2016 Music Festivals Worth Traveling for

Photograph by Jonas Roosens—AFP/Getty Images

Music festivals are good—for the soul, for the mind, and for the spirit. This is a rare fact agreed upon by both millennials and baby boomers alike. In photographer Cheryl Dunn’s latest book, appropriately titled Music Festivals Are Good, Dunn recounts her many festival experiences through photos, from Woodstock ’94 to Bonnaroo and the Warped Tour in the early aughts. Dunn’s raw, gritty, and damningly fun look at music festivals around the world served up some major inspiration to search for the best music festivals on the planet—and which ones are worth traveling around the country (or across the globe) for this year.

There are the usual suspects of course—the high profile events that, in this day and age, seem to attract festivalgoers who are keener on dressing up for Instagram than getting lost in the actual music—think Coachella, Burning Man, SXSW, Ultra, and Glastonbury. While many of these festivals still serve up first-class musical entertainment (this year, legendary hard-rock band Guns N’ Roses will reunite after 20 years on Coachella’s main stage, and Glastonbury 2016’s lineup includes names such as Kanye West, the Foo Fighters, FKA Twigs and the Who), music festivals have become more of a spectacle than a unifying experience. What once consisted of shirtless, crowd surfing youths covered in mud has transformed into a fashionable experience, a place to see and be seen. Supermodel tribes, in $150 rain boots and designer denim cutoffs, rent caravans loaded with electricity and plush beds, or stay in the luxurious tents, pop-up hotels, and tent house suites provided by festivals like Coachella, in Black Rock City, Utah, and Glastonbury, in Somerset, England.

As Dunn says in her book, “To me these experiences are about the people you share them with, the kids crammed front and center who saved their money for a year to be there, the older fans sitting on tricked out lawn chairs whose friends think they are crazy for still going. The cross section of nerds, jocks, babes, stoners, hipsters, outcasts, letting it all hang out in unabashed glory, all sharing a common love of music. There is a collective transcendence that happens.” Sadly, that is not always the case today. High-profile festivals are notorious for charging sky-high prices (and, whilst there, charging festivalgoers in any way they can), and attracting crowds of models and young actresses, rather than the music-obsessives and die-hard groupies previous decades had seen. However, there are still a plethora of festivals spread out across the world where a piece of that “unabashed glory” and “collective transcendence” still exists—you just need to look a little harder (and maybe travel a little further) to experience them. We’ve done the work for you—so scroll through our gallery for the ultimate guide to music festivals worth traveling for.


1 Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium

July 22-24, 2016 Probably the best-known electronic music festival in Europe—if not the world—Tomorrowland has somehow avoided the curse that festivals like Ultra and Electric Zoo suffered from, probably due to its remote location and irresistibly kitsch designs. Attendees stay in the campground, called Dreamville, where they can expect over-the-top stage sets (think: a musical circus on steroids). This year’s lineup is yet to be announced, but for those who love dancing, crowd surfing, fireworks, and confetti, you can be assured of a good—maybe too good—time.

2 Iceland Airwaves in Reykjavík, Iceland

October 31 to November 6, 2016 Iceland is one of the hottest destinations for travelers at the moment—blame the Northern Lights, the Blue Lagoon and Nordic cuisine. But Iceland Airwaves amps things up a notch in the country’s capital, by allowing mostly Icelandic (though sometimes international) artists to showcase the best of Scandinavian music.

3 Fuji Rock Festival in Yuzawa-cho, Niigata Prefecture, Japan

Fuji Rock Festival in Yuzawa, Niigata, Japan

July 22-24, 2016 While not actually set near Mount Fuji, this rain-or-shine music festival (which also happens to be Japan’s largest) takes place amongst the mountains at Naeba Ski Resort, where festivalgoers can rent caravans, make camp, or stay at nearby hotels, ryokans, and minshukus. This year’s lineup has not yet been released, but last year, stars such as the Foo Fighters, Motörhead, Deadmau5 and FKA Twigs performed. Other highlights include a festival’s-eve opening party, over 30 international food stalls, the world’s longest gondola lift, and the rarest of festival amenties: clean toilets.

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4 Sziget in Budapest, Hungary

Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit performs in Sziget festival at Obudai Island in Budapest, Hungary.

August 10-17, 2016 Sziget—which translates into ‘island’ in Hungarian—is one of Europe’s largest festivals. It boasts multiple food stalls, a store, and even its own “ruin pubs,” which are local to Budapest. The festival is in some ways reminiscent of Burning Man, with its numerous art installations, but is set amongst a green island, surrounded by water instead of the harsh desert of Black Rock City. Balloons and seizure-inducing lights are aplenty, but with a lineup including David Guetta, such is to be expected. Other acts performing this year include Bloc Party, Sigur Rós, Muse, and M83. To get to the island, opt for the Sziget-Budapest City Pass, instead of trying to swim across the Danube River, like other attendees have done (and regretted) in the past.

5 Roskilde in Roskilde, Denmark

Sunset in front of Orange Scene at Roskilde Festival

June 25 to July 2, 2016 This year, the Danish music festival will see the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music perform—an occasion so unique, it’s worth the trip to the country alone. Another event that incorporates art, community, food, and architecture, Roskilde takes place in the city it's named after, and hosts a naked run—which is exactly what it sounds like. Stars on this year’s lineup include the newly reunited LCD Soundsystem, New Order, Wiz Khalifa, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (For more on Scandinavian music festivals, read here.)

6 Benicàssim in Benicàssim, Spain

July 14-17, 2016 Touted as one of the best music festivals in Europe, this year’s Benicàssim lineup is hard to beat: Massive Attack, Kendrick Lamar, and the Chemical Brothers, are to perform, to name a few. Being in Spain, you can expect delicious food to be served, though it’s still worth taking some time away from the noise to venture into the city for fresh seafood, at restaurants like Les Barraques or Lindau. While camping is the preferred option at the festival (there is also the option of “glamping”) many attendees wind up catching some sandy sleep on the beach.

7 Sonar in Barcelona, Spain

June 16-18, 2016 Located in Barcelona, the Sonar Music Festival is one of the most advanced in Europe. This year’s festival will encompass art and technology, which makes it more of a cultural event than just a music festival. But music lovers shouldn't fret. This year’s lineup includes acts like New Order, Santigold, Laurent Garnier, and Ed Banger. If the food, architecture, and stunning surroundings aren’t enough to inspire a trip to Barcelona, let this year’s Sonar do that for you.

8 Exit in Novi Sad, Serbia

July 7-10, 2016 One of the best-known and most dynamic festival experiences in Europe, Exit, which was founded amongst a political movement driven by students, brings in big names from the rock, pop, and electronic worlds alike. We’re still waiting on the full lineup to be released, but headliners like Wiz Khalifa and Bastille have already been confirmed, and past acts include Guns N’ Roses, the White Stripes, the Arctic Monkeys, and Patti Smith. Set in the Petrovaradin Fortress, Exit has won various awards over the years, and remains one of the top music festivals worth traveling far—very far—to each year. More from T+L: • Best Summer Vacations in U.S. • America's Best Cities for Gay Travel • Best Beauty Gifts for Travelers

9 T in the Park in Perthshire, Scotland

July 8-10, 2016 “Camp, drink, and listen to good music in the Scottish countryside,” is what one T+L editor said of T in the Park, Scotland’s annual music festival, held at Strathallan Castle. While that pretty much sums up the weekend event, it remains spectacular, and completely worth making the journey for, due to its pristine surroundings, world-class performing acts, and diverse crowd. While the full lineup has yet to be announced, the Stone Roses and Disclosure are a few who have already been confirmed.

10 Festival d’été de Québec, Canada

July 7-17, 2016 300 events, 10 stages, 11 days; that’s what the Quebec City Summer Festival encompasses. The festival, which is held in the vastly underrated city of Quebec, combines family and adult entertainment, a parade, street performances, and more. This year, the festival is focusing on going “carbon neutral”—which you can read more about here. This year, headliners include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting, and Peter Gabriel. As if you needed another reason to go, an 11-day Festival Pass, which permits access to all the shows and headliners, will set you back less than $75. Don’t forget to explore the charming, European-inspired streets and feast on delicious French-Québécois cuisine while there. For more, read the original article here. This piece was previously published on Travel + Leisure.

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