The hottest music festivals of 2024 

Rock Werchter

Where: Werchter, Belgium

When: July 4-7

What: It might be set in a quiet village, but Rock Werchter is making a lot of noise on the European festival circuit. It’s been running since 1976, and this year’s eclectic four-day program – split across four stages – shows just how well-respected it has become. Main stage headliners include American rocker Lenny Kravitz, Eurovision winner Måneskin, British indie legend PJ Harvey, pop princess Dua Lipa, rock giants Foo Fighters (pictured), genre-defining Khruangbin and Mercury Prize winner Arlo Parks.

Other must-see acts: Michael Kiwanuka, Jungle, Snow Patrol, Black Pumas, The Breeders, Idles, Royal Blood, Yungblud, Tom Odell

NOS Alive Lisbon

Where: Passeio Marítimo de Algés, Portugal

When: July 11-13

What: With headline acts including Arcade Fire, Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam, NOS Alive will be one of the top picks for aging alt rock fans this year. But if that’s not your thing, this festival – slogan “Beach by day, music by night” – still has a lot to offer. Dua Lipa (pictured), again, one, as well as South African songwriter Tyla, whose mix of pop and piano has already won her a slew of awards and nominations at just 22 years old.

Other must-see acts: Jessie Ware, Black Pumas, Sofi Tukker, The Breeders, Michael Kiwanuka, Kenya Grace

Wireless

Where: Finsbury Park, London

When: July 12-14

What: One of Europe’s premier hip-hop (and related genres) gatherings, this year’s line-up boasts headliners including Nicki Minaj, US-based British rapper 21 Savage, Afroswing pioneer J Hus, three-time winner Grammy Future, pop/rap superstar Doja Cat (pictured) and one of last year’s stars Ice Spice during the three days.

Other must-see acts: Sean Paul, Destroy Lonely, Tyla, Uncle Waffles, OsamaSon, Vanessa Bling

Minnesota Yacht Club

Where: St. Paul, Minnesota

When: July 19-20

What: For a festival in its first year, the inaugural Minnesota Yacht Club event features an impressive, if relatively small, 20 artists over two days on the banks of the Mississippi. One of the festival’s USPs is that none of the shows overlap, meaning you’ll be able to catch them all. Don’t expect any cutting-edge underground acts here; the vast majority of the lineup is made up of veterans, including headliners Gwen Stefani, Alanis Morissette and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (pictured).

Other must-see acts: The Black Crowes, The Head and The Heart, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, The Offspring, Gary Clark Jr., The Hold Steady

The electric castle

Where: Cluj, Romania

When: July 17-21

What: In 2019, Electric Castle was named best medium-sized festival at the European Festival Awards. Its stunning location – in the grounds of Bánffy Castle, whose architectural mess reflects the genre-bending approach the festival organizers take – helps, but it’s the mix of 10 stages of great performances, art installations and watch activities that make it such a rewarding experience for the participants. This year’s headliners include British trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack, Seattle rockers Queens of the Stone Age, British rock band Bring Me the Horizon and electronic duo Chase & Status.

Other must-see acts: Paolo Nutini, Nina Kraviz, Rema, Ricardo Villalobos, Sleaford Mods, DJ Shadow

Lollapalooza

Where: Chicago, USA

When: August 1-4

What: It may not be the haven for outsiders it once was, for audiences or performers, but Lollapalooza remains a hugely meaningful event for both. This year’s lineup is a typical mix of acclaimed indie acts and commercial heavy hitters. And often a combination of the two. Headliners include Megan Thee Stallion, SZA, The Killers, Blink-182, Melanie Martinez (pictured), Hozier, Stray Kids and Future & Metro Boomin.

Other must-see acts: Deftones, Killer Mike, Conan Grey, Two Door Cinema Club, Nico Vega, Lizzy McAlpine, Jungle, Kesha, Tyla, Renée Rapp

The festival of flow

Where: Helsinki, Finland

When: August 9-11

What: Billed as “the world’s first neutral festival,” Flow is both a music and visual arts festival (and some pretty great food options). Musically, the line-up mainly covers pop and indie, alongside DJ sets and some more experimental gigs. This year’s 20th anniversary edition will feature around 150 acts, with headliners once again including British downtempo pop producer Fred, American singer-songwriter Halsey, English alt-folk/alt-rock legend PJ Harvey (pictured), Jessie Ware, Britpop stars Pulp and British singer-songwriter RAYE, whose debut LP ‘My 21st Century Blues’ won the latest BRIT Awards album of the year. There’s regional representation further down the bill from Palestinian-Jordanian “Shamstep” pioneers 47Soul.

Other must-see acts: Janelle Monáe, Idles, Aurora, The Smile, Alvvays, Barry Can’t Swim

Creamfields

Where: Daresbury, UK

When: August 22-25

What: Arguably the biggest dance music festival on the calendar, Creamfields just keeps getting bigger. This year sees the debut of its new indoor stage, APEX, which has a capacity of 30,000. And they continue to offer packed programs with the world’s most popular DJs. As of this year, they include Calvin Harris, Tiësto, Jamie Jones, Sub Focus, Peggy Gou (pictured), Fatboy Slim, Pete Tong and Eric Prydz, among many others.

Other must-see acts: Dimension, Charlie Sparks, Solomun, Charlotte de Witte, Martin Garrix, Chase & Status, Hannah Laing

Fool in love

Where: Inglewood, California

When: August 31

What: Another brand new festival, but this one is looking to the future. It’s a one-day event to begin with, but it’s got an insane list of music legends lined up that harkens back to the glory days of Motown, disco, funk and smooth 80s pop. The three-stage headliners are Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson (pictured), Durand Jones & The Indications, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic and Kool & The Gang, but many more icons appear further down the bill.

Other must-see acts: Al Green, Rose Royce, The Chi-Lites, The Isley Brothers, Santana, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, The Jacksons, Dionne Warwick

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