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The 50 best music festivals in the world

Discover the biggest and best festivals in the world today with our international festival bucket list for 2019

By Time Out editors |
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Best Music Festivals in the World, Magnetic Fields
Magnetic Fields, India

Music festivals have come a long way since the psychedelic wig-outs of the '60s. These days, there's a festival for everyone, even if you've shunned most annual mud-fests in the past because you dance to disco and you don't like rock. Beyond the traditional LondonUK and European festivals, there are fantastic international events from California's very Instagram-friendly Coachella to Japan's fabulous Fuji Rock, which prides itself on being the 'cleanest festival in the world'. Here are the 50 best music festivals to try before you die.

Best music festivals in the UK

Field Day

London, UK

Festival heaven for: People who prefer vinyl to Spotify (obviously)

Expanded again to a two-day event (after a year as a one-dayer), Field Day continues to be cooler than a cucumber with a hipster beard and an ironic tattoo. It’s a great place to get day-drunk on craft beer after lining your stomach with the latest vegan food in the super-chill Village Green area. But Field Day has serious muso cred too; it's carefully curated to include edgy guitar music, shoegaze, alternative R&B, smart rap, revered DJs and everything else that’s in vogue. It also boasts one of the best stages on the UK festival circuit, the Barn, a state-of-the-art hangar with a seriously impressive lighting rig.

Glastonbury

Somerset, UK

Festival heaven for: Ageing hippies, middle managers who work in the public sector, old-school socialists

Every summer, when it isn't having a "fallow year" to give locals a break, the Big Daddy of UK festivals commandeers a chunk of Somerset for music, mischief, hippies, healing and a whole lot of cider. It’s difficult to convey quite how vast Glasto is, with whole worlds of activity taking place outside the arena as well as an awe-inspiring musical line-up ranging from pop to reggae to rock to dubstep to metal to folk to techno. Everywhere you turn there’s vitality to be found – especially if you stumble into some of the more anarchic cabaret tents and stages dotting the woods and fields far from the Pyramid-stage hordes. And in terms of sheer scale, Glastonbury remains untouchable as a pilgrimage for hedonists of all stripes, where all the ley lines of British pop culture converge. Usually, by day four, into an immense, blasted muddy heap on the floor.

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The 50 best music festivals in the world, Greenman

Green Man

Brecon Beacons, Wales

Festival heaven for: Guardian readers

Now in its fifteenth year, Green Man is as cute as a button. It’s got pretty incredible fresh food from every nook and cranny of the globe, 99 ales and ciders in its very own beer festival and eight bars selling all your fave cocktails. Music wise, it’s the wet dream of middle-aged Guardian readers (i.e. lots, and lots of Laura Marling).

Latitude

Suffolk, UK

Festival heaven for: Families who just wanna have fun, thirtysomethings who still like a vibe

This Suffolk festival offers the ultimate cool-but-chill weekend away, with a line-up of adventurous pop and alt rock in an cute setting. It’s a very family-friendly affair and the music programming is artfully mixed up with comedy, poetry, spoken-word, dance and theatre. DJs are hidden in the woods for late night revelry, the famous colourful sheep roam the surrounding fields, and you can wash it all down with a refreshing local ale. We’ll drink to that.

 

 

Begun in 2006 and championed relentlessly by the Guardian, Latitude has quickly established itself as Glastonbury’s more introverted, genteel little cousin. Set in a lakeside idyll near the sleepy holiday town of Southwold, its instant success has led to a glut of mini-me boutique festivals springing up across the UK in the past ten years. But while many have withered and died in a swamped market, Latitude’s family-friendly boho vibe, trademark rainbow-dyed sheep and unchallenged rep as a middle-class paradise have ensured its survival. The enlightened-indie music policy – angled just leftfield enough to see the inauguration of a BBC 6 Music stage in 2013 – shares the limelight each year with an impressive bill of cabaret and comedy acts. Only downside: it’s kind of remote transport-wise, almost impossible to get to by any means other than Suffolk cow.

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Lovebox

London, UK

Festival heaven for: Dayglo party hounds

Lovebox is one of London's most colourful summer parties. Head to the main stage for big-name DJs, MCs and the odd genre-busting band, or check out the smaller stages – curated by the likes of Noisey– for the chance to discover a cool new rising star. Lovebox keeps the beats pumping and the drink flowing for two whole days (traditionally a Friday and Saturday) but remember to pace yourself. This is a festival known for its seriously fierce afterparties. 

Boomtown

Winchester, UK

Festival heaven for: Hedonists, hippies, ravers, nomads

More than a festival, Boomtown is a whole alternate reality. Each year is a different chapter in a running storyline, and the whole festival is made into a vibrant, pulsing and fucking mental city. There are secret hotels with beds and live ska bands, a job centre, hidden pathways, and a whole lot of actors doing weird things. It’s the perfect example of true, childlike escapism; it’s honestly impossible at times to tell what’s real and what’s not, with everything and everyone part of the experience. There are also people of all ages, ready to get stuck into the psychedelic forests, cowboy raves in the Wild West or the pleasure-seeking crazies of Downtown.
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Wilderness

Oxfordshire, UK

Festival heaven for: People who know what a yurt is

The ever-magical August getaway returns for its sixth year in Oxfordshire. Wilderness’s music bills have got better and better over the years, but Wilderness isn't just about great sounds: from outdoor theatre to talks and debates, horse riding to yurt-building, a lakeside spa and even long-table banquets with leading chefs, this is much more than a music festival. Book now if you want in: it’s always a sell-out affair.

Houghton festival, 2017
© Jake Davis

Houghton

Norfolk, UK

Festival heaven for: People who appreciate the crispest, freshest beats.

This intimate woodland party is one of the UK's most raved-about new festivals, and it's easy to see why. Everything you hear at Houghton is relayed through the finest sound-systems, having been chosen by long-standing Fabric resident Craig Richards, who curates the event. Richards handpicks a killer cast of DJs, including some of the biggest and best names from house, techno, disco and more. There’s also visual art and sculpture to engage the eyes as well as ears.

Best music festivals in Europe

Best Music Festivals in the World: Benicassim

Benicàssim

Benicàssim (duh again!), Spain

Festival heaven for: People who can successfully achieve a tan

The Festival Internacional de Benicassim (FIB) or Benicàssim for short, is a perfect combo of holidaying and festival. For the former, you’ve got the actual titular town 20 minutes away, with a glistening sea to dip into and wash away the toxins of the previous night. For the latter, you’ve got some of the best guitar music line-ups year in and year out. There’s a reason that it’s gone from 50K capacity in 2009 to 150K over the whole weekend last year; it’s a beautiful festival, in a beautiful location, with lots of beautiful naked people. The days are also made for kicking back and having a chill, since music only starts at 5pm and then goes throughout the night until the next morning. It’s officially the best way to get a great tan and listen to the cutting-edge of guitar music; that ain’t a FIB.

Dekmantel

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Festival heaven for: Beat gremlins

If you like decks, and getting a bit mental, then you’ll probably like Dekmantel (airhorn laughter), a club-inspired festival held by the record label of the same name. It’s held in all the vibiest parts of Amsterdam, with the Amsterdamse Bos being the HQ of the party; but if you can’t go to a festival without sweating and shivering in a tent depending on the time of the day, there’s also a camping option. There’s no better location for this kind of house, techno and trance DJs than the city of liberal thinking, flat walking and really good bud.

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The 50 best music festivals in the world, Exit

Exit Festival

Novi Sad, Serbia

Festival heaven for: Risk-takers, ravers, nostalgic Serb protesters

Exit Festival has a pretty incredible history; it was founded in 2000 as a student movement to protest and fight for democracy in Serbia. Since then, it’s been visited by over two million people from more than 60 countries. And for a good reason – it’s located in a medieval fortress for god’s sake, and boasts 16 stages with all kinds of stuff going on. Plus, as well as the music, there’s a sports area (probably not best enjoyed on a comedown/hangover), chill zones, a zip line and a 3D dance arena. Although it’s moved on since its politicised beginnings, it’s still got a strong sense of social responsibility attached to it.

Best Music Festivals in the World: Meadows in the Mountains
© Jack Pasco

Meadows in the Mountains

Rhodopes Mountains, Bulgaria

Festival heaven for: Yogis

This boutique festival in the jaw-dropping surroundings of Bulgaria’s Rhodope mountain range is your chance to commune with nature to a blissful soundtrack of afterhours house, disco and techno. There’s also an honourable commitment to eco-friendly partying: the organisers are committed to sourcing timber shacks, art installations and stages from the local forest. Appearing on those stages are all kinds of live bands: funk, dub, alternative and jazz and, of course, the obligatory earnest men with acoustic guitars. Our tip: stick around for the post-festival pool party, tickets for which are sold separately.

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The 50 best music festivals in the world, Montreux Jazz
© Flickr / Olivier Bruchez

Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux, Switzerland

Festival heaven for: Jazz aficionados and music fans with a t

Originally a pure jazz festival, Montreux Jazz Festival has expanded since the ’80s to welcome acts from the worlds of blues, rock and soul – and even Deep Purple, who’ve headlined an impressive eight times. It’s a pretty swanky affair held on the Lake Geneva shorreline which stretches out over a fortnight, so you might want to start saving up your annual leave right away.

Best Music Festivals in the World: Outlook

Outlook

Pula, Croatia

Festival heaven for: Beat freaks

Outlook is all about soundsystem culture for people that love any type of beat going; everything and anything from two-step to four-to-the-floor to breakbeat. Mainly, it’s all about bass; there’s parties going all day and night long in every corner of the festie. Camping is great fun, too; plus you can get involved with boat and beach parties. And, like all Croatia festivals, it’s located in a stunning bit of history; a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre and an abandoned fortress.

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Best Music Festivals in the World: primavera sound

Primavera Sound

Barcelona, Spain

Festival heaven for: People who look sickeningly good in skinny black jeans, the wayward needing their faith restored in music

The Parc del Fòrum grounds have the feel of an industrial carpark and there is a lack of shade from the sun. So bring comfortable shoes and a hat. Boom. Solved. There, now that the minor gripes are out of the way, let’s count the positives. The kick-off to the European festival season, Primavera gives you bragging rights on seeing reunions du jour and soaring talent. The masterful bills that read like a collection of year-end best-of lists. Everyone is incredibly kind. The Balearic Sea behind you. Spain. It’s no wonder that when we close our eyes, this is our happy place, where we can get a jump-start on our tans while soaking up the blissful grooves. Ahhh.

NOS Alive

NOS Alive

Lisbon, Portugal

Festival heaven for: Headliner lovers and kebab fans

As giddily fun as its inhalant homonym, NOS Alive is undoubtedly one of Europe’s finest festivals. It’s an all-rounder of a festie; stadium-sized DJs and bands, great camping, a swimming pool, a free shuttle service. There’s also the NOS Alive Surf Xperience (you know it’s got to be fun when it starts with an ‘X’) where you can learn to enjoy some of the best waves in Portugal. Plus, the kebabs are outstanding; they put these little crispy bits in that are rather tasty indeed.
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The 50 best music festivals in the world, secret solstice

Secret Solstice

Reykjavik, Iceland

Festival heaven for: Electronica nuts, sun worshippers (literally)

Thanks to the likes of Björk, Sigur Ros and more, Iceland is now one of the hippest countries to party in, and Secret Solstice is the place to go. Not only does it have a great line-up of DJs and electronica-dabbling bands and artists, it also takes place over the summer solstice weekend: as you're in Iceland, this means the sun doesn't set for three whole days, leaving you no option but to stay up all weekend and party.

Best Music Festivals in the World: Sonar

Sónar

Barcelona, Spain

Festival heaven for: Ravers with PhDs, Wire magazine readers

(Aka the International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art). Sónar’s highbrow alternative moniker is a big hint that this is a bit more special than your average dance festival. Now in its twenty-second year, this Barcelona-based three-dayer is a huge party and an egghead dissection of electronic music all wrapped in one. There aren’t many festivals where you can attend lectures on digital culture in between late-night raving, but at Sónar it’s pretty much par for the course. The festival spreads its tentacles to all corners of the city, putting on art installations and kid-friendly events, but the main draw is always the music.

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Best Music Festivals in the World: Sziget
© HuSándor Csudai

Sziget

Budapest, Hungary

Festival heaven for: Culture vultures and music magpies

A giant of the European festival circuit, Sziget regularly attracts more than 350,000+ revellers to its charming island location in the heart of Budapest. The sheer scale of the festival – 50 venues and 200 daily performances over seven days – is dizzying. Musically, there’s everything from big names to smaller acts performing metal, jazz, folk, authentic Roma… (name a genre, and someone’s bound to be playing it somewhere). Culturally, there’s theatre, circus and exhibitions, and of course Budapest itself to explore. The only thing missing from the agenda is boredom.

Best Music Festivals in the World: Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland

Boom, Belgium

Festival heaven for: Glitter-strewn EDM-loving social butterflies

When it comes to throwing huge outrageous EDM bashes, only Ultra can compete with Tomorrowland. The Belgian festival, based in the appropriately named town of Boom, has attracted the biggest DJs and electronic music makers in the world for more than ten years now and the party just keeps getting bigger and better. Fest-goers can expect 15 stages of music, volcanoes, giant disco balls, even bigger butterflies and industrial-sized quantities of confetti. Magic.

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Best Music Festivals in the World: Villette Sonique
© Teddy Morellec

Villette Sonique

Paris, France

Festival heaven for: Rock and electro-loving hip kids 

This ever-expanding festival in the glorious post-modern surroundings of Parc de La Villette offers seven days – some more packed than others – of eclectic music. Two of those days include free outside gigs which means things tend to get crowded: our advice is to grab a place on the bridge for a better view of the action. Music-wise? Villette Sonique is known for its exciting collision of rock and electro acts.

 The 50 best music festivals in the world, way out west
© Flickr / danieljordahl

Way Out West

Gothenburg, Sweden

Festival heaven for: The eco-conscious, Scandinavian pop fiends, shoegazers

Gothenburg is a fantasyland of water and stone, where streetcars and canals cut past centuries-old buildings decked in art-deco signs. The city has given birth to incredible acts like Little Dragon, Jens Lekman, the Knife and José González, so it’s no wonder the university town also hosts an ideal music festival in its woody Slottsskogen park. Some cool veteran tends to headline Way Out West and the event prides itself on its environmentally friendliness, right down to only serving vegetarian fare. So you might want to hit that herring truck beforehand.

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Best Music Festivals in the World: Weather Festival

Weather Festival

Paris, France

Festival heaven for: Boar-hunting ravers

Forget the cold steel trappings of a Berlin Warehouse; these days, serious techno heads do their raving in a hunting forest in Paris. Confused? Let us explain: the forested acres of Bois de Vicennes plays host to Weather Festival, a huge three-day rave (35,000+ people) comprised of 70 dance acts – equal parts major label stars and underground collectives – and five stages. On offer is everything from minimal techno to nu-disco. The only downside is the long bar queues. Our advice: dance yourself into an altered state instead.

Best music festivals in USA and Canada

Best Music Festivals in the World: Burning Man
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/ stuartlchambers

Burning Man

Nevada, USA

Festival heaven for: Deep Web surfers, steampunks, metal sculptors, crystal healers

Undoubtedly, some guy sporting goggles and dreadlocks will tell you Burning Man is not what it used to be, man, before he speeds off in his solar buggy, and he’s probably right. Once an off-the-grid bacchanal-slash-art-installation akin to a Mad Max film, the desert party has become a Dionysian ritual for Silicon Valley rich looking to shake off the stress of countless 18-hour work days filled with coding, backstabbing and energy drinks. Still, an inimitable post-modern, cyberpunk, druggy spirit hangs about this remote pop-up on the north Nevada playa. The performing DJs are last-minute surprises – techy producers like Deadmau5 and Tyco – but that’s just part of the action in a place that has pyrotechnics and its own laser regulations.

Best Music Festivals in the World: Coachella

Coachella

Indio, USA

Festival heaven for: Sun lovers, celebrities, fashion bloggers, those who use the Mayfair filter in Instagram

Sure, this California festival is known for being a celeb-spotter’s paradise, but this shouldn't distract us from the bangin’ lineup it assembles every year, which typically includes the hottest rising stars, pop icons at the peak of their powers (we’re talking Beyoncé and Ariana Grande level), and a few juicy exclusives. You’ll probably spot some punters posing for the 'gram, but many others will be just be loving the awesome music and gorgeous Californian weather. 

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Best Music Festivals in the World, fun fun fun fest
© Flickr/ Ralph Arvesen

Sound On Sound Fest

Texas, USA

Festival heaven for: Fun (fun fun) lovers

Replacing Fun Fun Fun Fest, SOS is just as – err – fun, fun, fun. It’s got the same blend of lots of genres (punk, metal, dance, DJs), which founder Graham Williams sees as all ‘part of the same scene’. There’s also action sports and comedy, and it’s all set in the so-called Live Music Capital of the World (Austin, Texas).
The 50 best music festivals in the world: fyf festival

FYF Fest

Los Angeles, USA

Festival heaven for: Pitchfork readers, vinyl buyers, city explorers, celebrity shunners

Because he was bored by big concerts and a teenager, Sean Carlson started his own damn festival in 2004 and dubbed it Fuck Yeah Fest. In the decade since, FYF has blossomed from hip clubs in Echo Park to being a major park-filler. Naturally, it’s since been absorbed by Goldenvoice, the folks behind Coachella, but the modest two-day event retains its local vibe and fanboy energy. The location has hopped around downtown parks over the last few years, but never out of sight of those often overlooked Los Angeles skyscrapers. The headliners are as a rule deeply cool. While the rest of the bill eschews filler, putting the buzziest names in SoCal punk, underground dance, garage, metal and minimalist electronic in the mix. Don’t sleep at this well-balanced underdog. Literally: get out there and stay in the real LA, not some temporary campground.

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Best Music Festivals in the World: Governors Ball
© Michael J. Chen

Governors Ball

New York, USA

Festival heaven for: Brooklynites, urbanites, Urban Outfitters employees, tourists, the characters on 'Girls'

Though it moved from its more scenic original location on Governors Island, in view of the Statue of Liberty and the downtown skyline, New York City’s only major music festival is now more easily accessible on Randall’s Island, wedged up the East River between the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. A ferry is still the best way to get to Governors Ball, but train, bus and walking over the RFK Bridge will deliver you, too. Attendance wise, it’s a fraction of the size of American fest like Coachella and Lolla, yet its bookings often trump the big boys. While the vibe is never as loose and celebratory as fests with campgrounds, afterward, you can lose yourself in the bustle of the Big Apple. That’s some perk.

Best Music Festivals in the World: Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza

Chicago, USA

Festival heaven for: People born in the '90s, people who deeply miss the '90s

Begun by Jane’s Addiction frontman and silver pants aficionado Perry Ferrell in 1991, the once-roving Lollapalooza put its roots down in Chicago’s Grant Park a decade ago, where it has since remained, scenically flanked by Lake Michigan and the towering downtown skyline. The setting can be stunning, though agoraphobes beware: Lolla continues to skew younger and younger as the crowd has ballooned well into the six figures. There’s hardly a place to lay a blanket on this 300-acre beast. No bother, though, as you’ll want to keep moving to catch the hundreds of acts across eight stages, from the never-ending rave at Perry’s Stage, an EDM festival-within-a-festival in its own right, to the mile-long stretch of local food stalls. There’s even Kidzapalooza for budding hipsters. After ten hours in the park, the action disperses to Chicago clubs for dozens of afterparties. If your feet can make it. How it pays to be 18.

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Best Music Festivals in the World: Mutek

Mutek

Montreal, Canada

Festival heaven for: Anyone who can remember and pronounce Aphex Twin song titles, art collectors, East Berliners

Held in a museum of modern art, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Mutek is perhaps too intellectual to be called a festival. Please refrain from pumping your fist to the stoic German tech-head squeezing alien tintinnabulation from his laptop. Several supreme purveyors of microhouse, ambient, drone and other bleeding-edge electronica head over from Europe to make their North American debuts. Fret not, Canada is too friendly and full of poutine to stroke its chin so seriously. Afterward, you’re apt to share a bottle of wine with a new friend at some head-to-tail joint.

Best Music Festivals in the World: New Orleans Jazz Festival, music festivals
© Jazzfest

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

New Orleans, USA

Festival heaven for: Dads

Yes, Jazz Fest has strayed from its mission statement over the last 45 years. And, yes, the two main stages lure marquee names, but that leaves eight other stages to focus on homegrown genres like zydeco, blues, brass bands, gospel and, yes, jazz. It’s the most catholic lineup of musicians you’ll likely find on the planet. Heck, there are even two stages of chefs. Cooking is a religion in N’awlins, and stuffing yourself with hot beignets, muffulettas and crawfish is part of the draw here. Pack elastic waistbands.

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Best Music Festivals in the World: Outside Lands

Outside Lands

San Francisco, USA

Festival heaven for: Those who want to fall in love with America, foodies, Uber addicts

In a city known for its astronomical real estate, it's no wonder that Outside Lands is all about location, location, location. The fest holds the best plot of land for a festival in the States, the gorgeous and capacious Golden Gate Park on the picturesque thumb of San Francisco. There is a paddock of honest-to-god bison just up the path from these polo grounds. Like, real buffalo. Just past that is the ocean. Head east, and you hit Amoeba Records in Haight-Ashbury, arguably the best record shop in the country. Frankly, you wonder why people bother heading to the desert or rural farmland for bigger festivals. The bill balances mainstream and underground flavors as brilliantly as the 22-ingredient Rainbow Salad at Burma Superstar. Trust us, you want to wander there for dinner.

Best Festivals in the Music World: South by Southwest
© Ty Truitt

South by Southwest

Austin, USA

Festival heaven for: The PR department, the marketing department, bloggers, freeloaders

As much an industry convention as an infinite concert, SXSW has metastasised from a showcase of rising talent along party-hearty Sixth Street to a citywide invasion of corporate pop culture. Where else can you see the premiere of a new Fast and Furious film days after Lady Gaga makes a surprise appearance in a three-story Doritos bag? Flush with sponsors and major label A&R, this Austin extravaganza can overwhelm. Every band is here, playing in some hangar bedecked in Levi’s logos. Gone are the days of catching a some new little band called the Strokes in the front of a Mexican restaurant. Still, an abundance of free day parties means that music junkies can see scores of rising bands for nothing. The entire music biz is here, so there’s gold spread across gigs in every bar, record shop and taco joint in town. You are guaranteed to see something new and amazing. Just avoid the neon glow of the cola ads.

Best music festivals in Asia

Best Music Festivals in the World: Fuji Rock
© James Hadfield

Fuji Rock

Niigata Prefecture, Japan

Festival heaven for: Mountain-climbing music lovers

It’s a pretty special feature of a festival for it to require a cable car trip up a mountain (thank God you don’t have to walk it, it’s bad enough trekking through Glasto with your Berghaus backpack). It’s the largest festival in Japan, and aims to be the ‘cleanest festival in the world’ with loads of types of accommodation on offer (although the practice of ‘sleeping rough’ is now prohibited). It’ll always be remembered as the fest where Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined during a full-on storm, while frontman Anthony Kiedis had a broken arm.

The 50 best music festivals in the world, Magnetic Fields

Magnetic Fields

Rajasthan, India

Festival heaven for: Electronic music fans, star-gazers, yogis, culture vultures

Taking place in a seventeenth century Rajasthani palace outside of the pink city of Jai Pur, Magnetic Fields is a fully immersive experience with intimate stages set in and around the ornate grounds. Run by a community of forward-thinking promoters and artists from Bombay, Bangalore and Delhi, this is one of the only three-day music festivals in India with boutique camping and palatial suites. The carefully selected line-up merges international electronic talent with artists closer to home. The festival is growing in popularity and attracts a crowd of up-for-it Indian ravers, expats and globe trotters looking for a festival like no other. 

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Best Music Festivals: Pentaport Rock Festival
Ed Jones

Pentaport Rock Festival

Incheon, South Korea

Festival heaven for: People who own a lot of raincoats

Pentaport has five focuses – music, passion, the environment, DIY and friendship – which you can’t really argue with, as long as DIY doesn’t mean the B&Q type. It’s all about guitar music, with a mix of local and international bands. Make sure you bring every single raincoat you own, though, as it’s in rainy season in South Korea.

Best Music Festivals: Itadaki

Itadaki

Shizuoka, Japan

Festival heaven for: Japanese musos and curious westerners

Located on the picturesque Suruga Bay coast, this eclectic summer festival is powered by bio-diesel fuel (as opposed to beer and rock like other festivals), making for a distinctly eco-friendly vibe. Itadaki’s largely homegrown line-up will smash your preconceptions of Japanese music – it’s not all cheesy j-poppers and Western copycats, y'know. Our tip: remember to bring a lighter to hold aloft during ‘candle time’, the late-night music sessions.

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Best Music Festivals in the World: Taico Club
© James Hadfield

Taico Club

Nagano Prefecture, Japan

Festival heaven for: Dance heads and chin-stroking electronica nerds

The Japanese are fond of a mountainside festival (see Fuji Rock) and Taico Club is the one to book if you’re a fan of cutting edge dance and electronica. Set in the Kodama no Mori campsite in Nagano Prefecture, Taico Club is easily reachable from Tokyo (although it’s probably best to go by car rather than public transport) and offers up a mouth-watering mix of international artists and homegrown talent.

Best Music Festivals in the World: Labyrinth

The Labyrinth

Niigata Prefecture, Japan

Festival heaven for: Japanese techno-lovers

No, not a tribute fest to the slightly dodgy David Bowie fantasy film from the '80s. The Labyrinth is an intimate electronic music festival in the lush, green mountains of Niigata, Japan. Once a full-on trance-heavy rave, these days the atmosphere is a touch more sedate, but it’s still a great place to party. Giant tepee DJ booths dominate the festival area, with acts blasting out techno and experimental sounds from a state-of-the-art Funktion One sound system. Only five percent of tickets are available to foreign visitors – so get in quick.

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The 50 best music festivals in the world, Vh1 supersonic

Vh1 Supersonic

Festival heaven for: Bass heads and EDM fans on tour

Candolim, Goa

A festival in the rowdier side of Goa that attracts a mixed crowd of Westerners and Indian ravers bang up for big room bangers. Supersonic is well known for gargantuan dance music headliners and leftfield, slightly cooler, underground drum 'n' bass and house acts. Get glittered up and dance on the beach under the hot Indian sun for three whole days.

The 50 best music festivals in the world, ultra
© Rudgr

Ultra

Seoul, South Korea

Festival heaven for: EDM junkies

Garish, glitter-happy and globe-conquering – it pitches up in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, the US and South Korea – Ultra is a dance festival juggernaut: a colourful nirvana for EDM junkies and beautiful people getting their bass face on. And according to big hitters like House legend Carl Cox the atmosphere at Ultra in Seoul – where 100,000 ‘Ultranauts’ make a yearly pilgrimage to the city’s Olympic Stadium Complex – is the best of the lot. Our tip: headliners go on early in Korea, around 8pm. So arrive early to get a good spot.

Best music festivals in Australia

Best Music Festivals in the World: Golden Plains

Golden Plains

Victoria, Australia

Festival heaven for: Nostalgic hippies and eccentric indie kids

Golden Plains is a beautiful festival throwback: a paean to a time before corporate sponsors came along and slapped their names on anything and everything. In keeping with the no-logo, collective ethos, visitors are encouraged to bring whatever they like to the campsite as long as it doesn’t ruin the communal vibe (even armchairs and a couch, according to their website). Over its nine-year history the festival has developed some quirky traditions: most famous of all is The Boot, a salute from the crowd to the best performers at the festival in the form of shoe or boot being held aloft (it beats chucking them at crap bands, I suppose).

The 50 best music festivals in the world, Splendour in the Grass

Splendour in the Grass

Byron Bay, Australia

Festival heaven for: Party-starting intellectuals

After 14 years, Splendour in the Grass is becoming something of an Aussie institution. Thirty thousand punters regularly make the trip to North Byron Highlands for three days of fine music (including big name acts), art and camping. The site itself is sprawling: in some cases the stages are 20 minutes apart. So take plenty of water: you’ll be walking a lot in the hot sun. (And if you overhear the locals moaning about how their ‘thongs’ are rubbing, remember they mean their flip-flops). You can also exercise your brain at the Splendour forum: home to talks, comedy shows and much philosophical pondering.

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The 50 best music festivals in the world, st jerome's laneway

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival

Across Australia

Festival heaven for: Aussie indie snobs

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow… once nothing more than a few bands performing at a hole-in-the-wall pub in Melbourne, Laneway is now one of Australia’s biggest and best festivals with bases in many of the country’s big cities – and even overseas in New Zealand, Singapore and the US. The line-up is always impeccably cool: with critically acclaimed indie types queuing up to play. Think Pitchfork festival in Chicago or the best All Tomorrow’s Parties of yore.

Best music festivals in South America

Best Music Festivals in the World: Bahidora
© Alejandra Carbajal

Bahidorá

Cuautla, Mexico

Festival heaven for: Pitchfork-reading watersporters

Festival, carnival and hipster honeytrap, Bahidorá is a 24-hour party, people. The setting is gorgeous: acts perform next to a sparkling blue river flanked by palm trees. The revellers are colourful: resplendent in jazzy beachwear and feather headdresses, with a fondness for spontaneous processions. As for the music, it’s a mix of carefully selected indie, electronica and hip hop. We’d also wager Bahidorá is the only festival in the world where you can learn circus skills AND kayaking. Just remember not to practice them at the same time.

The 50 best music festivals in the world, st jerome's laneway, Vive Latino
© Alfredo Estrella

Vive Latino

Mexico City, Mexico

Festival heaven for: Rock-happy señors and señoritas

Every year, Latin and Spanish bands from around the world descend on Mexico City to perform at Vive Latino, arguably the most important Spanish-language rock music festival in the world. Naturally the predominant vibe is all things Latino, but bands of all nationalities and genres are welcome.

Best music festivals in Africa

The 50 best music festivals in the world, st jerome's laneway, Lake of Stars
© Mark Jones

Lake of Stars

Mangochi, Malawi

Festival heaven for: Sun worshipping Afro-pop enthusiasts

The blue lake and golden sands of Lake Malawi is the location for this magical African festival. When you’re not basking in the majesty of nature – sunrise over the lake is truly awe-inspiring – or enjoying the cheap beer, there’s plenty of music – a pleasing mix of international acts, homegrown talent and party-staring DJs – to see and hear.

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