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AAA Music | 20 October 2020

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11 of the Best Music Festivals Around the World

| On 31, Mar 2020

It’s over 50 years since 400,000 people attended the music festival that changed all music festivals forever. Woodstock Music and Art Fair saw mud, medical emergencies, and poor catering. Somehow it has become the benchmark for music festivals thereafter.

There’s something in the music, the crowd and the vibe that makes a music festival more than a concert. Read on to learn about the best music festivals around the world.

Creating Music Festivals Around the World

What does it take to be among the best music festivals in the world? Of course, there has to be great music and iconic bands but there’s more to it than that. Some music festivals are so amazing that attending them is a life-changing experience.

Making this scale of event happen takes many talents. The musicians and their technical support are central players but there are masses of other people whose skills and creativity meld to deliver the festival.

There are promoters, labor and production services, caterers, transport and logistics people, and many more whose work happens before and during the festival. After the event, the clean-up crew miraculously returns the site to peaceful normality.

1. Glastonbury

Nestling in the delightful English countryside is one of the most remarkable of all music festivals. This part of Somerset is said to have a spiritual resonance and the festival makes the most of this reputation. It somehow blends mainstream music with an alternative vibe.

Glastonbury is near to the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge. The druidic resonance attracts hippies, healers, wizards, and white witches. It also attracts revelers, musicians and party animals for whom the magic is in the beat rather than the lay lines.

The announcement of the lineup is always newsworthy. There is no one style of music preferred. The eclectic mix includes pop, rock, folk, techno, and dubstep. Every type of music is catered for with mass appeal alongside niche musical offerings.

One thing that is almost always guaranteed is mud. Glastonbury seems to revel in it. The fields that spend most of the year under agricultural production turn into a quagmire with the slightest of rain.

The event is huge and yet retains its character. Mud covered dancers, the iconic pyramid stage, and hedonistic excess seems always to be in fashion. Getting a ticket is competitive but once you’ve been you’ll want to go back again.

2. Summerfest

It’s big. Summerfest is the biggest of all the music festivals in the United States. One reason for this is that for $20 you can attend for a full day of musical treats.

The great value doesn’t mean that the lineup is cheap. The first-rate lineup has included greats of the music business like Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan. Alongside the music aristocracy, you can expect to see performances from current favorites, up and coming artists and if you take along your own guitar you might even be able to draw a crowd yourself.

The event lasts for 11 days in June or July. The location is Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Expect the drink of choice to be a cold beer as that’s the drink that made Milwaukie famous around the world.

If you do visit this event expect to share the experience with around 800,000 other music lovers. It’s a party atmosphere but one with 800 acts and plenty of summer fun.

3. Rock in Rio

Where do Katy Perry, Rhianna, Lady Gaga and Justine Timberlake go to sample the South American music vibe? The same place older rockers like Rod Stewart, Elton John, and Guns n’ Roses go. They go to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Rio’s amazing music festival is named Rock in Rio but the music is a much wider mix than the title suggests. It takes place every two years and entertains around 700,000 people in baking Brazilian heat.

The stars turn out because the event is so huge. Rio somehow inspires exciting enthusiastic crowds. Perhaps it’s the catchy samba beat you hear everywhere or the locals who really know how to party.

4. Donauinselfest

There’s an island in the middle of the Danube River, near Vienna. It took a leap of creative genius to spot this as the perfect place for a music festival. It took off and now over 3 million people attend this annual music event.

Vienna has to be one of the greatest musical cities in the world. Viennese audiences have enjoyed the music of Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart for hundreds of years. Vienna is home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the state-owned State Opera House, People’s Opera House, and the Burgtheater.

In this context, imagine a free open-air festival with 11 stages. This musical city can do rock and pop music as well as classical music.

It’s so good at hosting really big music events that Vienna’s Donauinselfest is now, not only Europe’s largest music festival. It’s the world’s largest music festival. Mozart would surely have loved it.

5. Montreux Jazz Festival

Smoke on the Water“, the classic Deep Purple track, was inspired by a visit to Montreux. This heritage confers a special status in rock history in this small town in Switzerland. On the edge of Lake Geneva, the festival may have started as a festival of jazz but is now much wider in musical scope.

Deep Purple, monsters of progressive rock music as they are, have performed regularly here as the festival morphed from niche jazz event into a two-week-long blues and rock extravaganza.

6. Secret Solstice

Most music fans would struggle to think of their top three favorite Icelandic musicians. Nevertheless, the Icelandic music scene is a vibrant one and the Secret Solstice is an incredible way to sample it.

The event happens during the middle of the Icelandic summer. The complete lack of darkness means you can party in daylight all night long. DJs play great music that keep you dancing for three days.

Take some time out to party Viking style. You’ll discover there’s more to Icelandic music than Björk.

7. Villette Sonique

Everybody should visit Paris at some point in their life. Why not combine a visit to this cultural Mecca with an amazing music festival?

The event is partially free so expect it to be busy. The young Parisiennes love their Euro electro-pop but don’t expect that to be all that is on offer. The range of music reflects the diversity of Paris itself.

Parc de La Villette is the venue. The best place to see the action is from the bridge.

8. Burning Man

It used to be an avant-garde art druggy event. The Burning Man festival is now the stamping ground of Silicon Valley elites. They are seekers of chilled out music and hip DJs.

This festival is in the Nevada desert. It’s got some steampunks, artists, and hippies mixing with the cyber executive types. An interesting cocktail of values and tastes.

9. Governors Ball

The Governors Ball may not be great because of its scale but it’s still one of the best. The event is in the heart of the big apple and draws in a discerning audience as well as top-flight performers.

It’s the only major festival in New York City. Take the ferry to Randall’s Island between Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

This is no camping ground with music included as some music festivals feel like. The backdrop is one of the most amazing global cities.

10. Mutek

Canada has music festivals too. Mutek is one on its own. It’s held in a modern art museum and oozes culture.

There’s undoubtedly a feeling of intellectualism about Mutek. Don’t let that put you off. The music is influenced by European trends and you’ll enjoy the electronic sounds as well as the Canadian good-natured welcome.

11. Life is Beautiful Music And Art Festival

The Life is Beautiful Music and Art Festival in Las Vegas is not a game of chance. You’re certain of a fun time as well as lots of great music.

This festival is based in the city so it’s not a physical endurance challenge like some festivals can be. The music and arts culture sit cheek by jowl with the brash bright lights of the most famous casinos in the world.

As you can imagine, Las Vegas doesn’t compromise when it comes to the lineup. Expect big stars and plenty of entertainment.

Not Just Music

Music festivals offer music but there’s so much more. Music festivals around the world are about people and the shared experience that you have with friends, loved ones, and complete strangers.

For more information about travel and music festivals around the world, check out the rest of our site!