Five of the best overseas festivals

This year try swapping your wellies for flip flops with our round-up of some of the best under-the-radar festivals abroad. If you want to party with an environmentally-clear conscience, come back refreshed with some new skills or pick up some vintage bargains, we’ve got it covered.


Obonjan, Otočić Obonjan, Croatia – 29 June-23 September
Relaxed, grown-up vibe with a festival twist
Defining itself as both a summer-long programme of events and a wellness retreat, this is one festival that won’t make you feel like you need another holiday when it comes to an end. Uninhabited until 2015, Obonjan is a private island just off the Dalmatian coast, peppered with cool pine forests and surrounded by the glistening waters of the Adriatic sea. The organisers of this relatively new festival have truly put the glamour into glamping – accommodation ranges from airy bell tents, to plush forest lodges and treehouses, and with a daily programme of yoga and holistic therapies, you’ll be so rejuvenated you won’t want to desert your temporary island-life. For those who like their activities a bit are water sports like wakeboarding and kayaking, and of course there’s a carefully curated arts programme and an eclectic mix of music including a handful of day and night boat parties so you can dance until the sun comes up, just in time for morning meditation.

Top tip: With a firm focus on health and wellbeing, there’s a multitude of vegan/vegetarian food options to choose from – have an attempt at going meat free for your stay.

Grande Braderie de Lille, Lille, France – 1-2 September
A festival combining history and retail therapy
Lille is a vibrant northern French city, near the border of Belgium, rich in colourful Flemish architecture. If that’s not enough reason to visit, at the start of each September it’s home to Europe’s largest flea market, which runs non-stop and to the sound of music for nearly 36 hours. The festival, dating from the 12th Century, originated as a market for servants to sell their masters’ old wares, and today the market stalls are filled with antique treasures and vintage gems. If you’re a seasoned bargain hunter, you might want to bring a large suitcase for this trip!

Top tip: Try the traditional moules et frites, washed down with a local beer.

Sziget, Budapest, Hungary – 8-15 August
Take part in the Hungarian love revolution
The concept behind Sziget is to create a utopian ‘dream nation’, celebrating the diversity of people and cultures from around the globe. The ethos is echoed in the colourful art installations, abundance of world cuisines and the friendly international crowd – everyone is encouraged to look out for their fellow ‘Szitizens’. The close-knit community comes together for seven days on an ‘island of freedom’ nestled on the Danube River. Whilst big-name artists top the bill, there is a sense that silliness is centre-stage, with powder paint and confetti parties, a dry ice rave, and mass bubble blowing amongst the many organised secret events. And with fire dancers, a circus, aerial theatre and a travelling funfair, there’s plenty to keep the little ones entertained. If all the fun gets too much, you can slip off for a bit of serenity in the Chill Garden, a beautiful beach on the western tip of the island.

Top tip: Take some time out for a bit of culture and catch a Hungarian film in the cinema tent (all subtitled).

Paral·lel Festival, Guardiola de Berguedà, Spain – 31 August-2 September
An alpine adventure with a story to tell
Another festival in its infancy, Paral·lel promises an intimate experience by capping the crowd with a limited 1,000 ticket sales. Set on a large plateau in the imposing Pre-Pyrenees Mountains (an hour and a half from Barcelona), the impressive environment is one of the three central pillars of the festival – along with comfort for guests and the cleverly-planned programme of music. There’s just one set lineup, purposely engineered to tell a story, with each performance organically linking from one to the next, carving out a narrative for this unique one-stage event. The non-clashing lineup shows respect for the artists, reflects the organisers’ passion for music and gives a sense of calm and non-urgency that suits the panoramic paradise setting perfectly.

Top tip: Taking the two-hour shuttle bus from Barcelona minimises your impact on the environment and means you can watch the stunning landscape unfold as you travel.

Flow Festival, Helsinki, Finland – 10-12 August
Eco-friendly urban escape
Billing itself as one of the world’s first carbon neutral festivals, Flow supports sustainability with 100% reused materials, renewable energy, biodegradable cutlery and seating made from water pipes. Built in a disused power station and just a short walk from Helsinki centre, you can get your fill of urban art and enjoy a cultural city break – this isn’t a camping festival but accommodation packages are offered on the website. The lineup does not disappoint with a host of popular UK/US artists and of course up and coming Finnish artists to discover. As well as the nine stages of music, there’s a vinyl market, a pop up cinema and Sunday is family day with a disco for kids.

Top tip: Show your commitment to the planet by packing your upcycled festival outfits in one of Eminent’s recyclable suitcases.