music festivals

The best music festivals in the U.S.

 

The USA is a country full of diversity, which is reflected in its music and festival scene. Whether you’re a celebrity-spotting fashionista, into your hard-core punk or like to keep things pretty chill, you’re guaranteed to find it on the USA festival circuit. 

 

The obvious choices… 

Coachella 

Where: Indio, California
When: 9 – 18 April 2021
2021 lineupTBC, but 2019 featured the likes of Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, Ariana Grande and Khalid. 

Taking place in the middle of the desert, Coachella is one of the first to kick off the summer festival season. If you truly believe fashion and music go hand in hand, then this is the festival for you. Basically, anyone who is anyone will be there. 

 

Bonnaroo

Where: Manchester, Tennessee
When17 – 20 June 2021
2021 lineup: TBC, but 2019 included Post Malone, Cardi B, The Lumineers, Phish and Kacey Musgraves

Bonnaroo is hard-core! Don’t say we didn’t warn you. It’s known to be one of the greatest camping experiences in the world and the lineup never disappoints. Be careful of that Tennessee heat though! 

 

Lollapalooza

Where: Chicago, Illinois
When: 29 Jul 1 Aug 2021 
2021 lineupTBC, but 2019 included Ariana Grande, Lil Wayne, The Strokes, and The Chainsmokers 

One of our fav festivals in the U.S. Plus, you don’t have to get all dressed up for this one. Lollapalooza is known to be chilled out, yet at the same time, super organized. When a storm shut down the festival over one of the days, sets were quickly rescheduled and the show went on. Nice work Lollapalooza crew! 

 

South By Southwest (SXSW) 

Where: Austin, Texas 
When: 12 –20 March 2021
2021 lineupTBC, but 2019 included the likes of Billie Eilish, Khalid and Virgil Abloh 

This is THE festival for discovering new talent. Hop around bars and venues around Austin and rub shoulders with music industry folk as they look for the next big act to sign. It’s not just future stars though, you’ll also catch big names gracing the stages. 

 

The less obvious choices… 

 

The Governors Ball Festival 

Where: Randall’s Island Park, New York City 
When: 29 Apr – 2 May 2021
2021 lineupTBC, but 2019 included Florence + The Machine, Tyler, The Creator, Major Lazer 

Governors Ball is one of the coolest festivals out there. So cool in fact, that you might find yourself stood next to a celeb while waiting for the next band to perform! The benefit of The Governors Ball (or negative, however you look at it) is that there’s no camping involved, everyone stays in hostels and hotels.  

 

Hangout Music Festival

Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama
When: 21 – 22 May 2021
2021 lineupTBC, but 2019 included Arizona, Bazzi, Bebe Rexha, Bishop Briggs and Travis Scott 

The beautiful beaches of the Gulf Shores should be enough to sway it for you. It’s not your typical setting for a festival, but it still manages to bring in the big names to the lineup. It’s a super chilled atmosphere too – Hangout by name, hangout by nature! 

 

Country Thunder 

Where: Florence, AZ (also locations in Wisconsin, Iowa, Florida Alberta, Saskatchewan) 
When: 8 – 11 April 2021
2021 lineup: Luke Combs, Dustin Lynch, Morgan Wallen and Eric Church 

Line dancing lessons, cowboy boots and tent campingGrab your besties, your best patriotic gear, and head out to the boondocks to crack a cold one with some of the biggest names in country music. Yee haw my friends.  

 

Boston Calling 

Where: As the name suggests, Boston
When: May 28 – May 30 2021
2021 lineup: TBC, but 2019 highlights included Twenty One Pilots, Odesza, Logic and Greta Van Fleet. 

Look at the 2019 highlights above, so diverse! Boston Calling has something for everyone. It’s a relatively new festival, debuting in 2013, so the lineup is bound to keep on getting stronger and stronger. 

 

 Pitchfork Festival – Chicago, Illinois 

Where: Chicago, Illinois 
When: July 17 – July 19 2021
2021 lineup: TBC, but 2019 highlights included Robyn, the Isley Brothers, Charli XCX, and Mavis Staples 

If you don’t manage to get tickets to Lollapalooza then Pitchfork Festival is a good back up if you’re heading to Chicago. The line-up is always diverse, showcasing acts from alternative rock to hard-core punk. 

 

We’re liking the sound of Country Thunder –  tent camping, cowboy boots and dance lessons! What’s your festival pick? If you want to discover more highlights across the US of A, check out more info here. 

 

Europe music festival

Europe’s best music festivals | STA Travel Blog

 

From seasoned stalwarts to circuit newcomers, Europe hosts some of the most noteworthy festivals on the planet. With Europe’s 2020 festival season sadly cancelling due the impact of COVID-19 and many tickets rolling over to 2021, next year’s festivals are fast becoming the world’s most popular waitlist.

Here are some of our festival favourites to get on your radar for future years. (Ducks to avoid being hit by paper cups for not being able to mention more of them).

Pray for raves not second waves, people!

Sziget

Where: Budapest, Hungary
When: August 2021, exact dates TBC
2021 lineup: TBC, but past acts have included Arctic Monkeys, Florence & The Machine, Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore.

One island, seven days, thousands of acts: Sziget is less of a festival, and more of a holiday that you never want to end. Hosted on the Island of Freedom (Budapest’s Óbuda Island), Sziget is one of Europe’s biggest and most renowned festivals. As well as a setlist that spans the musical spectrum with superstars from the worlds of indie, rock, EDM and R&B, there’s also a staggering seven-day program of cinema, comedy, theatre and cultural events. It’s the kind of festival where you make friends for life, give up wearing shoes, and consider selling all your possessions to join a nomadic circus troupe.

Roskilde

Where: Roskilde, Denmark
Where: 26 June – 3 July 2021
2021 lineup: Thom Yorke, Tyler, the Creator, FKA Twiggs, Floating Points, TLC, plus many more.

A legend on Europe’s festival circuit, Roksilde deserves a well-earned place in the festival hall of fame. One of the largest festivals in Northern Europe, it is now its 50th year. Roskilde is more than a festival, it’s an institution: one that celebrates the crowd-pleasers as much as the cutting-edge, and the mainstream as much as the up-and-comers. As well as a diverse display of music and genres, the festival promotes a real sense of belonging and appreciation for art, activism and the avant-guarde – including Naked Runs on the Saturday each year! The whole experience comes together with the trademark cool and effortless Scandi style that you would expect from the Danish.

Ultra Europe

Where: Split, Croatia
When: 9 – 11 July 2021
2021 lineup: TBC, but previous years have included David Guetta, Afrojack, Armin Van Buuren, Carl Cox, Hardwell, Chase & Status.

Crossing the Atlantic to the sparkling shores of the Adriatic, the European leg of the Ultra franchise hosts some of the greatest dance, techno, trance and house acts from around the globe. From spinning decks to sailing decks, it’s also a festival where you can soak up Croatia’s world-famous summer party scene. The main festival is in Split’s Mladeži park, with other Ultra parties taking place on nearby islands, beaches, yachts and fortresses. While the 2021 lineup has yet to be announced, if previous years have been anything to go by, it promises to be a who’s who of the planet’s best DJs and dance duos.

Tomorrowland

Where: Boom, Belgium
When: 16 – 18 July and 23 – 25 July 2021
2021 lineup: TBC, but previous acts have included David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Marshmello, Amelie Lens, Martin Garrix, Eric Prydz.

In short, Tomorrowland is the most revered EDM festival on Earth. Boom, drop the mic. (The festival is in Boom in Belgium? Never mind). Tomorrowland’s unforgettable stage designs and spectacular firework displays transport you to another universe. A universe where the biggest names in EDM, house, hardstyle, drum & bass and more perform in a fantasyland of quirky sets and theatrics, surrounded by lakes and forests. It’s a fully immersive experience where you leave feeling like you’ve belonged to something truly extraordinary.

Primavera Sound

Where: Barcelona, Spain
When: 2 – 6 June 2021
2021 lineup: Gorillaz, Tame Impala, The Strokes, FKA Twigs, Iggy Pop, Disclosure, Jorja Smith.

Barcelona’s multi-genre music festival, held on the shores of the Mediterranean in the city’s Parc del Forum, is the ultimate reflection of the city itself. Alternative, creative and oh-so-effing-cool. Spread across 16 outdoor stages, the annual lineup is something of a musical masterpiece – taking the most influential artists from across genres to create an effortless five days of music. 2021 will be Primavera Sound’s belated 20th birthday, so promises to be the kind of birthday party that every kid wants an invite to.

Afro Nation

Where: Praia da Rocha Beach, Portimão, Portugal
When: 1 – 3 July 2021
2021 lineup: Skepta, Wizkid, Beenie Man, French Montana, Burna Boy, plus many more.

The biggest names in urban music, on a sun-drenched beach on Portugal’s stunning Algarve? What’s not to love. Over three days, beats drop from the masters of hip-hop, dancehall, bashment, Afrobeats and R&B against a backdrop of golden sands, limestone rocks and crystal-clear waters. As well as the main event, the side parties are also something of class act, with private beach and boat parties.

FIB: Festival Internacional de Benicàssim

Where: Benicàssim, Spain
When: July 2021, exact dates TBC
2021 lineup: TBC, but past acts have included Kings of Leon, Liam Gallagher, Travis Scott, The Killers, The Vaccines, Vampire Weekend.

Festival Internacional de Benicàssim – or ‘Beni’ for short – is a mainstay on the European festival scene, pulling in the crowds with its big names and sunny seaside vibes. Held in the coastal town of Benicàssim on Spain’s Costa del Azahar, the latest and greatest names in rock, indie, dance and pop run from early evening until the early hours to help combat the summer Spanish heat. The added bonus being that festival-goers get their days free to travel/explore/collapse hungover on a beach (delete as appropriate).

Mad Cool Festival

Where: Madrid, Spain
When: 7 – 10 July 2021
2021 lineup: Faith No More, Pixies, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Killers, plus heaps more already announced.

Despite only being around since 2016, Mad Cool has already established itself as a major player on the rock and indie festival circuit. Held in a stadium village in Spain’s capital, Mad Cool doesn’t have the sundrenched seaside setting of Benicássim, but what it lacks in beauty it more than makes up for in headline acts. In its short – but very sweet – history, it’s already attracted an impressive number of superstars from rock’s current hall of fame, including Foo Fighters, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, and Queens of the Stone Age.

Glastonbury

Where: Worthy Farm, Pilton, England
When: 23 – 27 June 2021
2021 lineup: TBC, but past artists have included… well, pretty much everyone.

No festival lineup would be complete without Glastonbury. Hallowed ground for festival fans the world over, Glastonbury is in a world of its own. From the music royalty of the Pyramid Stage, to the underground world of Shangri-La, late-night hedonism of Arcadia and lazy afternoon hippy vibes of the Healing Fields, Glastonbury is less of a festival – and more of a lifestyle. As far as guestlists go, you need luck on your side for this one! Massively oversubscribed, you get tickets by registering in advance and then sitting through a nail-biting morning of clicking and refreshing the webpage. Five days partying at Worthy Farm though? Well worth it.

Travelers listen music

Travelling without music would feel like…

 

Stubbed toes, wine without cheese, and Friends without the theme tune.

From Edinburgh to Auckland, our STA Travel staff discuss their favorite festivals, go-to hometown music venues, and road trip guilty pleasures.

Tania Gasnier, Head Designer, STA Travel New Zealand

The windows are down, no one can hear, I’m on a road trip listening to… ‘So Damn Funky’ by Codes, with my speakers would be almost blowing from the bass.

The song that always takes me back is… ‘Africa’ by Toto and ‘Another Day in Paradise’ by Phil Collins make me nostalgic for being on safari in Kenya and Tanzania. My heart squeezes when I hear them, and I’m filled with a longing to go back.

Travel without music would feel like… Wine without cheese. I always make a playlist to relate to the location I’m travelling, whether it be laid back island vibes or something to help me power up a mountain.

Favorite festival at home: Fritter Festival, Whangarei. A festival where local restaurants compete to create the best fritter. Great food, great Kiwi bands. Food is as important to me as travel is!

Favorite festival to travel to: Bluesfest in Byron Bay, Australia. A 3-day long festival celebrating blues and roots music. Such a feel-good vibe. Good tunes, camping, and loads of shenanigans.

Emma Neely, Marketing Exec, STA Travel USA

Travel without music would feel like… Bread without butter or oil or cheese or any of the good stuff. Still good, but kind of dry.

Go-to venue for live music: Chicago has so many great music venues, from the legendary Wrigley Field to packing a picnic to listen to music at Ravinia Festival and Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island right on the waters of Lake Michigan.

Favorite festival at home: While Chicago might be best known for Lollapalooza, Riot Fest, North Coast and Pitchfork… their newest country festival Windy City Smoke-out is by far my favorite. Not only can you listen to some of the latest acts out of Nashville, but you can do so while sampling the nation’s best BBQ.

In 2021, I’ll be at… Country Thunder in Arizona. It’s basically a 4-day long tailgate. Hell yeah! Nothing beats tent camping, taking pics for the ‘gram to show off your country gear and drinking one too many beers all while listening to good ‘ol country music. Bonus: each day of the festival has a theme to dress up to.

Ibtisaam Ganief, Online Marketing Exec, STA Travel South Africa

Travel without music would feel like… really sad! Imagine not vibing to some deep house or twerking to some Diplo and Major Lazer.

The windows are down, no one can hear, I’m on a road trip listening to… I can hit all Shakira’s notes. Waka Waka eh eh!

Go-to venue for live music: In Cape Town, I like the setup at Shimmy Beach Club and the vibes at the outdoor parties at Hillcrest Quarry.

Favorite festival at home: I love Origin Festival in Heldrestroom. It’s a weekend long psychedelic music and arts festival. Everything about it just feels right. When I’m there, I feel one with people and my surroundings.

In 2021 I’ll be at… Rocking the Daisies. I went for the first time last year and saw Sho Madjozi, Biggie and Russ live.

Renee Yiannakis, Digital Trading Manager, STA Travel Australia

Travel without music would feel like… Not being able to tell a good story well. The context is there, but the engagement and curiosity has lost me.

The windows are down, no one can hear, I’m on a road trip listening to… Lenny Kravitz ‘Fly Away’, The Weeknd ‘Blinding Lights’, ‘It’s My Life’ Talk Talk, ‘Mother’s Daughter’ Miley Cyrus.

The tunes that saved me in lockdown: You don’t know what date it is and let’s be frank, your mood changes daily, so my go-to playlist is a mixed of all different genres. Some days when I want to unwind, I’ll listen to chill tracks from Michael Kiwanuka, Grace Jones and Massive Attack, and when I’m feeling more energetic, I’ll listen to Tensnake, Azari & III, The Weeknd and New Order. I also love listening to Greek music. There’s something about the tunes that are so dreamy and reminds me of summers spent on the islands.

Go-to venue for live music: Melbourne has so many live music venues. I love the Forum because of its gothic architecture and its heritage hosting iconic Australian and world-class acts.

Helen Daglish, Social Media Exec, STA Travel UK

The song that always takes me back is… Alt-J’s first album ‘An Awesome Wave’ always takes me back to my trip to Bali in 2016. It’s such a chilled-out album and I feel so nostalgic listening to it now.

The windows are down, no one can hear, I’m on a road trip listening to… Finley Quaye ‘Sunday Shining’. It’s the ultimate summer road trip tune!

The tunes that saved me in lockdown: Most of lockdown has been spent working from home, so I’ve been listening to music that won’t distract me too much. My go-to playlist has been ‘Electronic Concentration’ – good beats and no lyrics. Four Tet, Bonobo and Tokyo Prose.

In 2021 I’ll be at… I’d love to go to one of the summer music festivals in Croatia. Either Dimensions, Outlook or Hideout. And of course, Notting Hill Carnival next August in London. The best street party EVER.

Ben McCabe, Store Manager, STA Travel Cavendish South Africa

The song that always takes me back: Junior Jack, Tube & Berger ‘E Samba 2018’. It takes me right back to Ibiza, and the amazing European summer, partying at O Beach Club and Pacha with my mates.

The windows are down, no one can hear, I’m on a road trip listening to… Rufus Du Sol ‘No Place’.

Favorite festival at home: My favorite live music venue is Kirstenbosch… summer concerts are always a vibe! Second favorite home festival hands-down would be Rocking the Daisies, it always brings really big international artists.

Favorite festival to travel to: NOS Primavera in Portugal, Mad Cool in Madrid or Glastonbury in the UK.

Benjamin Foster, B2B/Groups Manager, STA Travel New Zealand

Travel without music would feel like… stubbing your little toe every day, forever.

The windows are down, no one can hear, I’m on a road trip listening to… ‘Ironic’ Alanis Morissette.

The tunes that saved me in lockdown: Anything by Ludovico Einaudi.

Go-to venue for live music: Neck of The Woods in Auckland.

Favorite festival at home: Laneways in Auckland. Usually a good line up and close to home.

Favorite festival to travel to: Holi Moo Festival in Delhi. Amazing vibes, super colorful and everyone is so happy!

Dale Badenhorst, Junior Online Marketing Exec, STA Travel South Africa

Travel without music would feel like… The bathroom without your phone. Sure, there are other things to keep you entertained, but it’s just not the same.

Go-to venue for live music: For live band action, Nomad Bistro in Cape Town. Small little place in a side street where you just follow the sounds of the music to reach the ‘all you can eat’ BBQ ribs. Oh and yes, the music is good too.

The windows are down, no one can hear, I’m on a road trip listening to… River Becomes Ocean ‘Addicted’, ‘Burn it down’ Silverstein, ‘All I Want’ by A Day To Remember, ‘Filthy’ by WSTR, and ‘Medicate’ by Theory of Deadman.

The tunes that saved me in lockdown: Lo-Fi Hip Hop, Pop Punk playlists and smooth morning jazz. A mixture to keep you going.

Louisa McFadden, Store Manager, STA Travel Wellington New Zealand

The windows are down, no one can hear, I’m on a road trip listening to… Shania Twain ‘Man I feel like a woman’ or ‘Mr Brightside’ by the The Killers.

Travel without music would feel like… Friends with no theme tune.

Go-to venue for live music: I’m from Scotland, so LOVED going to the Edinburgh Fringe for all the different music genres or The Hydro in Glasgow.

Favorite festival to travel to: Tomorrowland, it is like no other experience I’ve ever had!

In 2021, I’ll be at… I’d LOVE to go to Coachella or Glastonbury.