From Poland to Portland, here are 14 festivals to visit this year
It’s Christmastime for music fans.
No, not because there’s a new Michael Jackson album coming or because Miley Cyrus is on tour, but because music festival season is upon us. That means for the price of a ticket to, say, Lollapalooza, fans can see Eminem, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, Pixies, Nine Inch Nails, Outkast, Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, Calvin Harris and Foster the People — all in one place. It’s well worth the investment for a devoted music fan, which is why Coachella, Bumbershoot, All Tomorrow’s Parties and Governor’s Ball have all become mandatory stops for music enthusiasts. Even Hanson is getting in on the festivities, kicking off The Hop Jam (and selling their Mmmhops beer) in their home state of Oklahoma and Merge Records is marking their 25th anniversary with a festival of their own — Merge 25 Fest.
For those looking for even more bang for their buck, international festivals allow travelers to combine global tourism with incredible music, like at the World DJ Festival held on May 4-5 in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi, South Korea; or Gothenberg, Sweden’s Way Out West Festival; or Melt! Festival, which brings Le1f, Little Dragon, Jagwar Ma, Haim and Chromeo to Germany’s famed iron city. For those looking to travel within the United States, there’s Georgia’s electro-fest TomorrowWorld, San Francisco’s Outside Lands, which bills itself as a “gourmet music festival,” or Kentucky’s Forecastle Festival, which combines a killer lineup with all the sites of Louisville.
In short, whatever or wherever your musical interest lie, there’s probably a festival that fits the bill.
Here are 14 festivals to check out in 2014:
Moogfest 2014 (moogfest.com)
When: April 23-27
Where: Asheville, NC
2014 Lineup Highlights: Kraftwerk 3-D, CHIC Featuring Nile Rodgers, Laurie Anderson, Pet Shop Boys, M.I.A., Flying Lotus, Giorgio Moroder, Dillon Francis, Q-Tip, LE1f, Dan Deacon, YACHT.
This innovative festival was founded in 2004 by Dr. Robert Moog, the creator of the famous synthesizer company Moog Music. What started as a gathering for Moog enthusiasts has expanded to include a slate of speakers on topics like the crossover between music and technology, as well as a line up of musicians showing that interaction in action. This year’s festival is titled “The Synthesis of Technology, Music, and Art” and includes speakers like The Simpsons writer David X Cohen, synthesizer trailblazer Don Buchla, and musician Dan Deacon — as well as a star-studded musical lineup.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage (nojazzfest.com)
When: April 25-27 and May 1-4
Where: New Orleans, LA
2014 Lineup Highlights: Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Arcade Fire, Christina Aguilera, Phish, Robin Thicke, John Fogerty, Lyle Lovett, Santana, the Avett Brothers, Charlie Wilson
To celebrate its 45th year, Jazz Fest is showcasing the best that Louisiana has to offer in culture, crafts and Southern cooking and — of course — jazz and gospel music, along with a packed roster of imported talent. The 2014 headliners are a mix of contemporary and veteran rock, pop and R&B stars, including Bruce Springsteen, Christina Aguilera, Eric Clapton, Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend — a melange suitable for old hands and festival newcomers alike.
When: May 23-25
Where: The Gorge, Quincy, WA
2014 Lineup Highlights: Outkast, The National, Queens of the Stone Age, M.I.A., Kid Cudi, Die Antwoord, Neko Case, Haim, Major Lazer, Chance the Rapper, Phantogram
Set deep in the Columbia River Gorge, Sasquatch! has attracted music fans around the world to far-off Quincy, Wa., with its spot-on line-up of up-and-comers and headlining acts. While the homegrown Northwest festival was supposed to expand to a second weekend this year (like Coachella), low ticket sales forced the fest to stick with their traditional one weekend format. The diverse lineup of indie all-stars, fan favorites and comic geniuses should still have music fans flocking to the fest — at least for the chance to see Queens of the Stone Age play in the famously beautiful Gorge amphitheater.
Sled Island Music and Arts Festival (sledisland.com)
When: June 18-22
Where: Calgary, Alberta
2014 Lineup Highlights: Spiritualized, Bob Mould, Neko Case, Rhye, Killer Mike, Chelsea Wolfe, Rocket from the Crypt, St. Vincent, Touché Amore.
After the 2013 festival was cancelled due to massive floods that ravaged Alberta, the festival is coming back stronger than ever with a killer line-up curated by Kathleen Hanna, the musician behind Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin. Their new slogan says it all: Nobody rains on our parade.
Secret Solstice Festival (secretsolstice.is)
When: June 20-22
Where: Reykjavik, Iceland
2014 Lineup Highlights: Massive Attack, Woodkid, Mum, Skream, Droog, Waze and Odyssey, Oculus
There’s a lot of time to kill when the sun shines for nearly 24-hours a day like it does in Iceland during the summer solstice. To help wile away the hours, there’s now Secret Solstice, a brand-new Icelandic music festival that features over a hundred established and up-and-coming artists of both the homegrown and international variety, covering a wide array of genres. Check out sets by Massive Attack, ScHoolboy Q, Woodkid, and Múm; then take a dip in geothermal pools heated by a volcano as the sun shines down for three days straight.
Hangout Music Fest (hangoutmusicfest.com)
When: May 16-18
Where: Gulf Shores, Ala.
2014 Lineup Highlights: The Black Keys, The Killers, Jack Johnson, Queens of the Stone Age, Pretty Lights
Aside from Talladega, the allure of Alabama has eluded many people. Then five years ago, Hangout Music Festival was founded. Now over 35,000 concertgoers a year head to the beaches of Gulf Shores, near the Florida border, for three days of incredible music, Southern hospitality and, yes, hanging out. This year the Black Keys, The Killers, Outkast, Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse and the Flaming Lips will all be making their way to the beach, along with 70+ rappers, DJs and folk bands scheduled to perform. With the addition of swimming pools and an on-site wedding chapel, things should get extra-lively.
When: June 12-15
Where: Manchester, TN
2014 Lineup Highlights: Elton John, Kanye West, Lionel Richie, Lauryn Hill, Skrillex, Frank Ocean, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, The Flaming Lips, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Arctic Monkeys
Located in Manchester, TN, which is 60 miles from Nashville and 40 from Chattanooga, Bonnaroo isn’t the easiest festival to get to. To reward those intrepid enough to brave the journey, the festival offers a chance to see musical magic happen. Whether it’s Daryl Hall and Chromeo teaming up, Questlove jamming with Led Zeppelin or the Beastie Boys playing their last live show ever, Bonnaroo packs some major moments into the weekend-long festival. This year has Kanye West, Elton John and Jack West, and the chance of seeing those men collaborate onstage makes the price of admission — and the trip —well worth the money.
When: June 25-29
Where: Glastonbury, UK
2014 Lineup Highlights: Arcade Fire, Dolly Parton, Kasabian, Pixies, Jack White, Lily Allen, Disclosure, Elbow, The Black Keys, Robert Plant, Blondie, Massive Attack, M.I.A and Skrillex , The Black Keys, Lana Del Rey, Warpaint
If you were to only go to one music festival in your lifetime, it should be Glastonbury. The festival has been going strong since the 1970s and somehow manages to keep making music history, year after year, whether it’s Paul McCartney singing “Blackbird” with the crowd, Pulp blaring “Common People” or Moby covering Radiohead’s “Creep.” However, if you want to go, you needed to act months ago — tickets for this year’s 135,000-capacity event sold out in October in just 1 hour and 27 minutes. Additional tickets may become available, though, and if the rumors are true and Radiohead is the still-unannounced third headliner, fans may want to consider buying a plane ticket.
When: June 25-29 and July 1-6
Where: Milwaukee, WI
2014 Lineup Highlights: Usher, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Dave Matthews Band, Outkast, New Order, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Motley Crue, Zac Brown Band, Fall Out Boy, Paramore and Gary Clark Jr.
It only make sense that Wisconsin — the land of the publicly-owned Green Bay Packers — would host a festival geared entirely towards its community’s interests, tastes and pocketbooks. While many festivals claim to have something for everyone, Summerfest lives up to the statement. From Bruno Mars to Lady Gaga to Motley Crue, to Brad Paisley and Fall Out Boy, the 11-day festival’s line-up is a jawdropper and so is the price with early bird tickets going for the a mere $16 — basically, the price of a beer at other festivals. Power to the people never sounded so good.
EXIT Festival (exitfest.org)
When: July 10 – 14, 2014
Where: Novi Sad, Serbia
2014 Lineup Highlights: Skrillex, Koven, Damon Albarn, Rudimental, Disclosure, The Afghan Whigs, Pretty Lights
When people talk about Exit Festival, they usually mention the setting first, and for good reason: The festival takes place inside Servia’s Petrovaradin Fortress — its 18 or so stages, bars and silent discos are connected by 17th century cobbled streets, ramparts and tunnels all built on the hills overlooking the Danube river. But the picturesque, surreal setting isn’t the only reason that EXIT has back-to-back wins as ‘Best Major European Festival’: the accolade is thanks to the well-curated lineup, friendly vibe and the ability to fit in some sight-seeing before the night’s shows get underway. Music as the fest typically runs from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., meaning EXIT is not for the fainthearted or early-to-bed types.
Osheaga Music Festival (osheaga.com)
When: August 1 – 3
Where: Montreal, Canada
2014 Lineup Highlights: OutKast, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Skrillex, Lorde, the Replacements, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Modest Mouse, J. Cole, Awolnation, Lykke Li, Childish Gambino, Chromeo, Chvrches, Band of Horses, Haim, Pusha T, Tiga
Since it was founded in 2006, Osheaga has quietly become one of the best music festivals in North America, but most people like to keep that secret to themselves lest the festival’s magic get spoiled. Each year the lineup reads like a who’s who of indie rock favorites, and this year is no exception, with Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, the Replacements, Danny Brown and the omnipresent OutKast. The festival is adding an extra stage this year to showcase emerging artists — and with Osheaga’s knack for finding talent, expect it to be well worth checking out.
When: August 1-3
Where: Happy Valley, Ore.
2014 Lineup Highlights: Blind Pilot, X, Warpaint, Angel Olsen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Jonathan Richman, Foxygen, Mac DeMarco, Parquet Courts, Courtney Barnett , Mikal Cronin, Ages and Ages
If you’re looking for something different, something to do with the entire family or have already seen OutKast four times, head to Happy Valley, Oregon for the annual Pickathon. The festival brings an impressive roster of indie talent to Pendarvis Farm for a relatively intimate (it’s capped at 3,500 people) event. The festival offers a more family-friendly vibe, including an entire schedule of events for kids, and food trucks that rival any food festival (or festival food) options, although you should pack your own dishes; Pickathon has a unique eco-friendly approach that virtually eliminates waste. This is Oregon, after all.
OFF Festival (off-festival.pl)
When: August 2 – 4
Where: Katowice, Poland
2014 Lineup Highlights: Belle and Sebastian, Neutral Milk Hotel, F–k Buttons, Holden (LIVE), Jesus and Mary Chain, The Notwist, Gary Wilson, Dean Wareham
Outside of Poland, most people would be hard-pressed to cough up the name of a Polish band or artist; rectify that situation with a trip to Poland’s Three Lake Valley outside Katowice for OFF Festival. The festival brings together the cream of the domestic musical crop (Kaseciarz, Normal Echo, Eugeniusz Rudnik and Wild Books are all on the schedule) as well as a diverse international musical roster, pulling from shoegaze, hardcore punk, and psychedelia to play for an enthusiastic crowd. This is a music festival for true music fans.
When: August 5-9
Where: Oslo, Norway
2014 Lineup Highlights: OutKast, Queens of the Stone Age, Royksopp and Robyn, Darkside, Slowdive, Janelle Monae, Mayhem, Little Dragon, Blood Orange, Angel Olsen, The Julie Ruin, Neutral Milk Hotel, The National.
This impeccably-curated festival takes over Oslo’s Medieval Park each August and transforms it from Nordic ruins to a music-lover’s paradise that would make Valhalla jealous. The festival’s stages are filled with an eclectic mix of new musicians, local Scandinavian talent and some of the best musical acts in the world, all playing in a beautiful setting close to downtown Oslo. People looking to combine tourism with music would be hard pressed to find a better festival.