The 13 best metal festivals in the world in 2017

Like your music on the heavier side? Then these are the festivals you very much need to go to

1. Download

Getty Images

Where: Donington Park, Derby, UK

When: June 9-11, 2017

Why: Taking over where the legendary Monsters of Rock took off, Download is now the UK’s most celebrated metal and hard rock event. It always manages to pull in the world’s biggest, heaviest bands to the hallowed Donington Park site, and this year is no exception – with System Of A Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith headlining, and Rage Against The Machine and Public Enemy supergroup Prophets of Rage, Mastodon, Slayer, Red Fang and Opeth in the mix, with many more names to come.

2. Desertfest

Getty Images

Where: Camden, London, UK

When: April 28-30, 2017

Why: Rounding up all things stoner and sludge London’s indoor, multi-venue Desertfest has fast become an Easter essential. This year weed metal dons Bongzilla will play their first London show in 14 years and the iconic Sleep will be bringing their epic doom to the party. Wolves In The Throne Room, Turbonegro and Saint Vitus are also on the bill, with John Garcia of Kyuss doing a solo turn and also with desert rockers Slo Burn.

3. Wacken Open Air

Rex Features

Where: Wacken, Germany

When: August 3-5, 2017

Why: Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Megadeth, Mayhem, Napalm Death, Orange Goblin and Turbonegro are all playing, that’s why. Status Quo are also on the bill, which will be an emotional one, following the passing of Rick Parfitt. ‘Louder than hell’, is Wacken’s tagline, and we’re inclined to agree.

4. Hellfest

Rex Features

Where: Clisson, France

When: June 16-18, 2017

Why: So many iconic acts are playing Hellfest that it almost feels like a flashback to the glory days of Monsters of Rock. Deep Purple, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Saxon, The Damned, Blue Oyster Cult, Pentagram and Hawkwind are all on the bill. Younger bucks like Chelsea Wolfe and Frank Carter round out the highly decent turnout. See you there?

5. Bloodstock

Getty Images

Where: Catton Hall in Walton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, UK

When: August 10-13, 2017

Why: The UK’s largest independent metal fest, Bloodstock’s 2017 headliners are Amon Amarth and Megadeth, who’ll be playing the Ronnie James Dio main stage. Hatebreed are also on the bill. Last year Bloodstock was so metal that it was selling black ice-cream. Nice.

6. Live Evil

Getty Images

Where: The Dome and Boston Music Room, Tufnell Park, London, UK

When: November 2017

Why: Named after a Black Sabbath live album, Live Evil has yet to announce any bands this autumn’s event, but last year – their sixth outing – they managed to score a set from heavy metal forefathers Pentagram. We have high hopes for 2017.

7. Roadburn

Getty Images

Where: 013 Venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands

When: April 20-23, 2017

Why: Baroness, Pallbearer, Deafheaven, Emma Ruth Rundle and Chelsea Wolfe are going to feel the ‘burn this spring, at a festival which shines a light on heavy music’s younger, hipper side. Also, refreshingly for a metal festival, there’s a decent amount of women on the bill.

8. Fort Rock

Where: Fort Myers, Florida

When: April 29-30, 2017

Why: Def Leppard, Soundgarden, The Offspring, A Perfect Circle, Mastodon, Eagles of Death Metal… Fort Rock covers all your hard rock bases, from grunge and hair metal to punk pop and deep doom. Something for everyone. Also, it’s in Florida, so it’ll be nice and toasty.

9. Copenhell

Rex Features

Where: Refshaleøen, Copenhagen, Denmark

When: June 22-24, 2017

Why: There’s no messing around with Copenhell, Copehagen’s premiere metal-fest. System of A Down are top of the bill, but there’s plenty of new blood, like Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, and total rock legends, like Saxon and Rob Zombie. The Prophets of Rage supergroup will also be putting Denmark to rights, and Swedes Opeth bring the beards.

10. Obscene Extreme

Where: Battlefield, Trutnov, Czech Republic

When: July 5-9, 2017

Why: Obscene Extreme describes itself as a “freak friendly extreme musick open-air festival”. Great. Spanish, Slovakian and Greek grindcore, horror-rock and classic Californian powerviolence bands all come together for this yearly blast of sonic intensity. Political hardcore band Infest and cult British punks Discharge will be playing the 2017 event. There’s also a kids area for mini-metalheads to run wild.

11. Nova Rock

Rex Features

Where: Nickelsdorf, Austria

When: June 14-17, 2017

Why: Up and running since 2005, Nova Rock sits at the more commercial end of the metal festival spectrum, with headline sets this year from Linkin Park, Blink-182, System Of A Down and Green Day. Look further down the bill though, and the delights of Slayer, Mastodon and Rancid await you. And um, Fatboy Slim, for some reason.

12. Graspop Metal Meeting

Getty Images

Where: Dessel, Belgium

When: June 16-18, 2017

Why: The icons are out in full force for this perfectly formed Belgian gathering. Deep Purple and Rammstein are heading up the bill, which also includes Ministry, Mayhem, Red Fang and a touch of classic Californian thrash in the shape of Suicidal Tendencies.

13. Metal Days

Where: Tolmin, Slovenia

When: July 23-29, 2017

Why: The fifth anniversary of Slovenia’s Metal Days sees mighty vikings Amon Amarth and Marilyn Manson topping the bill, while retro stoner rockers Kadavar will be bringing the deep grooves. Also notable for the inclusion of two smaller acts with outstanding names; Rectal Smegma and Vasectomy.