From transformational festivals in the desert to a music festival that has been running for over 50 years; these are the biggest and best music festivals in the world!
I’ve invited some new pals, bloggers, fellow festival travellers, and experts to tell you about their first-hand music festival experiences from across the continents and around the world from Australia to Central America.
Read on for a selection of the most awe-inspiring music festivals across the globe to add to your festival bucket list and daydream about when you’re sitting in the office; at least that’s what I’ll be doing!! We’ve included some of the most incredible, must-visit festivals around the globe but we’re always looking to discover more – if you’d like to submit something then please get in touch!
The very Best Music Festivals in the World as selected by international festival lovers
UK | June
“Glasto is the most famous festival in the world for a reason. Not just the biggest headliners, the wildest all-night parties, and the most erratic weather… it has heart and soul like no other festival I’ve been to. You can physically feel it when you walk on-site, there’s magic in the air, and every new friend you make could take you in a new direction. There are 79 stages, and that’s not even including all the tiny stages you’ll find inside cafes or mobile DJ rigs. The Theatre & Circus area has a cabaret tent, a flying trapeze, and spills out walkabout artists all over the site. Everything is dusted with a sprinkling of activism and purpose – from the Greenpeace area, to Shangri-La, Leftfield and even the Pyramid stage, you’ll find artists and speakers that inspire you to live more kindly and sustainably, both on the field and when you get home. It’s about togetherness, a shared incredible experience, memories to last a lifetime. There is nothing else like it.”
Of course, I had to invite my friend and fellow festival blogger Jessi of Where’s My Tent Blog and Glastocast on here to talk about our mutual favourite festival; Glastonbury will always top my best music festivals list, for a start its been going a lot longer than the other entries here – for me nothing compares!
Australia | January
“Rainbow Serpent Festival; an aggregation of colour, creativity and wondrous smiles. It’s almost impossible to feel sad at any festival, but somehow even more so when you’re barefoot, stamping your feet to the music, in the soft dirt of the Australian bush.
A sense of unity lingers in the air, and that’s one of the aspects really adds that little bit extra to the festival for me, ensuring that I will be returning for a third time, in the future.”
Emma Werthers is a pal of mine from Bristol but that I technically met in India! She loves a fezzy and is pretty much permanently off on some adventure somewhere – she’s currently in Canada. Read about her adventures on her blog This Must Be The Place.
Thailand | December
“Wonderfruit Festival inspired by the UK’s Secret Garden Party is a sensory overload. A colour filled, sun-drenched festival kaleidoscope where East meets West in terms of music, art, sustainability and fashion. Take part in Wonderfruit’s community workshops like a sunrise yoga session or learn to build with bamboo, how to upcycle your trash and vermiculture.
With immersive art installations, you can sip your strawberry mojito as you treasure hunt through the festivals hand-picked designer stalls. Relax in the day under the ribbon tent canopies whilst listening to genres of music you’ve never heard before gearing up for a crazy night ahead.”
Photographer Nicki is a mate from Bristol who is living her best life digital nomadding in Thailand and beyond! Check out her wonderful blog and portfolio Under a Palm Tree.
We were lucky enough to go to Wonderfruit festival in 2019, check out our full Wonderfruit Festival Guide.
Nyege Nyege Festival
Uganda | September
Kahara Abdul Nyege Nyege Festival
“This renowned East African music festival has established itself as a paradise for adventurers, free-spirits, party lovers and music enthusiasts with a thirst to discover. It’s an opportunity to be immersed in authentic Ugandan culture with its focus on East African acts, artists & DJs. Apart from taking in the beautiful surroundings and experiencing all 6 stages, take it from me, no Nyege Nyege experience would be complete without sampling Ugandan Waragi (a locally distilled gin), a Rolex (a popular street food, combining an egg omelette and veggies, wrapped in a chapati) and taking a dip in the River Nile!
I attended this festival in 2018 and still talk about it today. It is definitely one of the best festivals in Africa and one for the bucket-list! Nyege Nyege in the local Luganda language means ‘the irresistible urge to dance’ & believe me, you’ll dance yourself to exhaustion…(Ugandans know how to party)! “
Yolisa is a festival fanatic with a specialism in the best African festivals and has her own platform ‘African Festival Adventures’ check out the fantastic guest post she did for us sharing the Best African Festivals.
USA | August
“A dusty wonderland in the middle of the Nevada desert, ‘Black Rock City’ only exists for a very brief period each year, but is easily the most beautiful and awe-inspiring place I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. The sheer scale of it means that bicycle is the easiest way to explore, and even then, you’ll only manage to see the tiniest percentage of what’s on offer. It has to be said – there’s something extremely surreal about cycling through a dust storm and stumbling upon a piece of incredible artwork or a marching band, a temple, or a giant mechanical fire breathing octopus…
If I absolutely had to settle on just one word to sum up Burning Man then ‘overwhelming’ seems to be the first to spring to mind. Each year, I seem to spontaneously burst into tears at regular intervals, and into laughter even more so. What I feel when I am there is completely indescribable, and I am certain that there are no words in existence that would ever allow me to do Burning Man any justice.”
No one can deny that Burning Man is one of the best music festivals in the world – but is it even really a music festival?! Thanks to Emma again for sharing her experiences, this one is at the top of my bucket list for sure!
Meadows in the Mountains
Bulgaria | June
“Up there as one of the most picturesque festivals on the whole planet in one of the most awe-inspiring and unique locations, Meadows in the Mountains is a music festival situated on the top of a mountain in a rural Bulgarian village. The festival has a strong dedication to sustainability with the entire site being crafted from local wood with many of the structures remaining permanantly. With almost 24 hour programming there’s an experience here for everyone whether you want to dance until you watch the iconic Meadows sunrise in the morning or if you want a more holistic experience with the plethora of healing workshops and yoga you’ll find something for yourself. The culture of the rural Bulgarian village where the festival is situated is as much a part of the experience as anything else – a local choir opens the festival each year and wandering through the village of Polkovnic Serafimovo is like taking a journey back in time.”
I’ve made the journey to this festival a handful of times and you can read my full guide to attending Meadows in the Mountains here or for more music festival inspiration check out the 10 best small and boutique European Festivals.
UK | August
Adam top right, Boomtown photos by One Eye In
“So much more than just its stunning themed stages, it’s an immersive theatrical show unlike anything else. Boomtown has a storyline, a town hall, corrupt city officials, a rebellion uprising, and even its own money! You’ll discover a whole world to explore while strolling along Boomtown’s fairy-tale like city streets. There is so much fun to be had experiencing the madness hidden inside hundreds of tiny street venues, that you might end up missing the headliners altogether.
That’s what Boomtown is all about. It’s not just a big yellow poster full of the most well-known names. Tickets are sold on the promise of the greatest party ever imagined. You shouldn’t worry if nothing on the line-up jumps out at you at first. Trust me; you will discover it once you are there.
You’ll find an inclusive line-up exposing you to underground artists and music scenes that you simply won’t find anywhere else. Discover new and upcoming acts from an eclectic range of genres you never thought you’d see together at the same festival. If you can dance to it, you’ll probably find it somewhere at Boomtown.
Ditch the mainstream bore, and throw yourself into the unrivaled mayhem of Boomtown Fair.”
Adam is the author of Boomtown specific blog Boomtown Source and has summed up the experience to a tee! I may be biased (Boomtown is my day job for full disclosure!) but Boomtown Fair often gets so unfairly missed off these best music festival lists – it’s unlike any other festival I’ve ever seen, it’s like a huge film set merged with immersive theatre alongside a genre-spanning soundtrack that doesn’t scrimp on the heavier electronic styles!
Want to discover more of the best UK festivals? Read my full list of the best festivals in the UK here, from hidden gems to popular staples of the scene.
India | December
“Magnetic Fields Festival is in one of the most epic music festival locations I’ve ever been to – a palace in the desert in the middle of nowhere in one of India’s most mystical states, Rajasthan. It’s a long journey to get to but once you see the silhouette of the Alsisar Mahal palace against a pink sunrise and the thud of music coming from a stage in the middle of the neighbouring desert, it’s all worth it!
Magnetic Fields is a vibrant event showcasing the most cutting edge of underground music from across the globe nestled alongside an unmistakable flavour of traditional Indian culture. From exploring the palace and the many stages and art installations within to catching a jungle set at sunrise in desert Magnetic Fields is a sonic experience like no other.”
You can read my full review and guide to Magnetic Fields Festival from my experience when I visited in 2017 here as well as all my top tips for if you’re thinking of making the journey to this incredible music festival yourself.
Strawberry Fields Festival
Australia | November
“Strawberry Fields Festival is one of the first festivals to ring in Australia’s ‘doof season’ each November, and couldn’t be a better doof to kick it off. Taking place on the banks of the refreshing Murray River on the border of New South Wales and Victoria, ‘Strawbs,’ as locals lovingly call it, is nothing short of magic. At Strawberry Fields, you’ll find 4-5 musical stages, each focusing on a different type of music or time of day (i.e. the beach stage is THE place to be during the daytime as you take a dip in the river). Along with music stages, you can find tons of different art installations, multiple workshop areas, and even an art gallery.
It’s paramount at Strawberry Fields Festival to focus on much more than just music. Although massive headliners bring the crowds, you can also spend your time doing drumming workshops, yoga, creating art, dance classes, and even a tea lounge. There are also plenty of chill spaces, from hammocks to makeshift wooded chairs.
Lastly, at the other end of the colourful venue is a massive area of all different types of food. The food selection is truly incredible, and it would be impossible to try everything! With a small and manageable venue and glamping options, ‘Strawbs’ is a must while in Victoria. “
I found Kimmie and her wicked blog Adventures & Sunsets through a Facebook group… she is absolute festival travel GOALS and has been to so many of the best music festivals in the world! Make sure you check out her full guide to Strawberry Fields Festival here.
USA | April
“Coachella’s one of the most notorious festivals, but it has more to offer than celebs partying hard. Each year Coachella descends on the desert town of Indio, to let loose on the immaculate grass of Empire Polo Club. With it they bring the best organic food, art and music! The vibe in car camping is a festival in itself, and along with daily beer pong, you can get your dose of pilates and yoga.
The acts at Coachella are guaranteed to bring their A-Game, along with A-List special guests, and the weirdest collaborations. Yes, Madonna lap dancing Drake we’re looking at you. Anyone who appreciates dance music has to experience the Sahara, with its 360 visuals, and killer DJ lineup.
Coachella doesn’t do art lightly, expect brightly-coloured, lavish pieces that form the backdrop of the festival year on year against the pineapple purple sunsets above the palms and mountains.”
I met my lovely pals Keeley & Pete through instragram where they post as ‘Vibes Life Us’, I love hearing about their adventures with their adorable son Emerson – you can read their Ultimate Coachella A-Z here!
Keeley from Vibes Life Us has also written us a guest post! Find her selection of the Top 10 Family-friendly Festivals in the UK here.
Costa Rica | February
“Envision Festival is a transformational festival-lover’s paradise, set in a beachside jungle in luscious Costa Rica. The festival prides itself in being MUCH more than music – think, yoga and workshops all day every day, amazing food, live art, and more! But, that being said, the music lineup is always top-notch as well, with everything from live bands to techno to (lots of) bass music across three different stages with epic production value.
When not grooving to all the music, you can join drum circles, breathwork sessions, chanting, and every kind of yoga you can think of, along with meditations, art classes, slacklining, and beachside dancing. The beach is only a 2-minute walk from the venue, making multiple dips each day completely necessary and refreshing.
After the sun goes down, the music really ramps up later into each night. Tribes of acrobats and dancers will traipse the grounds, performing to the light of fire spinners, lasers, and fire cannons surrounding the main stage. You’ll find headliners playing from 10pm on until just past sunrise, which is an absolutely magical thing to witness at Envision.”
How lush are Kimmie’s beautiful photos? You can read her in-depth guide to Envision Festival here.
USA | September
“What began as a small Mad Max themed gathering in 2010 has in just seven short years become a ‘bucket list’ festival for petrolheads and fans of anything postapocalyptic- helped along by the huge success of George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Now, around 4000 people drive into the Mojave Desert just outside California City to fight in the Thunderdome, barter goods, watch shows and bands, gamble, and party like it’s the end of the world.
The event is heavily themed with enforced costume guidelines, there is no running water, the nearest hospital is two hours away and desert conditions can be extreme. It is not for the faint-hearted but is an incredible experience if you can handle the heat. I’ve found my family at Wasteland Weekend; people look out for each other, offering incredible generosity and friendship. We’re all a bit crazy but we’re crazy together.”
Doesn’t that sound next level mental?! Wasteland weekend is certainly pushing the boundaries of what it means to be one of the best festivals in the world. Faith is a pretty rad alternative blogger, check out her blog Life Out There.
Guatemala | New Years
“Nestled between volcanos, on the ancient Mayan site of Lake Atitlán, Guatemala’s fairytale festival Cosmic Convergence is a New Year’s Eve celebration to eclipse all others. The four-day explosion of colour and energy champions music of every genre and offers more wild ‘n’ wonderful workshops than you can even pack in (but don’t miss the sacred twerking ritual!)
There’s a whole playground of eco-consciously-constructed market stalls, chill spaces, yoga sessions, Mayan ceremonies, live art galleries, activity zones and learning tents to discover. The setup is intimate enough that nothing is a mission to get to and vast enough to never be bored. This is a sustainable, transformational festival which attracts a refreshingly diverse mix of people from all over the world to experience its unique magic.”
I was introduced to Lara by a mutual friend of ours Suzie aka The Little Sauce. Lara works on some of the best music festivals across Central America which I am definitely keeping in mind for my future – how epic does Cosmic Convergence’s location look!?
Portugal | August
“Although most popularly known for its monumental temple of psytrance, Boom festival has so much more to offer than simply a space where face-melting trance takes place. With its idyllic setting around Idanha – a Nova Lake offering stunning views from the mid-day sun, breathtaking sunsets and of course the chance to gaze out and look at the stars at night.
In the day there are spaces for talks, workshops (both intellectual and practical) dance classes, yoga, mud baths, sacred spaces, meditation hubs, nestled hammocks within the trees for relaxing and reading as well as quiet areas for contemplation.
One of my most favourite spaces is the sacred fire, its opening ceremony can be heard around the site as chanting, singing and drumming lead to the physical lighting of the fire. This also opens a smaller stage where all kinds of world music, acoustic and chilled vibes can be enjoyed, in amongst a sprinkling of dubby sound. The beach in this space (the furthest point of the festival) is a safe space where skinny dipping, relaxing and soaking up the sunshine is encouraged. You can get all manner of tasty treats here including drinking a tasty love potion of cacao as you enjoy the sunset.
My favourite stage has to be the alchemy stage! With its huge selection of techno playing until the very very early hours of the morning, this is where you will find me for most of Boom. So many times I comfortably wandered off by myself to this stage to do some stomping, with no worry at all bout meeting like-minded people and making new friends. With its sand between the toes dance floor, water misters in the roof to help fight the midday heat and epic selection of DJ’s and musicians, this is the ultimate space for fun!
Swimming in the lake and wandering around the psychedelic art gallery are my 2nd and 3rd favourite things to do here, in a festival which offers so much more than music! The huge site is well thought out, offering an organic world of hidden artworks and sculpture to explore as you weave through the natural environment. Discovering micro stages, sacred tipis and beach-bound yoga classes along the way!”
Exploring the Best Music Festivals in the World
That Festival Life is on a mission to experience, discover and explore all of the best festivals in the world! Do you know of an incredible festival you think I’ve missed? Let me know! Get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me and contribute your favourite festival, I’d love to hear from you! Explore the map below for just some of the music festivals around the world that we’ve previously visited or head to our ultimate packing checklist to get ready for your next festival!