Summer has arrived, and so you want an experience: somewhere fresh, fun, and far-from-here. Summer, the season for new beginnings, when the Vitamin D-infused light has a certain ethereal quality: Sunsets seem sweeter, work less taxing, and margaritas become daily treats (though this doesn’t have to be seasonal). The air simply feels different and becomes one that inspires thrill seeking and spontaneous wanderlust: Ah! warm, welcoming, beautiful, summer.
What better way to plunge into renewed life of finally-doing-the-thing-you-always-wanted-to-do than going to some of the world’s best music festivals? Attracting the music lover, the avid adventurer, and the serial wayfarer, music festivals offer the chance of both sonic utopia and traveler’s paradise. Though in recent years, days long marathons so often turn into mushy grass, droney music, and sweat-stained clothes that leave even the serial musichead bleary-eyed and in want of a hot shower. Yet, even in the oversaturated party market, there are still some festivals that go beyond great music and provide an all-encompassing experience of beautiful background, amazing food, and so many memory-inducing moments that your Instagram followers will swoon. Below is a list of five of the season’s boutique festivals, those which link wellness and fun as inextricable summer spirit.
LOCATION: Randall’s Island Park, New York City
DATES: July 28-30
THREE DAY PRICE (ONE DAY GA): $345 ($125)
Set within the heartland of the greatest city in the world, Panorama Music Festival is a must-visit event for any music lover. Coachella, the festival that made festivals festivals, kicked off the springtime fun in the West, and now, Goldenvoice, the company behind Coachella, has decided to bookend the season with a mega-concert-event in New York City. Housed on Randall’s Island, Panorama hosts not only some of the best performers of our generation, including Frank Ocean, Solange, Tame Impala, and Nine Inch Nails, but also some of the greatest views of the City’s skyline.
However, Panorama is more than a delightful intersection between location and art. The festival also features innovative technological installations and the best street food that New York has to offer. In between sets and eating your way through the festival, don’t miss a trip to The Lab, a self-touted “ playground of music and technology,” which includes six interactive installations and virtual reality possibilities, crafted exclusively by New York artists. And, for those dance-fanatics, check out The Point, an open-air club, featuring LED light shows and DJs scratching vinyl records, as fans and musicians celebrate New York’s historical place as trailblazing the path for electronic music culture. With so much happening, a three day pass will be a marathon of thrill, a state of constant stimulation: All of which to match the glitz, glamour, and intensity of the city that never sleeps.
LOCATION: Skogafoss Waterfall, Iceland
DATES: July 14-16
THREE DAY PRICE (ONE DAY GA): $190 (n/a)
According to legend, in 900 C.E., a Viking settler of Skogar hid a treasure chest, and whomever brave enough to visit the Skogafoss waterfall will inevitably find great treasures. More than a millennium later, the myth still holds true: The Night + Day Iceland festival is perhaps among the greatest travel treasures in the world. Beholding fjords, iced volcanoes, and above, glimmers of the aurora borealis, here you will easily feel yourself falling into heaven, grooving to the dreamy, synthy sounds of the charming, the mysterious, the xx. As part of their Night + Day Brixton event series, which included concerts, film screenings, pop-up shops, and more, the xx are now curating an intimate 6000 capacity festival near the spectacular Skogafoss waterfall. Two hours east of Reykjavik, the Skogafoss Waterfall is famous for being among the largest and most beautiful in Iceland. A trek to its top provides breathtakingly glorious views of majestic grassland and, because of its mists, beautiful visions of single and double rainbows. Beyond its stunning setting, the festival features not only the talents of the xx and Jamie xx but also the likes of Kamasi Washington, Earl Sweatshirt, Robyn, and Sampha: the perfect blend of chill, sonic vibes to match the majesty of Iceland’s gorgeous landscape. The three days cost €169 (about $184 USD), which includes both admission and camping: A can’t beat price for an experience of a lifetime.
LOCATION: Governor’s Island, New York City
DATE: July 8
ONE DAY GA: $40 ($200 VIP, includes express ferry, VIP Seating/Bar with Bottle Service Available)
Back in New York, Full Moon provides what the city sometimes lacks: low-key intimacy. Drawing inspiration from Thailand beach bashes dedicated to celebrating full moons, the New York counterpart combines the heady, party-going spirit with a small, 5000-person maximum capacity that embodies the space between “massive festival with weekend party.” Housed on Governor’s Island, giving the perfect view of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty, Full Moon Fest looks to unite global sensibilities with New York’s unique, cosmopolitan vibe. Attracting the more “indie” music fans, Full Moon boasts an incredible lineup of critically acclaimed artists, featuring: Vic Mensa, Mr. Fingers, Kelela, Abra, and Awesome Tapes from Africa. Adding to its diverse lineup, Full Moon Fest samples some of the best gourmet cuisine in the city ranging from the deli noshes at Mile End to the taco bus galore at Tacombi (the best salsas in the city!). And unlike some marathon day festivals, Full Moon takes place for one day, only–July 8–where casual fan and music diehards can come together and release collective party energies for a full moon catharsis. The result is one of the must-visit music festivals of the summer schedule.
LOCATION: Zcre Beach, Croatia
DATES: June 26-30
FIVE DAY GA: $180 (£139.00)
Hideout is not for the faint of heart. A festival that began five years ago, Hideout is for those select few (i.e. everyone) ready for five days and nights of celebratory bliss on one of the loveliest beaches in the world. Located on Zrce Beach, Hideout attendees are encouraged to partake in the wide variety of party genres from traditional beach bashes, to poolside hangouts, to some of Croatia’s world famous clubs (check out Papaya–a must-visit gem): all of which are hosting some of the best and biggest electronic and grime rap artists in the world, including Major Lazer, Stormzy, Jamie Jones, and Marco Carola. The music is nonstop, day and night, and if you’re tired of the mainland parties, no matter! Look to get your sea legs, and join any of the festival’s renowned boat parties, all providing amazing views of Croatia’s beachy and mountainous wonderlands. Hideout, perhaps a steal for any festival lover, can be relatively cheap due to intimate relationships with global travel partners. Though a longer time than most festivals, dismiss your hesitations and indulge in the fun. Zrce Beach provides a once in a life opportunity enjoy peak cross section of great music, gorgeous pebble beaches, and vibrant nightlife. This is the must-visit festival to start your summer off right.
LOCATION: Marrakesh, Morocco
DATES: September 15-17
THREE DAY GA: $205
Picture this, days filled with sunkissed skies and exploring through medinas, while high cacti dot the streets as buzzing, bustling crowds shop through souks, all the while you’re adventuring in one of the most colorful, diverse, and beautiful cities in the world–and that is just during the day. Enmeshed within the city of Marrakesh, The Oasis Music Festival grants days in Moroccan paradise and nights in music heaven, when some of the hottest electronic music artists in the world come together, backgrounded by the splendid backdrop of The Source. Oasis is less a music festival than a holistic experience. With “sunset in your eyes,” you can hop aboard the Marrakesh Express, enjoying the sights and sounds of the Red City, whether that means surveying its deeply rich history, embracing its culture or, perhaps, digging into a haira or ma’qooda, two of the best dishes of its famous street food cuisine. Just a short drive to the Atlas Mountains, you can take advantage of some of the best hikes in Africa with daily adventures. And for those looking to simply recline and relax their days away, The Source offers complete spa experiences, packed with personalized yoga courses, which prioritize peaceful environments and a focus on you: The perfect state of mind to enjoy Oasis’s lineup. Featuring some of the most acclaimed electronic artists like Nicolas Jaar, Richie Hawtin, Maceo Plex, and Moodymann, Oasis is a must-visit festival, and if you’re not already sold, the audience also gets to enjoy sweet sounds from stage-side swimming pools, overlooking exquisite views.
Visit one or all of these festivals and have the summer of a lifetime. Even if you can’t attend in person, follow the music online and live stream from anywhere you are in the world! Sure, it doesn’t beat the real-life experience, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to brag to your friends of your newfound (but always nascent) worldliness and love of culture.