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Europe's Music Festivals Make Noise

Music fans: Although the U.S. festival scene is far better than it was five years ago, Europe is still the home of scores of three- to four-day events with endless numbers of bands, artists, poets, food, drink and (if you're in the U.K.) mud. And it's now cheaper and easier than ever to grab your backpack and a tent and make tracks to one of this year's European music festivals.

Low-cost carriers like Ryanair, easyJet, flybe, Wizz Air, germanwings and others offer flights to a range of smaller airports across the Continent, so a connecting flight from the States via the U.K. can now be incredibly inexpensive. Many of Europe's festivals have lineups to rival even Coachella and SXSW, so there's no reason not to combine a trip to Europe with a sample of some of the hottest acts from around the world.

Most Europeans opt for festival tickets that include camping, cutting out the cost of hotels and allowing the most convenient access to the festival sites. This is the most popular way to head to Reading, Leeds, Glastonbury and Isle of Wight festivals. If camping isn't your style, check out one of the many festivals based in town or holiday resorts.

All Tomorrow's Parties (ATP) is one of the UK's most revered festivals. It takes place at a family holiday resort called Butlins and is curated by a different cultural icon. This year's two summer fests were organized by Pavement and Matt Groening and the winter affair (Dec. 10-12) is hosted by Belle & Sebastian. Jim Jarmusch is the mastermind behind New York's September version. These sorts of festivals offer everything from regular rooms to chalets that sleep 2-6 people and have kitchen facilities -- plus indoor water parks!

Serbia's Exit Festival (July 8-11) is handy from Belgrade airport (served by Wizz Air), but cheaper options include Bratislava and Ljubljana airports (served by Ryanair and easyJet, respectively), where you can grab local train services to the festival site at Novi Sad. Serbia is also off the euro, making it a more cost-effective option.

Benicassim festival (July 15-19) in Valencia, Spain, is a thrifty trip from London to Barcelona via Ryanair or easyJet, or Girona on Ryanair or Thomsonfly. Couple this with a train ride down the coast to the festival site on the Costa Azahar for a relaxing and scenic trip to one of Europe's fastest-growing musical gatherings.

Other cheap picks include Electric Picnic (Sept. 3-5), near Dublin, and Open'er (July 1-4) in Gdynia, Poland. Flights to Ireland and Poland have recently become even more cost-friendly from the U.K., with several low-cost and national carriers including Ryanair, easyJet and Aer Lingus offering daily flights.

Ticket prices vary between festivals, but tend to cost a maximum of €180 (about $225). If you're dying to get in to a sold out event, try vendors like Viagogo, Scarlet Mist or Seatwave.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Manchester, UK
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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Gillian Ripley