Summertime in Europe is well-known for its abundance of tourists flooding the cities for vacations.
But it is also known for the countless amount of festivals that are happening all over.
There’s many big popular fests like Pukkelpop in Belgium and Sziget in Hungary, but those fests hardly cater to the music that I love so dearly.
I might like 1 or 2 acts out of the 50+ there, but nothing I’d be willing to drop more than $70 for.
I’m an unapologetic metalhead.
I’ve been told many times that I don’t look the part.
Be that as it may, I love my music fast and heavy.
Most people say “Oh you like Metal, like Metallica and Slipknot?”
Usually my 1st response is “Think of their heaviest song. Now think of that song about twice as fast and 10 times heavier. That’s the stuff I like.”
That’s when I finally get the weird looks.
While it seems like most backpackers are looking for the next EDM festival with DJ ThisGuy, DJ ThatGuy, and DJ IWearThingsOnMyHead; I’m out there finding the metal festivals with bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Cattle Decapitation, All Shall Perish, and Aborted.
So without further ado…
Started in 2006.
Hellfest is such a well rounded festival that I think any type of metalhead would be pleased by going.
The diversity they have every year is just crazy.
The main stages have some of the biggest bands in the world.
They’re usually good ones too: Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Kiss, and Black Sabbath.
However over the last couple of years they’ve been bringing a bit more garbage like Limp Bizkit, Buckcherry, 3 Doors Down, Papa Roach, and Disturbed.
Then again for all the crap they’ve been adding they also brought many bands that I’m sure a lot of people aren’t usually lucky to see play.
For instance, The Melvins, Refused, Faith No More, Converge, and Dead Kennedys.
The rest of the fest is incredibly diverse with bands along the lines of Between The Buried And Me, Trap Them, Ulver, Skinless, Audrey Horne, and Joe Satriani.
Another great thing Hellfest does is break up their stages really well by genre.
MAIN STAGE 1 and MAIN STAGE 2 (hard rock/thrash).
TEMPLE STAGE (doom/pagan metal/black metal).
ALTAR STAGE (death metal/grind).
VALLEY STAGE (sludge/stoner).
WARZONE STAGE (punk/HxC).
So if you’re mostly into Stoner Metal you don’t have to be bouncing around from stage to stage to see your favorite bands.
You can just sit your stoned, Black Sabbath lovin’ ass in one spot and enjoy the festivities.
LOCATION: Clisson, France.
HELLFEST 2017: June 16, 17, 18.
***WITH FULL FORCE***
Started in 1994.
With Full Force is probably the most well known of the European Metal Festivals to cater more towards the Metalcore and Hardcore genres.
They still have many bands on the line-up that are similar to other fests like Amon Amarth, Children Of Bodom, and Cannibal Corpse.
But WFF is where you’ll get more bands along the lines of Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front, Madball, Terror, Hatebreed, Caliban, and Heaven Shall Burn.
LOCATION: Lobnitz, Germany. 34km north of Leipzig.
WITH FULL FORCE 2017: June 22, 23, 24.
***WACKEN OPEN AIR***
Started in 1990.
When I first started getting into metal I would see ads for Wacken in all the metal magazines and it immediately made me want to move to Europe.
Wacken always blew me away with their line-ups.
I was happy with the Ozzfests or the Milwaukee Metalfest that the U.S. would have; but Ozzfest was 1 rushed day and Milwaukee Metalfest seemed more about quantity rather than quality.
It was like a poor mans Wacken.
Wacken was always the king of European metal festivals for me.
That title might belong to Hellfest or Summer Breeze now; but Wacken is still a great festival.
With bands like The Exploited, Agathodaimon, Rammstein, Iced Earth, Judas Priest, and Emperor playing Wacken over the years how could one not respect this fest?
LOCATION: Wacken, Germany. 50km north of Hamburg.
WACKEN 2017: August 3, 4, 5.
***PARTY SAN METAL OPEN AIR***
Started in 1996.
Party San is like the German version of Obscene Extreme(Czech Republic) but with more Black Metal.
Catering to the heavier, darker, and more brutal genres like Black Metal, Death Metal, and Grindcore.
This is not a metal fest where you’re gonna find too many melodic bands.
Brutality is key here.
Some bands over the years have been: Anaal Nathrakh, Misery Index, Naglfar, Lock Up, General Surgery, and Impaled Nazarene.
LOCATION: Schlotheim, Germany. 176km west of Leipzig.
PARTY SAN 2017: August 10, 11, 12.
Started in 1997.
Summer Breeze, in my opinion, might be the best metal festival in all of Europe.
Similar to Hellfest or Wacken in their well rounded genre approach, but unlike Hellfest, Summer Breeze wont have someone like ZZ Top headline.
They’ll still keep their main stage acts relatively underground with bands like Machine Head, Slayer, Cradle Of Filth, or Children Of Bodom.
The rest of their line-ups are also really diverse.
With bands like Wintersun, Benediction, Agnostic Front, Watain, Ghost Brigade, and Bloodbath rounding out the bill.
LOCATION: Dinkelsbühl, Bavaria. Germany.
SUMMER BREEZE 2017: August 16, 17, 18, 19.
Started in 2003.
Download is certainly the most “radio friendly” of the European metal festivals, therefore making it the most popular summer rock and heavy metal festival in Britain.
All the stages are sponsored by some huge company, so this festival definitely had money to start out strong.
Their 1st year they had Iron Maiden, Audioslave, and NOFX headline their stages and they’ve had huge bands ever since.
Metallica, Guns N Roses, System Of A Down, and Tool to name a few.
Although bands like The Black Dahlia Murder, Napalm Death, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Dimmu Borgir have played this fest it is rare to see bands like this on it.
Certainly not a place where you’ll see Gorgoroth, Rotten Sound, or Exhumed.
LOCATION: Donington Park in Leicestershire, England.
DOWNLOAD 2017: JUNE 9, 10, 11.
Open Air started in 2005.
This fest covers most of the metal genres but seems to be dominated by Thrash more than the others.
Bloodstock is probably the only festival where I’d spend most of my time watching bands on the Main Stage(Ronnie James Dio Stage).
Bands like Exodus, Megadeth, Overkill, Venom, and Slayer have played this fest and probably heavily influenced all the other bands on the rosters.
The 2nd stage(Sophie Lancaster Stage) is alright.
Usually headlined by a band that could easily be on the main stage.
Bands like Goatwhore, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Scar Symmetry, and Dying Fetus have all headlined that stage.
One thing that makes Bloodstock different from the other fests is its unsigned stage(New Blood Stage).
It’s nice to give these bands an opportunity to play to a small festival crowd.
They also have a 4th stage(Jagermeister Stage) that seems pretty unnecessary.
If they just focused on making the 2nd stage full of more well known bands they could do just fine with 3 stages.
Learn from Milwaukee Metalfest. Quality is better than Quantity.
LOCATION: Walton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, England.
BLOODSTOCK 2017: August 10, 11, 12, 13.
Started in 1999.
Obscene Extreme is the biggest spit-in-your-face-drag-you-through-the-dirt fest in all of Europe.
If you want the crustiest, grindiest metal out there then this is the fest to be at.
If your gonna be in the Czech Republic and Brutal Assault just isn’t dirty enough for you then you’ll want Obscene Extreme instead.
Brutal Death Metal and Grindcore is what you’re getting here.
Leng Tch’e, Extreme Noise Terror, Nasum, Pig Destroyer, Incantation, and Lividity are the types of bands that play this fest.
Guarantee you’re gonna be broken and bruised after this one.
LOCATION: Trutnov, Czech Republic. 160km Northeast of Prague.
OBSCENE EXTREME 2017: July 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
Started in 1996.
Became a major event in 2006.
While the Download Festival in England might not cater to bands like Gorgoroth, Rotten Sound, or Exhumed; Brutal Assault caters exactly to those type of bands.
Over the last few years the fest has started to open up to more melodic bands like Devin Townsend Project, Opeth, and Anathema.
But this fest is BRUTAL Assault, so you’re definitely gonna get your brutal bands like Brutal Truth, Blood Red Throne, Cephalic Carnage, and Monstrosity.
Brutal Assault is the European equivalent of what the U.S. has with the Maryland Deathfest, but obviously with more European bands.
LOCATION: In an 18th-century army fortress (Josefov Fortress) in Jaroměř, Czech Republic.
BRUTAL ASSAULT 2017: August 9, 10, 11, 12.
Started in 1996.
While Pukkelpop is happening for the other genres of music in Belgium, Graspop is the festival catering to the metalheads.
Similar to some other large metal fests in Europe(Hellfest, Wacken, Download) they have their main stage(or stages) that have the more well known bands that vary in styles from Kiss, Black Sabbath, Scorpions, and Marilyn Manson.
However they also have complete dog shit like Limp Bizkit, Disturbed, Alter Bridge, and Hollywood Undead.
The Marquee stage is more the stage for me with it’s variety of Death Metal and Black Metal.
Bands along the lines of Watain, At The Gates, Arcturus, Hypocrisy, and Dimmu Borgir have all played there.
The Metal Dome stage is more traditional metal and thrash.
The Haunted, Zakk Wylde, Lacuna Coil, and Dragonforce have all played that stage.
Although the occasional random band will show up on that stage like Nails, Alcest, or The Dillinger Escape Plan.
And lastly they have the Jupiler Stage, which is the Hardcore and Punk stage.
This is the newest stage; started in 2014.
It caters to bands along the lines of Anti-Flag, Atreyu, Pro-Pain, and Walls Of Jericho.
LOCATION: Dessel, Belgium. Located between Antwerp and Eindhoven.
GRASPOP 2017 – June 16, 17, 18.
From a European country that always seems to be skipped over there’s a fest there that should not be skipped if you’re in the area.
Rockstadt used to be a 3 day festival, but now it appears they’ve changed it to 4, with bands only playing the 2nd stage on the 1st day.
The line-ups they’ve had so far are quite diverse and make this an interesting little fest.
Bands along the lines of My Dying Bride, Combichrist, Katatonia, Gojira, and Textures have played here along with bands like Obituary, Marduk, Cattle Decapitation, Mayhem, and Borknagar.
LOCATION: Rasnov, Romania. 178km from Bucharest.
ROCKSTADT 2017 – August 10, 11, 12, 13.
Started in 2004.
Formerly known as METALCAMP(till 2012)
Much like Rockstadt in Romania, MetalDays is another fest not to be missed in a European country many people skip over.
MetalDays has been a powerhouse of a fest since its 1st installment.
Aggressively growing each year they actually had to stop ticket sales in 2010 at 12,000 tickets.
MetalDays is also a powerhouse because it’s an actual week long festival.
I’m assuming every metalhead in Slovenia uses some vacation time for this fest.
MetalDays covers all the metal genres with bands like Suffocation, Blind Guardian, Darkest Hour, and Tiamat.
Similar to Summer Breeze their main headlining bands aren’t too big either.
They keep the headliners slightly more underground with bands like Dream Theater, Testament, Opeth, and Black Label Society.
LOCATION: Tomin, Slovenia.
METALDAYS 2017: July 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29.
Started in 2001.
Inferno might be the most evil festival in all of Europe.
If you’re looking to wear your corpsepaint and not standout, this is the festival for you.
Inferno definitely caters to the brutal and dark.
Founded by Borknagar guitarist Jens F. Ryland; Inferno has been a solid festival since their very 1st year.
Having a festival founded by a member of the black metal community guarantees you know what bands to expect here.
The line-up usually consists of bands along the lines of: Mayhem, Marduk, Vader, Necrophagist, Enslaved, Deicide, Dark Funeral, Taake, and Satyricon.
LOCATION: Oslo, Norway.
INFERNO 2017 – APR. 12, 13, 14, 15.
Started in 1992.
Sweden Rock is a very long running hard rock/metal festival in Sweden that mostly caters to Hard Rock, Thrash, and Power Metal.
What mostly started as a Hard Rock festival has begun to incorporate heavier bands right around 2000/2001.
The majority of their line-ups are still hard rock and classic rock.
They always have good classic bands headline like Aerosmith, Judas Priest, Lynryd Skynyrd, or Motorhead headline the fest.
On the heavier spectrum they’ll have stuff like Mayhem, Obituary, Emperor, and Behemoth, but they try to keep a nice inbetween balance with bands like Volbeat, Audrey Horne, Gojira, and Blind Guardian.
LOCATION: Norje(Sölvesborg) Sweden. 146km east of Helsingborg.
SWEDEN ROCK 2017 – JUNE 7, 8, 9, 10.
***TUSKA OPEN AIR***
Started in 1998.
Tuska(Finnish for Pain/Agony) has always been a really good fest, from their 1st year to their latest.
They’ve also been extremely European.
In the last couple of years they’ve started to have more North American metal bands come over, but it’s heavily filled with European bands.
The amount of bands they have over the 3 day span is also not too overbearing.
Headliners over the years have been: Megadeth, Ghost, Nightwish, Lamb Of God, and Anthrax.
While the rest of the festival is rounded out with a variety of bands from: Neurosis, Leprous, Sonata Arctica, Amorphis, Mercenary, and Bolt Thrower.
The variety of genres at Tuska would make this my favorite fest to go to in Scandinavia.
LOCATION: Helsinki, Finland.
TUSKA 2017 – JUNE 30, JULY 1, 2.
Many More Of Course.
There are many more smaller European Metal Festivals happening all across the EU, but there are almost too many to mention.
Europe is a very metal place to travel through the Summer.
With proper planning(tickets sometimes sell-out months in advance), timing, and funds these festivals could be the highlight of a backpacking trip through Europe.
In case I didn’t mention any countries that you might visit in Europe there’s a list of metal festivals located HERE.
Also if you’re looking for more in-depth info about European Metal Festivals you can also go HERE.
I think for one Summer I’m gonna hunker down in Germany and just do Wacken, Party San, and Summer Breeze back to back.
They’re all so close to each other, why not!??!
Have you been to any European Metal Festivals?
Tell me your stories below.
My name is Jeremiah and I'm an Arizona desert rat in search of the next adrenaline pumping adventure.
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