The biggest metal festivals for your bucket list

“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.” Elton John 

Heavy metal and metal music is a grunge rock style characterised by harsh sounds and melodies. Developed by bands like Saxon and Iron Maiden, metal music is a diverse music genre that deserves further exploration. Forces of metal takes you on a journey that explores this sound through the most iconic metal festivals in the Netherlands and Europe. If you are a metalhead who loves to bang their head to the sound and thrives in the mosh pits, this list is a useful starting point. We understand the thrill of being part of a heaving crowd!

Here we explore the biggest metal festivals we’ve had the privilege of attending by location. Europe has the best selection of festivals, so it’s tough to decide which ones to put on your list. But we are here to help you choose the biggest and most fun events.

Happy crowd enjoying at music festival

Eastern European rock and metal festivals

The Opene’r is often considered one of the largest and most diverse festivals in Poland. Its annual line up features important international and local artist in various music genres, including rock and metal. The music festival has been offering attendants tent spots on arrival at the grounds at Gdynia.

Held in Moscow, the Park Live festival is one of the most important rock music festivals in Russia. The event is an ongoing annual show since 2013 that features some of the biggest headliners in the world. Major metal bands that have graced the Park Live festival stage include the American alternative metal band Deftones and System of a Down an Armenian-American metal band.

Festivals in Northern Europe

Howls of Winter Black Metal Festival in Estonia has been offering fans an exclusive selection of killer line up since 2014. Each year’s event is called an edition. Each edition is a two-day event that brings you metal bands from different countries, including Finland and Canada for entertainment. Some bands that have been on the stage include Winter Night Overture and Edasi from Estonia, and Dissillumination from Russia.

The Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium is an annual heavy metal festival held in Dessel since 1996. The 2015 edition brought together more than 152,000 spectators. Major acts include Rose Tattoo, Farmer Boys, and Oceans of Sadness. Today, the festival offers several stages with the main stage hosting headline acts and prominent bands, a tent stage for sub metal genres such as death metal, a metal dome for local acts, and the Jupiter open-air stage for hardcore, metalcore and deathcore tunes.

Festival mode on
Drummer rehearsing on drums before rock concert. Man recording music on drum set in studio

Festivals in Southern and Western Europe

The Netherlands’ Dynamo Open Air has held an event almost every year since 1986. The festival was renamed Dynamo Outdoor in 2008 and to Dynamo Metal Fest in 2015. With more than 118,000 visitors in 1995, Dynamo Open Air is one of the largest festivals ever held in the country. Nailbomb and guest band Death have recorded their performances at the festival. Major acts on the platform include Jungle Rot, Steel Panther, Armored Saint, and Overkill.

France is home to one of Europe’s biggest metal festivals – Hellfest Summer Open Air. Held annually in Clisson, Loire-Atlantique, the festival is also the first ever in France. The first 2006 edition sold more than 22,000 a day, which has more than doubled to over 55,000 tickets in 2017. The festival’s primary focus is hard rock and metal across multiple stages. As one of the most iconic metal festivals in Europe, Hellfest attracts big act bands like Megadeth, KISS, ZZ Top, and Cannibal Corpse.