FESTIVAL FEVER: My Top 8 Music Festivals Bucket List

Summer is coming, or if you’re from down under like me, winter is coming (*cue GoT reference… and I don’t even watch that show) But whether it is winter or summer, it is always festival season somewhere in the world. So, here I am bringing you my dream music festivals both in Australia and abroad.

  1. For the EDM lovers… Electric Daisy Carnival
    • Where: Multiple cities in the USA, Milton Keyes (UK), Mexico City (Mexico), São Paulo (Brazil), Tokyo (Japan)
    • What: One of the biggest EDM festivals in the world, EDC has been drawing hundreds of thousands of people each year since 2008. With multiple stages, it does not focus on a particular type of EDM.
    • Why: Not only are there big-name EDM acts to enjoy, there is also an enthusiastic attendee culture that makes the event really fun. Everyone prepares elaborate, colourful, glittery, sequined or fluorescent costumes (albeit a little on the revealing side…) and there is also the custom of sharing Kandi bracelets (DIY colourful plastic bead bracelets) with any new friends you make throughout the festival.
    • When: the 2016 dates are May 14th-15th (New York); June 17th-19th (Las Vegas); July 9th (United Kingdom)

      The sheep in wolves clothing- festival bucket list edc

      Electric Daisy Carnival New York- credits EDC Facebook page

  2. For the Jazz lovers… Montreux Jazz Festival
    • Where: Montreux, Switzerland
    • What: A fortnight-long jazz music festival founded in 1967. It has since expanded from pure jazz into blues, rock and bossa nova, although it still retains its jazz roots.
    • Why: I actually had the good fortune of attending Montreux Jazz Festival in 2011. Rather than a fenced off music festival, it is set up throughout the city for people to wander in freely. During the day, there are multiple stages spread out along the lake, as well as food stalls, handicraft stalls and street performers. With the beautiful summer weather and Lake Geneva, it is a fortnight of fun. At night, there are concerts held at ticketed venues; past performers include jazz greats Chick Corea, Weather Report, Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis, as well as rock and blues royalty including Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
    • When: Typically held in the first fortnight of July, the 2016 dates are July 1st-16th

      The sheep in wolves clothing- festival bucket list Montreux Jazz

      MJF 2014- credtis Montreux Jazz Festival official website

  3. For the Jazz lovers option 2… Nice Jazz Festival
    • Where: Nice, France
    • What: A weekend of jazz, hip hop and world music acts, all located on the beautiful French Riviera. This is one of the oldest jazz festivals, having been founded in 1948. Whereas Montreux predominantly features classic jazz, Nice tends to have a greater variety of music genres.
    • Why: I attended this last year in 2015, where I was able to see the Roots, Lauryn Hill, Ibeya, Hiatus Coyote, Larry Graham and the Graham Central Station and Monophonics. Whilst Montreux Jazz Festival is a more open-plan event with multiple stages and daytime activity, Nice Jazz Festival features two night venues, where 2-3 acts will play per night (think of it as attending a normal concert, but with multiple bands) It is family friendly, with adults old and young bringing their children along. It’s a great crowd of people who are there just for the music, and are ready to sing and dance along.
    • When: the 2016 dates are July 16th-20th

      The sheep in wolves clothing- festival bucket list Nice Jazz

      Hiatus Coyote at Nice Jazz Festival 2015- original photo

  4. For the hipsters who want to party… Splendour in the Grass
    • Where: Byron Bay, New South Wales
    • What: A weekend music outdoor music festival founded in 2001 with a wide variety of rock, indie, pop, hip hop and electronica. Visitors can attend for single days or the whole weekend, and there is also the option of camping onsite at the designated camping site.
    • Why: One of the most popular festivals in Australia, this often has the best lineup out Australia’s outdoor festivals. This year, some acts that have caught my eye include Flume, the Strokes, Boy & Bear. Past big-name acts include Outkast, Coldplay, Lorde, Passion Pit, Mumford and Sons, Bloc Party, Wolfmother, Kanye West and many more.
    • When: the 2016 dates are July 22nd-24th

      The sheep in wolves clothing- festival bucket list Splendour in the Grass

      Splendour in the Grass- credits Splendour in the Grass Facebook page

  5. For the hipsters who want to chill… Port Fairy Folk Festival
    • Where: Port Fairy, Victoria
    • What: Founded in 1977, the Port Fairy Folk Festival is a family-friendly weekend of classic folk music, blues and indie rock, set in peaceful Australian fishing town of Port Fairy.
    • Why: Whilst other music festivals tend to be about partying, Port Fairy is all about going with a bunch of good mates, sitting around the campfire, enjoying the beach and listening to music with your family. In the words of Madeleine from Faith In Fools: “It’s super laid-back and lovely; everyone sits in the tents, you don’t stand. It’s so different to all of the big music festivals.”
    • When: It’s already been in 2016 (March 11th-14th), and the 2017 dates are yet to be released

      The sheep in wolves clothing- festival bucket list Port Fairy Folk Festival

      Recreation of the 1st Port Fairy Folk Festival- credits Port Fairy Folk Festival Facebook page

  6. For the world music lovers… WOMADelaide
    • Where: Adelaide, South Australia
    • What: One of Adelaide’s biggest music festivals, WOMAD is a multicultural weekend that features acts from all over the world. Past big name acts such as the Cat Empire and De La Soul, while also featuring traditional music styles from various cultures. And it’s not just music; there are a huge number of food stalls and a few handicraft stalls.
    • Why: In the words of my sister-in-law: “It’s a really chilled out festival and the crowd is good; a mix of old and young people just enjoying music. It’s family friendly, but still really cool.”
    • When: It’s already been for 2016 (11th-14th March), but the 2017 dates are 10th-13th March

      The sheep in wolves clothing- festival bucket list Kaurna-Welcome_WOMAD16_Credit-Steve-Trutwin

      Kaurna Welcome for Womad 2015- credits Steve Trutwin for the official WOMADelaide page

  7. For the K-pop lovers… KCON
    • Where: Originally hosted in New York and Los Angeles, in 2016 it will be expanding beyond the USA into Paris, Abu Dhabi and Chiba.
    • What: KCON has been running since 2012 and brings top K-Pop artists to the USA. As in, actually top K-pop artists (not just rookie groups!) from Girls’ Generation to G-Dragon, Block B to Zion T.
    • Why: As any international K-pop fan knows, it is notoriously difficult for non-Koreans to get to see their favourite groups in concert. Not only do you have to be in South Korea, but websites are often in Korean, they might require a Korean social security number or alien registration number… So, when a K-pop group goes on an overseas tour, it’s a big deal… when multiple K-pop groups go on tour, it’s a cause of celebration! There are also opportunities for autographs and Q&A.
    • When: the 2016 dates are June 2nd (Paris); June 24th-25th (New York); July 30-31st (Los Angeles)

      The sheep in wolves clothing- festival bucket list KCON 2013

      Henry Lau at KCON LA 2013- credits KCON Facebook page

  8. For the Europop lovers… Eurovision
    • Where: Variable. The venue is the capital city of the previous year’s winner, with 2016 being held in Stockholm Sweden.
    • What: Does this count as a music festival? Does it matter? Arguably the biggest international music event in the world, the Song Contest has been running annually since 1956.  With two nights of semi-final performances and a grand finale night of the top 25 or so, it’s a whole weekend of fun.
    • Why: This is the song contest that brought us Abba and Celine Dion… ’nuff said. Ok, but seriously; there is such a huge variety of music in terms of both genre and language, not to mention the huge degree of dancing, costumes and theatrics. It is not just music, it is a multimedia performance. From 2013’s Romania’s falsetto-operatic Cezar to 2006’s Icelandic heavy metal rock band Lordi, even if the music is not your cup of tea, you have to admit its fun to watch.
    • When: the 2016 dates are May 10th and 12th (Semi-finals); and May 14th (Grand Final). In terms of tickets, you have to buy them well in advance for the previous year, so unfortunately it is a no-go for 2016, but we can still get ready for 2017.

      The sheep in wolves clothing- festival bucket list Eurovision Vienna 2015

      Eurovision 2015 winner Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden) at Vienna- credits Eurovision Facebook page

And there you have it, my Top 8 Music Festivals I’d love to go to. What’s yours? What dream festival would you create if you were a festival organiser?  If I were to plan one… it would be a festival with all my favourite music (hard rock, jazz, k-pop, classical, hip hop, electronica), lots of food and handicraft stalls for creative cooks and artists to share their work, and all the festival goers would have to wear some sort of Funny Hat.. and it would be on a Friday, of course (You could almost call it a Funny Hat Friday ahaha)

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