50 music festivals for the summer
While Coachella and South By Southwest are already behind us, there are plenty of other world-class festivals to get you pumped this year.
Whether you’re into indie, grindcore, folk or hard techno, these epic summer events will be sure to keep your ears ringing till the fall.
We've covered June to September, each on a separate page -- so click through for your diary of musical mayhem.
Primavera Sound, Barcelona, Spain
Date: May 30-June 3
You don’t have to be a multi-platinum selling artist to play at Primavera, in fact, quite the opposite. This festival in the capital of Catalonia is all about leftfield, good music under piercing blue skies, whether you’ve sold 10 records or 10 million.
“Primavera manages not to disappear up its own backside into music snobbery,” says Paul Stokes, the associate editor of Q Magazine. “It’s full of weird architecture right on the coast, and the festival goes on all night, leaving it feeling like some futuristic rave."
Taico Club, Nagano, Japan
Date: June 2-3
They don’t allow kids at this over 20s music event, set among the beautiful snow-capped peaks of Nagano.
And you have to get in there quick for a ticket; the max capacity is 7,000, which makes it pretty special, like you’ve come across a scenic secret gathering in the mountains.
“It's a fairly new one but is gaining popularity fast,” explains electro samplist Anchorsong. “This year's lineup is impressive: See Animal Collective, Boredoms, Machinedrum, Africa Hitech, Ricardo Villalobos."
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Bonnaroo, Tennessee, United States
Date: June 7-10
"The Roo" is one of the largest summer festivals in the United States, and it’s deliberately OTT. It’s also diverse; this year you’ll get sets from The Beach Boys and Radiohead to Ludacris and Alice Cooper.
The name of this party under the blazing Tennessee sun translates as "real good time," and this simple hippy ethos resonates throughout the 283-hectare farm. Aside from watching a decent roster of artists, you can don your tie die and throw your inebriated self around on carousels, slippery wet slides and silent discos.
Download Festival, Derby, England
Date: June 8-10
Metal critic Orlando Crowcroft, from Rolling Stone Middle East says, “The organizers have been booking too many commercial emo bands of late, to get the teenagers in.”
But regardless of its shameless sugar-coating, the satanic-metal atmosphere and rock-god lineup of the Download Festival is yet to be rivaled elsewhere in Blighty. Punk giants NOFX and kings of distortion Metallica headline this year.
Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas, United States
Dates: June 8-10
Here, pulsating electric beats resonate through your core and an explosion of inventive visual displays heightens your trip.
The incredible theatrics, pyrotechnics and art add another dimension to a consistently tight lineup. This year get your groove on to Afro Jack, John Digweed, Little Noise, Erick Morillo and Kill the Noise.
Glastonbury Festival, Glastonbury, England
Date: Usually mid/end June
Yes, we know it’s not on this year, but Glasto, without question, deserves a place on this list. When it’s on, this quaint rural spot turns into a mini city of more than 150,000 oddballs, old-school hippies and music-fanatics.
“You can always be guaranteed an incredible lineup,” says Andy Buchan, editor of Infusion Magazine.
And regardless of the festival’s commercial success, the sprit of the festival remains, explains Matt Wilkinson, new music editor of NME. “Despite the number of pop acts on the bill, and the seemingly never-ending corporate tie-ins … the quirkiness of the festival, from the green fields to the weather, gives it a life of its own,” he says.
This is the only place on earth you can lose your tent (and potentially your entire car) to two meters of mud and walk away thinking it was worth it.
Tickets (for 2013): www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk
Sonar, Barcelona, Spain
Date: June 14-16
Multimedia meets music at this four-pronged festival (taking place in Sao Paulo, Cape Town and Tokyo as well).
We’d argue that the Sao Paulo version of this festival is even better, for its hip crowd oozing intoxicating Latin energy. Speaking strictly summer festivals, though, Barcelona is your next best bet.
"The event is about “one word ... music,” explains Charl Chaka, the managing director of Infusion events. “Nothing compares to Sonar when it comes to the best underground line-up around.”
It’s also an avant-garde, visual journey, with volt-loads of experimental digital art taking place all over the historic, sunny city.
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Hellfest, Rue du Champ Louet, France
Dates: June 15-17
“This picturesque town with historic churches gets invaded by satanic T-shirt wearing metalers with long greasy hair trying to find food and beer. It’s absolute mayhem,” says Orlando Crowcroft from Rolling Stone ME.
It started out when a small group of friends obsessed with hardcore metal, sick of trekking halfway across the country to see their idols, decided to bring the bands to them. The event has now turned into four stages pumping out monstrously loud riffs to a frenzy of around 70,000 metalheads doing windmills.
“The lineup is always fantastic,” says Crowcroft. “Good metal bands often get buried at big festivals, but here, they get center stage.”
INmusic, Zagreb, Croatia
Dates: June 28-30
For the festival-goer who likes music but doesn’t like to get too grubby listening to it, the camping spots here come with Wi-Fi and hot showers.
You won’t have to stand next to teenagers chucking their beer around either -- the comfortable 25,000-partier capacity means there’s plenty of room to breathe, and the idyllic forest and lakes make for a quick escape if it’s getting too loud for your delicate head.
Once you’ve finished watching The Cranberries and Plan B, go for a hike, swim, yoga session or a row (we kid you not).
Rock Werchter, Werchter, Belgium
Dates: June 28–July 1
One of the big five European festivals, with a drool-inducing lineup every year, Rock Werchter still manages to maintain that small festival vibe.
It attracts a young crowd of overexcited Dutch and Flemish kids, but don’t let that dissuade you.
With a lineup including Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Cure, Anna Calvi, Bat for Lashes, Dropkick Murphys, Gossip, Jack White, Kasabian, and Skrillex we’d happily hold back the hair of the odd vomiting teen.
Eurockeennes, Malsaucy, France
Dates: June 29-July 1
Dubbed the "French Glasto," Eurockeennes' biggest pull is its beautiful site on the Swiss border. Pick one of a handful of stages in the pristine nature reserve, lie down on the spongy green surface and do angel wings into the night.
Headliners include: Cypress Hill, The Cure and Dropkick Murphys.
Festival Au Bord De l'Eau, Sierre, Switzerland
Date: June 29-July 1
This festival gets our vote for its community vibe. The experience is part festival experience and part idyllic family holiday with a bunch of excellent musicians in tow.
“It’s held in an amazingly beautiful setting near a crystal blue lake surrounded by mountains,” says Lance Ferguson from deep funk outfit The Bamboos.
Here you can paint a canvas, pour yourself a glass of Champagne, and lounge back in a pedalo with Swiss Alps in the vista, all while listening to grooves from DJ Vadim, Alice Russell and Henrik Schwarz.
Baybeats Music Festival, Singapore
Dates: June 29-July 1
Southeast Asia’s premier alternative music festival is your best bet in the region; it emphasizes homegrown talent in multiple disciplines from folk, pop and rock to punk and electro.
This year it’s their 10th anniversary and absolutely free. Rock out with some 80,000 other revelers, and spend your money on beer instead.
Open’er, Gdynia, Poland
Dates: July 4-7
Identifiable by the retro Ferris wheel standing like a beacon against 20,000 tents, the Open’er is a different breed of organized fun.
It’s less organic than other festivals -- you can’t take liquor into the arena, have to queue for a designated camping spot and are not allowed to piggyback your mates so they can see the stage -- but it redeems itself through extracurricular add-ons including a pop-up theater, documentary screenings, hipster fashion shows and a silent disco in a bunker.
This year see Björk, Bloc Party, Public Enemy, New Order and The Kills.
Roskilde, Copenhagen, Denmark
Dates: July 5-8
You get more bang for your buck at Roskilde, not just because the beer and food is cheap but because during the northern hemisphere summer the sun will be up before 5 a.m. and stay up until past 10 p.m.
As well as a killer lineup including Björk, The Cure, and The Roots across the eight stages, you can partake in activities at each of the campsites and do some skateboarding, watch a movie on the outdoor cinema screen, go for a swim and even fish for your dinner (if you catch anything they’ll cook it for you too).
Mainly though, you’ll be giving to a good cause by going to this event -- the organizers don’t keep any profits but instead donate everything to cultural organizations and charities.
Pohoda, Trenčín, Slovakia
Date: July 5-7
The aim of the game here is to relax (which is exactly what Pohoda means). And the killer down-tempo lineups, the fact you never feel like cattle (there are no queues) and the sweltering heat ensures that you do.
Last year the organizers cleverly brought in fire trucks to hose down the sweltering crowds, and the big bosses also thought of other atmospheric additions: “They released thousands of Thai lanterns into the sky. It looked beautiful,” says Ricky Fabulous from Belleruche.
“There’s also huge Slovakian acts mixed in,” he says. “I got to hear an aging and very strange prog rock organist just before Sharon Jones.”
Rock Al Parque, Bogota, Colombia
Dates: July 6-7 (unconfirmed)
There’s no quaint festival vibe at Rock al Parque, as it’s South America’s largest rock music festival and is totally free.
A heaving crowd turns up every year and piles into the arena to catch a glimpse of mega artists (this year: NOFX, Charly Garcia, Steel Pulse). It can get pretty rowdy, so the security staff prohibit booze, cigarettes and studded belts.
Obscene Extreme, Trutnov, Czech Republic
Dates: July 11-14
Admittedly, this festival isn’t for the masses; it’s dedicated to underground extreme metal and grindcore.
The diehard fans total only 1,500 per year, however, this group of long-haired rockers keep the spirit of the genre alive, and there’s an undeniable cameraderie in the air, no matter how threatening the decibels and band names.
See Blood I Bleed, Human Scum, Internal Suffering and Wormrot this year.
Exit, Novi Sad, Serbia
Dates: July 12-15
A 2,000-strong protest against Slobodan Milosevic in a 17th-century fortress has, 12 years on, evolved into a swelling mass of 250,000 revelers, 500 bands, 20 stages and a 2012 lineup including Duran Duran, Skindred, Plan B, The Toy Dolls, Guns N' Roses and New Order.
Over four days, metal, hardcore, punk, electro, reggae, indie and world music fans play together in this foresty fortress against an incredible backdrop of the second biggest Serbian city, Novi Sad.
“To me it's one of the best festivals I've ever been to,” says Rodney P from Sleepin’ Giantz. “The running order of the acts over the course of the event makes sense musically so you can really catch a vibe.”
Dour Festival, Dour, Belgium
Dates: July 12-15
Here it’s all about a belly full of local beer and pure unadulterated indie and hardcore music, with no frills or gimmicks.
There are fewer stadium names to pull the crowds, but instead dozens of bands that are on the cusp of blowing up play each year.
Each year the organizers construct two large stages for the headliners and seven mega tents (with floorboards and everything) ... at some point it’s guaranteed to tip it down.
Dates: July 12-15
There’s not a poncho in sight at this mid-summer Spanish fest. Instead it’s heaving with Speedos.
The festival itself is a sweaty affair; if you find yourself covered in beer, with your face in a raver’s armpit, fear not -- they actually have showers at the campsite. Alternatively, the beach and sea is not far from the festival site.
Don’t feel confined to the chips-in-a-tray diet you’ll be force fed at most other festivals either, the town center offers slap up paella and refreshing jugs of sangria to wash it down. Oh yeah, the lineup’s not bad either.
Party until sunrise this year to a lineup including Bob Dylan, Noel Gallagher and The Vaccines.
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Pitchfork, Chicago, United States
Dates: July 13-15
Organized by the hipster publication, "Pitchfork," this small festival likes it that way. If you’ve heard of half the bands on the bill, own several pairs of skin-tight jeans and wear organic-designer-stubble, you’re about as muso as you need to be to understand what it’s all about.
Headliners include Feist, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Vampire Weekend.
Kelly McClure, music editor at "Vice" magazine, is an anti-festivalist but says she’d visit Pitchfork before any other: “It’s the least physically excruciating [festival] I've been to.” She’s spot-on.
Secret Garden Party, Abbots Ripton, England
Dates: July 19-22
This festival is a garden party gone gaga. It’s got a modest capacity of 26,000, but each of those turns up on heat, with personal little projects in tow.
Wander through the forest and find strange festival-goers putting on their own performances in trees, plus bizarre art installations and treasure hunts. Or absorb the energy at the big stages where Orbital, Lamb and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros will be performing.
“Take all the magic, chaos and wonderment of the wilder fringes of Glastonbury, stick it between rolling hills and add a healthy dose of chemicals and you've got a magical, mysterious wonderland, where the Mighty Boosh could happily come to life,” explains George Wilson Powel, former editor of Blowback magazine.
“From art installations to DJs in tree houses and more dress-up boxes than you can shake a fairy wand at, it's Cambridgeshire as you've never seen it before.”
Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, New York, United States
Dates: July 19-22
Thousands of aging hippies, young hippies, families and farmers show up for this laidback affair in rural New York, a short way from Ithaca.
You’ll find hundreds of aficionados of bluegrass, rockabilly, Irish music, rock 'n' roll, country and Native American music, plus a load of other hippy stuff from stripy clown pants stalls to an art barn and a healing tent (with herbal highs and remedies).
A percentage of the proceeds goes to worthy causes such as Doctors Without Borders and Musicians For World Harmony.
Cambridge Folk Festival, Cambridge, England
Dates: July 26-29
Filled with laidback folky stalwarts, this festival offers that quaint English muffin-and-jam feeling, with its storytelling sessions for kids, countless experimental ales and the chance to admire some of the finest beards and pot bellies in Britain.
Special features include a chill-out flower garden, the MOJO signing tent -- for wannabe folk stars -- and plenty of impromptu sessions (don’t forget to bring your tin whistle or bodhráin).
Headliners this year include Clannad, Joan Armatrading and Roy Harper.
Global Gathering, Warwickshire, England
Dates: July 27-28
It’s become more commercial over the last few years with super-sized stages and high-profile headliners, but if you look hard, you’ll still find enough tasty, dirty drum ‘n’ bass and hard house to dance to until you get blisters.
Posh clubbers can now bed up in luxury by booking a Suitehut with a TV and DVD player, fridge, and fresh linen. Tinie Tempah, Armin Van Buuren and Chase & Status headline this year.
Midi, French Riviera, France
Dates: July 27-29
This itsy-bitsy festival focuses on new sounds. “Midi has traditionally hosted the first foreign shows by some of the world's best new bands,” says Matt Wilkinson, new music editor of NME. “The likes of WU LYF and Girls both kick-started their careers there."
The location gives the festival something undeniably extra, perched atop the seaside town of Hyères with medieval streets. The music take place in Villa Noailles over looking Chateau Vallombrossa, which Wilkinson describes as “a 1920s surrealist dream of a building,” with a deep-rooted cultural significance.
“It has played host to everyone from Salvador Dalí to Man Ray in the past,” he says.
Fuji Rock, Naeba, Japan
Date: July 27-29
The largest festival in Japan has a year-on-year cracking lineup (expect The Stone Roses and Radiohead this year), and a mystifying location in the mountains.
To get to some of the stages you have to trek through the forest or take a gondola. There’s also an outdoor cinema by the river, the chance to eat udon noodles for breakfast and the must-visit "Stoned Circle" where you can play ramshackle instruments and drums.
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Splendour In The Grass, New South Wales, Australia
Dates: July 27-29
If you’re headed south this summer (their winter) your best bet is this little beaut.
Now back in its rightful place (after a two-year location change), at Belongil Fields near the sleepy surfer town of Byron Bay, there are dollops of fine international sounds from Jack White and Smashing Pumpkins, plus sprinkles of top Aussie rock including The Beautiful Girls and Wolfmother.
Take a break from the crowds at the pop-up mall (named the Very Small Mall) and spa.
Jisan Valley Rock Festival, Seoul, South Korea
Dates: July 27-29
Set in a beautiful ski resort, hundreds of pretty, multicolored picnic blankets are laid out in front of the stages here.
The colorful scene never lasts long though; they get trampled on when the crowd gets a sniff of the immense headliners. This year’s decent little lineup includes The Stone Roses, Beady Eye and Elvis Costello.
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Boom, Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal
Dates: July 28-August 04
This hippy biennial event started out as a hard trance electronic party 15 years ago; now the giant rave has evolved into a medley of fire dancing, art, sculpture, yoga and more than 30,000 multi-cultural free spirits sporting dreads, tats and tie-dye.
The organizers call what they’ve created a "global psychedelic and alternative tribe."
We give them props for their successful eco-approach to festivals; the United Nations has even nabbed the organizers for help with their Music and Environmental Initiative program.
Wacken Open Air, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Dates: August 2-4
Last year it became a beast of a festival and smashed the record for the largest heavy metal event on earth. In their own words it’s "louder than hell" and a crowd of 800 metalheads has evolved into an army of harder and hairier death worshipers 75,000 strong.
Limp Bizkit and Fall Out Boy will not be anywhere to be seen; instead you can worship veterans Machine Head, Napalm Death and Sepultura.
Extra curricular activities include dressing up as Vikings and throwing axes in the Wackinger Village.
Satchmo Summer Fest, New Orleans, United States
Dates: August 2–5
This lively, free street festival in the French Quarter was set up to honor Louis Armstrong. Over three days you’ll experience an unforgettable atmosphere of raw soul, blues and jazz.
“It somehow manages to be quaint, but huge,” says Bennie Pete the tuba player of the Hot 8 Brass Band. “The 24-meter tents are set up in the heart of New Orleans and offer the soul and essence of the city through music, for one weekend.”
Dance in the street during this family event, and fill your belly with the Creole tomato gazpacho with Louisiana crabmeat from The Thee Muses restaurant on site.
Stop Making Sense, Tisno, Croatia
Dates: August 2-6
This is what the Sunset Strip in Ibiza used to be like.
The Adriatic coastline still has that belly-flipping feeling as the sun goes down (or comes up), and this two-day dance event is a holiday within a festival.
Inventive jazz, Latin, dubstep and reggae beats play out while its endorsees relax at tiki bars on the beach or cruise by on boats. Catch Sven Weisemann, Nick Höppner plus Lil' Louis, Ron Trent and Chez Damier live.
Lollapalooza, Chicago, United States
Dates: August 3-5
It started out as a grungy event, set up 20 years ago by Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell; headliners back then included Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
The event became a traveling circus and popped up in different places across the United States. Since 2005, however, the festival has settled down in Chicago and hosts more than 130 acts from mainstream pop to indie.
Take your little nippers to this fest, there are usually tons of attractions to keep them busy -- from comedy shows, to clown classes at the Kidzapalooza -- then skip off and see The Black Keys, Jack White and Black Sabbath on stage.
Standon Calling, Hertfordshire, England
Dates: August 3-5
This boutique fest, with a maximum of 5,000 people, is one of the youngest picks on our list and started back in 2001 with 25 people in the grounds of a small country house.
“It’s turned a manicured garden into a life size "Button Moon" set,” says Georgina Wilson Powell, former editor of Blowback magazine. “Along with a late-night rave that brings a sci-fi industrial edge to the field.”
The organizers also have a canny knack of showcasing bands before they get massive. Previous acts include Florence and the Machine, Friendly Fires and Mumford and Sons. This year you can get intimate with Beardyman, Death in Vegas and Willie Nelson.
Sziget, Budapest, Hungary
Dates: August 6-12
Above all, the lineup is monster. Somehow Sziget manages to get it right every year. Get the party train from the west of Europe onto the island in the Danube (while DJs play warm-up sets), then arrive at a lush forest lit up by fairy lights and flanked by golden sands, where you can pitch your tent.
At this cultural event you’ll find people with their own turntables rigged up, while people relax on full sofa sets, get sporadic tattoos and cook hog roast -- and this is all just in the campsite.
Alternatively, watch The XX, Paolo Nutini, The Ting Tings, LMFAO, Two Door Cinema Club, Korn, The Stone Roses -- and then go bungee jumping.
“A truly wonderful setting for a week-long festival,” says Phil Dudman, clubs and live music editor at Mixmag. “My first year there was 2006,” he adds. “There was an incredible thunderstorm right in the middle of Radiohead's 'Paranoid Android,' the only time it rained all week, which was just epic.”
Way Out West, Göteborg, Sweden
Dates: August 9-11
Throughout the duration of the festival, set in the pretty Slottskogen park, Göteborg holds gigs all around the city in its pubs and clubs, creating this explosive music-fuelled city-break.
Lineup-wise get very excited, members of Blur have resurrected themselves from the grave to play a select number of gigs before their final performance at the London Olympics.
Outside Lands, San Francisco, United States
Dates: August 10-12
At this eco-affair bicycle valets greet new arrivals and Golden Gate Park turns into a cultural wonderland for one weekend of the year.
Here there’s an emphasis on decent food and wine from the region (there’s an awesome organic farmer’s market) and one stage is powered by solar.
We recommend catching an off-beat theatrical circus troupe performance in The Barbary Tent, plus, of course, headliners Metallica, Neil Young, Beck and Stevie Wonder.
Hip Hop Kemp, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic
Dates: August 16-18
B-boys, brake dancers and MCs from across the world congregate at this killer event dedicated to all things hip-hop.
The 500 cherry-picked performers during the three-day festival include DJs, graff artists, plus grime and dubstep DJs. The lineup this year includes Foreign Beggars, Dilated Peoples, Dudley Perkins and Georgia Anne Muldrow.
“It’s the world's biggest festival dedicated to every facet of hip-hop culture,” says hip-hop expert DJ Excalibah, former BBC 1Xtra presenter and journalist. “Expect to see classic golden era artists alongside newer acts from all across the globe.”
“Kemp is sick,” says Fallacy from Sleepin’ Giantz. “It has the biggest names in hip-hop and grime from all over the world, and they always get the hot artists before they blow up so you get a peek into the future.”
Endorse it in Dorset, Dorset, England
Dates: usually mid-August
Here you’ll find great music … and lots of burly men wearing dresses. If you’ve got no inhibitions and like the idea of intimate tents filled with punks flinging themselves around to live reggae and rock, this place is for you.
“It's full of actual punks -- not weekend warriors that go back to normal jobs and dress accordingly,” says music promoter Tomus Frog from GutRot.
“These guys actually have Mohawks all year round,” he says, and the last day of the event is a shocker: “It’s an amazing spectacle -- tattoos, makeup and fishnets with hair in all the wrong places. A very weird day.”
Tickets: (for 2013) endorseit.co.uk
World Electronic Music Festival, Ontario, Canada
Dates: August 17-19
Formerly the World Trance Festival, the World Electronic Music Festival is three days of non-stop shiver-inducing crescendos, loops and beats from 200 international artists.
This giant rave-up is an off-the-chart clubbing experience. You’ll find thousands of sexy dubstep, jungle, electro, house and trance fans bonding to the baseline and grinding their teeth into the night.
Summer Sonic Festival, Osaka and Chiba, Japan
Dates: August 18-19
This mega event is the poppier version of Reading and Leeds, with a Japanese twist. Some 60,000 attendees congregate at stadium-sized indoor stages (plus the Marine outdoor stage), and the Japanese show their appreciation by pogoing in a wavy sea of raised hands, like some kind of well-organized riot.
Headlines this year are an eclectic but mighty mix including Green Day, Rihanna, New Order, Azealia Banks, Garbage, Death Cab for a Cutie and Foster the People.
Shambala, Northamptonshire, England
Date: August 23-27
A festival based on the concept of "purposeful hedonism," you can’t help but leave a bit of your soul at this lovely little festival that attracts lefties, environmentalist and dreamers.
“It’s about the people and the party,” says Paul Jonas, managing director of Tru Thoughts Records. “Shambala is a return to basics with an eco attitude, a loving ethos and a variety of music booked for its musicianship, rather than its effectiveness selling tickets.”
Headliners this year include Roots Manuva, Billy Brag and DJ Yoda, but we strongly recommend a break from the serious music to take part in the Shambolympics: jumping for a long time and the pent-up-aggression-athlon.
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Creamfields, Cheshire, England
Dates: August 24-26
The daddy of European dance festivals is a hedonistic affair. It swaps bellbottoms, facepaint and falafel burgers for pyrotechnics, glow sticks and back massages (by ‘Ibiza Angels’ no less).
“Dance music festivals are entirely different beasts,” says Phil Dudman the clubs and live music editor of Mixmag magazine. “I was fortunate enough to fill in for the Brookes Brothers there last year in the Mixmag Silent Disco. I'd never DJ'd to a crowd bigger than 300 people and here I was, stepping up at the last minute in front of 4,000 mad-for-it ravers… That was the best night of my life.”
“The vibe is electric, the lineups are usually of the cutting edge of music and you can find a Creamfields festival on just about every continent on the globe,” adds Safe from Smokingroove.
Reading/Leeds Festival, Reading and Leeds, England
Dates: August 24-26
“In my book, this is the quintessential rock festival,” comments James McMahon from Kerrang. “For broad booking, genuine exclusives, no experiential nonsense clogging up your day, just out and out rock 'n' roll fun."
In true Reading/Leeds style, the mosh pit will explode at some point in the weekend with rowdy head-banging teens occasionally lobbing toilet rolls and beer grenades at unpopular bands.
The metal, punk and emo lineup is equally as hard to ignore -- countless bands play their best set of the year, or face the wrath of the crowd.
Tip: when nature calls, make sure there’s no toilet-tipping going on (it usually happens on the last day of the festival).
The Burning Man, Nevada, United States
Date: August 27-September 3
Set in the desert in 45-C heat, this lifeless patch of sand turns into a 50,000-strong city (affectionately named "Black Rock City") come August.
The festival starts on the Monday before Labor Day, and on the Saturday night they set light to a 12-meter-tall effigy of "The Man" and a smaller wooden dog.
There are no stages, showers, or food stalls here, visitors bring their own entertainment to this gathering filled with non-judgmental veterans, deep-rooted in radical self-expression through music and art.
Bumbershoot, Seattle, United States
Dates: September 1-3
The laid-back vibe of North America’s largest arts festival fits well in Seattle’s fresh mountain air.
It serves up flavors you probably won’t get elsewhere (think: Wanda Jackson and the Dusty 45’s,The Vaselines, Jane’s Addiction and Passion Pit), and during the three-day event there’s countless art shows and performances to keep you occupied.
Bestival, Isle of Wight, England
Date: September 6-9
This year the likes of Stevie Wonder and New Order will light up this 50,000-strong fancy dress party. Not only does everyone turn up looking like a "Sesame Street" escapee, each year they rig up equally berserk places to sleep.
Stay in everything from yurts to tepees, squrts to wooden beach-style huts. Beryl the Bespoke Bus can also be hired -- she’s a three-bedroom Cornish cottage on wheels.
Non-musical entertainment comes in the form of mental attractions such as The Swamp Shack -- a custom built ramshackle Louisiana bayou juke joint where you’ll find mutants and Southern belles wandering about the place, while underground acts perform.
“Organiser Rob Da Bank puts his quirky touches on everything,” says Andy Buchan, Infusion Magazine's Middle East editor. “From the lineup (Sigur Ros and Stevie Wonder) to the non-music tents which make Glastonbury's Lost Vagueness seem sedate in comparison, it’s a winner in my eyes.”
Berlin Festival, Berlin, Germany
Dates: September 7-8
Another party set in a former airfield, you have to walk through an arrivals hall to experience it.
There are immigration booths, baggage conveyor belts and an old-school departure board where they put the indie, punk and electro lineup on display.
Over the weekend there will be surprisingly decent art installations from local and international urban artists, plus music shows on runways and an open-air silent disco. This year catch Kate Nash, Orbital and DonApart.
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