Music festivals… The one thing that we here at The Broke Backpacker enjoy almost as much as backpacking! For me personally, there are many festivals I have not been to yet which I would love to experience. When backpacking broke, I never really had the money to drop on festival tickets but now that I have some more cash, travelling specifically to go to festivals is something I want to do more of.
Pretty much every trip I take comes to acquire its own soundtrack and when at home, I have the radio (or Spotify) blasting pretty much all day long to inspire me through my workday and my workouts. So yeah, festivals occupy a truly special place in my heart as they offer a dizzying cocktail of travel, music, camping and of course, dizzying cocktails…
And I know that a lot of you guys feel exactly the same. In fact it often feels that a music festival is a giant party of backpackers clad in ethnic wear, munching tantalising international cuisines and shaking their booties to successions of repetitive beats cooked up in studios all over the world.
For those of you who love to rock your way around the world, or are trying to plan your travels around which festivals to visit, we’ve done the hard work for you to bring you a very special post indeed; my lovingly curated selection of the best music festivals in the ENTIRE world. We will tell you what the best festivals are, where they are, when they are happening, how to get there and of course, we will let you in on just what it is that makes them so special.
These Are The Best Festivals in the World
– Wonderfruit, Thailand
– Rainbow Serpent, Australia
– SXSW, Austin TX
– Primavera, Spain
– Glastonbury, UK
– EXIT, Serbia
– Boom, Portugal
– Ozora, Hungary
– AfrikaBurn, South Africa
– Sziget, Hungary
– Boomtown, UK
– Burning Man, Nevada
The Greatest Music Festivals on Earth
Date: 14-18 December 2023
Location: Pattaya, Thailand
Ticket Price: $435
Established in 2014 with the intention of bringing the music festival experience to Thailand, Pattaya’s Wondefruit has fast emerged as one of the most progressive festivals in the world promoting sustainability and eco-consciousness. It’s one of the best festivals in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
It is also a helluva lotta fun. Last year, whilst on LSD, I watched a gigantic comet break apart in the sky over the festival grounds, it was fucking amazing. The vibe here is super friendly, the stages are very cool and diverse and there are many incredible artists. The festival boasts a diverse lineup of music genres, such as indie rock, electronic music as well as massage tents (it is Thailand afterall), art installations and farm to table dining.
I get that Southeast Asia is a long way for some of you to travel purely for a music festival, but December is peak time for backpacking Southeast Asia so why not work into your itinerary? Keep an eye out for me if you go this year, I’ll be getting my tickets as soon as they are released…
Date: 25-28 January 2024
Location: Lexton, Victoria, Australia
Ticket Price: $400
Rainbow Serpent (named after the mythical Rainbow Serpent of Aboriginal Legend) is a music and arts festival that takes place annually on Aboriginal Lands in the state of Victoria. The festival is primarily known for underground electronic music (Psytrance, Techno, Glitch and Dub), but also features a wide range of other music genres, live bands and of course, some indigenous performers.
Rainbow Serpent is usually held over the long Australia Day weekend in January although, amongst a bushfire and then COVID, the 2023 edition will be the first Rainbow Serpent since 2019. We can’t wait for this epic Aussie festival to make its grand comeback!
As well as being Australia’s premier psychedelic and underground festival, Rainbow Serpent also attracts thousands of visitors from all over the globe. The festival grounds are staged in a beautiful natural environment and each different stage curates its own unique vibe and atmosphere. Whether you’re backpacking Australia, fancy a long trip or you’re based in the region, you won’t regret attending.
Date: 11-20 March 2023
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Ticket Price: Badges start at $495
South By SouthWest (SXSW) is an annual music, film, and interactive media festival that takes place across multiple different venues in Austin, Texas, USA. SXSW has become one of the music industry’s biggest showcase events and for 10 days each March the city’s bars, theatre and venues are packed with record company A & R men either looking for fresh talent or introducing their latest signings to the world’s media.
SXSW features a pretty wide range of different music genres, including rock & indie, pop and hip-hop and now attracts over 70,000 visitors to Austin each year. As such, accommodation books out well ahead of time so do be sure to reserve your Austin Airbnb early doors.
As well as the music itself, the SXSW festival also features several keynote speakers, industry panels, and workshops. Basically, this awesome American festival is an invaluable networking opportunity for anyone looking to get into the music industry.
Date: 24 – 30 April 2022
Location: Tankwa Karoo, South Africa
Ticket Price: From $129
Inspired by the Burning Man festival in Nevada, AfrikaBurn is an annual art and music happening held in the Tankwa Karoo National Park, South Africa. The thing about AfrikaBurn is that it’s not quite a festival as much as a temporary, makeshift community of innovators and free thinkers. AfrikaBurn is founded on the concept of a gifting economy where attendees trade services with one another.
There is, of course, lots of music and the lineup features an eclectic lineup of genres, along with interactive art installations, performances, and workshops. That said, most of the artists are volunteers so don’t expect any “big names” (that is, however, a bonus in my view). Either way, we reckon it’s a must-visit festival in South Africa!
Date: 1-5 June 2024
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Ticket Price: €195 for a full festival pass
Since its inception in 2001, Barcelona’s Primavera Sound has established itself as one of Europe’s leading music festivals. Each year, it offers up some very impressive headliners (Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Bjork and LCD Soundsystem have all headlined in recent years) and rightly now attracts 200,000 visitors from all over the world. It’s not just the most epic festival in Spain, but one of the best across the continent.
Aside from the music, Primavera also includes cultural experiences such as art exhibits, film screenings, and workshops. The festival has proven such a success that Primavera is now on its way to becoming a global brand with sister festivals happening in L.A., Porto and have one planned for South America.
Held on the Barcelona waterfront, Primavera is a music festival within an urban setting meaning that it is incredibly accessible (Barcelona airport takes budget flights from all over Europe) and it also means that attendees can retire to a comfortable bed each night.
Date: 22-26 June 2023
Location: Pilton, Somerset, England
Ticket Price: £265 + £5 booking fee per person
Considering that it is perhaps the true Grandaddy of music festivals, we just had to feature Glastonbury in this rundown. The Glastonbury Performing Arts festival was first held on Worthy Farm, Glastonbury in idyllic Somerset in 1970 organised by the enterprising, hippy farmer Michael Eavis. Since then, the festival has become a true British cultural institution, is shown each year by the BBC, and has attracted pretty much every single major musical act in the world to play for the festival’s 130,000 attendees.
However, for me, the Glastonbury phenomenon is a problematic one. Indeed, the festival was (once upon a time) the spiritual epicentre of Britain’s counter-culture attracting the nation’s freaks, hippies, ravers and travellers. These days though, the festival is just one more example of how gentrification has sterilised British culture – weekend passes cost £500, food and drink prices are intolerably high, and the musical lineup is becoming increasingly watered down as the festival seeks to target a safer demographic.
Still, the festival site is truly impressive; there are plenty of cool corners away from the main stages, and you have never even seen a sunrise until you have seen it from Glastonbury Tor while coming down from an acid trip! It’s one of the go-to UK festivals for a reason!
Date: 6 – 9 July 2023
Location: Novi Sad, Serbia
Ticket Price: €129 for a 4-day pass
Serbia’s EXIT Festival has some very surprising origins indeed and was actually first held in 2000 as a student movement for democracy. Since then it has grown into one of the biggest and most popular music festivals in Europe as well as establishing itself as one of Serbia’s leading brands.
Staged over 4 days in Petrovaradin Fortress, EXIT Festival focuses on more mainstream styles of electronic music and “business techno” – 2023’s headliners include Amelie Lens, Nina Kravitz and Camelphat.
The festival attracts 55,000 visitors each year and while it is largely a domestic audience, the festival is beginning to attract more and more international visitors each year. While the (hip and cool) city of Novi Sad doesn’t boast the best-served airport, Belgrade is a mere 4 hour, €10 bus ride away and is a fun stop anyway on any Balkan backpacking trip.
Date: 22-29 July 2024
Location: Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal
Ticket Price: $250
Boom Festival is a biennial psychedelic music festival held in Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal that is widely (and rightfully) accepted as the world’s premier Psytrance get-together. The festival attracts a truly eclectic and international crowd assembled to dance for 10 days straight to the world’s leading Psychedelic DJs and Producers (Astrix basically has his own monument).
The Boom festival site is set beside a huge lake so revellers can take a dip when the heat gets too much, and there are loads of workshops, talks and yoga classes going on for those moments when the dance floor energy gets too intense. It’s this whole vibe, alongside the epic music, that makes it one of the premier festival in Portugal.
Boom also happens to offer perhaps the greatest selection of festival boutiques we have ever seen and of course, Portugal’s pioneering drug decriminalisation policy ensures that you don’t have to worry too much about emptying your pockets on the way out of the festival…
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Date: 31 July – 6 August 2023
Location: Ozora, Hungary
Ticket Price: €200 for a full festival pass
Keeping the Psychedelic theme going, Ozora Festival is an annual Psy-trance festival held in Ozora, Hungary. The festival attracts over 60,000 visitors from around the world and features a diverse lineup of electronic music genres, along with cultural experiences, such as workshops, performances, and art installations.
I am going to be honest, in the years when Boom is also happening OZORA does tend to get a little overshadowed – it seems that relatively few of Europe’s Psyheads have the time, energy or funds to do both festivals back-to-back. However, the positive side of this is that the festival is a bit more chilled, you get a pick of camp real estate and more prominence is given to up-and-coming artists rather than the old guard. My tip for Ozora is to check out the Pum Poi tent and the Chill dome as these are more intimate and interesting than the main stage.
To get to Ozora, you can either take a train from Budapest to Simontornya or get the special OZORA bus. Remember that you will be camping for 7 – 10 days so bring a good tent and a set of camp cooking gear. Thankfully, Hungary is one of the cheapest countries in Europe, so you should have plenty of spare cash for whatever your imagination can muster!
Date: 9-13 August 2023
Location: Winchester, England
Ticket Price: £229 for a 5-day pass
Renowned for its immersive theatrical experience, (the entire festival is set in a fictitious city called “Boomtown”) this British modern music festival is fast earning itself a place as an integral feature in the UK’s summertime calendar.
The music lineup is predominantly electronic based (spanning House, DnB, Techno and all the way to Psytrance) but also features a diverse range of music genres, including live reggae, hip-hop, and more.
One of the stand-out aspects of Boomtown is its elaborate set design, including several themed districts all inspired by different cultures and time periods. Each district has its own stage and features a variety of performers that are relevant to the district’s theme. Another feather in Boomtown’s cap is that it is perhaps the single most chemically flavoured of all the festivals on this list – when us Brits go for it, we do go hard.
Date: 10-15 August 2023
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Ticket Price: €339 for a 7-day pass
Taking place over 6 consecutive summer nights, Budapest’s Sziget is something of a gargantuan music festival that attracts over 500,000 revellers each year! Of all the different festivals we have featured in this rundown, Sziget is perhaps the most genuinely diverse – as well as featuring huge names from the world of pop and rock (Ed Sheeran and Arctic Monkeys) the festival also offers a number of electronic stages playing underground club sounds.
The self-proclaimed “city within a city” also serves up a number of cultural experiences such as circus performances, art installations, and gastronomical delights.
Because of its location at the heart of Europe, Sziget is very popular amongst summer Europe backpackers – Budapest is incredibly well served by plane, train and bus so there is little excuse for you not to go!
Date: 25 August – 5 September 2022
Location: Black Rock City, Nevada, USA
Ticket Price: From $1500
Perhaps the most hyped of all the entries on our list, Burning Man is not your typical music festival – rather it’s a week-long gathering of artists and creatives in the middle of the Nevada desert and there is almost as much Silicon Valley networking as partying going on. Still, the festival is soundtracked by some of the world’s leading DJs and musicians performing in the various camps and stages around the site.
Burning Man is a truly unique and unforgettable experience and tops many people’s festival bucket list. Tickets sell out fast and in many cases, attendees save up for years in order to fund their “burn”. However, unfortunately, Burning Man is fast becoming a victim of its own success as Insta-influencers increasingly crowd out genuine ravers. In fact, it feels like only a matter of time before Pepsi turns up at Burning Man to film their Super Bowl commercial.
Note that this festival is quite literally in the middle of the desert. If you are going to do it, then you need to get an RV and bring in everything that you are going to need for the duration of the festival. Also, keep in mind that dust really gets into some intimate places…
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And now for some festivals NOT on this list…
Some of our eagle-eyed readers may well have noticed that a couple of very high-profile festivals did not make this list. Rest assured dear readers, this was not an oversight on our part but rather an intended omission. But while we are doing this, indulge me while I share my thoughts on what may well be the worst music festivals on earth…
Date: 14 – 23 April 2023
Location: Empire Polo Club, Indio, CA
Ticket Price: From $549
Oh, Coachella. What was once one of California’s coolest alternative music festivals has sadly turned into something deeply, deeply awful. Set over 2 weekends (yes the festival entirely repeats itself. Why? $$$ is why…) Coachella is essentially now a mega Spring parlee for America’s rich and vacuous to dress up in boho chic for a couple of days presumably while the private jets are in for cleaning.
It has also become THE ‘influencer event’ of the season so much so, that some influencers have even begun faking their Coachella attendance content because the pressure to be there is so high.
Don’t believe me? Then ask Coachella 2023 headliner Frank Ocean who couldn’t even be bothered to turn up and play because Coachella is so shit!
Date: 21 – 23 July 2023
Location: Boom, Belgium
Ticket Price: From $320
Tomorrowland may well be Europe’s biggest electronic music festival but in my opinion, it also ranks amongst its absolute worst. Basically, Tomorrowland is a festival for boys on roids and girls filled with filler who unironically refer to electronic music as “EDM”. The line-up is a rogue’s gallery of overhyped, overpaid, overstimulated DJs syncing boring beats to people who really shouldn’t do drugs, doing drugs.
And don’t even get us started on all the fucking flags that Tommorowlanders apparently feel the need to wave about all weekend!
What To Pack For a Music Festival
In order to get the most out of a music festival, you need to make sure that you prepare and pack properly. Turning up to a festival wearing the wrong clothes, carrying the wrong gear or not carrying the right gear can sometimes ruin the experience.
However, as no two music festivals are quite the same, prepping and packing can prove tough. For example, Primavera takes place in Barcelona city centre, during the city’s dry summer and attendees go home (or at least to a hostel) to sleep every night. As such, all you need for Primavera is a pair of comfy trainers, sun cream and a sling body pack. Britain’s Boomtown, on the other hand, is something of an endurance event where you will need to bring Wellington boots, a raincoat and, of course, your camping gear.
However, these are some festival essentials that we recommend packing for all music festivals;
- A cross-body bag or fanny pack
- USB-powered head torch
- Reusable, filter water bottle
- A money belt – good for hiding festival seasoning…
- A packable rain jacket (nights get cool even in dry places)
- UV sunglasses – cheap ones won’t protect your eyes enough
- An eSim data package so you can call your mates when you get lost at 4 am
FAQs About the Best Music Festivals on Earth
Final Thoughts on the Best Music Festivals on Earth
Well, there you are, our handpicked, carefully curated rundown of the best music festivals on Earth. As festival seasons get into full swing, I can’t wait to get to as many of these as I can. Hopefully, I will see some of you guys there.
How many of these festivals have you been to? Do you have any festival plans for this year? Or maybe you have a favourite festival that you feel we missed or you’ve got a lesser-known festival you think we should know about?
Either way, let us know by leaving a comment below!
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