Catch the Beat at these Upcoming International Music Festivals

Editors performing at 2007 Splendour in the Grass Festival. Via Wikimedia by Bradii.

Editors performing at 2007 Splendour in the Grass Festival. Via Wikimedia by Bradii.

Traveling is its own reward, but for those looking for even more bang for their buck, international music festivals allow travelers to combine global tourism with incredible music. Whether you’re heading to Calgary for the Sled Island Music and Arts Festival, packing your bags for Glastonbury in the U.K., or looking to cash in your airline miles for a trip to Serbia for the EXIT festival, music festivals are a great way to double down on your traveling adventures. For those looking to travel within the United States, there’s San Francisco’s Outside Lands, which bills itself as a “gourmet music festival,” Kentucky’s Forecastle Festival, which is a great excuse to tour Louisville, and Milwaukee’s Summerfest, which bills itself as the World’s Largest Music Festival, welcoming close to a million people a year to Wisconsin.

In short, whatever or wherever your musical interest lie, there’s probably a festival that fits the bill.

Here are seven music festivals to check out:

ATP Iceland

Where: Ásbrú, Keflavík, Iceland

When: July 2nd-4th

All Tomorrow’s Parties, better known as ATP, has built a reputation for incredibly cool, well-curated music festivals. The only way to make the festival, which has outposts in the U.K. and Australia among other locales, even cooler was to set up camp in Iceland. As per the norm, this year’s fest features a lineup that can’t be beat with wide-ranging acts from a variety of genres, including punk icon Iggy Pop, Belle and Sebastian, hip hop legends Public Enemy, grunge heroes Mudhoney, Run the Jewels, and many more.  The fan-friendly festival, which eschews VIP cloistering, is held in an airplane-hangar-turned-film-studio on a former NATO base. It’s close enough for attendees to stay in Reykjavik or those who prefer a fully integrated festival experience can camp onsite under the country’s famed midnight sun.



Where: Montreal, Quebec

When: July 31st-August 2nd

Montreal’s premiere music festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary by putting together a killer lineup, including the Black Keys, Weezer, Nas, and Florence and the Machine plus almost 100 other musical acts. Like many other festivals, Osheaga also integrates visual arts, this year featuring Wayne White, the visionary behind Peewee’s Playhouse. Set in Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau, located on Ile Ste-Hélène, the festival is just a quick metro ride from the heart of one of North America’s most exciting cities, meaning attendees can grab one of Montreal’s famed bagels, a Wilensky’s Special, or swing by Au Pied de Cochon for their famed foie gras poutine before heading to the festival.

More information:

Architecture in Helsinki performing in Flow Festival in Helsinki, Finland. Via Wikimedia by Leena Hernesniemi.

Architecture in Helsinki performing in Flow Festival in Helsinki, Finland. Via Wikimedia by Leena Hernesniemi.

Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF)

Where: Sarawak Cultural Village, Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia

When: August 28- September 7

The truly adventurous traveler can head to the Malaysian rainforest for the annual three-day music festival that brings musicians from around the world to play in the jungles of Borneo. The music is an eclectic mix of acts from Australia, Spain, Tunisia, Mongolia, as well as homegrown Malaysian music, which is sure to appeal to world music fans of all stripes eager to raise the roof, even when there is no roof. While the music is the attraction, it is there to draw attention to the Sarawak Cultural Village, a living museum dedicated to the tribes and cultures of Malaysia and their efforts to conserve the rainforest and the lifestyle of those living in the jungle.

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Mariachi Festival of Guadalajara

Where: Guadalajara, Mexico

When: August 28 –September 7

While many of us think of mariachi music solely as the soundtrack to meals at Mexican restaurants, in Mexico, the mariachi is a symbol of national pride and culture. Each September, fans and musicians alike descend on Guadalajara, Mexico, for a ten-day celebration of Mariachi music and lifestyle at the world’s largest mariachi competition. Festivities include concerts, galas, rodeos, art exhibits, crafts, Catholic masses featuring mariachi music, and grand parades filled with floats topped with charros (Mexican cowboys) and, naturally, mariachi. Those who need a temporary break from all the music can hop a train to Tequila for tastings of the famous liquor.

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Flow Festival

Where: Helsinki, Finland

When: August 14-17

Set in an abandoned power plant area, Flow Festival pairs the best of sleek Nordic eco-design with some of the hottest musical acts around. This year’s lineup includes Florence and the Machine, Major Lazer, Beck, and Chic. The eco-friendly festival is just a short walk from the center of Helsinki, which means that attendees can hit the nearby island of Suomenlinna for swimming before catching the headlining acts. Festivalgoers don’t need to leave the festival grounds to explore Helsinki’s burgeoning arts, culture, and food scene, though— the thoughtfully curated festival features work by local artists and vendors hawking gourmet local fare. While most festivals have soggy fries and hockey-puck burgers, Flow has handcrafted sushi, organic pizza, Thai curry, and the best of Finnish cuisine.

More information:

K'Naan performs at Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Québec, Canada, on 31 July 2010. Via Wikimedia by tkaravou.

K’Naan performs at Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Québec, Canada, on 31 July 2010. Via Wikimedia by tkaravou.

Splendour in the Grass

Where: Byron Bay, Australia

When: July 24-26

After 14 years, Splendour in the Grass has mastered the art of the festival.  Set in the surfer’s paradise of Byron Bay, the three-day-long to-do has the feel of a country fair, with top-notch entertainment, yoga, crafts, a special area for kids, workshops, spa services, a lecture series, incredible food options, and even a circus. The 2015 lineup lives up to the word “splendour” with acts that include Brit pop icons Blur, Uptown Funkster Mark Ronson, Ryan Adams, Florence and the Machine and plenty of local talent like Tame Impala, Royal Blood, and the Wombats. Because of its gorgeous surroundings set on the ocean off of New South Wales, the festival is very eco-conscious with recycling programs, carbon-offset programs, and more. Most people come to the festival to camp, but there are plenty of options in the Byron Bay area as well.

More information:

Montreux Jazz Festival

Where: Montreux, Switzerland

When: July 3-18

This storied, cosmopolitan festival has a long history of producing incredible music in a beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Geneva. Established in 1967, the festival has become a proving ground for established acts, the avant garde, and up-and-comers alike, with three international competitions each year to highlight the truly talented. Don’t let the name fool you, this festival offers a lot more than just jazz; it brings together musicians of all stripes—hip-hop, rock, electronic, indigenous African—with jazz artists to create incredible fusion and once-in-a-lifetime performances. This year’s lineup features gospel powerhouse Alabama Shakes, EDM icons the Chemical Brothers, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, and many more. The festival also features a packed lineup of free programs, which is always appreciated, especially while traveling in pricey Switzerland.

More Information:

Melissa Locker

About Melissa Locker

Melissa Locker is a writer, editor and producer in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @woolyknickers, but not in real life.