wonder that its biggest festival, Flow Festival, is built of 100% reused materials, uses green electricity only, and has a zero carbon footprint. All waste is recycled and what is left is biodegradable. Except for the memories, they will remain.
DGTL // AMSTERDAM-NOORD // NL // 19-21 APRIL 2019
Then, last but most certainly not least, there is DGTL. Right across the river IJ in our very own Amsterdam you’ll find the best of what techno has to offer. DGTL's seven stages feature ninety DJs and electronic live acts, including The Black Madonna, Max Cooper, and Titia. What is more, DGTL received the 2018 «Green Operation Awards», indicating at their ecological awareness. Sustainability is key to the world’s first circular festival, partly due to their «big three» program: reusable hardcups, a smart energy plan, and a fully meat-free menu. So if you want to both be raving and saving the planet at the same time, take the (electric) pond to Amsterdam-Noord and get physical at DGTL.
If you decide to visit any of these festivals, you will realise that you don’t have to compromise a good time to take care of the environment. This one is up to us - we can’t afford to lose our destinations of escape to inconsideration.