The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Music Festival Destination: Exploring Top UK Festivals and Beyond
Looking for the ultimate music festival experience? Look no further. This article brings you the hottest, most electrifying lineup of the best music festival destinations across the globe. From the sandy shores of the UK to the captivating corners of the United States, we've curated a list of festivals guaranteed to give you the musical adventure of a lifetime. Get ready to dance, sing, and lose yourself in the melodic magic. So, buckle up and let's embark on a journey through the pulsating beats and unforgettable moments that await you at these top music festivals worldwide.
Top UK Festivals
The UK is home to numerous music festivals, although some of the smaller boutique festivals have overshadowed them. Nevertheless, the British love for the outdoors and the festival experience is undeniable, as evidenced by the thousands of campsites scattered throughout the country. To give you an idea of the top UK festivals, we've also checked out their popularity on Instagram.
Unsurprisingly, Glastonbury takes the number one spot in the UK with an impressive 731,742 hashtags. This five-day festival needs no introduction, featuring a wide range of music, dance, comedy, theater, circus, cabaret, and more across over 100 stages. In fact, tickets for the 2019 festival sold out in just 36 minutes. If you were lucky enough to secure tickets, you can look forward to performances by top acts like Stormzy, Kylie, Miley, Kamasi, and many others.
Other notable UK festivals include Creamfields, Reading and Leeds fest, Parklife, Wireless, and Fforest Gather in Wales.
Following Glastonbury, the top 10 most Instagrammed music festivals in the UK are:
5. British Summer Time
8. Leeds Festival
Surprisingly, Reading Festival garners more hashtags than Leeds fest, with 251,209 and 124,589 hashtags respectively.
Despite being around for five years, the Sandbox Festival remains relatively unknown. Taking place in El Gouna, a town off the coast of the Red Sea in Egypt, the festival offers a unique outdoor experience. Guests can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as kite-surfing, sailing, diving, hiking, and horseback riding. The town itself also offers boutique hotels, shopping, and dining. It's worth noting that El Gouna is far from the capital city of Cairo, where most political unrest tends to occur.
Location: El Gouna, Egypt
Dates: May 4-6
Notable Acts: TBA
Nos Alive Festival
Every July, Lisbon, Portugal becomes a hub for rock, indie, R&B, and pop music with the NOS Alive festival. This three-day event showcases global headlining acts such as The Weeknd and Foo Fighters. It has become Lisbon's premier summer festival, attracting thousands of spectators from Portugal and beyond. The festival takes place alongside the Tagus River, a short distance from the city's best beaches, bars, and surf spots. Additionally, the festival is committed to the zero waste movement, adding an eco-conscious angle to the experience. Camping is also available for those interested.
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Dates: July 6-8
Notable Acts: The Weeknd, Depeche Mode, Imagine Dragons, Foo Fighters, and more
Mawazine in Rabat, Morocco is one of the largest world music festivals that often goes unnoticed. Surprisingly, the festival attracts around 2.5 million people, which is triple the population of Rabat itself. While some Muslim groups have criticized the festival for conflicting with Islamic values, the eight-day event successfully brings together millions of guests and hundreds of artists from all over the world. It's a unique experience that unites diverse groups through their shared love of music, despite their differences.
Location: Rabat, Morocco
Dates: May 12-20
Notable Acts: TBA
For many millennials and Generation Z groups, Cuba was always seen as a distant, off-limits island nation that Americans couldn't visit without special permission. However, recent agreements between the US and Cuba have opened the doors for travel. In 2016, airlines started adding Havana to their routes, and Musicabana Festival welcomed the influx of curious visitors. While the first year faced some difficulties, the festival showcased Cuban dance and culture, attracting performers like Diplo. The lineup for this year's festival is yet to be announced.
Location: Havana, Cuba
Notable Acts: TBA
Outlook Festival, launched in 2008, started as a more intimate event for experimental festival-goers. However, in 2011, it expanded to include more stages and acts, resulting in a larger audience. Some loyal attendees voiced their concerns about the festival losing its curated, small-scale vibe. Regardless, Outlook's unique setting in the ruins of Fort Punta Christo, overlooking the Adriatic Sea, continues to attract attendees. Live acts take place in abandoned tunnels or on ancient structures, creating a pirate adventure atmosphere.
Location: Pula, Croatia
Dates: September 7-10
Notable Acts: Dizzee Rascal, DJ Shadow, AJ Tracey, Wiley, Giggs, and more
Roskilde Festival, an original in the festival world, emerged in the early '70s thanks to the efforts of two high school students. Over the years, it has expanded to include global acts and different age groups. The festival is non-profit and supports initiatives benefiting children. A small staff oversees the festival with the help of thousands of volunteers during peak days.
Location: Roskilde, Denmark
Dates: June 24-July 1
Notable Acts: The Weeknd, Foo Fighters, A Tribe Called Quest, Bryson Tiller, and more
Way Out West Festival
Way Out West Festival, held in Gothenburg, Sweden, is a three-day music extravaganza. The festival is known for its eco-conscious approach and was the first in Sweden to receive KRAV certification for sustainable agriculture. The main stage features popular music acts from a variety of genres.
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Dates: August 10-12
Notable Acts: Chance the Rapper, Frank Ocean, Young Thug, Lana Del Rey, Danny Brown, and more
Sonar Festival, launched in 1994, showcases experimental dance and electronic music. The festival takes place across two locations - one active during the day and the other at night. In addition to live performances, Sonar hosts events and development sessions for creators. It's a unique opportunity to experience Barcelona's vibrant nightlife while indulging in music and art.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Dates: June 15-17
Notable Acts: Arca, AJ Tracey, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Little Dragon, GAIKA, and more
Fuji Rock Festival
Fuji Rock Festival, set in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, offers a unique experience for nature lovers. The festival combines music with a beautiful natural setting. While the festival is primarily focused on rock music, it features a variety of cross-genre acts. The festival grounds also double as a ski resort, so attendees can enjoy stunning views and outdoor activities.
Location: Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, Japan
Dates: July 28-30
Notable Acts: Aphex Twin, Major Lazer, Sampha, Lorde, Björk, and more
Kilby Block Party, Salt Lake City, Utah
May 12–14, 2023
Attendance: ~10,000 daily
The Kilby Block Party takes place in Salt Lake City, Utah at the spacious Utah State Fairpark. This festival originated as a block party celebrating the 20th anniversary of Kilby Court, an all-ages music venue. Over the years, it has grown into a major event with renowned headliners like Phoebe Bridgers and Mac Demarco. The festival aims to maintain its all-ages-block-party atmosphere by providing an array of food trucks and art installations.
Electric Forest, Rothbury, Michigan
June 22–25, 2023
Attendance: 40,000 campers
Electric Forest is held in Rothbury, Michigan, where 40,000 festival-goers gather in Sherwood Forest for a unique and immersive experience. The festival encourages artistic collaboration and charitable deeds among attendees. With headliners like Odesza, Jamie XX, and Illenium, tickets for this event are already sold out. However, there is an official wristband exchange that allows for wait-list and fan-to-fan resales.
Levitate Festival, Marshfield, Massachusetts
July 7–9, 2023,
Levitate Festival, located at the historic Marshfield Fairgrounds in Massachusetts, offers a diverse lineup of music along with food trucks, live art, and vendors. It's an ideal choice for families with its relaxed and creative atmosphere. Additionally, Marshfield allows for whale watching, making it a unique destination for festival-goers. Headliners for this year's festival include Stick Figure, Lucius, Trey Anastasio, and more.
Primavera Sound, which started in 2001, has become one of the must-attend festivals for music lovers. This four-day event in Barcelona features over 250 acts across 18 different stages, attracting over 195,000 visitors. While the focus is on music, attendees can also explore Barcelona's historic streets, markets, and cultural centers.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Dates: May 31 - June 4
Notable Acts: Frank Ocean, Flying Lotus, Death Grips, Slayer, King Sunny Adé, and more
Epizode is a new addition to the festival scene. The first edition took place in January. Due to its overwhelming success, the organizers decided to plan another one for 2018. Even if you're not a big fan of house or electronic music, Epizode is worth experiencing because of its stunning location. Phú Quốc, Vietnam's largest island, offers beautiful beaches, pleasant waters all year round, untouched natural beauty, and a lively local food scene that will satisfy any culinary enthusiast. The festival organizers aim to create a dreamlike atmosphere, enhanced by surreal sculptures emerging from the turquoise waters.
Location: Phú Quốc Island, Vietnam
Dates: To be announced
Notable Acts: Konrad Black, Julian Perez, Wagon Repair, Crosstown and more
Sun, sand, and deep house music await you at SXM Festival. Despite being only in its second year, the festival has gained recognition as a leading destination for electronic and dance music enthusiasts. What sets it apart from mega-events like Coachella or Mawazine is its intimate scale. The organizers carefully curate unique day-to-night experiences at various venues across the island. It's like a scavenger hunt, a music festival, and a tropical vacation all rolled into one.
Location: Saint Martin
Dates: March 15-19
Notable Acts: Âme, Black Coffee, Thugfucker, Honey Dijon and more
Drumroll please. The music festival with the most Instagram presence in the world is Coachella, with a staggering 4,201,240 hashtags. It surpassed second-place Tomorrowland, a well-known festival in Europe held in Boom, Belgium, by over 350,000 hashtags. The recently-held South by Southwest festival secured the third spot.
Interestingly, seven out of the top ten largest festivals are located in the United States. The winning festival, officially called 'The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival,' takes place annually in California's Colorado Desert. It attracts many celebrities, generating additional interest on Instagram. Coachella is renowned for its bohemian, laid-back, and hipster atmosphere.
Together with Tomorrowland, which accumulated an impressive 3,844,374 hashtags, other notable festivals in the top ten include Rock in Rio in Brazil, with 1.5 million attendees and 990,110 Instagram posts. The inaugural Rock in Rio featured headliners such as Queen, Rod Stewart, and AC/DC.
The top ten most Instagrammed music festivals in the world are:
2. Tomorrowland, Belgium
3. SXSW: South by Southwest, USA
4. UMF: Ultra Music Festival, USA
5. Burning Man, USA
6. Lollapalooza, USA
7. Rock in Rio, Brazil
8. Glastonbury, UK
9. DC: Electric Daisy Carnival, USA
10. Bonnaroo, USA
The United States is a vast country, known for its cultural diversity. This diversity is reflected in its music, and it's also one of the largest producers of music globally. Therefore, it's no surprise that some of the biggest festivals originated there. Burning Man, for example, is vastly different from Lollapalooza. Burning Man is an experiment in community, art, and self-expression, while Lollapalooza focuses on punk rock, hip hop, heavy metal, and electronic music.
The top 50 list features famous festivals worldwide, including Sziget in Hungary, Summer Sonic in Japan, Benicassim in Spain, and even Ultra Korea in South Korea.
Surprisingly, some festivals didn't make it into the top 50, such as Snowbombing in Austria, Latitude in the UK, and Dimensions Festival in Croatia, which only managed to accumulate 15,163 hashtags. Lucca Music Festival in Italy, with only 38 hashtags, ranked last out of over 160 festivals.
You can view the entire table of results here...
Ja Rule, the mastermind behind the new music festival called Fyre, has been quite busy. The festival takes place on Fyre Cay, hence the name, and promises to be a remarkable experience. The location has an intriguing history, having once hosted outlaws like Blackbeard and Pablo Escobar. Fyre Festival offers more than just music; participants can enjoy activities like treasure hunting, which could lead to finding valuable jewelry and cash. Additionally, there will be relaxing yoga sessions, and of course, performances from G.O.O.D. Music artists. Kanye West and his crew have been announced as headliners. Celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Alessandra Ambrosio, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski have confirmed their attendance. It's safe to say they opted for the VIP tickets, rather than the $1,500 general admission weekend pass.
Location: Fyre Cay, Bahamas
Dates: April 28-20 & May 5-7
Notable Acts: G.O.O.D. Music, Major Lazer, Disclosure and more
Don't go to a festival unprepared. These 12 gadgets will make your all-day music experience easier, we promise.
In conclusion, if you're a music lover and in search of the best festival destinations, look no further than the UK and beyond. From the iconic Glastonbury to the buzz of NOS Alive and the mesmerizing Mawazine Festival, there is something for everyone. Whether you're into rock, electronic, or indie music, these festivals will surely offer an unforgettable experience. And let's not forget the hidden gems like the Levitate Festival in Marshfield or the stunning Sonar Festival in Barcelona. So pack your bags, get your tickets, and let the music guide you on an adventure of a lifetime.
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