As temperatures rise across the planet, music lovers and party animals don their best festival gear in preparation for days of dancing in the sunshine.
All of a sudden, foregoing showers and living off of nothing but chips and beer is completely acceptable. In fact, other festival goers will encourage it.
The rules of “normal” life disappear at summer music festivals. That means no bathing, getting your nutrients, going to work, getting adequate sleep, all things adulting. The liberation brings in crowds of thousands year after year.
But a vague sense of anarchy is not the only thing to love about festivals (nor is the music). With this newfound freedom comes an enhanced sense of community. Everyone in the crowd has come for a reason so, whatever that reason may be, you all have something in common.
It doesn’t even matter that you’re covered in sweat and dirt.
When deciding which music festival to attend, the line-up should only be one deciding factor. The destination and vibe of the festival are just as important.
Of course, if you can land a festival with a badass line-up in an amazing destination, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
Not sure where to start your search? Some of 2018’s best summer music festivals around the world are waiting for you.
Summer Music Festivals in Europe
1. Creamfields, Daresbury, UK (August 2018)
For four days, the fields of Cheshire are taken over by Creamfields, one of the UK’s most popular festivals. All around the area, beats of electronic music resonate as everything from techno to trance is blasted from the decks on stage.
This festival is a mecca for lovers of EDM in its many forms.
Some of the biggest artists on the planet, including Martin Garrix, Armin van Buuren and Carl Cox, descend on this festival to execute immaculate DJ sets to the delighted cries of an enormous crowd.
For 2018, the line-up features a staggering number of global EDM icons, including Armin van Buuren, Carl Cox, and Tiesto. You can be sure that Creamfields 2018 is going to be just as colorful and energetic as its predecessors.
2. Glastonbury, Glastonbury, UK (June 2018)
Without a doubt, Glastonbury is the single biggest event in the UK, attracting around 175,000 people each year. It's a cornerstone of British culture. Year after year, the peaceful fields of Glastonbury are hit with waves of festival-goers ready to watch some of the world’s biggest stars perform. Past headliners include Beyoncé, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Ed Sheeran and Adele.
In addition to the ultra-famous headliners, the festival also pays tributes to unknown artists who are brimming with potential. Its BBC Introducing stage has jump-started the careers of many well-known British artists who are killing it out there today, including James Bay and Florence and the Machine.
Given the UK’s proclivity for spontaneous downpours (even in the summer), however, Glastonbury inevitably turns into a giant mud-fest.
But Glastonbury just wouldn’t feel right without knee-deep mud creeping over the top of your wellies.
Note that every fifth year (a “fallow year”) there is no Glastonbury festival in order to give the local people and landscape a break. In, 2019 it will be returning with a vengeance!
3. Awakenings, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (June/July 2018)
The self-proclaimed “greatest techno festival in the world” returns to Amsterdam this year for another weekend of madness. Over 100 artists from around the world make up this line-up, which features names like Pan-Pot, Adam Beyer and Len Faki. Awakenings is huge—it attracts around 80,000 people over the two days.
Christian Vollmert of Volle on Tour said this about Awakenings:
Awakenings is set up in a park with a beautiful lake in its middle. Everything is very green, pretty and quite relaxing, even though the music is high energy in contrast.
There are quite of few outside dance floors and a couple big tents; everything is set up with passion and love—you can really feel that. Everyone is really relaxed and there are good vibes all around.
The DJs are diverse—some have been in the industry for a long time and some are quite new, but the mix is great!
4. Exit, Novi Sad, Serbia (July 2018)
Exit started out as a student protest against the government back in 2000. Eighteen years down the line, this event is one of the best music festivals in Europe.
Exit takes place in an iconic fortress in Novi Sad, Serbia. It generally includes a line-up packed with artists from a range of genres. Throughout the three days, expect to hear hip-hop, EDM, rock, reggae, drum and bass and more.
This year’s line-up is already looking pretty impressive with David Guetta, Ziggy Marley, and Jax Jones performing.
During the day, festival-goers chill on the city beach eating half-price pretzels and enjoying the sun before heading over to the arena in the evening. Given that it's a smaller festival, it doesn’t feel chaotic or claustrophobic. It’s just full of good vibes and good tunes until the sun comes out.
5. Tomorrowland, Boom, Belgium (July 2018)
Tomorrowland is somewhat of a pilgrimage for lovers of EDM — 185,000 of them come every year. Tickets sell out in a matter of minutes.
The whole site is laid out like a theme park. Tomorrowland itself is where the music and action happens, while Dreamville is for camping and chilling out.
Grace Chen of Girl Gone Wandering said this about Tomorrowland:
Tomorrowland is like a Disney miracle for adults who love festivals—especially adults who love festivals and electronic music!
The production quality is unparalleled, and the detail that goes into designing what's essentially a theme-park in the grassy fields between Brussels and Antwerp is on par with that of Disneyland.
The spirit and vibe of Tomorrowland feels almost like the Olympics. The water and grass on the grounds are relaxing which is in stark comparison to the black tarmac that is EDC. Tickets are notoriously hard to get a hold of but worth every penny, so if you're able to get your hands on them, you should!
6. Mysteryland, Haarlemmermeer, The Netherlands (August 2018)
If there’s one thing the Dutch know how to do, it's throw an incredible festival—and Mysteryland is no exception. Spanning three days, it is one of the longest-running dance festivals on earth.
The décor of the festival is fairytale-esque, with fairy lights and flowers of all different colors giving the whole event a distinctly magical feel. Deep vibrations of drum and bass, techno and house fill the air. These features set the scene for what is going to captivate the 100,000-person-strong crowd at Mysteryland.
But, Mysteryland is not just about music. The festival also puts on exhibitions from local artists, spoken word events and a tiny cinema.
The main venue is the open air arena, but in the surrounding areas are forests with winding paths leading to secret chill zones with cool side events. Throw caution to the wind and also explore the depths of the woodlands—you might be surprised what you find.
7. Sea Dance, Budva, Montenegro (August 2018)
The aptly named Sea Dance Festival takes places on the beautiful Jaz Beach, surrounded by mountains. It's one of the most scenic festivals on the planet.
According to legend, the Sea Dance has its roots with ancient mariners who would perform a ceremony to appease Neptune, God of the Seas, before embarking on their voyage. Fast-forward a dozen centuries or so, and the festival is back with a vengeance—only this time the mariner chants are replaced with international DJs.
Generally, the temperatures soar to the mid-30s when the festival is on. This means that regular dips in the Adriatic Sea are a must. Not the worst way to cool down.
8. Sziget Festival, Sziget Island, Budapest, Hungary (August 2018)
The Sziget Festival is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe, as more than 1,000 performances take place each year.
It's held in northern Budapest on Óbudai-sziget, a leafy 108-hectare island on the Danube river that divides the Buda and Pest neighborhoods of the city.
Here's what Grace Chen of Girl Gone Wandering had to say:
Sziget Festival, also known as the Island of Freedom, is a mixed-genre festival that takes over Margaret Island in Budapest for an entire week. And when I say an entire week, I mean 24 hours a day for seven days straight. It is one of the most highly anticipated festivals on the continent.
All tickets, which are very reasonably priced, include camping passes. Attendees are welcome to set up their tents literally anywhere on the island. The festival is uninhibited and, truly, anything goes.
The main stage brings in major artists such as Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Alt-J, Pink and Major Lazer, and there's a massive stage for everything from electronic music to hip-hop and everything in between. Food carts around the venue blast music into the night, and some even set up their own dance floors with their own DJs!
9. Colours of Ostrava, Ostrava, Czech Republic (July 2018)
There’s a lot more to the Czech Republic than Prague. The Colours of Ostrava festival is a one-of-a-kind festival that caters to just about every genre you could imagine. Artists perform everything including blues, pop, jazz, folk, electronic music and more for four straight days.
Whatever kind of music you're looking for, you'll find it Colours of Ostrava.
Veronika Primm of Travel Geekery had a thing or two to say:
Colours of Ostrava is the only festival of its kind in Central Europe. The location of the festival is set in Ostrava's former mining complex, Dolní Vítkovice, which, although slightly rough around the edges, is a perfect setting for a summer music festival!
The vibe is great—many people dress up and there's amazing street food, stalls of local designers, and, of course, plenty of alcohol. It's the Czech Republic, after all!
Even though there are often ‘big name' artists playing (in 2017, Imagine Dragons, LP and Norah Jones headlined), there's enough space for everyone. Whether you just want to find a spot to sit down or a little place to dance, you'll have no problem.
The already abundant program also boasts films, workshops and theater performances. No one is going to get bored before the bands start playing in the afternoon!
Upcoming Summer Music Festivals in Africa
10. Afrikaburn, Tankwa, South Africa (April 2018)
Afrikaburn is the African version of North America’s iconic Burning Man festival. Unlike other music festivals, Afrikaburn is participant-led and is the ultimate expression of freedom and creativity. Indeed, the festival states that it is a “no-spectator event.”
Everyone who attends should get actively involved with the festival. In this way, the festival builds community, and that's what burns are all about.
Here is what Kimmie Connor of Adventures and Sunsets had to say:
Afrikaburn is held in the unforgiving Tankwa Karoo desert of South Africa at the end of each April—and it is no normal summer music festival. Afrikaburn is held under the same 10 principles of Burning Man and, at 14,000 people, is actually the largest of dozens of ‘regional burns' all over the world.
There is no money at these gatherings, and you must bring everything you need to camp, eat and drink for the whole week. There is no company running the show; each person, group or camp of people brings what they need to survive as well as a certain contribution or gift to the community.
Some camps bring music stages, DJs and production; some camps serve champagne each night or coffee each morning; others have yoga classes or face painting; some people create incredible art installations or help to set things up, and some simply have nice places to hang out.
Everything is free because people understand that you're also gifting whatever you can contribute.
11. Sandbox, El Gouna, Egypt (May 2018)
Forget the Pyramids. If you’re visiting Egypt in May then it’s going to be all about Sandbox. This festival takes place in El Gouna, on Egypt’s shimmering shoreline with the ocean on one side and the desert on the other. In the unforgiving Egyptian heat, there’s nothing to do but embrace your sweat and also dance like a lunatic from dusk until dawn.
This festival doesn’t have a million DJs packing out the line-up—it sells itself as being more intimate than that.
However, what the festival might lack in quantity it more than makes up for with quality. Add the sparkling seawater—which you can jump in to cool off—and you’ve got yourself a pretty awesome festival concept in what can also easily be described as an Egyptian paradise.
Summer Music Festivals in North America
12. Coachella, Indio, California (April 2018)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so, you will have heard of Coachella. Of all the upcoming festivals in 2018, Coachella has the biggest hype.
Every year, Instagram fills up with photos of girls toting hotpants with daisy chains around their heads basking in the California sunshine. Meanwhile, some of the hottest artists in the world perform for them.
Previous headliners include Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, Drake, The Weeknd, Gorillaz and Kanye West. But 2018 topped them all when Queen Bee, a.k.a Beyoncé took the stage. The most elite international superstars get the top slot at Coachella, but, it’s not just the line-up that sells out tickets in a heartbeat.
For the two weekends of the Coachella festival, people transform into free spirits who love nothing more than good tunes and the wonderful people of the festival community. Everyone loves each other and everyone is happy. That's what music festivals are all about.
13. Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas, Nevada (May 2018)
Under the relentless sun of Nevada is the Electric Daisy Carnival—known as EDC by those in the know. By attendance (around 400,000 over the three days), this is one of the biggest EDM festivals in the world. And the energy is also electric (pun intended).
When it comes to putting on a show, this festival really goes all out. The pyrotechnics alone are enough to make your jaw hit the floor. Each of the eight stages has its own theme, and they each combine cutting-edge technology with their natural settings to create unique spectacles.
Part of what makes this summer music festival stand out is its on-site carnival—assumedly what gives EDC its name. Here, you will find traditional carny games, cotton candy and other carnival treats. There are even a few rides for you to go on if you can stomach it after all the booze and candy!
14. Electric Forest, Grant Township, Michigan (June 2018)
Nestled in the woodlands of Rothbury, Michigan, the Electric Forest Festival has a dreamlike setting with lush forests that spread out to the horizon. At the center, there is a clearing, and it is here that the magic happens.
Taking place over the course of two weekends, the event is more than just a festival.
This summer festival is a social experiment exploring the notion of “community.” Free spirits gather together and fill the forest with art installations and music performances.
Some of the more exciting parts of the festival include a huge indoor water park, workshops and competitions, and the odd log cabin in which to sleep. Light displays are also a treat.
If you want a festival with a chilled-out vibe and a lot of positive energy, then you should seriously consider going to Electric Forest.
15. Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tennessee (June 2018)
Dubbed one of the wildest and best summer music festivals in the world by festival junkies, Bonnaroo is reminiscent of the Woodstock glory days but with a lot more diversity.
Those who've gone before will guarantee that the line-up is world class. But it is all the other stuff that makes this festival worth every cent of the ticket price.
The campsites are gathered together in plazas, which become communal spaces for people to hang out and get involved in activities. Stroll through the grounds and you’ll see ad-hoc yoga, meditation classes and even art workshops.
On top of all that, the festival sports gourmet food trucks, comedy performances and snazzy art installations you can check out when you need a break from dancing. Staff cater to every customer at this enormous mega-festival.
16. Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada (Aug/Sept 2018)
Of all the upcoming music festivals of 2018, nothing piques people’s curiosity quite like Burning Man.
Since 1986, the iconic Burning Man Festival has drawn in the most eclectic and also anarchic crowds of any festival in the world.
People put up a temporary city in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Then they also dismantle it when it's over. It leaves no trace of what was one of the world’s craziest events.
Attending Burning Man might be the most liberating experience of your life.
The festival has 10 principles by which it expects its attendees to live. These include self-reliance, self-expression and community cooperation. For hardcore festival goers, getting the chance to go to Burning Man is the equivalent of reaching Nirvana.
There is always a good lineup of artists performing at Burning Man. But that is almost a side-event compared with the community the “burners” build. For many, Burning Man is more than just a festival—it’s a way of life.
Upcoming Music Festivals in Asia
17. Ultra Music Festival, Singapore, Singapore (June 2018)
Ultra Singapore is a high production festival. It brings the top EDM DJs from around the world to its numerous stages. Afrojack, Pendulum and Skrillex have all graced the festival before. And the 2018 line-up is likely to be equally impressive. You can buy tickets as single day passes or entry passes for the whole two days of the summer music festival.
Here is what Dave Jones of Jones Around the World had to say about Ultra:
Anyone interested in electronic music has, without a doubt, heard about Ultra Music Festival. It dominates the festival scene around the world.
Their ‘Road to Ultra’ series offers international partiers the chance to experience one of their extremely well-produced events in countries all over the world.
Ultra has contracts with some of the world's best DJs, and I doubt an Ultra Singapore lineup would ever disappoint anyone—the city itself is one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.
If Ultra in Singapore got your attention then you might want to check out Ultra in South Korea and even Croatia and beyond. Continuing the brand’s reputation of putting on the best music festivals in the world, their events totally rock.
18. Rainforest, Sarawak, Malaysia (July 2018)
Of all the festival venues in the world, the rainforest of Borneo might just be the best. The aptly named Rainforest Festival embraces all kinds of music for every corner of the globe. Instead of DJ after DJ, you’ll get indigenous panpipe bands or drumming troupes from the Solomon Islands or string ensembles from Poland. It’s a pretty wild ride.
The variety and diversity of this summer music festival is what makes it so special. That and the fact that you are within a few feet of dense pristine rainforest.
The tranquility of the surroundings and the smooth rhythms emanating from the stage combine to create an atmosphere of complete and unmitigated serenity. This is a festival for people that want to relax while they immerse themselves in music.
Want to rave hard until the early hours or sway to mellow tunes in the sunshine? The perfect festival awaits you somewhere in the world. Peruse our list. Book your tickets. And take your summer to the next level with a festival experience you’ll remember forever.
Which of these upcoming summer music festivals are you raging at this year? Let us know in the comments below!
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