Music festivals and summer are like cold beer on a hot day. They’re just better together. Whether you’re a folk aficionado seeking an eco friendly weekend with like-minded fans or want to experience your favourite band on a different continent, there’s bound to be an event that suits your style. Here are 9 festivals that should be on every music lover’s radar this summer.
Hillside Festival (Guelph, Ontario, Canada)
What do Arcade Fire, Neko Case, Broken Social Scene and Ani DiFranco have in common? Besides playing great music, they’ve all performed at Hillside. Celebrating its 31st birthday this July, Hillside is an environmentally conscious, family friendly festival that will make you want to hug strangers all weekend long. Local food (and beer), tons of workshops and consistently awesome music lineups make this Canadian classic worth the very reasonable cost of admission.
Pitchfork Music Festival (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Not content with just being the authority on indie rock, Pitchfork Media dipped its toe into the festival scene in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. Names like Neutral Milk Hotel, Beck, and Kendrick Lamar make Pitchfork the perfect place to see some indie legends and listen to new bands that your friends probably haven’t heard of yet. Throw in some craft beer and you’ve got yourself a darn near perfect weekend.
Isle of Wight Festival (Newport, Isle of Wight, UK)
Having gotten its start as a counterculture event in 1968, the Isle of Wight festival has had plenty of time to evolve and establish itself as a legend in its own right. Playing host to musical greats like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix have made this event so popular that Parliament had to pass the “Isle of Wight Act’, limiting the number of attendees to 5000 unless granted a special license. This summer’s line up includes Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kings of Leon, and Boy George so make sure to get your tickets ASAP.
Festival Beauregard (Herouville St-Clair, Normandy, France)
A relative newcomer to the scene, Festival Beauregard kicked off in 2009 and has been gaining steam ever since. This municipally funded event takes place on the grounds of a chateau in Normandy and bears the name of the fictitious John Beauregard, a marketing tool conceived by the festival’s founder to give the concert series a more personal touch. Performances by Blondie, Portishead, and Pixies all but guarantee that 2014 is going to be Beauregard’s best year yet and the fact that its setting is incredibly gorgeous doesn’t hurt either.
Roskilde Festival (Roskilde, Denmark)
Roskilde, one of Europe’s largest music festivals, was founded by students, taken over by a cultural foundation and operates based on a voting system which allows participants to have a say as to who receives the profits made from the event. How very democratic. It got its start in 1971 and has been going strong ever since despite a tragic turn of events in 2000 that left nine dead after an incident during Pearl Jam’s set. This summer, they are playing host some incredible musical acts including The Rolling Stones, Drake, Stevie Wonder, and a ton of amazing Scandinavian artists. If you’ve been thinking about visiting Denmark, this is the sign you’ve been waiting for!
Newport Folk Festival (Newport, Rhode Island, USA)
Newport Folk Festival has been around since 1959, which basically means that by attending the event you’re taking part of a fundamental part of American music history. How cool is that? Created by the founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, this annual music weekend has become the must-go-to event of the summer for thousands of fans every year. It takes place at the picturesque Fort Adams and boasts an impressive commitment to sustainability. Bike valets and partnerships with reusable water bottle companies and local food suppliers are just a couple of the ways that the organizers ensure that fantastic music and a healthy planet aren’t mutually exclusive. Past performers have described the festival as ‘magical’. What more do you need to convince you to go?
Glastonbury Festival (Pilton, Somerset, England)
We have Glastonbury to thank for the ubiquity of Wellington boots paired with cutoff shorts and for ‘festival style’ becoming a fashion industry catchphrase. It’s the granddaddy of British music festivals and it draws over 175 000 people a year- not just pretty young things with a penchant for limited edition rain boots but devoted music fans as well. More than just great bands, Glastonbury (Glasto to those in the know) is known to sell out months in advance. There are circuses, designated zones for kids, theatres, even an onsite camping area called Worthy View. Consider Glastonbury the ultimate event to have on your summer festival bucket list.
Fuji Music Festival (Naeba, Japan)
First held at the base of Mount Fuji, Japan’s largest music festival has been taking place every summer since 1997. Now it takes place at the Naeba Ski Resort, which makes the festival’s setting almost as fantastic as the music. Every year, the three-day event gets going with an opening ceremony featuring traditional Japanese dancing and fireworks. The weekend itself features concerts played on several stages scattered throughout the resort including the Red Marquee, the site of Fuji’s all-night raves. Should you need a break from all the excitement, you can hop on the Dragondola (the world’s longest gondola) and ride it to the top of a nearby mountain. Great music, a beautiful setting and loads of nearby accommodations make Fuji Music Festival something worth including in your Japanese trip itinerary.
Oppikoppi (Northam, South Africa)
Held annually in August, Oppikoppi is not for those who are afraid to sweat. Credited with helping to bring South African music onto the global stage, Oppikoppi is a multi-day event that features local and international bands spanning just about every genre of music imaginable. Despite taking place at the height of the hot, South African summer, Oppikoppi draws thousands of music fans from around the globe, all keen on discovering new artists and taking in the breathtaking views. The fact that you can get your beer delivered to you by drone is just an added bonus.
Who is Kate Walker? She’s a freelance writer, yoga addict, and citizen of the concrete jungle. When not on the mat, Kate can be found at the dog park or on the dock in Muskoka. She is also pretty fond of running, skiing, and Settlers of Catan.