Looking out into the crowd, a sea of sweaty, sleep-deprived faces searching the darkness ahead in eager anticipation. Then a wave of sound. Beginning as a murmur, swirling back and forth, then crescendoing in ecstatic roars. They have arrived. From the stage, an explosion of lights pours forth, illuminating everything in a vivid rainbow of color. Shortly after, the strings of an electric guitar sound out a mellifluous tune. The crowd screams louder, a sea of hands rise up. The sound of a drumstick colliding with a snare rips through. Then the vocals come in, riding the wave, and you can see in their mesmerized, serene faces – they are taken. They move en masse to the beat, contorting, expanding, jumping, heads bobbing, eyes wide. Cultures, creeds, and orientations collide beautifully and the differences melt away.
There is nothing quite like live music.
People flock from all over the world to hear the music they love played live. There are now hundreds of music festivals dotted all over, each with their own accolade-laden stars, but you can’t experience them all so you want to be sure that you’re going to the best! And with this in mind, we’ve created a list of the top ten music festivals in the world. It’s an eclectic list that is sure to have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a long weekend or one day; nature’s most breathtaking spots or just your bog-standard bog. All of them provide something entirely unique, so check out our recommendations and be sure to record your favorites in your BUCKiTDREAM planner!
Primavera Sound Festival
Where: Barcelona, Spain.
When: 31 May – 4th June 2017
With a line-up so concentrated with talent, the sight of it alone will likely give you saucer eyes, permanent goosebumps and an inability to refrain from drooling! Hundreds of premium acts, a melange of genres ranging from dark rock, to airy pop, to psych, gather at Primavera to perform.
Wholly singular and dripping with vibrancy, this festival envelops you in a raw and ready Spanish experience. Barcelona is a city that oozes insuppressible exotic energy and an almost childlike sense of delight and curiosity for life. The city’s zest sets the stage wonderfully for Primavera Sound.
Where: Indio, California, U.S.A.
When:14-16 April and 21-23 April 2017
Deep in Colorado Desert’s Coachella Valley, below an intense, hot sun people crowd, eagerly awaiting the biggest names in the music business to flood the valley with sound. Dressed impeccably in true Coachella style – which includes the notable flower crowns – these young, attractive, festival attendees are the fashion trendsetters for the rest of the festival year.
Coachella is one of the largest and most reputable music festivals in the world, showcasing a smorgasbord of well established – as well as emerging – acts. Coachella always sells out its impressive 198,000 ticket total, and given its location, Coachella draws in many celebrities so prepare to be star-struck!
Pitchfork Music Festival
Where: Union Park in Chicago, U.S.A.
When: 14-16 July 2017
The Pitchfork Music Festival is an annual summer music festival organized by Pitchfork Media. Pitchfork has developed a loud and powerful voice in the music industry with its revered reviews and so you can rest assured the music will be top-notch. The festival focuses on alternative rock, rap & hip-hop, electronica, and dance music, although it also includes acts from hardcore punk, experimental/avant-garde rock, and jazz in its lineups.
The National Folk Festival
Where: Canberra, Australia
When: 13 – 17 April 2017
The most intimate of festivals. A national, annual celebration of folk culture.You can take the entire family, stick with the friends, or go it alone for you’re bound to leave with a whole lot more life-long friends and a bucket full of newly acquired skills. The atmosphere is inclusive, fun and freeing so if you’re looking to get away from mosh-pits and pop hits, this is the place. A festival that is culturally relevant, creative, diverse, enduring and popular, it has a deep sense of community and respect for traditional and contemporary folk culture. It radiates warmth and you leave feeling closer to what’s real and right. You won’t regret this one!
Splendour in the Grass
Where: Byron Bay, Australia
When: 22-24 July 2016
Splendour in the Grass is a world-renowned music festival hosted in one of the most beautiful spots on the globe. The festival showcases indie rock, hip-hop, electronic and alternative genres. In 2016, artists like The Strokes, Flume, James Blake, Santigold, What So Not, The 1975, Leon Bridges and more took to the stages.
Where: Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, Japan
When: 22-24 July 2016
Fuji Rock is the biggest outdoor music event in Japan, featuring more than 200 Japanese and international musicians. It began in 1997, where it took place at the base of Mount Fuji but has been held at the Naeba Ski Resort since 1999. Its aim is to be ‘The cleanest festival in the world’ and it does a damned good job!
Where: Tromsø, Norway
When: 20 – 22 July 2017
Bukta Tromsø Open Air Festival is an annual outdoor rock festival taking place in Telegrafbukta. On the beach, surrounded by giant trees and the stark, snow-kissed Norwegian mountains, Bukta lays claim to one of the most beautiful festival sites in the world. And to top things off, the sun never abandons you – during the months of June and July, the sun doesn’t set on Tromsø, meaning there is no night. Literally. This is the only festival that has you partying under a midnight sun. And all that sunlight means less time wasted sleeping, more time spent digesting the uproarious, beefy, rock music that fills up the bay.
Lake of Stars
Where: Lake Malawi, Malawi
When: 30 Sep – 02 Oct 2017
Malawi’s stunning lake – the third largest in Africa – is the perfect setting for a music festival; in fact, Time Out named Lake of Stars as having ‘The most beautiful festival location in the world’ in 2015! The line-up is a diverse mix of music, from afro-pop to indie rock, and there are local acts alongside huge, international bands and DJs. And numbers are still small enough to grant the intimacy that’s lost in the bigger festivals. Get it while it’s hot!
Where: Roskilde, Denmark
When: 24 June – 1 July 2017
Roskilde Festival, more than just a music festival, is a boundary-pushing, cultural-politically bold declaration, an annual week-long cultural event of creative kinship and community building. Bravely separating itself from the crowd of formulaic, stock festivals, its stance on environmental issues, humanitarian causes, and cultural work runs deep within the veins of the festival and supercharges the music with a certain spellbinding charm and significance.
Roskilde Festival is created around the efforts of an unpaid workforce allowing all profits to be donated – so you can have dizzying amounts of guilt-free fun while feeling like a samaritan. Sounds like a pretty good deal to us!
And Roskilde doesn’t stop differentiating itself there. With Foodjam they bring an entirely different festival culinary experience to the table. No more eating gruel! Here is a place where you can cook your own dinner, enjoying access to a full larder and a culinary supervisor. You’ll likely spend hours here during those moments of required respite between your favorite bands concocting a smorgasbord of satisfying, fancy feasts to satiate your hunger and ready you for the next bout.
Where: Reykjavík, Iceland
When: 02 – 06 Nov 2017
Considered the biggest celebration of music in Iceland and known for its consistently tasty line-up – a delightful array of Icelandic artists as well as many international stars. Since the first edition was held in an airplane hangar, it’s been dripping in cool and loved by even the sternest of critics. Pitchfork Media says it has an, “unbelievable zest for music and celebration” while Rolling Stone entitled it, “the hippest long weekend on the annual music-festival calendar.”
From concerts in tiny record stores and art museums to cool bars and beautiful churches, ticket-holders can expect something that’s conceptually different and exceptionally intimate despite its size. And if that’s not enough to entice you, remember there will be plenty of opportunities to indulge in the unique Icelandic cuisine, experience the largely untouched, hard and mesmerizing nature, decompress in the hot pools and gape at the aurora borealis. This one won’t soon be forgotten!
And that brings us to the end of our list of the top 10 music festivals in the world. It’s been quite the journey. We’ve made our way through five continents and eight countries to give you the crème de la crème and leave you itching for 2017 festival calendar. Get them on your BUCKiTDREAM planner and get ready for the jaw-dropping music, and unforgettable scenery!