Soenda – Utrecht, May
The vibrant university city of Utrecht is the natural home for Soenda, a house and techno celebration filling the grassy open spaces of Recreatiegebied Ruigenhoekse Polder (Polder recreation area) held during balmy Spring days in May. An spectacular light show and fireworks offer a night-time backdrop to such big names as Jeff Mills, Len Faki and John Talabo, as well as plenty of emerging talents. In November, an indoor version builds on its Springtime success.
Parkpop – The Hague, June
The Hague – a city best known for its politicians and lawyers (and also the band Golden Earring
) – hosts one of the largest free pop music festivals in Europe every summer. For a few days in June its lovely parks are filled with about 200,000 visitors, enjoying drinks, music and a great atmosphere. Since 1981, Parkpop has attracted international headliners (Jason Donovan, Kim Wilde, Clouseau) while still showcasing local talent.
The Flying Dutch – Amsterdam/Rotterdam/Eindhoven, June
What else are you going to call an event where the world's top Dutch DJs fly by helicopter between three different venues? This tri-city electronic music festival spread across Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven taps into the success of names such as Martin Garrix, Armin van Buuren, Tiësto and Hardwell – who calls it an "amazing concept". A joint audience of 100,000 fans saw the 2018 line-up.
Why do acts like Run the Jewels, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, The National and LCD Soundsystem play this three-day festival deep in Holland's south? Perhaps because the organisers have always put on "A festival we'd want to go to ourselves". The extra effort at Best Kept Secret in Hilvarenbeek shows in the imaginative food and the lovely lakeside campsite among the trees of Beekse Bergen park.