Coachella, established as one of California’s premier music and arts festivals way back when in the early ’00s, has blossomed over the years into the behemoth it is today. Known worldwide for its golden sunsets, sunny blue skies, desert terrain, celeb appearances, and unbeatable live music, it’s no small wonder that the Empire Polo Fields are home to one of the most popular music festivals in the world.
When? over two weekends in mid April. Where? Indio/ Palm Springs area.
2. Lightning in a Bottle
Looking for a truly life-changing experience? More than just a music festival, Lightning in a Bottle finds inspiration from spiritual roots and a collectively eco-friendly higher consciousness to create a sustainable environment in which music, yoga, art, and enlightening panels and workshops are all at play throughout the five-day festival. In other words, the vibes don’t get any better than this!
When? Memorial Day Weekend in May. Where? Lake San Antonio Recreation Area, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco at Bradley, California.
3. Burning Man
Burning Man is so far out, it doesn’t even define itself strictly as a “music festival.” Instead, this week-long dusty desert pilgrimage sets up camp – and an entirely independent ecosystem – every September in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. It is in every way an escape from society today – a dreamy, albeit dusty, utopia in which bartering or trading for goods takes precedence over any money matters. Even music comes second to the enlightened aspects of the festival – which include, of course, the larger than life moment when the man burns.
When? End August ending on Labour Day in September. Where? Black Rock Desert in NW Nevada.
Part meditation retreat, part amazing campout in a forest setting, and part epic music festival, Shambhala Music Festival is undoubtedly an event created with a very specific vision in mind. More than that, it’s one that has opened the hearts and arms alike of the Canadian community within which it has made its home.
When? First weekend August. Where? Salmo River Ranch in West Kootenay of south/central British Columbia.
5. Symbiosis Gathering
Another transformational campout festival, Symbiosis Gathering offers art structures and installations, live art and performances, panels, workshops, and yoga all in addition to an outstanding lineup of musical talent. Plus, the venue is nestled around a lakebed, which means floating around in the water with your friends while listening to magical tunes on a balmy September weekend in California – and what could be better than that?
When? End September or various eclipse times. Where? Venue changes each year. Sierra Nevada California, Queensland Australia.
Originally based in Belgium, Tomorrowland has since branched out to other corners of the globe, like Brazil and even the United States. Now one of the biggest dance music festivals in the world, it’s surprisingly over 10 years old – the first edition of the festie took place way back when in 2005, and it’s still going strong!
The American version of this popular European festival, TomorrowWorld takes place in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. It may only be a couple years old, but it’s already received a nomination for Best Music Event at the International Dance Music Awards. When? September. Not being held in 2016.
8. Desert Hearts
“House, Techno, Love.” The slogan of this deliciously underground music and arts festival, Desert Hearts has indeed found its way into the hearts of many a veteran festival-goer. Part of the reason for this is the sense of true community it’s created: The vibe, scenic background, ambiance, and the sense of belonging and acceptance in one great music-loving family? Can’t be beat. Plus, fun times in the desert, and all that.
When? First weekend April. Where? Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, Warner Springs CA, Mohave Desert.
If you haven’t heard of Carnival, where have you been? The globally renowned festival takes place on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, every year 40 days before Easter, and if you’re planning to go, you’d better be ready to dance. The celebrants of this glittering 5-day-long celebration take their dancing very, very seriously.
Known as Colorado’s best music festival, ARISE is a next-level, next-gen campout music festival. With a plethora of musical diversity offered on the lineup and a sprawling ranch venue in Loveland, Colorado, things to look forward to include themed camps, gorgeous art installations, yoga, workshops, and a massive sunrise dome to watch the sun come up before another day of festivities.
When? First Weekend August. Where? Sunrise Ranch, Loveland Colorado
Of all the festivals on this list, Oasis sounds the most unreal – an underground dance music festival at a luxurious beach resort in none other than Marrakech, Morocco?! If you’re lucky enough to make this one happen in your lifetime, be sure to enjoy the laid-back vibe and captivating beats while cooling off in the pool, and be sure to experience the authentic local street food when you need to refuel. Sounds like a dream.
When? Third week September.
12. Groove Cruise
The ultimate in luxurious festival experiences, Groove Cruise is just that – yes, it’s actually a music festival on a cruise ship. With voyages to both Miami and Cabo, this is one amazing and unique experience, and one I definitely want to check off the bucket list one day soon.
Glastonbury Festival is the go-to destination for those looking to experience a different kind of “artsy” vibe. In other words, it’s the real deal – Glastonbury is a five-day festival of contemporary performing arts in Somerset, England, which means it’s unlike any festival most have ever experienced. The lineup, inspired by the counterculture of the hippie and free festival movements, consists of dance, comedy, theater, circus, cabaret, and other arts.
When? Third week June. Where? Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset
Tickets: £233 in 2016. Must register before end of September to buy tickets in October – requires digital passport photo for each purchaser. Tickets go on sale at www.glastonbury.seetickets.com on a first-come-first-serve basis. Pay a 50£ deposit on purchased tickets with the balance to be paid between April 1-7. Your vehicle requires a separate ticket.
Also in the UK, Noisily thrives on an ethical consciousness similar to its sister festivals in the US, as well as a focus on health of the mind, body, and soul. It even offers boutique camping, for those who would rather glamp than camp out. Still a baby in comparison to older independent festies, Noisily has nonetheless taken the techno scene by storm.
When? Second week July Where? Leicestershire England.
15. Northern Nights
Self-described as California’s “premier craftique music festival,” Northern Nights happens every July in Humboldt County – which means you’ve got a river to float on, a lush forest to camp in, and an awesome lineup of music, yoga, and art to look forward to.
When? Third week July Where? Cook’s Valley Campground is adjacent to US Highway 101 on the border of Humboldt & Mendocino county, just 3.5 hours north of San Francisco, Cooks Valley is tucked along the Eel River under towering Redwood trees. The festival grounds feature deep swimming holes, the largest Redwood grove used for camping, and plenty of space.
16. Festival of Lights (Diwali)
A deeply spiritual celebration with its roots in ancient Hinduism, Diwali is not a festival in the way we’ve come to categorize them, but a literal fantasy of lights. Thousands of people make the annual pilgrimage to India to light the path for the Hindu god Rama, so that he can make his way home.
When? 5 days ending on the last Sunday October. Where? Whereever there is a Hindu community.
17. Holi Festival of Colors
Also taking place in India, as well as Nepal and Sri Lanka, Holi is a festival dedicated to celebrating the transition from winter to spring. A truly unique and colorful holiday (to say the least), attendees essentially throw all kinds of multicolored dyes at each other – and yes, often in water balloon form. A massive rainbow water balloon fight in the streets of Delhi? Sounds like the experience of a lifetime.
18. Lantern Festival
Known as the Thai festival of lights, Yi Peng and Loy Krathong are truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences. These Buddhist celebrations are the perfect catalyst for any and all in attendance to send up offerings of candles and other small tokens (along with their lit lanterns, of course) into the sky. In other words, it is a magical spiritual cleansing on a mass scale, and not soon forgotten for those who venture to go.
When? November Where? Cheng Mai
Though it took some time for Australia to join the rest of the world in dance music and festival culture, it’s officially caught up in a major way. Stereosonic has become a global festival destination, with events held in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne.
When? Not being held in 2016.
20. Iceland Airwaves
Iceland Airwaves So many amazing indie bands (Of Monsters and Men, anyone?) originate from the remote, icy yet lush location. If you ever find yourself in Iceland, you know where to go.
When? First week November. Where? Reykjavik
21. South by Southwest
When? Second week March: Film then Film plus music Where? Austin Texas
22. Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival
When? November Where? Banff, Alberta Canada then world tour to 40 countries.