Music festivals aren’t what they used to be. Gone are the days of hitchhiking cross country and going to Woodstock, where you could buy a 3-day festival ticket for anywhere from $18 to $24 advance sale. Yeah, you heard right: eighteen freaking dollars. If you’re lucky, that’ll buy you two burritos at Coachella today.
On the flip side, festivals have evolved in a number of surprisingly awesome ways. Artists have increasingly jumped at the opportunity to play festivals around the world, while the festival stage has been utilized to stage surprise reunions and test out everything from holograms to unexpected live artist mashups in recent years. While their biggest downside remains undeniably steep entry fees, here are a list of festivals around the world that we think are worth saving your paychecks for.
Location: Boom, Belgium - July 18-20 (Weekend 1) and July 25-27 (Weekend 2)
One of the largest electronic music festivals in Europe is Tomorrowland, which takes place in the Belgian city of Boom (no pun intended).
Featuring the world’s biggest names in electronic music, the festival is known for its immersive decorations that mimic an “Alice in Wonderland” theme - including stages decked with “giant oak trees, mushrooms, lasers shooting out of characters’ eyes and functioning waterfalls.” Except for maybe Burning Man, you really can’t get this anywhere else.
Past headliners: Dada Life, Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta.
Location: Somerset, England - June 25-29, 2014
Why: Similar to Coachella, it’s a 3-4 day camping affair with the added bonus bonus of art installations, dance, comedy, spoken word and cabaret acts (and the Europeans know their cabaret and spoken word). Past headliners have included everyone from Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and Neil Young to U2 and Beyoncé. NME has confirmed Arcade Fire as one of its 2014 headliners already.
Location: São Paulo, Brazil - April 5-6, 2014
Why: All the big name acts you’d see at Lollapalooza in Chicago, but in Brazil. One more time: Bra-zil.
Headliners: Muse, Arcade Fire, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Imagine Dragons, Pixies, Phoenix, New Order
Photo: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band by David Grunfeld
New Orleans Jazz Fest
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana - April 25-May 4, 2014
As one of the U.S.’s most musically rich cities, New Orleans doesn’t joke around when it comes to hosting Jazz Fest each year. Boasting the biggest names in jazz, blues and rock, come for the music, and fall in love with the block-party atmosphere of dining, impromptu jamming, and its proximity to Cafe Du Monde’s beignets (found in the French Quarter and better than macarons, cronuts and donuts all combined).
Photo: Watchara Phomicinda
Lightning In A Bottle
Location: Indio, California - May 22-26, 2014
Part music festival, part creative expression and wellness retreat, Lightning in a Bottle is presented by The Do LaB, who also host their own stage and contribute art installations to Coachella each year. Typically held in an area by a forest or lake (usually both), LIB features speakers, yoga and meditation classes, interactive art installations, as well as performances by a variety of experimental electronic musicians. Past headliners have included Purity Ring, Big Gigantic, Bass Nectar, and Nicolas Jaar.
Big Day Out
Location: Sydney, Australia - January 26, 2014
If you’re going to splurge on a trip to Australia, what could sweeten the deal more than attending this musical blowout featuring Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, Steve Angello and Arcade Fire altogether? (Nothing). They’ve just added Deftones and The Hives to their lineup as well.
Silverlake Music Festival
Location: Pattaya, Thailand - March 1, 2014
If you scoffed at the name for its association with the hipster enclave in Los Angeles, think again. Thailand is one of the most cost-effective vacation destinations you could ever dream up: an endless list of beaches and islands to explore, perfect weather, and activities for the adventurous attracts flocks of international music-lovers from every part of the world each year. There couldn’t be a more readily feel-good atmosphere to host a festival featuring headliners Nine Inch Nails, The Hives, Foals, The Used and Taking Back Sunday.
Location: Indio, California - April 11-13 (Weekend 1) and April 18-20 (Weekend 2)
Call us partial, but this desert showcase is internationally renowned for a reason. As one of the first major festivals to occur each year, it’s a prime spot for artists to stage announcements, reunions, and celebrate new album releases. The culture surrounding this festival is almost as big as the music headliners it books — Coachella fashion, day parties, art installations, and celebrity sightings will keep you starry-eyed in between headliners the whole weekend through.