If you’re anything like us, then music is life! We honestly live for music festivals and can’t get enough of them. There’s something enchanting about being outdoors while a band plays loud music for thousands of viewers who dance to the beat. We love the experience of being surrounded by that many people and dancing our lives away to the music. Plus the food, drinks, and camaraderie that you find at these festivals are second to none.
And with spring just around the corner, you’re probably already planning your next music festival event; we know we are! However with many of the festivals on this list you won’t have to wait until the warmer months to enjoy some killer music and stage performances. Plus, summer isn’t everyone’s friend so if you’re looking for a winter event break up the monotony and enjoy without sweating to death, you’ll find some below.
While there are ton of festivals around the world that will definitely satisfy your music cravings, it can be difficult to narrow it down. After all there are easily thousands of music festivals a year and it can be difficult to narrow it down to just a handful that you want to visit. Below we have compiled a list of our favorite music festivals that you have to check out! Get your passport ready though because some of these will take you out of the United States.
1. South by Southwest (SXSW)
If you’re into the music scene then chances are you’ve heard of South by Southwest. Often abbreviated as SXSW, this music festival is one the largest and most well known. Unfortunately, it did garner some unwanted attention some odd years ago when a car drove through the crowd injuring and killing some festivalgoers. Since then security has been tightened so if you’ve always wanted to visit this festival but were turned off by the event, don’t worry.
Familiar with the phrase “everything is bigger in Texas”? Well, you can definitely apply that to this festival. SXSW is an annual tradition that combines film, interactive media, conferences, and music festivals. It began in 1987 and over the years it has continued to steadily grow in both size and scope.
So in other words if you’re looking for an all-inclusive festival, then this is the one for you. There’s plenty of music and a lot of underground bands that make their name here as well as well-known musicians, so you won’t run out of things to listen to. Plus you can duck into one of the bars on the infamous 6th Street if you get thirsty!
SXSW is in the music capital of the states: Austin, Texas. It takes place in mid-March so if the infamous Texas heat is a concern for you, you can expect cooler weather and less humidity. Nonetheless, we highly suggest you bring some summer clothing.
2. Let it Roll
Let it Roll or LIR is the biggest drum and bass festival in the world. Yes, you read that right: the biggest in the world. So if you’re into heavy drums and bass aka Dubstep, then this festival is a must visit that needs to be added to your list ASAP.
The festival is also very interactive and entertainment focused. Once you step foot inside the gates, “you will be taken for a colorful ride through a completely new audiovisual universe” according to the website. And we can assure that the website description is completely accurate.
One of the downfalls of music festivals is that unless you get there super early, you’ll be stuck in the back of the crowd where you’ll miss most of the performances. Not at Let it Roll! The music festival houses a screen that is nearly 250,000 square meters. This screen will definitely draw you into the moment and into the story of the Space-Time Portal.
Break out your passport and pack your bags because you’ll need to board a plane to Prague. While the flight is definitely long, we assure that it’s worth it. Even if you’re not that big into Dubstep, this festival has some of the best lightshows, stage décor, and is one of the most immersive environments in the world.
You’ll also have your pick of summer or winter events so if you’re looking to break up your work schedule for a festival getaway, you’ll definitely have the opportunity.
3. Coachella Music and Arts Festival
You can’t have a music festival list without including the most famous music festival in the world. Coachella is easily the most well known festival and attracts people from around the world every year.
There’s probably not much we can tell you about Coachella that you don’t already know, so we’ll just review some of the basics. This festival is home to some serious fashion icons, A-list music (and a large variety of it too), towering art statues, and lots of backdrops that will look amazing on your Instagram.
You can also expect to see festivalgoers in some really interesting and often skimpy outfits. It’s similar to Burning Man and other festivals in that it encourages people to dress up, but Coachella inspires a more fashion-forward appearance.
As far as music goes, you can expect anything and everything. The festival pumps out rock, pop, independent music, hip hop, and even electronic dance music to keep the party going well into the late hours of the night. So if you’re looking for a festival that plays something besides just one genre, then Coachella is the place for you.
No passport needed for this super event! Simply head out to Indio, California and get ready for the time of your life! And even though the event takes place in April, you’ll want to dress for warm weather since California boasts summer time weather nearly year round. So break out that super cute and trendy Bohemian dress and head to the festival!
Tomorrowland is more than just a music festival; it’s an experience. Although this festival is still a baby compared to the others, (it’s only been around 13 years) it still holds its own against top contenders like Coachella. And one glance at the picture above will probably tell you why it’s able to stand out among the giants.
If you’re looking for top quality stages that are more works of art than anything, than Tomorrowland is the place to visit. Each year, the festival puts thousands of hours into its stage work and the results are stunning! Every year is different too so regardless of how many times you visit the festival (and we recommend going every year) you’ll see new artwork each time.
Music wise you can expect nearly every single DJ who’s anybody to hit the stage and pump out some killer jams that keep the party going. This year you can expect to see a large variety of DJs including the infamous Dirtybird, Glitterbox, Tulip, Cocoon, The Rave Cave, and many more. Every day features new DJs so if you’re worried about repeat jams, don’t be!
You’ll have to head out to Belgium in the heat of summer if you want to visit this festival and see the beautiful stage works. Luckily Belgium isn’t notorious for humidity, but you’ll still want to dress accordingly because it’s hot!
5. Download Festival
While Download Festival doesn’t include any flashy stage work or extravagant light festivals, we still thought this one deserved a spot on our list because it’s so different from the others. Plus, it’s the subject of many debates so it’s constantly soaking up the spotlight and despite the debates, it continues to hold onto its popularity and importance.
This festival is the product of the legendary Monsters of Rock from 2003 and features a large variety of rock and heavy metal musicians who crank up the volume and draw in head bangers from around the world. Keep in mind though that this is only a weekend event; so if you’re looking for something a little longer, you’ll have to search elsewhere.
Their lineup is second to none as far as rock gods are concerned and everyone from Linkin Park to Marilyn Manson has played at this festival. This year you can expect to see Ozzy Osbourne, Avenged Sevenfold, The Hives, Guns N’ Roses, Shinedown, and many more. In other words, it’s the who’s who of the rock and metal world.
You’ll find this heavy metal paradise in Derby, United Kingdom. Like many other festivals, it takes place in the heat of summer, June to be exact, so you’ll want to pack summer clothing.
6. Meadows in the Mountains
Meadows in the Mountains is a completely unique music festival that feels unlike any other. While most festivals will have you sweating and grinding to the latest music trends, Meadows in the Mountains is a way more relaxing, tranquil experience. You’ll also be hard pressed to find a prettier area to enjoy music too than this festival’s location.
Meadows in the Mountains is light years away from the large lineups, extreme crowds, and weeklong binders that festivals are notorious for. Instead, this festival is a lot like a music retreat when you’re surrounded by like-minded individuals who just want to relax in the open air and enjoy some good, soothing music. Keep in mind that it does get pretty packed, but you won’t be rubbing shoulders or sweaty body parts with your neighbor who’s jumping to the beat.
The event takes place in June and lasts from Friday to Sunday so don’t expect to spend the week at this beautiful location! You can also participate in yoga classes and a number of well-being workshops such as Ayurveda, crystal healing, and tarot during the day. At night, you’ll move your body to the relaxing beats of local artists.
You’ll have to take a plane to Bulgaria if you’re interested in attending Meadows in the Mountains. Once in Bulgaria, you’ll need to make your way to the Rhodope Mountains. The festival is located way up in the mountains and while it’s definitely a trip, the scenery and music is well worth it.
Afropunk had humble beginnings as a DIY movement in the United States. It began as a response to the issues people of color experience in the US. It’s the product of a deeper sense of belonging and feeling like an outsider in one’s own country. Now, Afropunk is one of the most famous cultural movements and arguably the most important.
Not only is Afropunk a great place to experience music, but it’s also a celebration of natural beauty and natural hair. It’s a safe place for people of color to come together and honor their heritage as well as celebrate their natural beauty. It gives people of color a chance to mingle with other like-minded individuals and celebrate without feeling the pressures of the outside world.
It’s also an activism movement. Every year, some odd 60,000 people flock to the festivals (which change locations frequently in an effort to spread their message to more places.) The festival celebrates black culture and history and helps those who feel marginalized to feel more at home.
In short, it’s an eclectic mix of activism, art, and music.
Like we mentioned, Afropunk is a festival that moves around frequently in an effort to spread its message to as many different cities as possible. This year you can attend the festival in Paris, London, Atlanta, Johannesburg, and more. Keep in mind that Paris and London are both waiting lists so if you want to attend, you’ll need to book your tickets early.
Turn up the volume!
We’d like to start by asking, are there are any festivals on our list that surprised you? When it comes to music festivals, everyone has their own taste and it can sometimes be difficult to encompass enough variety to satisfy everyone’s music craving. Also, which ones stood out the most to you and have you visited any on the list? If you have, feel free to let us know what your experiences were with them!