Ever since your parents took you to that Tom Jones concert in middle school, you’ve had mixed feelings about live music. It likely didn’t help when Gramps regaled the family with stories of Woodstock, which included mind-numbing tales of how mud can find its way into almost any bodily crevice, but you’re stronger now. Apart from the occasional intrusive thought involving mom and dad shaking what they were born with, you’re ready to hit the music festival circuit. Start by doing it up big, and check out the 10 best music festivals to go to before you die:
Are you into desert camping and hipsters wearing floppy hats? Find your way to Southern California during April and revel in all things trendy. Featuring acts whose names are synonymous with finger-on-the-pulse music, Coachella is in its fifteenth incarnation and the 2014 concert attracted more than 550,000 people. Located in the desert city of Indio, past acts have included Daft Punk, Madonna, The Cure, and even a holographic Tupac.
This legendary festival in England has been held annually since 1970. Delivering cutting edge acts, Glastonbury is perhaps best known for its iconic Pyramid Stage. The massive triangular structure has housed artists like The Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Coldplay, and Beyonce. The festival occurs each year in June and about 175,000 music lovers fill the greenfield, so start pinching your pennies now and buy a ticket across the pond.
Love EDM? Get together with 330,000 other people who do too at Ultra Music Festival®, which takes place each March. This three-day festival in beautiful Miami brings big name DJs to the Sunshine State, including the likes of Avicii, Tiesto, and David Guetta. Although founded in Miami, the festival’s success has allowed it to expand internationally and now brings beats to South America, Asia, and Europe.
While you might not immediately think of Wisconsin when it comes to over-the-top parties, Summerfest will set the record straight. This Milwaukee-based festival takes place on over 75-acres of Midwestern land and draws in more than 800,000 attendees each year. With 800+ acts and 11 stages, that shouldn’t be too hard to believe. In fact, in 1999 the event was dubbed “The World’s Largest Music Festival” by the Guinness Book of World Records. This festival is not for the rookie festival-goer, as it lasts 11 days.
Home of the waltz and the wiener schnitzel, Vienna has a knack for going above and beyond the call of duty. In previous years, this Austrian event has boasted big names on their lineup such as Bruce Springsteen and AC/DC, but more commonly the stage is filled with German-language performers. Often cited as one of Europe’s biggest open air events, the fest draws nearly 3 million people. Practice your Deutsch and put on your party pants next June–Donauinselfest is one you won’t want to miss.
The iconic name may be next to impossible to say after a few festival beers, but this event is the pop culture king. Not the biggest or the newest, Lollapalooza is nonetheless recognized as one of the best music festivals in the world. Nine Inch Nails, Eminem, and Lorde represent a fraction of the top acts who have performed at this summer celebration. Expect even more when the event spreads from Grant Park, Chicago, to Berlin in 2015.
Fancy a trip to England this June? The Isle of Wight Festival awaits you. First occurring in 1969, the music bonanza is held at Seaclose Park on the Isle of Wright (duh). Major artists such as Robert Plant, The Who, and Amy Winehouse have all graced the stage. Pack your boat shoes and find a way to this fest in June.
Have a blast in Manchester, Tennessee during the summer, and do your best to stay hydrated. Braving the heat definitely pay off though; the 2014 festival saw Elton John and Lionel Richie representing the oldies while Vampire Weekend and Jack White entertained the party animals.
Taking place in, you guessed it, Rio de Janeiro, Rock in Rio has been known to shake up South America. Rock in Rio has been jamming out since 1985 and will now be expanding with sister events in Lisbon, Portugal, and Madrid, Spain. An anticipated stop in Las Vegas in 2015, the festival proudly sports Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars on its lineup.
Be a hipster and remember to shorten the festival name to SXSW, or you’ll look uncool. SXSW is the premiere festival event in Austin, Texas, a perfect location for experiencing hip movies and raw new musical talent. This event combines hands-on exhibits with live music and film screenings for a truly unique experience. The conference lasts for a whopping 10 days, while 6 of those days include music. About 80,000 people hit the song stages and almost double that attend the exhibits and crazy parties. Mosey down to Texas in March to have your mind blown.