Reader Recs: Best Summer Music Festivals
Music festival season is in full swing, and with it comes the difficult decision of where to spend your hard-earned cash and vacation days. To help you wade through the ever growing list of options, we asked our Facebook fans to give us the lowdown on their favorite hip-shaking aural extravaganzas around the world. Some of them have already come and gone, but there’s always next summer, right?
So, turn up your favorite tunes, and join us on a tour of the world’s best summer music festivals:
The festivities kick off in Zamárdi, about an hour southwest of Budapest at Balaton Sound for four days of electronic music on the shores of Central Europe’s largest lake. On Facebook, Ókina T. lauded the “awesome environment” at the festival—held yearly in July—which includes live acts and DJs, lakeside lounges, on-site camping, and a campfire stage.
Hans H. recommended the G! Festival in the Faroe Islands for its unique vibe and incredible backdrop: “You’ll find yourself surrounded by the staggeringly beautiful nature that the Faroe Islands have to offer.” The annual celebration takes over the tiny village of Gøta for three days of performances ranging from metal to folk. Don’t know where the Faroe Islands are? This is your chance to find out.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival was a favorite for Chantal C., and another fan, George P., fondly recalled a performance by the late, great Dave Brubeck that he witnessed there some years ago. Often cited as the world’s largest jazz festival, the event attracts thousands of jazz greats and rising stars who perform at 20 locations around the city (half of which host free outdoor concerts)—not to mention two million attendees—each year.
The cross-genre Flow Festival made the list thanks to Sakari M., who loves the “urban setup”—in a defunct power plant near Helsinki’s city center. This Finnish affair, held in August each summer, goes far beyond music, incorporating art and design into its repertoire, and even unveiling a “Visual Artist of the Year” who creates an original work on festival grounds throughout the weekend.
And over in Big Sky country, the Montana Folk Festival gets Annalene H.’s vote. The free, outdoor event features some of the best traditional performers in the U.S., including Montana’s finest fiddlers and pickers. Its setting in the small mountain town of Butte makes it easy to “interact with locals,” she said. The panoramic views of the northern Rockies don’t hurt, either.
Speaking of the Rockies, imagine listening to music “perched in the high aspen groves” of one of North America’s most majestic ranges. If that sounds good to you, and you like a side of wellness with your music, David B. suggests heading to Wanderlust Festival for a peaceful collision of music, yoga, and good eats in one of Colorado’s premier resort towns: Snowmass Village.
While Lollapalooza began as a North American festival, first organized by Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell in 1991, the modern version has gone international to great effect. Christy R. thinks the São Paulo edition, which features scores of acts on five stages over the course of a weekend, is worthy of a visit. “It’s beautiful how people can…sing the same song, yet not share the same language,” she said.
Jennifer R. added the Main Square Festival in Arras, France, to our horizons. This distinctive festival, which she stumbled upon in 2013 while working in northern France, was originally held (as its name suggests) in the town’s central square, but is now held in the 17th-century Citadel of Arras—a UNESCO World Heritage site set amid a 100-acre park. The four-day event marked its tenth anniversary in 2014, and drew record crowds.
Eva S. sang the praises of Italy’s Anxur Festival, giving due credit to the world-class setting of Terracina, which she describes as “a small beach town on the Tyrrhenian Sea with spectacular Roman ruins and the best music scene in the region outside of Rome.” The annual festival includes rock, indie, folk, electronic, and pop musicians from around the world.
Each August, Bethlehem, an unassuming industrial city 70 miles north of Philadelphia, hosts Musikfest—a ten-day celebration Mark M. recommends as a can’t-miss. “This event should be on every music lover’s bucket list,” he said. Close to a million fans come from near and far to hear hundreds of artists—from Americana to Afrobeat—perform on 14 stages (a stunning 13 of which are free), while food and craft vendors and a fireworks show add to the ambiance.
Denmark’s Roskilde Festival is one of the largest music festivals in Europe for a reason. In addition to featuring big-name lineups every year (Bob Marley, U2, and Radiohead have all played there since the festival debuted in 1971), Lii L. cited another draw: the chance “to meet people from all over the world.” And if you’re thinking of buying tickets to next year’s festival, you’d better like people. The four-day event takes place in a campsite that becomes a commune of sorts.
What’s the best music festival you’ve ever been to and why? Tell us in the comments section for a chance to appear on Intelligent Travel.