Wilderness Festival will return to England's Cornbury Park

Line-up announcements, rapid-fire ticket sales and tentative road trip plans – 'tis the season of the music festival. We've rounded up five of the best festivals, each matched up with an alternative, to suit all types of settings and music lovers.


Roskilde/Fuji Rock festivals A view of Roskilde camp grounds and an evening at Fuji Rock 2012
Creative Commons Stig Nygaard / Creative Commons Takako Tominaga

A classic music festival promises big-name acts and enough space to pitch a tent. Everyone knows Coachella and Glastonbury (back from 26-30 June after a one-year hiatus) but for the archetypal festival experience, check out Roskilde Festival in Denmark (29 June - 7 July) – the largest Northern European music fest to rock the medieval city for 42 years. Derived from famous counterculture festivals such as Woodstock and Newport, over the years Roskilde has gone from Danish hippy fantasyland to a more mainstream festival that attracts music lovers from all over Scandinavia and Europe. Queens of the Stone Age, Rihanna and Animal Collective are just a few of this year’s acts, with more to be announced on the festival website throughout spring.


The alternative? If you prefer an Asian alternative to Roskilde, then jet off to Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival running 26-28 July. Don’t be fooled by the name – since 1999, Fuji Rock has called the rolling hills and mountains of the Naeba ski resort in Niigata home. The first festival in 1997 was the only one to take place on Mt Fuji where a typhoon ripped through the site causing a shutdown on the final days. Nine Inch Nails, Bjork and The xx are headlining the 2013 festival.



Sonar Barcelona Berlin Spreepark music festsSonarclub at Sonar by Night and Spreepark, a former amusement park
Sonar Barcelona Press Image / Creative Commons ani!

If you prefer to avoid tents and caravans, you’ll love the urban vibe of music festivals in the city. From 13-15 June, Barcelona’s Sonar will feature performances from the likes of Skrillex and Two Door Cinema Club. The festival is split into two experiences: Sonar by Day and Sonar by Night. Daytime concerts and exhibitions will take place at the historic Fira Montjuïc near the Espanya metro station whilst at night the electronica vibes will heat up with big-name acts hosted at Fira Gran just eight minutes away. Sonar isn’t only for dance fanatics – music and new media professionals can get in on the act with daytime workshops and conferences aimed at innovation.


The alternative?  If you’ve already conquered Sonar, then decamp to Berlin on 18 May for the Night + Day festival in Spreepark, hosted by The xx. The line-up includes five other acts such as Jessie Ware and Chromatics. Make sure to visit the festival's website as the day approaches for annoucements of festival DJs.



Soundwave Croatia AfrikaBurnTisno and AfrikaBurn 2012
Soundwave Croatia Press Image / Creative Commons ZA Photos

From beaches to deserts, these stunning environments are sure to please festival goers with a knack for nature. Hardcore partiers and electronica junkies can soak up the sun and take in views of the glittering Adriatic at Soundwave in Tisno, Croatia from 18-22 July. Join revellers on the party boat that sets sail twice daily or keep your feet firmly on land with a discotheque and outdoor stages set into the hillside. This year’s line-up includes Bonobo, Doom and the Robert Glasper Experiment.


The alternative? Those who crave a more out-there setting should check out AfrikaBurn, the South African outpost of the Burning Man festival, set in Tankwa Karoo's semi-desert. From 1-6 May, participate in music, performance and art within this free-spirited environment.



Wilderness Festival/Portmeirion A foodie fantasy at Wilderness and the picturesque Portmeirion
Wilderness Festival 2012 Benjamin Eagle / Dannny North and Andrew Whitton

The UK will satisfy anyone looking for a festival that combines the feel of a storybook with a weekend getaway. Wilderness festival embraces the natural wonders of Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Park, where festival goers can live within lush forests from 8-11 August. The programme includes headliners such as Noah and the Whale and Empire of the Sun, along with a French circus, literary and family activities. Foodies will revel in Wilderness’ gastronomic offerings, from banquets and tastings prepared by renowned chefs to classes at a makeshift culinary school.


The alternative? The Welsh village of Portmeirion, with its coastal setting, Italian architecture and exotic gardens is what makes Festival Number 6 a near-fantasy. From 13-15 September, enjoy an eclectic line-up, street food, films and literature talks. Relax in luxe accommodations, from boutique tipis to cottages and even a Victorian mansion.



Chicago Blues Festival/LuostoClassic Billy Branch and LuostoClassic
City of Chicago / LuostoClassic Press Image

Looking for a cultural indulgence whilst on your summer holiday? From blues to classical, tap into a specific musical genre at festivals that ooze with sophistication.

At the Chicago Blues Festival, travel back in time to the 1940s and 1950s with the sounds of four homes in American blues: New Orleans, Mississippi, Memphis and Chicago. The festival will celebrate its 30th anniversary in Millennium and Grant Parks from 6-9 June as part of the month-long Chicago Blues Season that attracts local and international blues enthusiasts. Acts include songstress Shemekia Copeland, the return of Billy Branch and more. Keep your fingers crossed – legends such as B.B. King and Ray Charles have played sets at previous festivals in the aptly named “Blues Capital of the World”.


The alternative? Veer off the cosmopolitan trail and head to the LuostoClassic (8-11 August) in Finnish Lapland. Listen to classical music at an outdoor concert hall or high above a stage nestled within an ancient ravine.


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