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Arts + Culture

16 of Summer’s Best Music Fests

Nothing announces summer’s arrival quite like an outdoor music festival. And with the season approaching and tickets selling out fast, it's time to make some decisions. To help you out, we've rounded up 16 of the world’s best.

Photo by Csudai Sándor

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

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The holy grail of American music festivals, Coachella, kicked off on Friday, April 15th this year, effectively setting "festival season" in motion.

Though we admit Coachella is worthy of its spot on the festival hierarchy, we’d like to shine the light on some others deserving of a place in the ranks. Trust us, from bluegrass set against Colorado’s San Juan mountains to a heavy-hitting alt roster on an idyllic Canadian island – there are plenty of other fests worth tuning into this summer.

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**Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts** June 22-26 | Somerset, UK

Lineup: Adele, Muse, Coldplay, M83, Santigold, Band of Horses, Art Garfunkel, Earth, Wind & Fire, Grimes, CHVRCHES, AlunaGeorge

Were you one of the 10 million+ fans who bombarded Ticketmaster last December in the hopes of snagging a coveted seat at one of Adele's North American tour dates? If so, chances are you were also one of the 9 million that didn't make the cut (only 750,000 tickets were available). Now's your chance to hit the reset button. Pull on some wellies and a parka (the fest is notoriously rainy and muddy) and head to Glastonbury where Adele, Muse and Coldplay are headlining, and brace yourself for the likelihood of rubbing elbows with hip British celebs like Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Alexa Chung and James Corden. Glasto-goers – starlets and normies alike – are known for turning the 900-acre festival ground into a sea of tents and teepees, transforming the quiet fields and peaceful village of Pilton into a 5-day rager. Regular tickets are sold out, but re-sale will start in April, so keep an eye on the site and follow @GlastoFest on Twitter for deets.

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Photo by Matt Lief Anderson


**Pitchfork** July 15-17 | Union Park, Chicago

Lineup: Beach House, Broken Social Scene, Empress OF, FKA Twigs, Circuit des Yeux, Thundercat, Sufjan Stevens, Holy Ghost!

Hosted by Pitchfork Media – "The most trusted voice in music" – Pitchfork Fest is a highly-curated gig of alt rock, electronica, dance and experimental artists sure to indulge the most plugged-in, indie-hungry listeners. This year, the festival hasn't released who's headlining, but instead unleashed their artists in one mass list. (We're most excited for Beach House's dreamily hypnotic beats and singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens' folksy tracks.) Those overwhelmed by the descending masses of Glastonbury, Coachella and Sziget will also be pleased with Pitchfork's manageable crowds – attendance usually peaks around 20,000. Single-day passes are $65, while three-day passes are $165. Follow @PitchforkFest on Twitter for updates and info and use their official hashtag, #P4KFest.

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**Electric Daisy Carnival** May 14-15 | NYC

Lineup: Adventure Club, Afrojack, Bro Safari, Dada Life, Liquid Todd, Marshmello, Sleepy Tom, David Guetta, Zedd

Iterations of EDC have popped up all around the US (Texas, New Jersey, Colorado, California, etc.) and world (Mexico, Brazil, Japan), cementing its standing as the largest electronic festival outside of Europe. The New York offshoot is one of the Eastern seaboard's best, and though past years' lineups have skewed heavily toward club-favored EDM acts, recently, the festival has done some fine-tuning. This year, featured sets include Australian cellist-turned-DJ Alison Wonderland, "dirty disco" trailblazer Throttle, and Amsterdam trap trio Yellow Claw, but no matter the artist, be ready to rage and rave. Weekend passes go for $225; follow @InsomniacEvents on Twitter for updates.

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Photo by Sue Holland


**Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts** July 29-31 | Montreal

Lineup: Beirut, Bloc Party, Borns, Disclosure, Future, Grimes, Lana Del Rey, Radiohead, St. Lucia, The Paper Kites, Walk the Moon

Year after year, Osheaga is up there with the best as far as lineups go. This summer's list summons folk favorites Beirut and The Lumineers, indie pop pleasers Walk the Moon and Lana Del Rey, and rock royalty Radiohead and Red Hot Chili Peppers, all proof that the festival is capable of cohesively navigating something-for-everyone waters. It also doesn't hurt that the Virgin Mobile-sponsored festival is set in the idyllic Parc-Jean Drapeau on the Ile Ste-Hélène, surrounded by bucolic gardens and local art installations. The fest is pretty manageable with about 40,000 people each day. If you're not sure how to choose between emerging artists (with 30-minute sets) and headliners you already love (with 90-minute sets) use Osheaga's personal music recommender to figure it out. Three-day tickets go for roughly $238; follow @Osheaga on Twitter for updates.

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**Telluride Bluegrass Festival** June 16-19 | Telluride, CO

Lineup: The Oh Hellos, Emmylou Harris, Neil Finn, John Prine, Sam Bush Band, Bela Fleck & The Fleckstones, The Telluride House Band

The annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival has been bringing American bluegrass bands and local Telluride acts together for four days of music set against a stunning San Juan mountain range backdrop since 1973. The festival's 43rd year (like others before it) happens to coincide with the summer solstice, making it the perfect excuse for a camping trip, or to simply check out Telluride's sweet digs during the ski town's offseason. Tickets are selling out quick (those festivarians aren't playing around), but you might still have time to grab an $80 day pass for Thursday or Friday (or check stubhub for other options). Follow @PlanetBluegrass on Twitter for updates.

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**Bestival** September 8-11 | Isle of Wight, UK

Lineup: The Cure, Major Lazer, Hot Chip, Fatboy Slim, Diplo, Bastille, Animal Collective.

When a festival is curated by BBC Radio 1 royalty Rob da Bank, you know the music is going to be top-notch. Critically-acclaimed Bestival is held on the Isle of Wight, just off England's south coast, and aside from offering a mix of live music (The Cure, Bastille, Animal Collective) and DJs (Diplo, Fatboy Slim, Chris Tofu), the festival has a couple of tricks up its sleeve when it comes to setting itself apart. This year, Bestival welcomes special guest Lucha VaVOOM – a hybrid lucha libre/burlesque/acrobat/comedy exhibition match – to perform in their big top, and as always, they'll host their long-running "fancy dress competition" (which for non-Brits, we're talking Halloween-esque costumes, not ballgowns). Prior to the festival, fans can share their Bestival-style garb on Twitter using #FancyDressFriday for the chance to win tickets and merch. Adult weekend passes go for £200; follow @Bestival for updates.

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**Boston Calling** May 27-29 | Boston, MA

Lineup: Sia, Sufjan Stevens, Miike Snow, City and Colour, Robyn, Disclosure, Elle King, Janelle Monae, HAIM, The Front Bottoms

Before Boston Calling set up shop on the steps of City Hall Plaza (minutes from Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, and the drool-worthy cannolis of Beantown's North End) in 2013, the urban sprawl was seriously lacking in the music fest department. Three years down the line – the multi-stage event has won over college crowds with a lineup chock full of indie/folk/EDM darlings and a simple two-stage venue just intimate enough that you don't need to migrate every hour to catch the best show. Three-day tickets run for $185, while one-day general admission is $60-$85, depending on the day (pre-sale tickets go up May 1st). Follow @Boston_Calling for festival deets.

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Photo by Alexander Matukhno


**Iceland Airwaves** November 2-6 | Reykjavik, Iceland

Lineup: Axel Flovent, GKR, Julia Holter, Kronos Quartet, Lush, PJ Harvey, Sturla Atlas, Mammut, Mr Silla, Mum

Once a simple festival held in a vacant airport hangar, Iceland Airwaves has quickly transformed into the country's premiere music event. With a local-heavy lineup dotted with perfectly-curated international acts, and venues spread across the city's urban and natural landscape (including a cornerstone set at the Blue Lagoon, the country's most famous geothermal spa), the five-day festival caters to an in-the-know set of music's elite – and is the perfect excuse to extend festival season well past its summer limits. If you'll be traveling internationally, check out their package deals which include festival passes and Icelandair tickets, otherwise, five-day tickets go for about $160. Follow @IcelandAirwaves on Twitter for updates.

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**The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival** April 22-24 & April 28-May 1 | New Orleans

Lineup: Steely Dan, Janelle Monae, Michael McDonald, Pearl Jam, Van Morrison, Brandi Carlisle, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell is one of the most well-rounded on our list. Held over two weekends, it features standard NOLA-rooted jazz, bluegrass and zydeco music as well as a handful of big-name headliners and iconic singer/songwriters (never stop, Paul Simon). Lineup aside, we're absolutely infatuated with the event's food – a far cry from typical festival/carnival fare – the most enticing being Cajun Jambalaya, Po-Boys of every variety, boiled crawfish, Cuban sandwiches and fluffy beignets. Optimize your experience by creating your own custom schedule and be sure to leave time for a parade or a Native American pow wow or two. Regular advanced day passes go for $65 online or $75 at the gate (children's tickets are $5 at the gate, only); follow @jazzfest on Twitter for updates.

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**Summerfest** June 29-July 3 & July 5-10 | Milwaukee

Lineup: Weezer, Luke Bryan, Alabama Shakes, Panic! At the Disco, Selena Gomez, Blake Shelton, Barenaked Ladies, Indigo Girls, Blue Oyster Cult

If you're looking for a low-key shindig, Summerfest is not for you. But if you're looking to jam out to 90 headliners – commercial superstars, industry favorites and emerging talent – at the world's largest music festival (they're Guinness verified)...then get your tickets while you still can. The lakefront Wisconsin fest usually attracts 800k-1 million visitors, and with 800 acts and 11 stages, it's easy to see why. The 75-acre Henry Maier Festival Park has received a generous facelift over the last few years, with $35 million poured into redevelopment, so grab a Miller Lite and a spot on the pristine pavilion. General passes allow admission to festival grounds and all of the shows except for those held at the Marcus Amphitheater (separate tickets are necessary). One-day passes are only $20, and at a complete steal – 11-day power passes are $80. For all the pre-fest updates you could ever want, follow Summerfest on Twitter @Summerfest.

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**Pohoda Festival** July 7-9 | Trenčín, Slovakia

Lineup: The Vaccines, Nina Kraviz, PJ Harvey, Flying Lotus, Gogol Bordello, Sigur Ros, Odesza

This year's Pohoda brings to the stage Finnish trio Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS? (or HYESTJFAVHS for short) which has us all but convinced that this is the festival for us. The Slovakian affair is a cross-genre mish mosh, with artists spanning just about every musical style including rock, pop, world, techno and chamber. Also, turns out that Iceland Airwaves isn't the only fest fond of the airport – the open-air Pohoda happens to be held at Trenčín Airport. Between sets, check out theater, film, ballet, and literature presentations, or catch a discussion led by a local NGO. Three-day tickets are 89€, camping included. Follow @PohodaOfficial for the most up-to-date festival info.

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**Movement** May 28-30 | Detroit, MI

Lineup: Calico, Ectomorph, Kill the Noise, Dilemma, Bixel Boys, Tale of Us, The Black Madonna, Tiga, What So Not, Tin Man

To truly celebrate techno music, you have to go to the source: Detroit, and if you've never been, what better time to go than Movement's 10th anniversary. The three-day riverfront event is one of the more affordable large-scale music festivals, bringing together some of the biggest names in techno, garage and house music. Movement notoriously pays homage to hometown heroes – Visionquest – made up of local DJs Shaun Reeves, Ryan Crosson and Lee Curtiss – is on the bill this year – while also bringing out industry faves like Kraftwerk, Adam Beyer and Dubfire. Last year's attendance surpassed 100,000, but the six-stage setup keeps festival-goers in check. Three-day tickets go for $175 (single-day passes are $75); follow @MovementDetroit on Twitter for updates.

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Photo by Forest Woodward


**Governors Ball** June 3-5 | Randall's Island, NYC

Lineup: Kanye, The Killers, The Strokes, Death Cab for Cutie, HAIM, Of Monsters and Men, Matt and Kim, Lord Huron, Cold War Kids, Misterwives, Miike Snow, Bat for Lashes

GovBall hit the scene in June 2011 with a modest one-day lineup that drew 18,000 festival-goers, and since then, they’ve been on the eternal up and up (they got Kanye, y’all). This year, the fest is prepped to impress with an incredibly strong roster of hip hop, indie pop, EDM, and alt rock artists – get excited for some post-punk jams by way of The Strokes, rhythmic rock from sister-trio HAIM (and check out Baby Haim’s dance moves), and what’s sure to be a high-octane set from Matt and Kim (seriously – they’re two Energizer bunnies come to life). Three-day general admission (with fees) rounds out to $345, while single day admission runs at $135. Keep up with @GovBallNYC on Twitter for all the need-to-knows.

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**Lollapalooza** July 28-31 | Grant Park, Chicago

Lineup: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Lana Del Rey, J. Cole, Future, Grimes, The 1975, Halsey, Die Antwoord, Ellie Goulding

Come July, Lolla will be packing Grant Park with 8 stages and 170 bands, a feat observed in celebration of their 25th year. Normally a three-day event, the festival is upping their game, adding a fourth day to accommodate more artists and fans. More than music, the fest is also known for rolling out a slew of other crowd-pleasing pop-ups. There's Chow Town, a section dedicated to Chi-Town’s best fare, Kidzapalooza, a separate family-friendly fest-within-a-fest geared towards kids, and the Green Street Art Market with fair trade goods, vintage finds, and organic apparel. On the ticket front, we have a bad news/good news situation – general admission passes have sold out on the site (check StubHub for resale) but VIP and Platinum tickets are still available if you want to throw down. Follow @Lollapalooza on Twitter for updates.

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**Sziget Festival** August 10-17 | Budapest, Hungary

Lineup: Rihanna, Bastille, CHVRCHES, Jess Glynne, David Guetta, Muse, Sia, The Lumineers, Kaiser Chiefs, The Neighbourhood

Sziget started way back in 1993 and has since evolved from an ambitious fan-run affair into one of Europe's most storied musical and cultural events; due in no part, we're sure, to the fact that it takes place on Óbuda – an island on the never-ending Danube. Each year, the crowd-pleaser draws a huge audience with its diverse lineup, and last year, the fest saw about 440,000 visitors, an impressive number that will likely be toppled by this year's eager szitizens. Look for environmentally conscious art on the festival grounds; there's the 82-foot long 'Dragon of Freedom,' an illuminated lizard made from recycled soda bottles; the 'Magic Field' installation of sun-blocking iron and yarn leaves; wire mushroom stools for resting; and plenty of sweater-sporting trees. Sziget one-day tickets are 59€, five-day are 215€, or if you're really feeling it, 249€ for the whole week. Stay in the know by following @SzigetOfficial on Twitter.

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**Roskilde Festival** June 25-July 2 | Roskilde, Denmark

Lineup: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, LCD Soundsystem, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tame Impala, Wiz Khalifa, Tenacious D

Another long-running fest, Roskilde hit the scene in 1971, and was basically billed as Denmark's version of Woodstock. Though the hippie-oriented festival played largely to Scandinavian crowds during the first decade of its inception, it has since managed to draw a considerable international audience. This year, the festival is set to continue its stride with 8 days of music delivered by 175 bands across 9 stages. Appearances from coveted 2016 artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and LCD Soundsystem, as well as a rounded cast of beloved niche artists, make it apparent that 45 years in the biz teaches you a thing or two about a lineup. A one-day ticket will set you back about $150, or a discounted eight-day pass goes for about $300. Follow @orangefeeling on Twitter for updates and info.



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