World's best festivals

Camels, camping, stars, music and a gigantic burning man make up the best festivals from around the world

Burning Man
Burning Man
Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Pushkar Camel Mela
Pushkar Camel Mela
Festival of the Sahara
Festival of the Sahara
La Tomatina
La Tomatina
Urban Desert
Urban Desert
Desert Rhyrhm
Desert Rhyrhm
1/8

South by Southwest
When: March 13-22.
Where: Austin, Texas, USA.
Why: If you want to know who you will be listening to in 2010, head to the front of the curve at SXSW. With 80 stages showcasing new music, art and filmmaking as well as some industry giants (last year REM, Sia and The Black Keys played), this is a choice event with journos and more serious music fans.
Tickets: Dhs1,377-Dhs3,122.
For more: http://sxsw.com

Cheung Chau Bun Festival
When: May 12/13.
Where: Cheung Chau island, Hong Kong
Why: To catch the bun climbing competition, which takes place after the whole island has solely eaten vegetarian food for three days and enjoyed a big parade. Banned for 26 years after 30 people were injured, the contest returned in 2005 and now involves climbing a tower of plastic buns, 12 people at a time, while wearing a harness. Why? To scare away evil spirits, of course.
Tickets: Free.
For more: www.cheungchau.org

Glastonbury
When: June 24-28
Where: Pilton, UK
Why: If you haven’t been to Glastonbury, then frankly, you haven’t been to a music festival. Around 150,000 partiers make their way to Pilton, near Glastonbury – the town – set up a tent (or teepee) and enjoy hundreds of musical acts, spanning folk to hip hop (thus far, Franz Ferdinand are confirmed for this year). With so many stages to choose from, it’s difficult not to spend your time running from field to field, though by day-three you’ll have wound down into the festival mentality – and got used to those infamous nasty portaloos.
Tickets: Dhs923 for a weekend pass.
For more: www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

Splendour In The Grass
When: July/August.
Where: Byron Bay, Australia
Why: As well as huge international and Australian music artists (think Bloc Party, Coldplay and Brian Wilson), Splendour offers arts, crafts, ‘creative performances’ and cuisine. Best of all? It’s located just outside the heavenly Byron Bay. Keep a close eye on the website for line-up and tickets: the two-day event may accommodate 17,500 people, but it sells out within hours.
Tickets: TBC.
For more: www.splendourinthegrass.com

Burning Man
When: August 31-September 7.
Where: Black Rock Desert, Nevada.
Why: Burning Man is no ordinary festival. It’s a 48,000 strong city in the desert, where ‘no rules about how one expresses oneself (unless it’s dangerous) apply’, drinks are free and hundreds of music, art and bizarre ritual performances take place – as well as, er, man-burning.
Tickets: Dhs260/280/300
For more: www.burningman.com

Pushkar Camel Mela
When: October/November TBC.
Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan, India.
Why: It seems camels just love festivals. Not only is there camel wrestling in Turkey in January and the Al Dhafra Festival in Zayed City in December (see www. aldhafrafestival.com), there’s also Pushkar Camel Mela in India. Thousands congregate for the cattle fair and camel games – but mainly for the many hours of rampant merrymaking.
Tickets: TBC.
For more: www.pushkarfestival.com

Lake of Stars
When: October TBC (three days).
Where: Malawi.
Why: A festival right on the palm-fringed shores of Africa’s third largest lake in Malawi, this event’s music policy includes everything from contemporary Afropop, beat and rock to reggae, folk, beatboxers and the best international DJs (last year the Scratch Perverts and BBC Radio One’s Mary Anne Hobbs rocked it). Never has music tourism sounded so good.
Tickets: TBC.
For more: www.lakeofstars.org

Festival of the Sahara
When: End of December (four days).
Where: Douz, Tunisia.
Why: Instead of snow and fir trees this year, why not celebrate the festive season – and Tunisian culture – in the desert? Up to 50,000 revellers head to Douz for camel races, shooting displays and poetry recitals. Surely this would make for the most unique December 25 ever.
Tickets: Free.
For more: www.festivaldouz.org.tn

UAE fests

Chill Out Festival
When: March 13-14
Where: Madinat Arena
Why: Last year this all-day event boasted a superb set from DJ Andy Smith; this year it sprawls over a weekend and features Leftfield’s Paul Daley, Norman Jay and the excellent DJ Craze.
Tickets: TBC.
For more: Keep an eye on our music pages.

The Sixth Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival
When: March 21-April 2
Where: Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Why: Andrea Bocelli, the biggest selling tenor of all time, is set to headline our neighbouring emirate’s arty party this year, on Friday March 27. The full roster includes 20 music, dance and visual acts over 13 days, with performances from the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra and Ballet. If classical’s your thing, this is going to be one slammin’ show.
Tickets: Dhs350.
For more: www.admafestival.com

Coma Festival
When: April 16.
Where: Al Maya Island, nr Abu Dhabi.
Why: The first dance festival in the Middle East went off with a bang (or 130 bangs per minute) last November at the venue formerly known the ‘secret island’, Al Maya. This time around Axwell is pegged to play. We’ll definitely be heading back – if only for the Bond-esque speedboat ride over there.
Tickets: TBC
For more: www.comafestival.com

Womad Festival
When: April 2009
Where: Abu Dhabi
Why: Womad, ‘the quintessential music festival’, is certainly the most open-minded: the events are renowned for their eclectic acts from around the world, and for being the most family friendly. Launched by singer Peter Gabriel – with co-founders Thomas Brooman and Bob Hooton – in 1980, Womad festivals now take place in six different countries – soon to include the UAE.
Tickets: TBC.
For more: http://womad.org

Urban Desert
When: TBC.
Where: TBC.
Why: While we can’t give much away about Dubai’s top R’n’B and hip hop festival, we do know that artists of a similar status to last year’s Akon are in the works.
Tickets: TBC.
For more: www.timeoutdubai.com

Desert Rhythm
When: TBC.
Where: TBC.
Why: Kanye, Mika, Paul Weller... who knows what ’09 will hold?
Tickets: TBC.
For more: www.timeoutdubai.com

Really?

La Tomatina
Yes, it’s a tomato fight festival in Valencia, Spain. www.latomatina.org

Baby-jumping festival
Very large men jump over nicely-dressed babies in Castillo de Murcia, Spain. www.spanish-fiestas.com

World Bog Snorkelling
Participants swim two lengths of a 55m trench using non- conventional swim strokes. www.bogsnorkelling.com

Useful sites

www.hifli.me
This nifty site arranges flight and accommodation packages for festivals worldwide (they even cover our jazz festival).

www.festivals.com
As the name suggests, this site offers a comprehensive guide to festivals across the US.

www.virtualfestivals.com
For the fest-junkie: news, reviews, photos – even alerts to let you know when a tent is pitched anywhere in the world (practically).

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