Top 20 Music Festivals in the World
South by Southwest (SXSW), Austin TX (USA)
Date: March (dates vary)
Austin’s mid-March South by Southwest festival is an annual multimedia festival featuring film, music and interactive media, as well as conferences. Since its 1987 conception it has consistently grown in population and variety, drawing enormous crowds from all over the world during its nine day long festival.
If you’re planning to attend South by Southwest, you’ll definitely need to make yourself a personalized schedule – with over four hundred film screenings and thousands of music performances, there is an impressive amount of entertainment to choose from! South by Southwest is by far one of North America’s most anticipated music festivals.
Official Website: www.sxsw.com
Ultra Music Festival, Miami/Various (World)
Date: March, dates vary
Miami’s outdoor electronic music festival Ultra Music Festival (UMF) is an outdoor event that takes place annually in Florida every March. This popular electronic music festival started off in 1999 as the project of Russell Faibisch and Alex Omes. The festival founders drew inspiration for the event’s name from the English electronic music artists Depeche Mode’s 1997 album, Ultra. Ultra Music Festivals have branched out to venues all over the world.
Official Website: http://www.ultramusicfestival.com/
Coachella, California (USA)
Date: April 11-13 & 18-20
Arguable one of the most hyped (with good reason) music festivals in North America, Coachella promises beautiful weather, a phenomenal lineup, and a breathtaking setting. Festival goers – including a plethora of celebrities – flock from many different nations to take in the scene and sounds, luxuriating in the verdant grassy fields.
Official website: http://www.coachella.com/
Sasquatch!, Washington (USA)
Date: May 23-25
When it comes to music festivals, Sasquatch! is a must-go for anyone living in the Pacific Northwest region. The lineup is always bang on, featuring a jumble of big names and local heroes. It is widely recognized that one of the best parts of this festival is the event’s setting: The Gorge, a Pollster’s Best Outdoor Music Venue award winner nine times over. The festival’s location rests high on a cliff overlooking the Columbia River, and the main stage sets up camp in front of the Columbia Gorge Canyon creating the most picturesque outdoors festival scene when the sun begins to set.
Official website: http://www.sasquatchfestival.com/
Governors Ball, New York City (USA)
Date: June 6-8
This is the New York music festival to end all New York music festivals. Situated on Randall’s Island just a hop skip and a jump from Manhattan, this festival boasts a stellar lineup, incredible New York City food and an impressive city skyline view.
Official website: http://governorsballmusicfestival.com/
Sonar, Barcelona (Spain)
Date: June 12-14
Sonar, one of Spain’s most anticipated music festivals, is a three day long electronic party in this world famous historic paradise and features an unbeatable electronic lineup. Setting up shop mere minutes from the Mediterranean Sea, Sonar Festival also hosts art conferences and exhibitions for the electronic-music-and-artistic minded.
This festival comes in two parts: Sonar by Day, when the conferences and exhibitions take place and some headlining artists perform, and then Sonar by Night, where festival goers party until the break of dawn.
Official website: http://sonar.es/en/2015/
Bonnaroo, Tennessee (USA)
Date: June 12-15
Heartily compared to Coachella without the Los Angeles glam, Bonnaroo still might be one of the hippest music festivals North America has to offer. Hosted in a small Tennessee town, festival goers camp and party for four days, enjoying a surprisingly eclectic lineup of big name artists from across the musical spectrum.
Official website: http://www.bonnaroo.com/
Secret Solstice Festival (Iceland)
Date: June 20-22
Just a baby on the scene as far as music festivals go, Secret Solstice Festival is the music festival where the sun doesn’t set. Iceland’s Secret Solstice takes place during the Summer Solstice in Reykjavik and the sun stays out way past its bedtime to party along with a fantastic lineup for a whole seventy-two hours.
Official website: http://secretsolstice.is/
Glastonbury, Somerset (England)
Date: June 25-29
Unlike Secret Solstice, Glastonbury is one of the grandpas of music festivals, and is considered to be a festival everyone should see at least once in their life.
Glastonbury was conceived in the 1970’s after Michael Eavis witnessed a Led Zeppelin performance at an open air venue. Over fifteen hundred people attended the festival taking place at Worthy Farm for 1 pound per person, which granted entrance to the music festival and free milk from the farm.
Official website: http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/
Donauinselfest, Vienna (Austria)
Date: June 27-29
It is one of the greatest music festivals on the planet – Donauinselfest in Vienna, Austria, is an absolutely free open air festival featuring over 2000 incredible artists annually. Setting up camp on the Donauinsel island on the Danube river, this remarkable festival is world famous, claiming to be the biggest in the world. Over three million people flock to Donauinselfest on the reg, and it’s all free. Donauinselfest began as politician Harry Kopietz’s solution as a means to promote the recreational use of the island, attracting over 160,000 festival-goers in its inaugural year.
It’s so grand, newspapers and radio stations have their own camps set up to cover their sections of the festival and showcase different artists.
Official website: http://2014.donauinselfest.at/
Roskilde, Roskilde (Denmark)
Date: June 29 – July 6
Reasons to attend: Beer, vikings, and a naked run around the campground. One of Denmark’s most anticipated music festivals, Roskilde, takes place in a town founded by the viking King Harald the Bluetooth (yes, that Bluetooth – the wireless technology name was inspired by Swedish telecommunication company Ericsson’s Viking heritage.) This week-long festival is home to the annual naked run, which is exactly what it sounds like: an unclothed race through the festival grounds, sponsored by local radio stations.
Official website: http://roskilde-festival.dk/
Reading and Leeds Festivals, Reading and Leeds (UK)
Dates: August Bank Holiday (UK)
Formerly known as just the Reading Festival, the world’s oldest popular music festival still in existence, The Reading and Leeds Festivals are now a duo of annual music festivals that draw crowds of music lovers from all over the world to Reading and Leeds in England. The two symbiotic events take place simultaneously on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the UK’s August bank holiday weekend, and share the same bill. The Reading Festival takes place at Little John’s Farm on Richfield Avenue in central Reading, while The Leeds event is in Bramham Park, near Wetherby. Festiva goers are invited to camp at both locations, as the campsite price is included in their festival ticket price – day tickets are also available.
Official Website: http://www.readingfestival.com/
Exit Festival, Novi Sad (Serbia)
Date: July 10-13
Winner of the “Best Major Festival” music festivals award, this extraordinary event takes place inside of 1700s Petrovaradin Fortress in the city of Novi Sad, Serbia. Overlooking the Danube river, this festival never ceases to impress visitors from Easter Europe and beyond. Good food, good music, a venue rich in history. Not only does this festival boast a terrific annual lineup and great grub, there’s also a yearly hot topic – after all, the festival originated as a student protest for peace and democracy.
Official website: http://www.exitfest.org/en
Tomorrowland, Boom (Belgium)
Date: July 18-20 & 25-27
Tickets to Tomorrowland are hard to come by, and they make it that way on purpose! One of the more exclusive music festivals on the list, Belgium’s dance music festival Tomorrowland tickets sell out in about two minutes flat. The music festival is described as being an international fairytale destination, artistically designed as though you have just stepped foot into a storybook. It’s said that tickets are as valuable as gold – if you have the chance to go, go!
Official website: http://www.tomorrowland.com/tomorrowlandforlife/
Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago
Date: July 18-20
If you’re hoping to catch music festivals in July, the Pitchfork Music Festival won’t disappoint. Their lineup is unbeatable, the ticket price is a reasonably cool $130, and you’re guaranteed to come away from this event with a few new artist’s names in your back pocket. The Pitchfork Music Festival is exceptional at their ability to put on a spectacular event showcasing both big names and amazingly talented up-and-comers, creating the perfect mix and a variety of musical genres.
Official website: http://pitchforkmusicfestival.com/
Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay (Australia)
Date: July 25-27
Splendour in the Grass is technically the only winter festival on our list, falling in Australia’s winter season.
Taking it’s name from a poem by famous British poet William Wordsworth, Splendour in the Grass is a beautifully scenic festival making its home in a lush field by the edge of Byron Bay. It’s also extremely remote, as far as music festivals tend to be, located on the easternmost point of mainland Australia, and over one hundred miles from the nearest big city.
Official website: http://splendourinthegrass.com/
Date: August 1-3
One of the most widely recognized, often imitated and never duplicated music festivals in existence, Lollapalooza started as Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell’s touring musical showcase in 1991, and became the Chicago staple it is today, with growing locations all over the world.
Official website: http://www.lollapalooza.com/
Øyafestivalen, Oslo (Norway)
Date: August 5-9
- yafestivalen, or simply Øya for short, this is one of Scandinavia’s most popular music festivals. Taking place in Oslo’s Middelalderparken (Medieval Park) against a backdrop of ancient Scandinavian ruins dating back to the 1000’s crowds gather from all over Norway to see a very modern lineup who have more than likely been playing the city’s smaller clubs in the days leading up to the festival, to drum up interest and support. Øya festiva hand picks lesser known talent as well as all time Norwegian favorites like Röyksopp and Robyn to take to the stage. If you’re up for a week of Norwegian clubbing and festival fun, Øya is your music festival.
Official website: http://oyafestivalen.com/
Outside Lands, San Francisco
Date: August 8-10
Outside Lands has so much to show off to its festival goers – the music, the beer, the wine and the food, all of which they’re extremely proud of. But perhaps the one thing they are the most proud of is being the “greenest” of music festivals in the United States. Outside Lands is run entirely off solar and alternative energy.
Known for its extraordinary cuisine, Outside Lands is said to have the best food and drink you could possibly hope for in a music festival, with so many different local wines and beer to choose from as well as some of the best, fresh food prepared locally. All of the delicious food and drink complements the festivals amazingly impressive musical performers, many of which are local up and comers. They’re also big on recycling and composting the festval’s waste.
Official website: http://www.sfoutsidelands.com/home/
Shambhala, British Columbia (Canada)
Date: August 8-11
Small but mighty, Shambhala is one of the more unique music festivals you could hope to attend in your lifetime. Independent of sponsors and insanely imaginative, Shambhala is a tiny but world famous event taking place in Canada’s wilderness. Submerged into trees and mountains, Shambhala’s focus is all about the art in a natural setting of forests and peaks.
It’s organized by a family who own the property, and executed without any corporate sponsors, which allows them to implement whatever creative ideas they have for the stages and surroundings.
Official website: http://www.shambhalamusicfestival.com/
Visit information about festivals section to explore a full list of festivals happening around the world yearly!