- 1Asian Music Festivals
- 1.1Spring Wave Music and Arts Festival, Taiwan
- 1.2Sunburn Music Festival, India
- 2Australian Music Festivals
- 2.1Adelaide Fringe Festival
- 2.2Palm Creek Folk Festival
- 3European Music Festivals
- 3.1Croatian Summer Music Festivals
- 3.2Colours of Ostrava, Czech Republic
- 3.3Reeperbahn Festival, Germany
- 3.4Verona Opera Festival, Italy
- 3.5Time in Jazz Festival, Italy
- 3.6Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland
- 4The Americas Music Festivals
- 4.1Montevideo Tango, Uruguay
- 4.2Milwaukee Summerfest, USA
- 4.3Seattle Summer Music Festivals, USA
If you asked me how I define myself, music would definitely be in my answer. Music is a constant in my life no matter what else may be going on, and standing in a crowd watching amazing musicians play their hearts out is when I am happiest. While I have my preferred music I’ll turn to for listening, when it comes to live music I appreciate a broad range of things, from great vocalists and lyricists to gifted players, and I’ll see just about anything live.
I spend a lot of time (and money) seeing artists perform in my home country of Australia, but some of the biggest music festivals are to be found internationally. Since I am yet to embark on my own musical adventure, I called in the troops for help rounding up some of the best music festivals in the world. No matter what your taste, there’s something here for you!
Asian Music Festivals
Spring Wave Music and Arts Festival, Taiwan
Kenny from Knycx Journeying
The Spring Wave Music Festival, together with Spring Scream, was started by a group of local musicians, composers, and bands, who were looking for a platform to showcase their work and music. The first festival was held in 1995, and it has grown significantly since – the Spring Scream just celebrated their 26th anniversary in 2020.
Spring Wave is an outdoor music festival, and it has no better place in Taiwan than along the dramatic coastline of Kenting in Pingtung. Every year, passionate and up-and-coming musicians come to play on a variety of performing stages in the area, and music lovers are attracted by the music, night market, street food, and natural scenery.
The music genre is diverse, from pop, rock, electronic, folk to experimental. Not only local artists, but also international musicians are invited to perform during the four days of the festival. The highlight of the festival is a couple of headliners at the main stage. More, art elements has been added to the festival in recent years, with the inclusion of art exhibitions. Among all the festive activities, don’t forget to explore the national park, take in the beautiful scenery, taste local street food in the night markets, and walk into a disco party.
Sunburn Music Festival, India
Soujanya from The Spicy Journey
Sunburn is an electronic music festival that began in the year 2007, and typically takes place in the popular beach destination Goa, India. This music festival, known to be the largest music festival in Asia, has played host to some of the world’s most renowned DJs and artists such as Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas, Armin van Buuren, Krewella, Like Mike, Afrojack, Zaeden, and many more top performing artists.
While the event is famously held at one of the beaches of Goa, it was held in the city of Pune from 2016 to 2018 due to issues with securing a venue in Goa. However, the event came back with a bang at the Vagator beach in North Goa in the year 2019. The event is held for 3-4 days annually close to the end of the year. Tickets to the festival can be bought online a few months before the festival and are available as late as a couple of weeks before the festival begins. Apart from the world-famous DJs, what draws people to the festival is the location where it is held. Not only do people get to watch top DJs perform, but they also get to explore India’s best beach destination of Goa. Sunburn is one of the best festivals to attend for electronic music and beach lovers.
Australian Music Festivals
Adelaide Fringe Festival
Holly from Globeblogging
While not strictly a music festival, the annual Adelaide Fringe Festival is a celebration of the arts that is heavily reliant on music.
Spread throughout the entire city of Adelaide in South Australia, the Fringe Festival takes over for four weeks every year with a combination of free and paid events featuring the wonder of all the arts, from music and dance to comedy and the just downright strange.
I was lucky enough to happen to be in Adelaide during this years festival, and with nothing better to do in the evenings I threw myself into exploring the options available. Tickets for many popular shows sell out, so it helps to plan and purchase ahead online. Large parks and ovals are also taken over by pop-up tents and stages, and you can just wander on through and buy a ticket to whatever takes your fancy.
The instant I walked past a large big top tent on my first night and felt the pounding rhythm of African drums I knew it was the show for me. An acrobatic feast for the eyes while the beats of native African music tantalised the ears.
If you’re actually planning to visit the Adelaide Fringe Festival, check out the official site for passes, as the cost of individual shows adds up really quickly. It’s a hugely busy time of the year in Adelaide so book accommodation early.
Palm Creek Folk Festival
Jan from Budget Travel Talk
Half an hour’s drive south of Townsville in North Queensland Australia, is Mountain View Eco Park, the home of the yearly Palm Creek Folk Festival. This not-for-profit festival attracts campers and day trippers for a weekend of fun and music organised by the Townsville Folk and Acoustic Club, the longest continuously operating Folk Club in Australia.
From small beginnings in 1991, the festival has grown each year. After winning the Townsville City Council’s Event of the Year award in 2010, the Festival has sold out every year since 2012. Each year the festival sets a different theme, often with a cause in mind. Themes are eagerly awaited and embraced with great gusto with attendees and campsites dressing inventively. The winner receives a Season Ticket to the next Festival.
Set at the base of mountains amidst farmland and beside a small lake. it’s a festival norm to wake to the mooing of cattle and scurrying wildlife at night. Camping areas are spread through an orchard, native tree grove and pumpkin patch (sans pumpkins), some areas embrace more noise than others. Regulars camp next to each other year after year and the Palm Creek campfire party scene is legendary.
Every year, it promises to be a magical weekend. One where I look forward to the food vans, campfires, getting my hippy clothes on and hitting the dance floor with some amazing music.
European Music Festivals
Croatian Summer Music Festivals
Kimmie from Adventures & Sunsets
Colours of Ostrava, Czech Republic
Veronika from Travel Geekery
Ostrava, the third largest city in the Czech Republic, mostly stays under the radar when it comes to tourism. The town has a rich mining history and it shows around every corner. The city center is picturesque though, with merchant houses in pastel colors decorating the main streets.
However, when Colours of Ostrava music festival is happening, the visitor numbers shoot through the roof – to about 40,000 people! So what is Colours of Ostrava and why is it so popular?
Known locally as simply ‘Colours’, the event is the largest multi-genre music festival in Central Europe and one of the biggest in the whole of Europe. Held usually in July, the festival lasts for 4 days and always draws in a few star performers. In 2020, Colors of Ostrava is going to be held on July 15 -18 and while the full program hasn’t been published yet, musicians such as The Killers or LP will surely draw in crowds.
The venue the festival takes place at is one of the most unique festival setups. The area of Dolní Vítkovice is a former metallurgical site. Wonderfully revitalized as an industrial venue space with plenty of green areas, the coolness can hardly be beat. You’ll be walking from one stage to another under pipes and steel structures. A popular café is located in a former blast furnace. You can get to the very top using a lift for some nice views of industrial Ostrava.
There will be plenty of Czech bands playing too and a whole additional program of workshops and speeches called the Meltingpot covering current pressing topics.
Reeperbahn Festival, Germany
Joanna from The World In My Pocket
Reeperbahn Festival held in Hamburg at the end of September is Europe’s largest club festival, with over nine hundred events in ninety different venues around the city. The Reeperbahn Festival is not only about music but about social initiatives as well, with conference sessions attended by speakers from all over the world.
The acts taking part in the Reeperbahn Festival are so different, from hip hop performances to symphonic concerts in the famous Elbphilharmonie, from electronic music to eccentric shows, from quirky art exhibitions to female empowerment workshops.
There are so many venues around the city which open their doors for the Reeperbahn Festivals. Besides the clubs in the naughty Reeperbahn area of Hamburg, performances will also take place in churches, on boats, in the open air, on buses, even at the planetarium!
The Reeperbahn Festival is a great way to learn more about the city of Hamburg but also to discover new bands and singers. An early bird Reeperbahn Festival ticket gives you access to reserving a seat for a performance at probably the most beautiful philharmonic hall in the world, Elbphilharmonie.
With so many concerts and art installations around town, the Reeperbahn Festival has developed their own app, which can help you plan out each evening much easier. Remember, if you really want to see a particular concert, get there early, as the venues get full quickly and there are always queues at the doors.
Verona Opera Festival, Italy
Chrysoula from Travel Passionate
For lovers of opera look no further than the Verona Opera Festival, a gathering of world-class musicians held in the stunning ancient Roman amphitheater, the Arena di Verona. This grand amphitheater is one of the largest, oldest and most well-preserved arenas in the country and can host up to 15,000 spectators per performance!
Each summer, the Verona Opera Festival puts on a schedule of internationally-acclaimed artists performing some of the most famed works such as La Traviata, Aida, and Pagliacci.
The festival draws in thousands of music lovers who soak up the atmosphere of opera by candlelight, feeling the power of the operatic voices reverberate around the arena. The acoustics here are second to none which is what makes it such a spectacular location for the world-best performances.
Another highlight of the Verona Opera Festival is the laid-back atmosphere which allows spectators to choose their own spot on the unreserved stone steps and enjoy a picnic of Italian antipasti and wine before the show begins. You’ll have to decant the wine into an alternative bottle (as glass and knives are prohibited) and you might want to bring a cushion with you too as you’ll be sat here for a while!
The very first Verona Opera Festival was held on August 10th, 1913 to mark the centenary of Verdi’s birth and the festival has continued and grown ever since. The Verona Opera Festival runs annually throughout July and August (with occasional shows running into September), so check out the schedule to see which show inspires you most.
Time in Jazz Festival, Italy
Claudia from My Adventures Across the World
Not many know, but one of the coolest things to do in Sardinia, the island at the center of the Mediterranean and part of Italy, is attending a music festival. Although festivals take place throughout the year with small crowds of attendees, it’s during the summer that the music scene explodes.
The biggest event over the summer is Time in Jazz, a festival organized by world famous trumpet player Paolo Fresu in his native village, Berchidda, in the north east of Sardinia. Over the course of a week, jazz concerts are held in the surroundings of Berchidda – in the squares and along the streets of the village; in the surrounding forests and mountains.
Time in Jazz is a full on music celebration for thousands of jazz lovers who can put together their passion for music with that for nature, culture, history and even food. People can rely on camping sites and local guest houses for accommodation.
Jazz musicians from all over the world are invited to play and participation to all open air concerts – the majority – is free for all attendees. The festival usually takes place over the middle of August – the exact dates change every year.
Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland
Fiona from Passport and Piano
Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the most well-known festivals in this genre around the world. Past artists have included Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Carlos Santana and Phil Collins to name but a few.
It takes place during the first two weeks of July every year in Switzerland. The festival attracts a quarter of a million visitors and its wise to make travel plans well in advance of purchasing your tickets. What makes this festival unique is the size of the venues. Compared to festivals around the world they are small, which of course means the gigs are much more intimate.
There are two indoor auditoriums, the Auditorium Stravinski is the largest and has a maximum capacity of 3500. Hence, both artists and fans can have an up-close experience. There’s also a jazz cafe where artists perform, a Jazz boat and a pool party. Tickets are of course in short supply so keep an eye on the Montreux Jazz Festival website for release dates.
The festival takes place alongside the waterfront which has stunning views across Lake Léman. There are pop up cocktail bars, food stalls from around the world and lots of street entertainment. Many people visit the town during the festival to experience the waterfront. There’s a large outdoor stage called Music in the Park, which is free and has performances from noon till midnight. The atmosphere is buzzing.
If you want to catch the leading performers, my top tip would be to head to the festival shop in the afternoon. The festival holds press interviews on a small stage outside the shop, and the artists are usually happy to have a quick and sign autographs before leaving.
The Americas Music Festivals
Montevideo Tango, Uruguay
Anthony and Anna from Green Mochila
Every year in September, Plaza Matriz, the central square in Montevideo, with its shading trees and gorgeous neoclassical buildings, fills up with stages and people. It’s time for Montevideo Tango, a Saturday full of guitars ringing and ground-tapping in the capital of Uruguay. As a free and open-air festival, it’s probably one of South America’s prettiest and most intimate.
You don’t have to be a tango aficionado to pay a visit to Montevideo Tango. You don’t need to own the whole Carlos Gardel discography, or be able to play ‘La Cumparsita‘ on the bandoneon. You don’t even need to know anything about Carlos Gardel, or what a bandoneon is.
Montevideo Tango is an occasion to discover the dance and the music in their many forms and colours. From old-school milonga ensembles to modern fusion tango, from prized dancers to queer couples, the festival introduces the world of tango in all its variety. Dancers and musicians from all over the world come to perform, many of them simply crossing the Río de la Plata from neighbouring Buenos Aires. It’s also an occasion to discover an important part of the culture of Uruguay, a country that is too often overlooked on a South America itinerary.
So if you are around in September, we highly recommend you have a look at Montevideo Tango, when the sky above the historic centre of Montevideo fills up with the lively notes of tango.
Milwaukee Summerfest, USA
Hannah and Adam from Getting Stamped
We’re lucky enough to call Milwaukee, Wisconsin home. One of our favorite things to do in our hometown is to attend Summerfest every summer. If you’ve never heard of it, Summerfest is the World’s Largest Music Festival, situated right in the city along Lake Michigan. The venue itself is pretty hard to beat!
Summerfest runs for eleven days total, starting at the end of June and lasting until early July. Over the course of the festival, there are over eight hundred acts across thirteen different stages. The best part is that you won’t find just one music genre, rather there is music of all types, from rap, country, rock, indie, reggae. There’s something for everyone’s musical taste.
The festival is set up where you pay general admission and are then free to roam to the various free stages on the grounds. However, there is the American Family Amphitheater that brings in big name acts. You’ll have to purchase a separate concert ticket for the amphitheater shows.
Besides the awesome tunes, the grounds are full of delicious local Milwaukee restaurants where you can get a bite to eat. There’s also tons of local breweries onsite, like Lakefront, so you can enjoy the city’s beer!
If you’re planning a trip to Milwaukee, we recommend coming during Summerfest to experience this awesome festival!
Seattle Summer Music Festivals, USA
Lizzie from Lizzie Lau