10 Insane Music Festivals To Keep On Your Radar
by Chelsea Holdom
The start of a new year marks the build up to a new music festival season, and with that comes many tough decisions. In a perfect world, we’d be able to attend every festival our hearts desired — from the weird to the wonderful, the underground to the mainstream. Unfortunately, we don’t have Beyonce’s bank account. So, we’ve put together 10 music festivals to help you decide which is the best for you and your festie besties.
Coachella (California, USA)
Coachella is currently in some hot water due to the owner of the company who puts on the music festival, Phil Anschutz, allegedly funding anti-LGBTQ groups and anti-climate change strategy, suggesting the money spent on your nearly $400 ticket could be funding these anti-progressive causes. However, Anschutz claims this is “fake news’” and that all contributions to such groups have been ceased, so if you’re not deterred, Coachella is perfect for pretty much anyone because the lineup is always stacked across genres and the weather is almost guaranteed to be on point. It’s also ideal for the fashion savvy, as strolling around the grounds makes you feel like you’re on a desert runway, and there’s a high chance you could be rubbing elbows with the likes of Paris Hilton or Kendall and Kylie Jenner who regularly strut their stuff at Coachella.
Tomorrowland (Boom, Belgium)
Yes, you read that right, this is the world’s most sought after EDM festival, and it just happened to be set up in a town called BOOM. Meant to be? We think so. This festival is right for you if you live and breathe electronic dance music and want the ultimate experience, surrounded by 180,000 other bass and laser lovers from across the globe. The entire festival is played out as a fairy tale, from the tickets to the stages to the art installations, and could be considered the adult Disneyland of festivals. However, if this sounds like your happily ever after, you’re going to need to start planning years in advance, as these are the most sought-after festival tickets in the world and sold out last year in a record-breaking 40 minutes.
Shambhala (British Columbia, Canada)
For those who love EDM but dig a more intimate, community-based vibe than what’s on offer at Tomorrowland, Shambhala is the EDM festival for you. Capped at about 14,000 people and nestled in a forest with the Salmo River flowing right past the stages, Shambhala is impressively unique and has managed to stay true to its roots despite its surge in popularity over the last few years. It’s run by a family on their privately owned farm, giving the organizers ultimate creative freedom over the stages, which are permanent setups and added to each year. The entire festival is free from corporate sponsors, and it has been praised for its harm reduction initiatives by providing a drug-testing station as well as safe spaces and support groups. On top of all this, the line-up of EDM heavyweights and underground artists is tough to beat, making this festival one you need to experience to believe it’s real. Warning: Coming back to reality will never be the same.
Glastonbury (Somerset, England)
For those who want a truly classic music festival experience, and don’t mind being covered in mud for a few days, Glastonbury is where you need to be. It began in 1970, the day after Jimi Hendrix died, and has grown into an event that feels like it is hosting a number of different festivals all on the same gorgeous (to start) countryside. It boasts 28 different stages and areas and hundreds of acts across every genre imaginable, with the Pyramid Stage being the center of attention and hosting the most high-profile acts. It’s highly recommended though to get off the beaten path and simply wander around the festival grounds where you will stumble upon areas full of character and unique attractions that you might never be able to find again. Word of advice: Don’t leave home without your rain boots! You’re gonna need them.
Watershed (Washington, USA)
Don’t forget to pack your cowboy boots for this one, because Watershed is perfect for all you country music lovers! ‘Shedders, as the festival attendees so affectionately call themselves, unite at one of the most beautiful outdoor venues in the world, The Gorge, for three days of two-stepping and country fun at the Northwest’s biggest country festival. If cowboy hats and country music aren’t your scene, but you still want to experience a slice of paradise, then never fear! The Gorge is also the home of Sasquatch Music Festival, which is a three-day multi-genre festival and even has a comedy stage, as well as Paradiso Music Festival, which is a two-day EDM festival. The Gorge caters for everyone and should really be on your bucket list if you love to combine the beauty of nature and music!
Donauinselfest aka Danube Island Festival (Vienna, Austria)
Want to attend one the world’s biggest open air festivals without breaking the bank? Then look no further because, Donauinselfest, which spans over four miles, is completely free! This festival takes over its own island for three days of madness and is attended by around 3 million people to see over 2,000 acts. Hard to believe something like this exists, right? An official lineup doesn’t get released for the festival, but different newspapers and radio stations host 21 different areas to bring in acts from around the globe, guaranteeing an excellent variety of world-class music. So who’s in for a Europe trip?
Montreal International Jazz Festival (Quebec, Canada)
Also known as The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, this one is perfect for all you jazz lovers looking for a stellar lineup of local and international acts in a relaxed, beautiful downtown setting. It holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest jazz festival, which is no surprise seeing as it runs for 10 days and hosts 3,000 musicians and entertainers at over 1,000 concerts and activities. The best part is that two-thirds of the events are free to the public at 10 different outdoor stages, which sees more than 2 million people passing through the festival sites in downtown Montreal. Pro tip: Try the French Canadian food favorite poutine while you’re there!
Secret Solstice Festival (Reykjavík, Iceland)
Described as one of the most unique music festivals in the world, this one is for you if you like to party 24/7. It is held over three days during the summer solstice in Iceland, and because of where it is situated in the Arctic Circle, this means that the sun will not set for the entire 72 hours of the festival. The festival also boasts some impressive side events, such as concerts inside glaciers, dormant volcanoes, and natural hot springs. The theme of the festival is based around Norse mythology, and one of the VIP packages even comes with a Viking hot tub near the main stage for you and your friends. With a wide variety of local and international acts, this festival is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, unless you can’t help but go back for more!
Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival (New York, USA)
Held at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, this is New York’s largest hip-hop and cultural festival and is for anyone who is into the music, community, and culture surrounding hip-hop music. Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival goes beyond the music, and it boasts a range of different events from panel discussions, exhibitions, parties, an award show, and a family-friendly block party. With around 20,000 fans in attendance to hear music from hip-hop heavyweights as well as up and coming artists, this is a truly unique experience showcasing the positive aspects of hip-hop culture and trying to encourage social change and community building through music and art.
Burning Man (Nevada, USA)
This legendary festival isn’t for everyone, but for those who crave the epitome of the hippie counterculture mentality, then you need to put this on your bucket list. Burning Man is so much more than just a music festival, being world-renowned for its sky-high art installations and the sense of community that is developed at Black Rock City in the middle of the dessert for a week. The Ten Principles of Burning Man, including ideas such as inclusion, self-reliance, and decommodification, has seen the number of attendees rise dramatically since the festival’s inception with 70,000 people attending in 2016. If you love the idea of it, but the dessert heat and insane amount of people sound too much for you, you could always find yourself one of the smaller, regional Burns to attend. From South Africa to New Zealand to Japan, the principles and culture of the Burning Man global cultural movement can be sought out pretty much anywhere, catering to all the naked hippies of the world.