The Best Festivals To Build A Holiday Around
Austin City Limits, Texas, US. Photograph by Mr Roger Ho
From Australia to Croatia, plan your summer vacation with these music weekenders in mind .
You don’t have to be a vinyl junkie to know that the business of music festivals has boomed louder than a kick drum in the past few years. Due to a perfect storm of social-media buzz, aggressive ticketing prices and an ever-swelling diversity of musical genres, festival organisers are drawing mammoth audiences who are prepared to break the internet in pursuit of those cherished weekend passes (see the likes of Lollapalooza in Chicago, Coachella in Palm Springs, and of course, Glastonbury, which kicks off today, in the UK – assuming that everybody has made it through the traffic by now).
As more cities realise the benefits to their own tourist trade, many casual music fans aren’t just turning to these events for three days of craft beers, croaky voices and all-nighters, they’re building their holidays around them. For travellers, a far-flung festival can be a blissed-out prelude to some intrepid exploring. Here are eight stellar events that will turn us all into Rolling Stones or Travelling Wilburys.
Photograph courtesy Nos Alive
Where? Lisbon, Portugal
When? 7-9 July, 2016
Headline acts? The Chemical Brothers, Radiohead, Arcade Fire
Why go? Nos Alive is hands-down one of the best line-ups of the summer for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the greatest bands on the planet. Headliners aside, there’ll be riff-heavy appearances by the likes of Wolf Alice, The 1975, Pixies, Tame Impala and Foals. More importantly, with train and bus services the site is only eight minutes from the architectural dream of downtown Lisbon, including the cobbled streets of the medieval Alfama district, the custard tarts of Belem, and the watering holes of Bairro Alto (the city’s answer to London’s Soho, where you can drink on the streets until the early hours). A further seven minutes away is an ocean ripe for sunbathing and surf.
Where to stay? Bairro Alto HotelAwarded with the fourth best hotel-terrace view in the world, Bairro Alto’s secluded rooftop will kick off the post-festival recuperation process with immediate effect
What to wear
Photograph by Riot Jazz
Where? Tisno, Croatia
When? 4-8 August, 2016
Headline acts? Mala, Pharoahe Monch, Calibre
Why go? A slice of paradise in the middle of the Adriatic, Croatia has become a hotbed for sunseekers and sailors, as well as live music. Soundwave is widely considered its finest offering due to its unbeatable electronic bookings and location just outside a quiet fishing village in the remote realm of Tisno. Once you’ve danced till dawn, there are hangover cures in the form of snorkelling, diving, boat rental, and trips to the nearby islands. Krka’s waterfalls (a 40-minute drive away) and Kornati (accessible by boat) are worth a trip, as well as the hideaway of Beach Sv Andrija (St Andrew Beach) with its gorgeous coves and clear blue water. Also, which other music festivals are within a stone’s throw from horse riding on the beach?
Photograph by Mr Tom Lund/Slottsfjell
Where? Tønsberg, Norway
When? 13-16 July, 2016
Headline acts? Mr Jake Bugg, Grimes, Wiz Khalifa
Why go? From the screaming rage of Bring Me The Horizon to the cult indie of Mr Thurston Moore, there’s something visceral for all at Slottsfjell. It brings the noise to one of Norway’s most stunning settings in the heart of Tønsberg, a rural village built around a tower and an old fortress that’s been used as a location for blockbusters such as Thor and Captain America. When the live music ends on the main stages, head across the harbour and join one of the three warehouse after-parties. The line-up is organised by P3, Norway’s broadcasting equivalent of BBC Radio 1’s In New Music We Trust and will feature the likes of Jackmaster, Mr Unge Ferrari and Mr George FitzGerald this year, rendering it one of Europe’s most exciting clubs, never mind a great after-party spot. Only a couple of hours from Oslo by express bus, you also have the option to take in the Viking Ship Museum, or a cruise in the Oslofjord.
SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS
Photograph by Ms Savannah van der Niet
Where? North Byron Parklands, Australia
When? 22-24 July, 2016
Headline acts? The Strokes, The Cure, Flume
Why go? Getting the chance to witness Tegan & Sara, Mr James Blake and Fat White Family will make you the envy of your mates back home. That’s before you tell them you’ve been at a festival in Byron Bay. The site boasts after-hours areas such as the Tipi Forest, an outdoor dance haven with an unforgettable moonlit atmosphere due to its surrounding interactive art, light shows, and tipis to crash out in once you’ve raved your socks off. The location in Yelgun is just a 15-minute drive from the Bay. Beyond the beach culture, you can kayak alongside dolphins and experience some of the best deep-sea diving in Australia close up at Julian Rocks. Take in sunrises by the lighthouse, or a trippy trip to Nimbin, a town that’s been stuck in a 1970s hippie timewarp since its establishment.
Photograph by Mr Balázs Mohai/szigetfestival.com
Where? Budapest, Hungary
When? 10-17 August, 2016
Headline acts? Rihanna, Muse, Mr David Guetta
Why go? You don’t get bigger than Barbados’ finest, and the planet’s most in-demand DJ. That aside, Sziget is one of the most hyped festivals anywhere – think of it as the Glastonbury of Eastern Europe – and with seven days of performance from acts as diverse as Sia, The Lumineers and Mr Noel Gallagher, there’s bound to be something in your iTunes on one of its stages. Dubbed the “Island of Freedom”, the celebrations take place in the middle of the Danube, making it the ideal opportunity to explore this gem of a city. You can get a Citypass with your ticket for free public transport throughout your stay. Don’t miss out on the Hungarian Parliament – home to the Crown Jewels. Head to Budapest’s District VI and VII around Kazinczy and Dohány street to the so-called “ruin” bars for a self-prescribed pub crawl. Take in secret spots such as the Fogasház Bar, located on a discarded Soviet cruiser that now also features a live music venue and restaurant. Top it off with a trip to the Turkish baths for a well-needed after after-party cleanse.
WAY OUT WEST
Photograph by Mr Olle Kirchmeier. Hotel Pigalle photograph by Ms Semra Dedic
Where? Gothenburg, Sweden
When? 11-13 August, 2016
Headline acts? Massive Attack, Jamie xx, Stormzy
Why go? If you’re looking for legends, there’s Morrissey and PJ Harvey; if you’re searching for future stadium-fillers there’s Chvrches and Haim; if you’re seeking something more bombastic there’s M83, Mr Jack Garratt and the inimitable Ms Grace Jones. Slottskogen (the festival site) is an easy walk from the main station of Gothenburg, an idyllic countryside setting that turns up the volume after-hours for the aptly titled Stay Out West part of the programme, which this year has late-night gig bookings in venues around the city from a diverse array of top-notch talent including Dua Lipa, Anderson Paak, Peaches and Sleaford Mods. Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, boasts Michelin-starred dining in the sky-high 360-degree experience of Upper House or at SK, an open kitchen where the chefs themselves bring your plates for you. Don’t forget about the craggy archipelago and Gothenburg’s myriad fishing villages (the oldest of which is called Byn and dates back to 1752), and lots of brilliant shops selling interior design gems, vintage clothing and gourmet food, plus the fish market Feskekörka, which literally means “Fish Church”.
Photograph by Mr Stephan Flad
Where? Berlin, Germany
When? 10-11 September, 2016
Who are the headline acts? Radiohead, Kings Of Leon, Major Lazer
Why go? Lollapalooza has traditionally taken place in Chicago, but in recent years the festival, which was first curated in 1991 by Mr Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, has ventured overseas, and Berlin (alongside Bogotá, Colombia) is the latest city to temporarily house it. Located in Treptower Park, along the River Spree on the eastern side of Berlin, it’s set to wow your eardrums with the combined power of New Order, Zedd and Kings Of Leon. The Lolla fun fair also ensures plenty of circus acts if that’s your vibe. Beyond the festival is Berlin itself, a city that thrives on sophistication in art, food and cutting-edge nightlife. Head to the neighbourhood of Neukolln, and bars such as Damensalon, which is tiny and was once a women’s hair salon, or Beuster Bar, a restaurant/bar which serves excellent schnitzel and espresso martinis. If you’re looking for local markets, Mauerpark is a favourite among true Berlin residents, a Sunday-long junk bazaar full of curiosities.
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS
Photograph by Mr Greg Noire. Heywood Hotel photograph by Mr Casey Dunn
Where? Austin, US
When? 30 September to 2 October and 7-9 October, 2016
Who are the headline acts? Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem
Why go? Austin City Limits (ACL) takes place in Zilker Park, near the main stretch of Austin, Texas, over two weekends. Being as you are a massive music fan, you’ll know that Austin in particular has earned its stripes in the past decade (it calls itself “the live music capital of the world”) with its annual South By Southwest festival in March and its hundreds of bars and venues. In addition to the historic stages here (the blues bars date back to the 1950s), Austin is famous for food (especially barbecue, with Franklin Barbecue often cited as the cream of the crop when it comes to brisket in particular) and its river, upon which you can partake in “tubing” with a bottle in hand – or you can float down Rainey street instead, mixing with the locals in one of the many wooden chalet bars.
Where to stay? Heywood HotelWith all the best restaurants and bars located less than one mile away – and the fact that the hotel’s concierge is made up of local experts – you can rest assured that you won’t miss a beat while in Austin
What to wear