Music festivals worldwide are similar: loud music, bad food, long lines, kids walking around in groups and varying levels of sobriety. Not to mention your legs giving up after the fourth gig in a row. What makes a difference is the location. Think mountain resorts in Japan, F1 racetracks in São Paulo, a hot spring in Iceland.
The international music festival season starts in late March with Lollapalooza Chile. With hundireds of events taking place around the world, here are 10 of the best.
Where/when: São Paulo, Brazil / April 5 to 6, 2014
Who’s playing: Arcade Fire, Nine Inch Nails, Pixies, Phoenix, New Order, Vampire Weekend, Savages, Julian Casablancas, Vespas Mandarinas, Nação Zumbi
Lollapalooza landed in Brazil in 2012 and established itself as São Paulo’s main music event. In 2013, the festival will try a new location: Interlagos racetrack, where São Paulo Formula 1 GP happens. Pretty far from the city center, but there is easy access by train.
Where/when: Asheville, NC, USA / April 23 to 27, 2014
Who’s playing: Kraftwerk, Chic with Nile Rodgers, Giorgio Moroder, Pet Shop Boys, Moderat, Daedalus, Mark Farina, Tiga
Created in New York in 2004, Moogfest moved to Asheville in 2010. This is the city where Moog’s synthesizer creator Robert Moog spent the last 30 years of his life. There are dozens of DJs and electronic live acts, workshops, lectures, and music label showcases.
Where/when: Chicago, IL, USA / July 18 to 20, 2014
Who’s playing: Beck, Grimes, Neutral Milk Hotel, Slowdive, Sharon Van Etten, Wild Beasts, Death Grips, Tune Yards, DIIV
The indie webzine turned most influential music website in the world is also successful IRL. It started inside Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and now exports the format to Paris every November. The Chicagoan edition is sort of a hipster playground, but the lineup is always interesting, fresh, and eclectic. Beware of the intense heat waves and go for it.
Where/when: Montreal, Canada / May 27 to June 1, 2014
Who’s playing: Nicolas Jaar presents From Scratch, Audion, Move D. Full lineup will have more than 100 names on it.
Mutek’s more than a music festival; it’s an “institution of digital creativity.” While they can be serious about their music, the festival itself is loads of fun, with diehard music geeks coming from all over the world. In 2014 Mutek’s joining forces with Elektra festival. They promise “an expansive multidimensional experience,” whatever that is.
5. Monegros Desert Festival
Where/when: Fraga, Spain / July 19, 2014
Who’s playing: Not yet announced, but in 2013 there was Ben Sims, Justice, Marco Carola, Richie Hawtin, Surgeon, Underworld, Vitalic, and PET Duo.
There is house, drum ‘n’ bass, or dubstep, but trust me: This is a techno festival. Monegros happens in the Spanish desert and lasts for 24 hours. In 2014, the festival celebrates its 20th edition with a special lineup.
Where/when: Šibenik, Croatia / August 12 to 16, 2014
Who’s playing: To be announced, but the interwebs are saying Crystal Castles, Mogwai, La Roux, and The Raveonettes. In 2013 headliners were The Prodigy, Azealia Banks, and My Bloody Valentine.
This is sort of a new festival, one among many in the ever-expanding summer festival scene in Croatia. Terraneo has an ‘eco’ vibe, with debates and workshops. It happens by the sea and has a nearby camping area, with buses transporting festivalgoers day and night.
7. Fuji Rock
Where/when: Yuzawa, Niigata, Japan / July 25 to 27, 2014
Who’s playing: In 2013 headliners were The Cure, Björk, Nine Inch Nails, Skrillex, and The xx. The festival also featured Foals, Savages, and Yo La Tengo. Among many, many others. It’s huge.
Japan’s biggest outdoor event attracts more than 100,000 people, lasts three full days, and has more than 200 bands and artists each year. Started below Mount Fuji in 1997, it now happens at a ski resort.
Where/when: Somerset, England / June 27 to 29, 2014
Who’s playing: Tons of people, really. Outkast, Arcade Fire, Lily Allen, and who knows.
When someone says “music festival,” the image that comes to mind is a huge stage, flags flowing in the wind, lots of hands in the air — it’s Glastonbury. But there is more: 50 or so stages and camping areas, each with its own pace and vibe. The festival started in 1970 and stands as the most traditional music event around. Good luck finding tickets, though.
Where/when: Reykjavík, Iceland / November 5 to 9, 2014
Who’s playing: The Flaming Lips, East India Youth, Highlands, and several artists with lots of consonants. Full list still to be announced.
Great bands, gorgeous people, and an after-party taking place in a giant hot spring. I’d go.
10. The Falls Music and Arts Festival
Where/when: New South Wales, Tasmania, and Victoria, Australia / December 28, 2014, to January 1, 2015
Who’s playing: To be announced. Last year it was !!! (Chk, Chk, Chk), Grizzly Bear, The Wombats, Solange, Chet Faker, and Bonobo, among others.
Among the many music festivals that happen in the Australian summer, Falls distinguishes itself. The festival takes place almost at the same time in three different spots. There’s still almost a whole year to go, so keep checking the website for up-to-date information.