2016 Music Festivals Worth Traveling For

Music Festivals, Travel Guides -

2016 Music Festivals Worth Traveling For

Music festivals are good—for the soul, for the mind, and for the spirit. So then, which ones are worth traveling around the country (or across the globe) for this year?

There are the usual suspects of course—the high profile events that, in this day and age, seem to attract festivalgoers who are more keen on dressing up for Instagram photo ops than getting lost in the actual music—think Coachella, Burning Man, SXSW, Ultra, and Glastonbury. While many of these festivals still serve up first-class musical entertainment (this year, legendary hard-rock band Guns N’ Roses will reunite after 20 years on Coachella’s main stage, and Glastonbury 2016’s lineup includes names such as Kanye West, the Foo Fighters, FKA Twigs and the Who), music festivals have become more of a spectacle than a unifying experience. What once consisted of shirtless, crowd surfing youths covered in mud has transformed into a fashionable experience, a place to see and be seen. Supermodel tribes, in $150 rain boots and designer denim cutoffs, rent caravans loaded with electricity and plush beds, or stay in the luxurious tents, pop-up hotels, and tent house suites provided by festivals like Glastonbury, in Somerset, England.

Photographer Cherly Dunn’s latest book, appropriately titled Music Festivals Are Good states that “To me festival experiences are about the people you share them with, the kids crammed front and center who saved their money for a year to be there, the older fans sitting on tricked out lawn chairs whose friends think they are crazy for still going. The cross section of nerds, jocks, babes, stoners, hipsters, outcasts, letting it all hang out in unabashed glory, all sharing a common love of music. There is a collective transcendence that happens.” Sadly, that is not always the case today. High-profile festivals are notorious for charging sky-high prices (and, whilst there, charging festivalgoers in any way they can), and attracting crowds of models and young actresses, rather than the music-obsessives and die-hard groupies previous decades had seen. Good new is, there are still a plethora of festivals spread out across the world where a piece of that “unabashed glory” and “collective transcendence” still exists—you just need to look a little harder (and maybe travel a little further) to experience them. We’ve done the work for you—so scroll through our gallery for the ultimate guide to music festivals worth traveling for.

Festival d’été de Québec, Canada

July 7-17, 2016

300 stages, 10 shows, 11 days; that’s what the Quebec City Summer Festival encompasses. The festival, which is held in the vastly underrated city of Quebec, combines family and adult entertainment, a parade, street performances, and more. This year, the festival is focusing on going “carbon neutral”—which you can read more about here. This year, headliners include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting, and Peter Gabriel. As if you needed another reason to go, an 11-day Festival Pass, which permits access to all the shows and headliners, will set you back less than $75. Don’t forget to explore the charming, European-inspired streets and feast on delicious French-Québécois cuisine while there. 

Sziget in Budapest, Hungary


August 10-17, 2016

Sziget—which translates into ‘island’ in Hungarian—is one of Europe’s largest festivals. It boasts multiple food stalls, a store, and even its own “ruin pubs,” which are local to Budapest. The festival is in some ways reminiscent of Burning Man, with its numerous art installations, but is set amongst a green island, surrounded by water instead of the harsh desert of Black Rock City. Balloons and seizure-inducing lights are aplenty, but with a lineup including David Guetta, such is to be expected. Other acts performing this year include Bloc Party, Sigur Rós, Muse, and M83. To get to the island, opt for the Sziget-Budapest City Pass, instead of trying to swim across the Danube River, like other attendees have done (and regretted) in the past.

Lollapalooza Brazil in São Paulo, Brazil


March 12-13, 2016

Eminem may not be the first artist you associate with Brazil, but he is headlining this year’s Lollapalooza music festival, taking place at the Interlagos Race Track in São Paulo. This year’s lineup also features Florence + the Machine, Mumford & Sons, Snoop Dogg, Tame Impala, Alabama Shakes, and many more. Still eager for a samba fix? Head to Samba Saturdays when live music takes over the city’s bars every Saturday. When you buy your plane ticket, make time for visits to the São Paulo Art Museum, eating in the city’s restaurants, and shopping in the outdoor markets that fill Avenida Paulista.

For the ultimate South American musical tour, include Lollapalooza’s other outposts in Santiago, Buenos Aires,and Colombia in your itinerary. 

Roskilde in Roskilde, Denmark


June 25 to July 2, 2016

This year, the Danish music festival will see the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music perform—an occasion so unique, it’s worth the trip to the country alone. Another event that incorporates art, community, food, and architecture, Roskilde takes place in the city it's named after, and hosts a naked run—which is exactly what it sounds like. Stars on this year’s lineup include the newly reunited LCD Soundsystem, New Order, Wiz Khalifa, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (For more on Scandinavian music festivals, read here.)

Benicàssim in Benicàssim, Spain


July 14-17, 2016

Touted as one of the best music festivals in Europe, this year’s Benicàssim lineup is hard to beat: Massive Attack, Kendrick Lamar, and the Chemical Brothers, are to perform, to name a few. Being in Spain, you can expect delicious food to be served, though it’s still worth taking some time away from the noise to venture into the city for fresh seafood, at restaurants like Les Barraques or Lindau. While camping is the preferred option at the festival (there is also the option of “glamping”) many attendees wind up catching some sandy sleep on the beach.

Austin City Limits in Austin, Texas

September 20 to October 2 and October 7-9, 2016

Nicknamed the ‘Live Music Capital of the World,’ Austin is well-known for its excellent and diverse music scene. SXSW, one of the country’s best-known festivals, is held in the city, but Austin City Limits is the festival that really stands out—something hard to do in a city of music. This year’s lineup includes top tier names like Drake, Disclosure, the Strokes, Florence + the Machine, and the Weeknd. But music isn’t the only thing to submerge yourself in while at ACL—local and international vendors serve up delicious food that appeals to carnivores, vegetarians, gluten sensitives, and sugar addicts alike. While there, don’t forget to venture out and explore the city’s music and culinary scene, too, at restaurants like Franklin BBQ and music venues like The Continental Club.

Sasquatch in Quincy, Washington

May 27-30, 2016

The sunsets at the annual Sasquatch Music Festival are almost as famous as the music. Set in the eastern stretch of the Columbia River Gorge, the festival site is carved out of the basalt rock that lines the Columbia River, which lazily rolls behind the main stage. It’s an idyllic setting to camp out and see some of the best bands in the world. This year’s musical headliners include The Cure, Florence + the Machine, Major Lazer, Alabama Shakes, Grimes, and a comedy lineup so good that it alone would be worth the two-hour drive from Seattle.

Sonar in Barcelona, Spain


June 16-18, 2016

Located in Barcelona, the Sonar Music Festival is one of the most advanced in Europe. This year’s festival will encompass art and technology, which makes it more of a cultural event than just a music festival. But music lovers shouldn't fret. This year’s lineup includes acts like New Order, Santigold, Laurent Garnier, and Ed Banger. If the food, architecture, and stunning surroundings aren’t enough to inspire a trip to Barcelona, let this year’s Sonar do that for you. 

Exit in Novi Sad, Serbia

July 7-10, 2016

One of the best-known and most dynamic festival experiences in Europe, Exit, which was founded amongst a political movement driven by students, brings in big names from the rock, pop, and electronic worlds alike. We’re still waiting on the full lineup to be released, but headliners like Wiz Khalifa and Bastille have already been confirmed, and past acts include Guns N’ Roses, the White Stripes, the Arctic Monkeys, and Patti Smith. Set in the Petrovaradin Fortress, Exit has won various awards over the years, and remains one of the top music festivals worth traveling far—very far—to each year.

Meadows in the Mountains in Rhodopes Mountains, Bulgaria


June 10-13, 2016

Held in Bulgaria’s stunning Rhodopes Mountains, Meadows in the Mountains brings together up-and-coming artists and like-minded individuals for a three-day celebration of music, nature, and art. Yoga is practiced, faces are painted, and WiFi is nil. For those looking to get a little slice of Woodstock ’69, this may be as close as you can get. Plus, who else can really say they travelled to Bulgaria for a mountaintop love fest?

Curated by Jesse Delgrosse at Gringos On The Run