10 Summer Music Festivals Worth Travelling the World For

Iceland's Secret Solstice Festival, billed as "The World's First Party Inside a Glacier"EXPAND
Iceland's Secret Solstice Festival, billed as "The World's First Party Inside a Glacier"
Photo Courtesy of Secret Solstice Festival

Even though Houston has some killer summer concerts coming to town in the next few months, our city's climate sometimes makes sweating it out at a show too much to bear. The weather — whether it be heat indexes over 100 degrees or the never-ending rain — is sending a clear message: it's time to get the hell out of town. To help music lovers who have some money to burn on a last-minute vacation (or those who just want to dream about one) we've compiled a list of the ten most exciting, innovative, once-in-a-lifetime summer music festivals from all around the world.

10. SECRET SOLSTICE FESTIVAL
Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
When: June 16-19
How Big: 8,000

The Secret Solstice Festival takes place in Iceland's most breathtaking time of year: the summer solstice, when the northerly region experiences 24 hours of uninterrupted sunlight. While the fest boasts an impressive lineup, ranging from the ineffable rock gods Radiohead to the magical hip-hop realism of Die Antwoord, it's Reykjavik itself that makes this musical experience so unique. Where else in the world can you see a concert inside a dormant volcano, or party on a glacier? Where else can you book Viking hot-tub sessions, or maybe just go off and explore lava caves and thermal lakes? In a world where music festivals become increasingly monochromatic, Secret Solstice Festival is a brilliant flash of light.

9. GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL
Where: Pilton, England
When: June 22-26
How Big: 135,000

Starting in the '70s as a small, free folk festival on the bucolic Worthy Farm, Glastonbury Festival has ballooned into an event with an attendance that tips over 100,000. The festival now boasts dozens of "areas" dedicated to a broad range of performances, including folk music, EDM, jazz, political performance art, and even children's programming. But even with the draw of A-list talent like Adele and James Blake, the festival still remains closer to its hippie counterculture roots than most other events of its prominence. Glastonbury Festival has a long-standing relationship with OxFam, Greenpeace and WaterAid, and 2016 marks the first year of "The Sisterhood," a trans-inclusive, women-only space in the Shangri-La area of the festival. If all this has you ready to hop on a plane to England next week, be warned: Glastonbury Festival regularly sells out in a a couple of hours (and this year it was less than an hour) months before the summer date. Maybe try for 2017?

10 Summer Music Festivals Worth Travelling the World For
Simon Frøsig Christensen

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8. ROSKILDE FESTIVAL
Where: Roskilde, Denmark
When: June 25-July 2
How Big: 130,000

Roskilde is a festival steeped in rock, hosting legendary bands like Santana, the Rolling Stones, and Iron Maiden since its inception in 1971. But unlike many other festivals, Roskilde maintains a nonprofit status, donating to organization like Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International and Save the Children. The festival is divided into thematic "cities" and zones that embrace different segments of the festival's culture, from skaters to graffiti to political activism. The legendary Orange Stage is an impressive piece of festival architecture, allowing for audiences of over 60,000 people. More liberated festivalgoers might want to participate in the annual naked run, where the winners can win tickets to the following year's festival.

10 Summer Music Festivals Worth Travelling the World ForEXPAND
Photo courtesy of Montreux Jazz Festival

7. MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL
Where: Montreux, Switzerland
When: July 1-16
How Big: 200,000

Picturesque and posh, the resort town of Montreux bubbles with the world's best jazz acts for two weeks in July. Now celebrating its 50th year, the 2016 Montreux Jazz Festival has broadened its musical horizons to include a wide range of jazz-influenced music, from hip-hop to soul to indigenous music. Big headliners like Patti Smith, Anohni and even A$AP Ferg play the festival, but the real draw is the Montreux Jazz Club, where bands like the Aruán Ortiz Trio showcase the latest developments in jazz. Even though Switzerland is a pricey destination, the festival has more than 300 free performances, including the Montreux Jazz Competition, where jazz vocalists, pianists and guitarists play to determine who will be the headliners of tomorrow. The spirit of collaboration is alive at this festival, making it one that die-hards return to year after year.

6. FUJI ROCK FEST
Where: Naeba, Japan
When: July 22-24
How Big: 100,000-150,000

Nestled in the heart of rural Japanese ski country, Fuji Rock Festival is a happy melange of western and Japanese talent, featuring acts as mellow as Wilco and as raging as BABYMETAL. The festival is billed as a way for people to escape their cramped, frenetic city lives to wander through the haunting fog on the wooden forest trails between stages. There's even a natural hot spring on the festival grounds to relax in. Perhaps most notable is the Dragondola, billed as the world's longest gondola, which will take you to the top of a nearby mountain for a breathtaking view of the festival grounds.

5. SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS
Where: Yelgun, Australia
When: July 22-24
How Big: 30,000

If the lineup of The Strokes, The Cure and Sigur Rós doesn't shake your heart, then the lively community at Splendour in the Grass will. This Australia festival is three days of easygoing escape. Beyond seeing the musical acts booked to perform, attendees can enjoy upcycle craft tents, contemporary art, zen gardens, massage lounges and the famous mystical outdoor dance space, the Tipi Forest. The festival also promotes "Splendour Forum," which brings together the sharpest minds from Australia and abroad to tackle challenging global problems, such as human rights abuses, climate change and more. Even though the festival takes place during Australia's winter, the coastal location makes for a mild climate, not to mention some beautiful beaches in nearby Byron Bay.

 

4. SZIGET FESTIVAL
Where: Budapest, Hungary
When: August 10-17
How Big: 441,000

Sziget is a massive festival, with more than 1,000 performances taking place each year. Located on the so-called "Island of Freedom" in the middle of the Danube River, the festival is almost like a small city unto itself, one in which you could find absolutely anything: fire jugglers, foam dances, an illuminated forest, roaming gypsy musicians and a color party with thousands of people. Despite its size, Sziget has the reputation for being one of the best organized festivals in Europe. Visitors can camp on the island, but you might want to spend some time in Budapest exploring its ancient landmarks and public baths.

3. WAY OUT WEST
Where: Gothenburg, Sweden
When: August 11-13
How Big: 30,000

Some might bristle at Way out West's many festival rules (no crowd-surfing, no public drunkeness, no camping, no outside food, and the list goes on), but its ability to maintain a pristine, polite atmosphere while still remaining innovative and fun is laudable when measured against events that so frequently descend into disorder. In addition to its eclectic lineup, ranging from up-and-coming rapper Anderson .Paak to the brooding legend Morrissey, the festival maintains a stiff commitment to social responsibility by only serving vegetarian food and selling festival merchandise with organic materials. After the festival ends, the party shifts into the city of Gothenburg for "Stay Out West," where artists play pop-up shows in pubs, clubs, museums, churches and even amusement parks late into the evening.

2. GREEN MAN
Where: Brecon Beacons, Wales
When: August 18-21
How Big: 10,000

For those weary of the youthful bacchanal of typical festival culture, Green Man is a mature, low-key alternative ensconced in the Black Mountains of Wales. The festival's line up features music from the milder side of the sonic spectrum, such as country singer Jason Isbell, jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington and indie dance-pop favorites Belle and Sebastian. What this festival loses in ear-popping EDM acts it makes up for in its artistic comprehensiveness. In addition to its 90 musical acts, Green Man screens films, hosts spoken-word events, promotes emerging writers and offers dozens of workshops on everything from yoga to circus acts to didgeridoo. Once all the planned events are over, visitors can try and find a secret gig, or just enjoy a céilidh, one of the festival's all-night bonfires.

FYF FEST
Where: Los Angeles, USA
When: August 27-28
How Big: 80,000

There are hundreds of music festivals to attend stateside, but FYF Fest is our one American pick for this summer travel list. Unlike its overblown two-week Indio counterpart, FYF Fest offers a thoughtfully curated lineup guided by the steady hand of founder Sean Carlson. Even though the festival isn't the small, showcase of local punk talent it was when it began in 2004, its musicians still are exciting and experimental, with headliners like Kendrick Lamar and Grace Jones. Plus, FYF Fest takes place adjacent to the University of Southern California campus, right in the heart of L.A. For those of us who might need a breather from festival madness, the whole city of Los Angeles offers a chance to take a break.


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