From EDM concerts like Mysteryland to hippie arts parties like Burning Man, these huge music events will give you a vacation you'll never forget
Chilling on a beach without having to move a finger; no? Shopping around town and taking in the country’s sights; nope? Wolfing down local delicacies and visiting a museum; are we even getting warmer? What about flying across continents just to let loose at some of the most extravagant and debaucherous music festivals in the world? “Bingo!” you say?
Sure enough, there are a gazillion reasons why people like to travel, just like how there are a gazillion-illion music events showcasing the aces of talent all the time. Singapore definitely has its own share of gigs, and music festivals like ZoukOut, Ultra, and Laneway, but sometimes, that just ain’t enough. We speak for those who wish to brave the rave; those who don’t mind spending their two months’ salary just to get butt-naked (don’t quote us) on some sandy beach in the Adriatic while dancing along to EDM, techno and indie. With more and more festivals cropping up in the scene, we pick 10 timeless jamborees that you should visit someday.
Hideout – Croatia, 26-30 June
A popular summer vacay destination even amongst Europeans, Croatia plays host to some of the most vibrant, effervescent music festivals like Dimensions and Outlook. But if we had to pick one to check off your party-like-you-mean-it checklist, you should detach yourself from creature comforts back home and lose yourself in Hideout. The revelries don’t stop for five days along Zrće Beach on the Adriatic island of Pag, and swashbuckling boat parties are a norm at this raver’s habitat. Six open-air arenas will keep you chuffed with top tunage from buzzing names like Jamie xx and Hot Since 82, and even icons of the techno and drum & bass scenes like Adam Beyer and Andy C. A grooving gem of Croatia despite being a fairly young festival – it’s just five years old – Hideout will have you questioning your past interpretations of “Life’s A Beach”. Nuh uh, you haven’t partied like this.
Our top five acts: Hannah Wants, Patrick Topping, Mak & Pasteman, Eats Everything, Gardens Of God
Sziget – Hungary, 10-17 August
What if you wanted to feel like a kid all over again, and scurry into a psychedelic, passion-bred amusement park for adults – a dream, yes? Well this is no fantasy at the Island Of Freedom, the blissful territory that awaits you at one of the best music festivals in Europe. Flaunting everything from mad circus troupes to giant bouncy castles littered with meditation zones, Sziget is the festive manifestation of imagination stretched to steroid proportions, and the music ain’t shabby either. Always showcasing a diverse pool of talent, Sziget 2016 welcomes the comeback of seminal UK post-punks Bloc Party, the hardcore antics of Bullet For My Valentine and Bring Me The Horizon, and even theatrical performers like M83 and Muse. Need a quick escape? Sziget isn’t going anywhere.
Our top five acts: Sigur Rós, The Last Shadow Puppets, MØ, Years & Years, Kodaline
Sónar Barcelona – Spain, 16-18 June
Turn on your rave radar, and we’re pretty sure you would’ve seen this mega festival blipping on your scope. Originating from the Mediterranean, Spanish city, the Sónar legacy has been extending its roots since its inception in 1994, with seeds firmly planted in cities like Buenos Aires, Stockholm and Bogotá. But it all began in Barca; year after year, Sónar continues to be revered for its dual-edged programming of Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night, meaning you won’t have to wait ’til nightfall to get your music fix. Spanning three beat-brimming days, Sónar 2016 features the hip-hop turntablism of A-Trak, the techy grooves of Bicep, the choppy UK garage of DJ EZ, the creamy r&b of Kelela, and even the synth-heavy new-wave of legends New Order. And heck, that’s just five outta over 80 electronic and indie acts!
Our top five acts: James Blake, Mind Against, Ben Klock, Jackmaster, Richie Hawtin
EXIT – Serbia, 7-10 July
Music is a timeless tradition that’s certainly worth guarding. Enter EXIT, a festival in Serbia that’s fortified this art of expression for over 15 years – and it does that literally from an architectural standpoint too. ’Cos you see, you won’t just feel dwarfed by EXIT’s monstrous line-up that promises indie-pop titans like Ellie Goulding, Bastille and Hurts; EXIT’s setting does that just as potently with its haunting Medieval elements. The four-day fest takes place within the gallant Petrovaradin Fortress in the city of Novi Sad, making you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. Except, instead of bards and minstels, you’re getting some of the most cutting-edge music in the world. EXIT is also notable for starting out as a Serbain student movement that strove towards peace and democracy, and today, remains a spectacle that fights for its right to party.
Our top five acts: Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Solomun, Stormzy, Disciples, Wilkinson
Secret Solstice – Iceland, 17-19 June
From Norse mythology that believes in fairies to otherworldly geological wonders of nature, and ethereal hymns from the spiritual likes of Of Monsters And Men and Sigur Rós, there’s no denying that Iceland is a magical place. This haven of hocus-pocus is also home to a phenomenon that occurs during the Summer Solstice: a cosmic event that guarantees 72 hours (!!!) of uninterrupted sunlight. And what do Icelanders like to do to celebrate this event? Party, of course. Ring in the Secret Solstice Festival, a fiesta where you’ll never have to worry about losing your friends in the dark, and whether it’s time yet for bed. But trust us, with entertainment this enchanting, sleeping won’t be part of your agenda. Oh, and did we mention the elusive Radiohead is performing?! Yet another rarity and wonder of the world.
Our top five acts: Radiohead, Apollonia, Action Bronson, Of Monsters And Men, Skream
Mysteryland – The Netherlands, 27-28 August
Do you know why and how EDM got so darn popular in the first place? Long before dance music started to become full-blown pop in The States, it was favoured and fostered in European cities like The Netherlands; after all, it’s home to the elites of the EDM industry like Tiësto and Armin van Buuren. Pushing this phenomenon were festival promoters like ID&T, the (also)Dutch originators behind today’s biggest EDM extravaganzas, such as Sensation, Tomorrowland, Electric Zoo, and this one right here, Mysteryland – the oldest dance festival in The Netherlands. While 2016’s line-up isn’t out yet, you’d best pre-book your tix nonetheless as they’re known to fly off the shelves without a moment’s notice.
Past top five acts: Steve Angello, Diplo, Knife Party, Alesso, Martin Garrix
Burning Man – US, 28 August-5 September
You’ve heard about its Mad Max-ish setting in the Nevada Desert; you’ve seen the extravagant festival floats that range from steampunk fire-breathing dragons to gigantic humanoid structures; and you’ve probably felt a warm tingling in your heart when you caught wind of the festival’s philosophy of gift-giving. Indeed, all of this is true at this mammoth-scale gathering called Burning Man; essentially, a faux-dystopian village that brings together peace-loving hippies, spiritual gurus, blossoming artists and raver kids. Principles like radical inclusion and decommodification are embraced at this event, and it’s not uncommon for nomadic strangers to turn into besties overnight. Just getting to Burning Man is not for the faint-at-heart, so plan properly before you take on this adventure.
Past top five acts: Diplo, Sander van Doorn, Damian Lazarus, Maceo Plex, Paul Oakenfold
Summer Sonic Festival – Japan, 20-21 August
Lest you don’t have the resources to party it up in Europe or The States for your summer sabbatical, perhaps you could make an expedition to the Land of the Rising Sun instead. Forget about what you’ve heard about the sacredly-polite mannerisms of the Japanese natives, these folks can rock out if they want to. Happening a month after the Fuji Rock Festival – another Japanese festival fixture – Summer Sonic makes Japan’s hottest season of the year, cool. Unlike other festivals, the showgrounds occupy two cities, Osaka and Tokyo, giving you an easy excuse to check out both iconic metropolises (they’re just a short shinkansen ride apart!). You’ll witness everyone from Top 40s pop sensations to mosh-making alt-rockers, and from past editions, potentially legends like Metallica and Kraftwerk! And again, it’s one of the few festivals this year where you can catch the return of Radiohead.
Our top five acts: Radiohead, Underworld, Two Door Cinema Club, Weezer, The 1975
Electric Picnic – Ireland, 2-4 September
Rolling around ’em green hills of Ireland and having a picnic sounds splendid. But once you’re feeling restless and need to give your ears some pampering, scrunch up those picnic mats, and make haste for this music and arts festival. An institution that’s glistened with Irish charm since 2004 – it takes place in the quaint, rustic town of Stradbally – Electric Picnic started out as “the festival of good intentions” – and if by good intentions they mean giving punters some of the best indie acts in the world, they’ve yet to be a downer. Organisers are still mum about the line-up, but if alumni like Manic Street Preachers, Interpol and Blur are anything to go by, the Irish have nothing to get irate about. Definitely worth a stop-over if you’ll be visiting the UK this summer!
Past top five acts: Florence + The Machine, Tame Impala, Belle & Sebastian, FKA Twigs, Jon Hopkins
Melt! Festival – Germany, 15-17 July
It’s common knowledge that no one parties quite as hard as the Germans, but did you know that they’ve even constructed a whole City of Iron just to do so? Yes, it’s as daunting as it sounds; imagine a derelict scrapyard-turned-playground of behemoth-sized cranes, labyrinths of steel scaffolding, and other gargantuan metallic structures that look like they could come to life – such is the festival ground of Ferropolis. Dusty sands sweep across this terrain, sequestered and surrounded by Gremminer Lake, making you feel like you’re an island imported from a full-metal fairy-tale. Bodies and subwoofers vibrate in sync, with the thumping intensity of top electronic tunes that Melt! has come to be known for. But sorry hardcore heads, you won’t find any heavy metal here. The irony, we know.
Our top five acts: Disclosure, Andhim, DJ Koze, Mano Le Tough, Tiga