The music festival scene is an incomparable party. An insane mix of good vibes, freakin’ fantastic music, like-minded crowds, a lot of drinking and of course, your crew. It doesn’t matter whether you like to be front of stage in the middle of all the action, or if chilling at the back having the occasional dance with mates is more your thing… music festivals – great music festivals – are life changing. They create a sense of inspiration and an unbelievable atmosphere that cannot be denied.
With the heavy decline in Perth’s music festivals lately, it’s safe to say I’m truly missing that rush of adrenalin you get when you’re watching your favourite bands live. After kissing goodbye both Soundwave and Big Day Out (and Rock-It a few years earlier) it’s definitely starting to feel a little music festival lonely over here. Sure, there are a few goodies but the music is an ever-changing beat and it’s just not the same anymore.
There’s something pretty magical about seeing a great band perform live. It’s a huge part of why I wanted to become a music journo in the first place – to capture that essence and fuel the feeling you get when you’re lost in the moment, listening to your favourite band somewhere in the world. And what better way to do it than to travel somewhere new in the process too? For me, music and travel go hand in hand. Some of the best days of my life were experiencing small outback music festivals in a new country and it’s oh so awesome!
So here’s my ultimate music festival bucket list. From all the big names to a few different ones you probably haven’t heard of – loose yourself in this music festival extravaganza.
1. Woodstock (New York)
If I could be transported back in time to the 60’s, I would. That era of music just rocks my entire world and to have been right there in the middle of it all – let alone partying at the original Woodstock Music Festival – would’ve been mind blowing.
The 1969 music festival ‘that started it all’ was held on a small industrial site near Middletown, New York and went for three days. Three days of peace and music (and a list of absolute legends that positively influenced the music scene for good), Woodstock is undoubtedly the grooviest music festival to date – one that defined an era. Since then, there have only been two official sequels in 1994 and 1999.
Soaked by rain and embracing the experience of a lifetime, more than 500,000 people attended the ultimate event in rock and roll history. Featuring the likes of Jim Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who, Santana, Janis Joplin and so many more stars, the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival changed lives.
So how can we get to this insane music festival when the original hasn’t been around for over 45 years? Well there is a free Woodstock Music Festival that’s held in Poland every year that’s run by a charity foundation. Whilst it’s definitely no original Woodstock, it supports the local music scene in Poland and has featured international music acts like The Prodigy, Papa Roach, Tonic and more. And did I mention it’s free!?
But – the Woodstock Music Festival that I really want to rock out too is the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Concert coming up in 2019. Yes, you heard right. An interview with the original organiser by Rolling Stone revealed potential locations are already being explored. Start saving; this one will be an absolute winner.
2. Exit (Serbia)
My urge to experience this music festival started back in 2011 when I went backpacking around Europe. Wanting to see as much live music as I could over there, Exit festival in Serbia made it’s way to the list but unfortunately didn’t get ticked off in the end.
Getting ready for action in 2015 from the 15th – 18th of July (plenty of time to get there!), Exit Music Festival is one of the biggest European summer festivals around. Originally started as a student movement fighting for peace and democracy, Exit festival is held at the Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad Serbia – famous for it’s unreal festival atmosphere and superb acoustics.
Founded in 2000, Exit has evolved into a head-banging good time for over 2.5 million fans heading over for it so far. Hosting some ridiculously awesome musicians like Snoop Dogg, Faith No More, Guns N’ Roses, Queens of the Stone Age, Cypress Hill, Massive Attack, Beastie Boys, Underworld and oh so many more – Exit festival looks freakin’ unreal.
3. Glastonbury (England)
Firmly cemented into the British culture, Glastonbury is a weekend camping getaway dosed in a variety of musical flavours. Stomping around in gum boots and rain jackets and letting your ears be seduced by sweet beats knocking back drinks, Glastonbury isn’t a music festival you just go to – you survive it.
Based on the psychedelic stories I’ve heard, I truly feel that the sheer scale of this festival is unimaginable until you’ve actually been there. It looks that nuts – in such a beautiful way. Make sure you tick it off your bucket list from the 24th – 28th June.
The world of electric dance music (EDM) isn’t for everyone, but I’m yet to meet someone that wouldn’t want to take part in this music festival. Tomorrowland – despite your music tastes, is a benchmark for all festivals. With an atmosphere that’s said to be simply mind-blowing it’s the biggest electronic music festival worldwide.
Located in a park, like all great music festivals are Tomorrowland is fast-paced, wild and pretty damn explosive. Hosting dance music icons like Armin van Buuren, Moby, Fatboy Slim, The Bloody Beetroots, Pendulum and more it’s Belgium’s biggest festival.
5. Lollapalooza (Chicago)
Whilst I was backpacking around Europe, I met a cool group of Canadian travel buddies that swore this music festival was the one. But this iconic Chicago festival has always been on my bucket list, just hearing those first-hand stories about how fucking cool it really is fuelled the urge to get over there for it quicker!
Lolla is perfect for bringing in different music genres – from underground rock and rap to heavy bass riffs and electronic vibes. Making a lasting impression on the American pop culture, I’ll be making sure I head to Lolla one year at the end of July!
You can’t have a music festival bucket list without Berlin on it, so I’ve tracked down this one for a definite bucket list must have. As one of Europe’s biggest hip-hop, breaks and reggae music festivals, Splash! Festival has been hitting the scene hard since its 1998 birth. And whilst the average music festival is notorious for its ‘busy’ and adventurous atmosphere, Berlin’s Splash! offers a much more relaxed vibe – absolutely perfect.
Hosting a few of my personal favourites including Krafty Kuts and Outkast, Splash! is held on a former coal mining site from July 10th to July 12th. The perfect festival weekend for any hip-hop or reggae fan, I think it’s the best excuse to book a trip to Berlin. It’ll also be worth checking out the Berlin Festival 6th-7th September too, for a 48hour rave of pure craziness while you’re over there!
7. Coachella (California)
From Australian favourites ACDC and Chet Faker, to Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Ben Harper, The Roots, Pearl Jam, The Foo Fighters and The Cure – this festival is huge. Another one that combines the music festival feel with the art of camping (brilliant!) Coachella has been shaking the Colorado Desert since 1999.
8. Rhythm and Vines (New Zealand)
After only just discovering this one, it wasn’t long before it made it to my music festival bucket list. It’s a festival – in a winery, need I say more!? But it’s more than just the perfect mix of wine and music… this three-day breaks and roots treat is said to be absolutely loose…! Complete with a stunning backdrop of outdoor NZ beauty combined with a lot of wine, good friends and exceptional tunes – it’s a pretty insane way to be spending New Years Eve camping at the Waiohika Estate Winery. Not to mention, you’ll be the first person to see the sun rise in the New Year. Pretty damn magical if you ask me!
Featuring musical icons like Chase and Status, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Stanton Warriors, Rudimental, Kora, The Black Seeds and so many more, R&V is an experience of a lifetime that I’ll definitely be heading too one of these days.
9. Monegros Desert Festival (Spain)
Now I specifically found a music festival for Spain to add to my bucket list, only because it’s my favourite places I’ve travelled to so far. I can’t wait to go back, but I’m worried I wont come back home again too! The Monegros Desert Festival in Spain isn’t for the weak. And it sums up just how good the Spanish can party too. It’s more than a music festival – it’s the biggest 22 hour rave in Spain and it’ll blow your freakin’ mind.
Setting the scene to make it the ultimate festival location is its stellar clean-cut canvas of a desert. A dance-marathon on an isolated desert in Spain, I have no doubt it would be an experience to remember. But there’s no time to rest at this music festival – despite siestas being a daily ritual for the Spanish people, most attendees don’t even bother with tents. Like I said, it’s not for the weak. Actually, it sounds like my kinda festival!
10. Chicago Blues Festival
The good news is, not all great music festivals have to cost and arm and a leg to get there – although it’s totally worth it. This one – The Chicago Blues Festival – is free. Yes, free. And sure, you’ll have to pay for the flights there and accommodation for the rest of the time, but I’d say it’s well worth it.
Chicago is known as the ‘blues capitol of the world’, so it’s safe to say that this festival will not disappoint. And how could it when it hosts such legends like Ray Charles, BB King, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. This blues beauty is held from the 12th of June to the 14th of June, but May and June are the ‘blues months’ of Chicago so why not head over earlier.
Now my feet are itching for more music festival travels…! Where will your next one be?