How do you describe to someone who’s never been to a music festival what it’s really like?
Sure, you can paint a sunny picture of a writhing sea of hot and sweaty bodies gesticulating like there’s no mañana, but what about that profoundly unfathomable moment when the pulsating energy of euphoric unity sparks into transcendence and you lose yourself for the first time?
For some, coming together to pay homage to the power of music is an act of positive rebellion against the machine; for others, it’s a sacred spiritual pilgrimage to ever-deeper spheres of realisation and unity within.
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Regardless of the colour of your passport, nothing makes memories quicker than watching the sun rise over a jam-packed dance floor in the middle of nowhere. Some like ’em rough, tough, traditional, and tribal, others prefer the vibes chilled, the mood mellow, and the visions hectically electric, bro.
No matter if you’re into Danish Death Metal, Rainbow Pop, Acid Jazz, Psychedelic Trance, or Hipster Hop, here be 10 Music Festivals from around the world guaranteed to do more than just ROCK yours!
Lake of Stars – Mangochi, Malawi
Do not let the fluffy and mysterious name deceive you. Africa is rapidly becoming a mecca for great outdoor music festivals and Lake of Stars on the picturesque shores of Lake Malawi is leading the way. The festival draws in around 5000 visitors and plays out over three days filled with traditional storytelling, art, poetry, film, exciting activities and exquisite music. The volunteer-run festival kicks off on the 25th of September and will feature leading Malawian artists Peter Mawanga and Skeffa Chimoto, as well as a bevy of internationally acclaimed reggae, jazz, traditional African and contemporary hip hop talents.
Umbria Jazz Festival – Perugia, Italy
If you’ve never heard of the Umbria Jazz Festival, prepare to have your world elegantly funked and smoothly grooved. For 10 days every July, Italy plays host to some of the most famed and celebrated Jazz talent around. Since it’s humble beginnings in 1972, this most “Jazzmic” of international events has been graced by legends like Myles, Davis, B.B King, George Benson, Miriam Makeba and Prince (or whatever his purple highness calls himself nowadays). To ensure that not one of the 400,000 ears expected will leave without being thoroughly pleasured, last year’s festival featured an even wider mix of eclectic art and world music, including African Tribal, Rock & Roll and some sultry Cuban Salsa.
Airwaves – Reykjavík, Iceland
Since the first party launched in an abandoned airplane hanger in November of 99, this 5-day sonic adventure set on a volcanic island has become one of the premier gigs on the planet. What could be better than finding yourself stuck on a volcanic island and hoping Bjork’s next squeal won’t cause an avalanche? Secretly wishing for an eruption if Miley Cyrus suddenly shows up! The trendy setting, friendly spirit, and short hop and skip away from both Europe and North America, makes Airwaves a favourite with celebrities, journalists and musicians of every shape, sound and persuasion.
Shambhala – Salmo, Canada
Shambhala kicks off from 6 August for five days and features some of the most recognised names in the electro music biz along with a colourful variety of themed stages with names like “The Village”, “Fractal Forest”, and “the Pagoda”. Set amidst a 500-acre working river ranch, every area is unique and designed to deliver a cutting edge experience for mind, body, and spirit. To grease the fires for the main event, a variety of official Shambhala sponsored pre-parties are set to hit selected venues from LA to Vancouver.
Sunburn Festival – Goa, India
Sunburn lands 27 December and is one part Christmas celebration, one part New Year’s eve party, but all parts blow-out electro bash! Hailed as India’s premier electronic music festival and Asia’s largest 3-day event, this year’s festival will take place at the Candolim Beach and wildlife resort swamped by over 50,000 international trippers all looking to make every beat count. If you need more convincing that this landmark festival is not to be missed, read the following statement by CNN in the voice of James Earl Jones: “This is CNN and we think you need to get your bootie shaker to Sunburn because we say so. And now, here’s Mufasa with the weather…”
Fuji Rock Festival – Niigata Prefecture, Japan
Enter Asia’s most prolific music festival. For three hectic summer days every year (25-27 July), over 100,000 revellers descend on the Naebi Ski Resort in Niigata, Japan to camp out in a lush forest, cool off in the Yuzawa river and get high up in the mountains. Oh, and congregate in front of 14 booming stages to smash, mosh and generally rock out like it’s D-day, off course. With major label acts like Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, Oasis, Incubus, and the Chilli Peppers, the Fuji Rock Festival is rapidly becoming one of the most important events on every devoted rocker’s sonic calendar.
Urbanscapes- Selangor, Malaysia
Billed as the first and only double-day “user-generated” creative arts festival, Urbanscapes is not only one of Malaysia’s most popular national events, but the biggest art party in Southeast Asia. The Malaysian Agricultural Expo Park (MAEPS) in Serdang will be quartered into four zones around the main stage and include several chill-out zones, a pop-up Eco Village and Central Square with trendy comedy lounge. This year marks its 12th consecutive incarnation and along with the usual design, film and creative art installations, promises to be the biggest yet.
The BPM Festival – Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Since its inception in 2008, The “Bartenders, Promoters, Managers” Festival has mutated from a small underground party reserved for players in the hospitality industry, to a major international event attracting the cream of electronic royalty. The Festival kicks off on the 9th of January and plays out over 10 days showcasing over 150 Deejays and 50 events strewn across various venues in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. To ensure that guests can party non-stop, the line-up of over 250 artists is split into sunrise and sunset sessions with most of the world’s major record labels and producers in attendance. If the sick beats, sticky loops and high-octane vibes get too intense, the cool turquoise blue waters of the Yucatan will sort you out, quick-quick!
Unknown Festival – Rovinj, Croatia
Think rainbows of fabric hugging trees and winding footpaths leading to hammocks and cosy sofas hidden in a magical forest. For 5 days every year, the Amarin Resort near Rovinj becomes a summer beach bum’s dream come true. Imagine private Island parties, booze cruises, paint fights, and snoozing beneath the stars. Are you there yet? Good. Welcome to the latest fusion of art, performance, fun, music and just a dash of (n)utter madness.
Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival – Florida, USA
By no means the undisputed king of our top 10, but by far the most interesting! Where else are you going to snorkel with Elvis? Each summer, hordes of subsonic music lovers converge on the Florida Keys to hear everything from whale song to session musicians (dressed up as mermaids and mermen) pipe out tunes that would have made Handel weep in watery joy. Along with raising awareness of reef preservation, attendees are invited to gear up and dive down to behold the bubbly brass band spectacle, first hand. We’re still not sure how you are going to hear music underwater, but hey whatever sinks your trumpet!