Travel topics > Calendar of events and festivals > Music festival circuit
Not only can attending a music festival in another country be an opportunity to hear some fantastic music, but it can be a unique way to really get an understanding of the people of the country you are visiting and to make new friends that will last a lifetime.
Compiling a list of every major festival in every country would be close to impossible, and many of the best experiences can be found at smaller festivals, so keep an eye out in the local music press for what is happening in the country you are visiting.
Due to the distributed nature of the population many music festivals in Australia are single day affairs that tour the nation as opposed to the 3-5 day long camping festivals of Europe. Some of the best include:
- Big Day Out - Tours Australia (and formerly Auckland, New Zealand) - Jan-Feb. An Australian institution since it went nationwide in 1993, the BDO stops off in every Australian state. Huge variety of music from folk to heavy metal to experimental electronica.
- Bluesfest - Byron Bay, New South Wales - Easter. Originally purely a blues festival, now has a wide range of genres.
- Field Day - Sydney, New South Wales - 1 January. Dance music festival held in Sydney's Domain park every year on New Years Day.
- Future Music Festival - Tours nationally - Feb-March. Formally known as two tribes until one of the two companies running it pulled out, this is the flagship event of Melbourne based Future entertainment. Primarily dance music acts, with the occasional notable exception (e.g. Frandz Ferdinand in 2010)
- Southbound - Busselton, Western Australia - January. European style camping festival near the holiday town of Busselton. One of the most family friendly festivals in the country.
- Rhythm and Vines, Gisborne. A three day music festival to celebrate the new year. Held in a vineyard and includes popular New Zealand and international artists. Camping accommodation is set up in Watson Park especially for the event.
- Evolve Music and Awareness Festival - Antigonish, Nova Scotia - July -
- Folly Fest - Gagetown, New Brunswick - June–July
- Halifax Pop Explosion - Halifax, Nova Scotia - October
- Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival - Fredericton, New Brunswick
- Montreal Jazz Festival - Montreal, Quebec - June–July
- NXNE - Toronto, Ontatio - June
- Osheaga - Montreal, Quebec - July–August
- Ottawa Bluesfest - Ottawa, Ontario - July
- Pemberton Festival - Pemberton, British Columbia - July
- Shambhala - Salmo, British Columbia - August
- Sunseekers Ball Music & Arts Festival - Chance Harbour, New Brunswick - August
- Reggae SumFest - Montego Bay - July
- Allgood Music Festival-(Marvins mountain top, Wv) July
- Austin City Limits Festival - Austin, Texas - Two weekend (6-day) festival featuring a wide variety of emerging and established acts.
- Beale Street Music Festival - Memphis, Tennessee
- Bonnaroo - Manchester, Tennessee - Four day music festival in June. Multiple stages of music featuring large variety of musical genres. The festival originally had a jam band focus but has since expanded.
- Burning Man - Black Rock City, Nevada - Aug-Sept
- Camp Bisco - Indian Head Country Club, New York - Electronic and jam band festival in July centered around the electronic jam band The Disco Biscuits. Genres such as dubstep have been heavily featured in recent years.
- Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - Indio, California - Three day festival held in April. While it was originally one weekend, there are now two consecutive weekends with both weekends generally having the same acts. It takes place in a desert setting and features established as well as emerging artists. Tent camping is allowed.
- Detroit Electronic Music Festival - Detroit, Michigan - Electronic/dance music festival held on Memorial Day weekend (last weekend in May) each year at Hart Plaza in Detroit. Generally features 5 stages and over 100 artists.
- Folks Festival - Lyons, Colorado - August
- Jam Along the Creek - Millmont, PA - Small three day music festival held at a campground (along a creek) in central Pennsylvania. Expect small local bands and a laid back atmosphere compared to many larger festivals (as well as cheaper tickets). The headlining act on Saturday is usually a Grateful Dead cover band.
- Jazz Fest - New Orleans, Louisiana - April/May
- Jazz Jubilee - Sacramento, California - May
- Lollapalooza - Chicago - August
- Monterey Jazz - Monterey, California - September
- Mountain Jam Hunter Mountain, New York- Four day festival held in June. There are four stages of music and attendees can camp onsite.
- Newport Folk Festival - Newport, Rhode Island - July
- Newport Jazz Festival - Newport, Rhode Island - August
- Pitchfork Music Festival - Chicago - July
- Rochester International Jazz Festival - Rochester, New York - June
- Rock the Bells - San Francisco, San Bernardino, New York City, many others
- RockyGrass - Lyons, Colorado - July
- Rothbury Music Festival - Rothbury, Michigan - July
- SXSW - Austin, Texas - March
- Telluride Bluegrass Festival - Telluride, Colorado - June
- VooDoo Music Experience - New Orleans, Louisiana - October/November
- Wakarusa - Mulberry, Arkansas - June
- Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival - Winfield, Kansas - September
- Lollapalooza - São Paulo, late March or early April
- Rock in Rio - Rio de Janeiro, irregular rock festival first arranged in 1985, then in 1991 and more frequently during the 2000s, but there have also been "Rock in Rio" festivals taking place in Lisbon (every second year since 2004), Madrid and Las Vegas. Rock in Rio features some of the very biggest names in rock plus Brazilian bands.
- RainForest Festival
- Asia Song Festival - October. Mostly K-pop but also pop music from other East and Southeast Asian countries. Has previously been held in different cities around South Korea, but since 2014 it has been held in Busan.
- Musicbank World Tour - A few times every year the Korean broadcaster KBS arranges a concert with different K-pop groups mostly around Asia but also elsewhere in the world. 2017 locations include Singapore, Dubai and Berlin.
- Pukkelpop - Kiewit - August
- See also: Nordic music
- Roskilde - Roskilde - Late June/Early July - Large camping festival about 30 mins by train form Copenhagen. Attracts a young crowd from all over Europe and the rest of the world. Campsite opens the Monday before the festival, with lots of smaller local acts playing in the days leading up to the main event. Very good facilities. With a wide variety of music there should be something for everyone.
- Ruisrock - held in Turku in early July, this is the second oldest still running rock festival in Europe. Attended by over 100,000 guests every year, this is a place to see and hear pop and rock bands from Finland and abroad.
- Faces Etnofestival is an annual world and ethnic music festival since 1997 in Southern Finland. In 2016 the venue and time is the Fiskars Village, Raseborg on the first weekend of August.
- M'era Luna - Festival of industrial, metal, goth and darkwave music held in Hildesheim the second weekend in August.
- Rock am Ring and Rock im Park - Two rock festivals that take place simultaneously. Rock am Ring takes place in Nürburg and Rock im Park takes place in Nuremberg.
- Wacken Open Air - Heavy metal music festival taking place each summer in the small village of Wacken in northern Germany. This is one of the largest heavy metal festivals in the world, attracting bands from all sub-genres.
The largest music festivals of the country:
- Dance Valley — Spaarnwoude
- Defqon.1 — Biddinghuizen or Almere
- Heineken Dance Parade — Rotterdam
- Lowlands - Biddinghuizen
- Mystery Land — Hoofddorp
- North Sea Jazz — Rotterdam
- Parkpop — The Hague
- Pink Pop - Landgraaf
- Sensation — Amsterdam
- Uitmarkt — Amsterdam
- Zomercarnaval — Rotterdam
- Zwarte Cross — Achterhoek
- Coke Live - Kraków, August
- Off - Katowice, August
- Open'er - Gdynia, beginning of July
- Przystanek Woodstock - Kostrzyn, beginning of August
- Unsound [dead link] - Kraków, October
- Alive - Lisbon - June; Portugal's main pop and rock music festival; past acts have included Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, Metallica, Black Eyed Peas
- FMM Sines - Sines - July; world music, folk and alternative; the event takes place in the seaside town of Sines in Southern Portugal.
- Paredes de Coura Festival - Paredes de Coura - August; an important alternative and indie rock festival in the northern countryside, near the Spain / Galicia border.
- Montreux Jazz Festival - Montreux - July
- See also: Music on the British Isles
- Bestival - Isle of Wight - Early September . Once considered a 'boutique' festival due to its smaller size this festival has grown considerably in recent years. Holding the record as the worlds largest costume party, dressing up is a must.
- The Great Escape - Brighton - May . An annual pop and dance extravaganza held late summer. Capacity 25,000.
- Glastonbury - Glastonbury - June. Needs no introduction. Even if it sells out the year before do not despair because there are many tickets returned and they will be available in the April before the festival. Typically it runs 3 out of every 4 years.
- Leeds - Leeds - last weekend in August. Tickets: £180 for weekend (including camping & parking), or £75 for any day (no camping included) - rock and indie
- Loopalu - Ullapool - late September. An increasingly popular smaller rock music festival held by the beach in a small town in Highland (Scotland).
- Reading - Reading - - last weekend in August. Tickets: £180 for weekend (including camping & parking), or £75 for any day (no camping included) - rock and indie 
- Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts - Swansea - mid October - Tickets: concerts are paid for individually - classical and jazz - the second largest festival of its kind in the UK. 
- Womad - Malmesbury, Wiltshire - late July. Tickets: £160 for weekend  - music, art and dance
The first thing you're going to need is a ticket. There is large demand for tickets to many of the major festivals with some selling out in a matter of hours, so get your tickets as soon as possible. Some festivals require you to register before you buy the tickets, so make sure you've done this before the tickets go on sale. If you have missed out on tickets or are strapped for cash it may still be possible to get into the event by volunteering to work at the event, as this is how many festivals find a lot of their staff. You will usually be expected to work a few hours a day doing small tasks like collecting rubbish or directing traffic. This can usually be arranged so that you will get to see most of the acts you want to see.
The usual rules regarding drugs and alcohol apply, only more so. As a general rule a festival like Glastonbury is not a safe place to take drugs, despite its reputation. Americans should note that European beers are generally stronger than US beers and people from other countries should note that American "light" beers are not necessarily lower in alcohol content, rather light may mean low calorie. Beyond that follow the usual rules: listen to what your body is telling you, know your limits and make sure your friends are looking out for you.
Also if you've come from a cooler climate like Northern Europe or North America to a festival in somewhere like Spain or Australia you'll be more prone to dehydration when in a mosh pit or raving for long periods of time, so keep a bottle of water on you at all times.
Toilets are also often a concern, especially if there are many people in attendance.
For some festivals, the vast majority of the attendants to music festivals decide to camp on site, and most attendants consider it a vital part of the experience. If you want to be close to the action you're going to have to get in early to get a camping site close to the music. However you may want to consider the fact that the closer you are to the music the louder it will be and the less chance you will get a good night's sleep if you decide you've had enough. Remember that even though music on the main stages may have finished, there may be sections of the festival that will keep playing music until late into the night. Some festivals have special camping areas for families with young children.
If you don't feel that you can live without creature comforts, getting a hotel room near the festival is an option, but keep in mind that if the festival is well attended, demand for hotel rooms will be high not just from festival goers but also from the festival staff, so prices will be high. Also consider how far away you are from the festival and the amount of time it will take to get in every day. A better option, if the festival provides facilities to do this, may be to get a motor home and stay there, giving you significantly more comfort and privacy than camping while keeping you relatively close to the action.