Got a bucket list wish to travel the world listening to great music and experiencing other cultures while you’re at it? Here’s a list of the top music festivals you can find around the globe.
There’s a little something for everybody, including gatherings where those over 35 won’t feel ancient and others that are great to take your kids along to. Dance, electronica, alternative, pop, rock, hip-hop, country, jazz, classical, world music? Take your pick.
A note on my choices: While there are great festivals out there that include music concerts along with art, food, culture, media, and more, we’re sticking to festivals where music is the primary or sole focus. So no South by Southwest, Burning Man or Art Basel will be found here.
This ranking is entirely subjective, based on where the most unique array of acts is appearing today in the most distinctive venues with the best missions. How would you rank them?
Roskilde is the biggest music festival in Northern Europe and one of the oldest (it was first called the Sound Festival). It’s also become known for an accompanying event called the Naked Run — which is exactly what it sounds like — and for being 100-percent nonprofit, with all proceeds being donated. Progressive music dominates the festival but it certainly doesn’t discriminate against other genres. Roskilde goes down every year in late June/early July. The 2019 slated headliners included Bob Dylan, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott, Vampire Weekend, The Cure and Janelle Monae.
Rainforest World Music Festival
This Malaysian music festival takes place at Sarawak Cultural Village, in a rainforest near a beach, which sounds like the most out-of-this-world location for a concert setting. It’s gone from tiny (300 people) to huge (more than 20,000) in the 21 years it’s been around. In a change from some other festivals, families are actually welcomed to the Rainforest World Music Festival, too. This is one of the most diverse and authentic of the music festivals you’ll ever go too. And because of its venue, it’ll never get overwhelmingly large.