Music lovers flock to massive festivals around the world to see their favorite artists live and enjoy the local culture and sights. And with each passing year, there are more and more travel destination options to choose from. From Chicago’s quintessential Lolapalooza to a global music showcase in Morocco, these festivals provide multiple days of entertainment—and unforgettable concert-going experiences. Here are our picks for the world’s best Summer & Fall music festivals.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Reggae Sumfest heats up Montego Bay July 16-22. Saluting the genre that was born in Jamaica in the late 1960s, the island’s biggest week-long festival attracts thousands from across the globe who make the pilgrimage to hear a roster of reggae and dancehall megastars like Sean Paul, Beenie Man and Sean Kingston. Staged in an open-air field called the Catherine Hall Festival Grounds, the main events are marathon-length concerts that start at 9 p.m. and wrap up after 7 a.m. the following morning. Pack a folding chair, blanket or “reggae bed” (a sheet of cardboard) for a nap as the headliners often hit the stage after 2 a.m. Must-do’s for diehards include the Sumfest Beach Party on Tropical Bliss Beach, All-White Party and the crowd-pleasing Heavyweight Sound Clash at the Pier 1 Entertainment Center. Resorts like Half Moon, Hilton Rose Hall and Round Hill sell festival packages. Summing up the longevity of the Caribbean’s largest music festival, event producer Joseph Bogdanovich observes that “an authentic reggae experience where the music was born, lives and breathes can only be had in Jamaica.”
Renaissance Festival Plaza is action-central for the 11th edition of the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival (Sept. 15-16). The lineup is a hot list featuring salsa singer Ruben Blades, funk and soul jazz saxophonist Maceo Parker, Habana Vieja All Stars including Cuban sax player Eduardo Proveyer, and a special tribute to Aretha Franklin performed by Dutch Caribbean vocal powerhouse Shirma Rouse.
Get your groove on at the Soul Beach Music Festival during the Memorial Day weekend May 24-29, 2018. Now in its 17th year, thousands pack the beaches and the Soul Beach Amphitheater, Havana Beach Club and Hard Rock Café in the capital city of Oranjestad to hear an international line-up of rhythm and blues and sultry American soul music acts. Early-bird hotel and concert packages sell out fast.
There are plenty of snappy tunes and mellow musical storytellers at the Country and Blues Festival, Sept. 27-30 at Pigeon Island National Park, where vendors scatter around the edges selling ice-cold Piton beer and tart green-mango juice. As part of the Soleil Saint Lucia Summer Festival, other visit-worthy parties include the Food & Rum Festival (Aug. 24- 27) and the Arts & Heritage Festival (Oct. 28-29). It’s all about jazz atSt. Lucia Jazz (May 6-13), although the wildly popular fete also piles on calypso, reggae, soca, steel pan and French-Caribbean zouk. With the dramatic Piton peaks in view from virtually everywhere on the island, stages are set up at Pigeon Island, Derek Walcott Square (named for the island’s late Nobel Prize-winning poet), Fond D’Or Heritage Park and the fishing village called Gros Islet. Be sure to check out side shows like Sulphur Springs Jazz at the world’s only drive-in volcano and Jazz Rhythms at Rodney Bay Mall.
One of the oldest music festivals in the world is the Edinburgh International Festival, which runs over three weeks in August and was initiated in 1947. It features symphony music, opera, and classical theatre and dance. There are as many as ten other festivals in the city during the same period, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which ranks at the top of the list of world’s largest art festivals. Among these art and music fairs are the world-famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo, jazz and blues festivals, and even a film festival. Together they make up the world’s largest cultural event.
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Oukaimeden Mountains with the Saharan desert, this festival may be the most Instagram-worthy of them all. The line-up is heavily geared towards electronic music fans, but even those who prefer jazz to EDM will find a lot to love at Oasis Festival. In addition to the opportunity to explore Marrakech, the festival has an on-site souk, yoga classes, henna artists, a champagne bar, and food vendors with a Moroccan twist. When visiting the festival, keep in mind that many hotels offer package deals that include rooms, festival tickets, and a ride to the showgrounds for the event September 15-17th.
August 11-13. If you’ve ever wanted to explore Helsinki, Flow Festival takes you to the heart the city. This eco-conscious festival reuses an old power plant and turns it into the site of a three-day party with all the fixings including, a killer soundtrack, incredible food and drink, and a chilled-out vibe. While the full line-up hasn’t been announced yet, Lana Del Rey, The xx, Aphex Twin, London Grammar, Vince Staples, and Flume have been already been confirmed.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
August 3rd-6th a festival unlike any other, Lollapalooza has become an absolute must-attend event for patrons of the Summer concert circuit. Held each year in Chicago’s Grant Park, the event enjoys the beautiful scenery of Lake Michigan and the city skyline as it’s backdrop. Lollapalooza recruits some of the best performers and musicians fro across the world to play over a three day weekend.
Prineville, Oregon, USA
Music festivals are magic by their very nature but why not up the ante a bit and travel to Prineville, Oregon this summer for the Global Eclipse Gathering. On August 21, certain parts of the United States will get treated to the beauty of a solar eclipse and Oregon is one of them. Dance to the music as the moon crosses the sun, momentarily leaving the skies dark
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
New Orleans has always been almost synonymous with music and there’s no better place to experience the charms of the Big Easy than at the Essence Music Festival. Next year’s dates are yet to be announced, but this year’s was June 29th-July 2nd.
Have you attended a music festival?