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.
Music festivals are an exhilarating experience, offering an opportunity to immerse yourself in live performances by your favorite artists and discover new talents. However, to fully enjoy these events, it's crucial to secure your tickets in advance.
- Research and Choose a Festival: The first step is to research various music festivals and choose the one that aligns with your musical preferences and fits your schedule. Consider factors such as the lineup, location, duration, and overall ambiance. Popular festivals include Coachella, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and Tomorrowland, but there are countless options worldwide.
- Visit the Official Festival Website: Once you've selected a festival, visit its official website. This is the primary source for accurate and up-to-date information about the event. Explore the website to learn about ticket options, pricing, camping options, and any additional perks or experiences available.
- Ticket Types and Pricing: Most music festivals offer different ticket tiers, such as general admission, VIP, and multi-day passes. General admission tickets are typically the most affordable, granting access to the festival grounds and stages. VIP tickets offer additional benefits like exclusive viewing areas, fast-track entry, and private lounges. Prices vary depending on the festival and the ticket type you choose, so carefully consider your budget and desired festival experience.
- Ticket Sale Dates: Music festival tickets usually go on sale months in advance. Check the festival website for information on ticket sale dates and times. Popular festivals often sell out quickly, so it's essential to mark your calendar and be prepared to purchase tickets as soon as they become available.
- Ticket Purchase Options: Most festivals offer online ticket sales as the primary method of purchase. Ensure that you have a reliable internet connection and access to a computer or smartphone. Some festivals may also have physical ticket outlets or authorized resellers. Be cautious when purchasing tickets from third-party sources to avoid scams or inflated prices.
- Create an Account: Before purchasing tickets online, you may need to create an account on the festival's website. This allows you to provide essential information and streamlines the checkout process. It's advisable to create an account in advance to save time when tickets are released.
- Prepare Payment Information: Make sure you have a valid credit or debit card ready for the ticket purchase. Familiarize yourself with the payment methods accepted by the festival. Some festivals also offer installment plans, allowing you to spread the cost over several months.
- Be Ready for the On-Sale Time: As the ticket sale date approaches, set reminders and alarms to ensure you're ready to purchase tickets at the designated time. Popular festivals may experience high demand, leading to website congestion and potential delays. Patience and persistence are key.
- Ticket Confirmation: Once you've successfully purchased your tickets, you should receive a confirmation email or digital ticket. Ensure that you save or print this confirmation as proof of purchase. Double-check the ticket details, including the festival dates, location, and any additional instructions.
- Ticket Transfers and Refunds: In some cases, unforeseen circumstances may prevent you from attending the festival. Check the festival's ticket transfer and refund policy to understand your options. Many festivals allow ticket transfers or offer refund protection plans for an additional fee.
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- to 5-day 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. Franz 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 Festival - Jailletville, New Brunswick - 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
- Aruba Soul Beach Music Festival[dead link] - May
- Caribean Sea Jazz Festival[dead link] - September / October
- Reggae SumFest - Montego Bay - July
- EDC Mexico - Mexico City - February - Electric Daisy Carnival takes their Las Vegas rave to Mexico's enormous Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
- San Pancho Music Festival - San Pancho, Nayarit - last weekend in February - hundreds of musicians on two stages, free admission, proceeds from merchandise sales go to musicians
- Vive Latino - Mexico City - March - 2-day festival in the Foro Sol with Latin rockeros and international acts including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kinky, and Plastilina Mosh
- Pa'l Norte - Monterrey - April - huge festival with stages in 8 areas of the city's enormous Parque Fundidora, 2023 headliners include top Latin and International artists like Billie Eilish, Blink 182, Cafe Tacvba, The Killers, Wisin y Yandel, 5 Seconds of Sumer, and many more.
- Sundream Baja - San Jose del Cabo - May - 4-day weekend of music and sunshine featuring Rufus du Sol
- Corona Capital - Mexico City - November - 3-day rock festival at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Performers include Arcade Fire, Pet Shop Boys, Blur, The Cure, Feist and many more.
- Zamna Tulum - Tulum - December/January - a must for the techno enthusiast, an explosion of light and sound
- Allgood Music Festival-(Marvins mountain top, West Virginia) 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.
- 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
- 1 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.
- Pori Jazz - held in Pori in mid-July, it is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) festivals in Finland. Despite its name, the focus isn't on jazz any more, although jazz & blues can also be found.
- 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 - 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
- Street Parade - Zurich - Since the end of Berlin's Love Parade the largest annual technoparade and electronic music festival in the world with more than 1 million attendees.
- 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. Holding the record as the worlds largest costume party, dressing up is a must.
- The Great Escape - Brighton - May [dead link]. 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. [dead link]
- Womad - Malmesbury, Wiltshire - late July. Tickets: £160 for weekend  - music, art and dance
- Atlas Weekend - Kyiv - early July. €45 early bird pass for all 5 days.
- Faine misto - Ternopil - late July.
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.
Trying to record the music will get you thrown out of most festivals. Legally your ticket is a license to hear the concert, but not to record it. The bands should get any profits from a "Live at ..." CD, not some "bootleg" vendor. Few bands will go quite as far as the Grateful Dead — who announced at Watkins Glen that their roadies had fire axes and would destroy any recording equipment they spotted — but probably most musicians would understand the feeling.
For some festivals, the vast majority of those attending 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.