Music Festivals for your Bucket List: the top 5 must see experiences

March 2021 _ Music festivals bucket list
Main art by: Isabelle Feliu @isabellefeliu

Those carefree summer days of festival dancing with your best friends may be on pause at the moment, but it doesn’t mean we can’t look forward to future festival antics, right?

THOSE CAREFREE SUMMER DAYS OF FESTIVAL DANCING WITH YOUR BEST FRIENDS MAY BE ON PAUSE AT THE MOMENT, BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN WE CAN’T LOOK FORWARD TO FUTURE FESTIVAL ANTICS, RIGHT?

The word is out that a number of International music festivals have been cancelled for the 2021 summer, or will be at the very minimum ‘toned down’ to become covid friendly. These things happen, and we’re not the type to dwell, so we’re gonna take this time to look forward to a future where we’ll be able to headbang our way around the world.

So dust off your bucket lists, and get ready to add a few of these historic and iconic international events to your list of must-see-experiences.

The word is out that a number of International music festivals have been cancelled for the 2021 summer, or will be at the very minimum ‘toned down’ to become covid friendly. These things happen, and we’re not the type to dwell, so we’re gonna take this time to look forward to a future where we’ll be able to headbang our way around the world.

So dust off your bucket lists, and get ready to add a few of these historic and iconic international events to your list of must-see-experiences. 

GLASTONBURY

Pilton, England
5 days, June
https://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/ 

Pilton, England
5 days, June
https://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/ 

It only feels fair to start with Glastonbury Festival, a five-day epic event, and the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world.

Glastonbury really is like no other, it’s huge, historic, iconic, and unforgettable. And over the last 50 years the festival has boasted some of the biggest names in show business.

Beginning way back in 1970, and originally called the Pilton Festival, the first one of it’s kind was held the day after Jimi Hendrix died (a noteworthy event for any music lover), and was enjoyed over a two day period.

Before long “word had got around” and organisers began to see a surge in popularity, now 50 years later, attendance is at around 200,000 people yearly (except for "fallow years" taken to give the land, local population, and organisers a break).

Held in Somerset, England, and regarded as a major event in British culture, The Glastonbury Festival aims to encourage and stimulate youth culture from around the world in all its forms, and inspires the ethos of the hippie, counterculture, and free festival movements.

Unforgettable Moments over the last 50 years:

Unforgettable Moments over the last 50 years:

- In 1970, the inauguration year, tickets were sold for £1.
The first ever Glastonbury Festival took place on a Farm where tickets were sold at £1 and along with entry also included free bottles of milk, fresh from the farm.

- In 1998 there was a rather sticky explosion.
During the 1998 festival, the dance tent flooded with mud. To make things right again, someone came up with the bright idea to use a toilet truck’s pipe to suck up all the mud. However, low and behold, the machine was set to blow, filling the tent with the contents of the festival toilets instead.

- 2009: Gaga's bra became a flame thrower.
2009 was Lady Gaga’s first (and so far only) appearance at the Glastonbury Festival, and she made sure to go out with a bang! Toward the end of her one hour show she proceeded to spit ‘flames’ from the bra of her costume, surely a health and safety hazard, but worth it for all the excited onlookers!

- 2016 was dubbed ‘the muddiest year ever’.
It’s not only about the music at Glastonbury, the weather can (and usually does) play a huge part, it is England after all. 2016 was no different as the days and weeks leading up to the event saw torrential rain across the country. Mud usually shows up during the festival, but this was one year that Mud became a headliner.

- JAY Z playing 'wonderwall' on the pyramid stage.
In 2008 tickets didn’t sell out immediately like other years. And the general consensus was that Jay Z wasn’t rock 'n' roll enough to headline. In typical Noel Gallagher style, he came out to say, “I’m not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong.” In response, Jay Z purposefully began his set with a lacklustre performance of Wonderwall. SNAP.

Communication is currently stating that an online Glastonbury streaming event could be a possibility this year….. Whether this happens or not, we believe The Glastonbury Festival should come in at a shiny number one on your bucket list.

Sziget

Budapest, Hungary
7 days, August
https://szigetfestival.com

The Sziget Festival (pronounced Zi-get) is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. Held every August in Budapest on a beautiful island along the Danube called Óbudai-Sziget, which translates to The Old Buda Island. It’s a convenient little hop skip and a jump from downtown Budapest.

Beginning as a relatively low-profile student event in 1993, the festival has grown to become one of Europe’s favourite escapes and has even won a number of awards!

Sziget is it’s own colourful world… from daily themed parties, to love revolutions, sziget credit cards, and party train services, this is the festival where everything has been thought about, organised and delivered to you in a perfect party bundle.

Since 1993, Sziget has made a name for itself as a music and culture festival of a magnitude very few can match, and has increasingly been labelled as a European alternative to Burning Man due to its unique features. And just like at Burning man where the attendees are called ‘burners’, Sziget is filled to the brim with “szitizens” who can even go as far as acquiring their very own Sziget passport!

Sziget reached an all-time peak in 2016 with 496,000 visitors from 95 countries, and In 2019 that record was broken once again when 565,000 ‘szitizens’ attended the festival.

The question is, will you be a Sziget Szitizen one day? 

BURNING MAN

Nevada, USA
7 days, September
https://burningman.org/

Now we may be cheating here a little, Burning Man isn’t technically a music festival, it’s a real life dystopia. Where love reigns, sharing comes first and community is the beating heart. Burning man leaves the capitalist society behind and plays by its own (10 carefully created and abided by) rules and principles.

Every year a whopping 65,000 people gather from all around the world to construct a temporary city in the middle of the Nevada desert. For the next 7 or so days they thrive as a community, make art, share food, dance, express themselves, burn things and live totally self-reliant, in harmony, free from the restraints of money.

The days offer a sweltering desert sun, the nights can be freezing cold and the experience has often been referred to as a unique spiritual journey.

The first Burning Man event took place in 1986, on Baker Beach in San Francisco, where an artist named Larry Harvey and a friend built, and then burned, an 8-foot-tall figure in celebration of that year’s Summer Solstice.

Over the next years, more and more people came out to watch the event, until local authorities felt that burning a huge man-like figure made of wicker, could be something of a fire-hazard. The festival was moved to the desert, and now thousands flock there yearly to enjoy the burning of a large wooden effigy and all that the act symbolically represents.

The event is guided by ten principles, as outlined by Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey in 2004:

The event is guided by ten principles, as outlined by Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey in 2004:

- Radical Inclusion.
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

- Gifting.
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.

- Decommodification.
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

- Radical Self-reliance.
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

- Radical Self-expression.
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

- Communal Effort.
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

- Civic Responsibility.
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

- Leaving No Trace.
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

- Participation.
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.

- Immediacy.
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.


Remember - Burning Man is not a festival. Burning Man is a community. A temporary city. A global cultural movement and if you want to participate, you need to live by these 10 principles.

Still game?

Add it to the bucket list!

Roskilde

Roskilde, Denmark
8 days, June/July
https://www.roskilde-festival.dk/en/

The story goes that it all started in 1971, when a pair of Danish high school students having seen the incredible success that festivals Woodstock and the Monterey Pop Festival had experienced, decided to begin their own music gathering, in the quiet town of Roskilde, Denmark.

Originally it was named the Sound Festival, and the first year saw roughly 20 bands (ranging from folk, jazz, rock and pop genres) play over two days. And a whopping 20,000 visitors walked through the door - pretty incredible for the first year!

Since then Roskilde Festival has hosted some of the biggest names within the music scene, artists like Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, Basement Jaxx, Iron Maiden, U2, Eminem, Chemical Brothers have appeared on the main stage, along with many other equally famous legends.

The festival is held annually, attracting approximately 130,000 festival-goers, and likes to think of itself as “much more than a music festival” more of a “space for experiences in an atmosphere of freedom and social responsibility”.

In 1972, after the high-school students Mogens Sandfær, Jesper Switzer Møller, and promoter Carl Fischer began the festival, it was taken over by the Roskilde Foundation, which has since run the festival as a non-profit organization for development and support of music, culture and humanism.
Bucket List worthy? 

COACHELLA

California, USA
April
https://www.coachella.com/

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is an annual event held in a valley (called Coachella obvs) in Indio, California, about 23 miles from Palm Springs. Since its inaugural year in 1999, the festival has grown tremendously and features many genres of music, including rock, pop, indie, hip hop and electronic dance music.

The story of how the festival came to be in our lives, sure is a good one. And like many good ideas, Coachella’s origins came in the form of an injustice and a deep need for change.

It all started when Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam, reportedly became tired of the charges that Ticketmaster were passing on to fans that wanted to see them live in concert. He set out to find a way to play to his audience and bypass the exorbitant extra fees. Which led to the band performing at the Empire Polo Club grounds (where Coachella is held) in 1993.Music executives Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen saw how successful the Pearl Jam concert was, and Coachella was born.

In 2017 the festival broke its record with takings of over $114 million, hosting 125,000 guests per weekend and, in 2018, selling out in less than three hours!

The festival's origins trace back to a 1993 concert that Pearl Jam performed at the Empire Polo Club while boycotting venues controlled by Ticketmaster. The show validated the site's viability for hosting large events, leading to the inaugural Coachella Festival being held over the course of two days in October 1999, three months after Woodstock '99. After no event was held in 2000, Coachella returned on an annual basis beginning in April 2001 as a single-day event.

In 2002, the festival reverted to a two-day format. Coachella was expanded to a third day in 2007 and eventually a second weekend in 2012; it is now held on consecutive three-day weekends in April, with the same lineup each weekend. Organizers began permitting spectators to camp on the grounds in 2003, one of several expansions and additions in the festival's history.

Coachella showcases popular and established musical artists as well as emerging artists and reunited groups. It is one of the largest, most famous, and most profitable music festivals in the United States and the world. Each Coachella staged from 2013 to 2015 set new records for festival attendance and gross revenues.

Our intention certainly wasn’t to make you feel like you’re missing out, but simply to look forward to the next time we are all free to roam, with festival outfits on, lineup schedule in hand and our feet ready for days filled with carefree dancing.

Gosh, doesn’t that sound good.
We hope to see you on a dirty dancefloor sooner rather than later.

We’d love to know - have you been to any of these incredible events? Would you recommend another bucket-list-must music festival? Remember to write in the comments below!

“We do not
inherit the
Earth from our
Ancestors, we
borrow it from
our children”

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