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Revellers at the Magnetic Fields festival in India. (Photo: REBECCA CONWAY/AFP/Getty Images)

Glastonbury is one of the most famous music festivals in the world, having shrugged off its humble hippie origins in the 1970s to play host to the likes of David Bowie, The Cure, Oasis and U2. It took place over this past weekend (June 22-26) with headline sets from Adele and Coldplay, marking the unofficial start of the international festival season.

Festivals are popping up all over the place, set on rolling fields, sun-kissed beaches or even in ancient castles, and catering to all tastes. But which are the best? And how about the lesser-known ones in far-flung places? Here’s a list of the international music festivals it’s worth diverting your travel plans for.

1. Roskilde

Where: Roskilde, Denmark
When: June 25 – July 2, 2016
Headliners: Red Hot Chili Peppers, New Order, PJ Harvey

Despite being one of Europe’s biggest festivals, there is a strangely utopian feel to this festival in the ancient Viking town of Roskilde: profits go to support local charities; leftover food is donated to homeless shelters; and there’s even free drinking water—no more forking out for pricey bottled water after dancing for too long in the sun.

2. Montreux Jazz Festival

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Where: Montreux, Switzerland
When: July 1-16, 2016
Headliners: Herbie Hancock, Patti Smith, Quincy Jones, Neil Young

Well, now. Chairs and picnic blankets on the grass. This is much more civilized.

The festival program is not all jazz, however. The organizers also like to cherry-pick acts from across the musical map, meaning visitors can also catch big names in rock and pop, and put on a host of free concerts, from nightclub sessions to parties in a cave.


Where: Novi Sad, Serbia
When: July 7-10, 2016
Headliners: Ellie Goulding, Bastille, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike

Once a humble protest against the Miloševic regime, Exit has grown into one of Europe’s top festivals. Set in the breathtaking Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, it has countless stages playing host to everything from trance and funk to Serbian rap tucked within its winding passages and ornate arches. 

4. Latitude

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Where: Suffolk, England
When: July 14 – 17, 2016
Headliners: The Maccabees, The National and New Order

It’s England in July, which can only mean one thing: rain.

That said, even rain does little to dampen the decidedly fairytale aspect of this festival, set in rolling Suffolk countryside not far from the English east coast. The whole thing is much more genteel than your average rock fest, with secret gardens, lakeside performances, circus shows, book tents, and even sheep specially dyed in multicolors. With things to see and do for all generations, it also makes it one of the most family-friendly options, as this particular (and let’s face it, extremely optimistic) family shows:

5. Festival Internacional de Benicàssim

Where: Valencia, Spain
When: July 14-17, 2016
Headliners: Muse, The Chemical Brothers, Major Lazer, Kendrick Lamar

Known to its regulars as simply Benicàssim, this festival on the pristine beaches of the Costa del Azahar is one of the most relaxed out there. Featuring both well-known bands and emerging artists, the music doesn’t really get going until the sun goes down, and doesn’t really stop until it comes up again.

6. Splendour in the Grass

Where: Byron Bay, Australia
When: July 22-24, 2016
Headliners: The Strokes, The Avalanches, The Cure

Fast becoming something of an Aussie institution, Splendour offers big name music acts, art, comedy shows, and philosophical talks on a site so sprawling it can take 20 minutes to walk from one stage to another. Perfect for anyone who wants to mix partying with a spot of intellectualism.

7. Fuji Rock

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Where: Niigata Prefecture, Japan
When: July 22-24, 2016
Headliners: Sigur RósBeck, Red Hot Chili Peppers

There aren’t many festivals that can say they require a trip up a mountain by cable car to see a band, but then Japan’s Fuji Rock is something special. The 20-minute high-wire journey it takes to reach the Daydreaming stage is a good indication of the size of the festival, not to mention giving a spectacular view of the verdant setting of the Naeba ski resort.

Fuji Rock also claims to be the world’s cleanest festival, with a big emphasis on recycling, electricity generated from biodiesel and solar power, and—shock, horror—even the toilets are quite clean.

8. Lake of Stars

Where: Chintheche Inn, Malawi
When: September 30 – October 2, 2016
Headliners: Freshlyground, Piksy

Many festivals offer the chance to watch a sunrise, but the one over Lake Malawi (its nickname “lake of stars” was coined by explorer David Livingstone) is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Add to that the mix of music, including international acts, homegrown talent, and party-starting DJs, and you’ve got something truly magical.

9. Pentaport Incheon Rock Festival

Where: Incheon, South Korea
When: August 12-14, 2016
Headliners: Suede, Weezer, Panic! at the Disco

Taking place during Korea’s rainy season, Pentaport is another festival synonymous with mud and showers. Despite that it’s one of the top live music events in South Korea, delivering on all five (hence ‘penta’) of its promises of “music,” “passion,” “the environment,” “DIY,” and “friendship” (yes, friendship).

10. Magnetic Fields

Where: Rajasthan, India
When: December 9-11, 2016
Headliners: TBA

Three days of music, art, and Indian food in a 17th-century palace? Enough said. Run by a community of forward-thinking promoters and artists from Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, Magnetic Fields offers a lineup of one-off collaborations, like the groundbreaking Indian and Pakistani joint showcase in 2015.

Aside from music, there are whimsical touches like a tea party by the palace pool, stargazing sessions on the rooftop, and a treasure hunt, not to mention boutique camping and palatial suites for those who prefer a spot of luxury.

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Filed Under: Music Festivals
By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.