7 Of The Most Epic Music Festival Locations Of All Time
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If you regularly fantasise about all the festivals out there, you’ve probably considered the biggest ones. The likes of Glastonbury, Tomorrowland, Burning Man and Coachella are all iconic for good reason, but you know those ones inside out.
What about the festivals happening off the beaten path? The ones that choose a rare, out-of-the-ordinary location and somehow pull it off? To help overload your bucket list, we’ve pulled together seven of the most epic festival locations across the globe, from Austria’s all-white slopes to the sun-drenched beaches of Croatia.
Sasquatch Festival, The Gorge Amphitheatre, USA
Central Washington’s Sasquatch Festival always attracts big-name headliners, but there’s no upstaging its location. The Gorge Amphitheatre is a stunning open-air site overlooking the Columbia River, about a two-hour drive out of Seattle. Sasquatch sets up there every Memorial Day long weekend, assembling a lineup that covers indie, rock, hip-hop, and dance music. (There’s also a strong comedy contingent.)
In 2017, the Sasquatch faithful witnessed sets from LCD Soundsystem, Chance The Rapper, Bonobo, Kaytranada, and RÜFÜS against a postcard-perfect backdrop. The Gorge is also remote, which means committing to the camping experience. It’s not just Sasquatch, either: the venue was recently used by Above & Beyond for its ABGT250 weekender.
Secret Solstice, Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland’s Secret Solstice is one of those seen-to-be-believed events. Taking place in and around Reykjavik during the summer solstice, the festival experiences 72 hours of continuous sunlight. While that’s weirdly compelling enough in itself, the action stretches from the inner city main stage to parties in lagoons, ice caves and geothermal swimming pools.
Secret Solstice attracts both Icelandic locals and curious tourists, with a lineup split between flashy names (in 2017, The Prodigy, Foo Fighters and Rick Ross) and house and techno favourites at the ominous Hel stage. The whole never-gets-dark thing requires a certain stamina, but it makes for a festival experience like no other.
The Labyrinth, Naeba Greenland, Japan
There are many, many reasons to visit Japan, including its wonderful food, natural beauty and warm people. Why not add music festivals to the list? For a certain category of traveller, The Labyrinth is something of a holy grail.
The intimate, quick-to-sell-out festival is a celebration of deep techno and experimental electronic music, with regulars like Peter Van Hoesen, Donato Dozzy, DJ Nobu and SO. The magic of Labyrinth is also tied to its setting. Naeba Greenland in Niigata feels a world away from the metropolis of Tokyo, with dreamy mountain views and a campsite surrounded by green. The festival’s iconic teepee stage and imposing stacks of Funktion-One speakers complete the picture. It’s not at all easy to buy a ticket outside of Japan, which only adds to the mystique.
Dimensions and Outlook, Fort Punta Christo, Croatia
With its crystal blue water and white sand beaches, Croatia has exploded as a festival destination in recent years. One of the country’s most unique natural venues is Fort Punta Christo in Pula, which hosts the Dimensions and Outlook festivals late in the European summer.
The abandoned fort near the Adriatic Sea is a wild place to witness some of the best acts in electronic music, and both festivals also sprawl down to the beach and onto curated boat parties. Then there’s the opening concert in Pula’s grand Roman Amphitheatre, which really sets the heightened tone. (In 2017, the Dimensions opening concert was Grace Jones and Moderat, so the vibes are very right.) Dimensions celebrates house, techno and disco, while Outlook is all about bass culture, but it’s the Fort that rules.
Houghton Festival, Houghton Hall, UK
It’s hard to think of a better-reviewed festival debut than 2017’s Houghton Festival. The inaugural three-day event back in August was curated by London tastemaker Craig Richards, which earned it immediate respect. The Fabric resident did a predictably excellent job on the lineup, securing his sometimes DJ partner Ricardo Villalobos alongside Nicolas Jaar, Andrew Weatherall, Floating Points and many more luminaries.
Then there was the location. The UK has a reputation for rain-battered festivals in muddy fields, but Richards and co. secured a never-before-used corner of the Houghton Hall estate. (The country house, set on sprawling grounds, was built for Britain’s first Prime Minister.) Nestled in the woods around a lake, the festival site is a little oasis for a clued-in crowd. Luckily Houghton Festival’s first edition was blessed by great weather, which hopefully returns in 2018.
Into The Valley, Rummu Quarry, Estonia
A relatively new addition to the European festival calendar, Into The Valley has quickly earned an impressive reputation. A large part of its appeal is the otherworldly location. Into The Valley began life in the former limestone quarry Dalhalla in Sweden, before moving in 2017 to its new home in Estonia. That home is Rummu, a limestone quarry and former prison (now mostly underwater) near the capital city of Tallinn.
Into The Valley pulled off a jaw-dropping house and techno lineup to match the new location, with Dixon, The Black Madonna, Jeff Mills, Nina Kraviz and all their friends booked across three days and nights. There were teething problems at the event, with rainstorms causing logistical mishaps, but things should be smoothed out for next year. A venue this special demands to be used.
Snowbombing, Mayrhofen, Austria
Beachside festivals are all well and good, but when was the last time you danced to Pendulum at the top of a snow-covered mountain? The Snowbombing festival goes down every April at a picturesque ski resort in Mayrhofen, Austria, and the location really excels.
With a main stage set between pine trees, the five-day marathon also boasts various high-altitude dancefloors, a rave inside an igloo, ski lodge parties and much more you don’t get at an average festival. Snowbombing has even locked in its 2018 lineup well ahead of time. In addition to the aforementioned Pendulum, the Austria-bound contingent includes Bicep, Dizzee Rascal, Craig David, Jackmaster and Dusky. Oh, and you can also ski, if that’s your thing…