World's top summer music festivals

The best music events from New Orleans to Niigata

Festival Internacional de Benicàssim
Festival Internacional de Benicàssim
The Hives at Siesta
The Hives at Siesta
Eddie Vedder at New Orleans Jazz Festival
Eddie Vedder at New Orleans Jazz Festival
Fuji Rock
Fuji Rock
Lou Reed at Caribana
Lou Reed at Caribana
The Killers at Electric Picnic
The Killers at Electric Picnic
The Cinematic Orchestra at SonarSound
The Cinematic Orchestra at SonarSound

There’s a whole world of musical weekenders out there, showcasing the biggest names in dance, indie, metal, folk and more. After a close look at line-ups, sites and sideshows, we’ve hand-picked a selection of international festivals from April right through to September, with a breakdown of various ticket options for you to consider.

In short, there’s something here for everyone – of all ages and all musical inclinations.


When and where?
Tokyo, Japan, April 21-22.

The line-up: A hipster-friendly list of Japanese and global dance, headed by drum’n’bass tunesmith Squarepusher and electro-jazz outfit The Cinematic Orchestra.

The crowd: A multicultural bunch, bolstered by plenty of trendy young Tokyoites, bringing some bizarre fashion, lens-less glasses and lots and lots of iPhones.

The rest: It’s an indoor event, and a fairly short one at that, with limited space meaning the focus will be firmly on the stage.

Tickets: Dhs642 for both days, Dhs343 for the first night only.

Getting there: Etihad flies direct to Tokyo, with return flights from Dhs5,650.


New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
When and where?
New Orleans, USA, April 27-May 6.

The line-up: It’s all about the oldies here, with The Eagles, Eddie Vedder, Bruce Springsteen, Al Green and even The Beach Boys (who are set to play a 50th anniversary reunion show) as the picks of a six-day bill heaving with talent. More contemporary sounds come from the likes of Bon Iver, Cee Lo Green, Florence and the Machine and My Morning Jacket.

The crowd: With the big names supported by an equally impressive line-up of jazz and blues legends, this fest appeals to a slightly more mature demographic. But hey, Brad and Angelina live in the area – maybe they’ll pop along for a bit?

The rest: A miniature Native American village will showcase the rich heritage of the USA’s long-suffering indigenous folk, with traditional singing and drumming performances among the highlights. Elsewhere, traditional southern crafts will be on sale from Louisiana’s finest artisans.

Tickets: Day tickets start at Dhs183, with multi-day passes and hotel deals available.,

Getting there: American Airlines flies to New Orleans via Chicago, with return flights from Dhs7,239.


When and where?
Hässleholm, Sweden, May 31-June 2.

The line-up: Singer-songwriter Lars Winnerbäck and indie-punk band The Hives are the pick of the Swedish contingent, but it’s Death Cab For Cutie and veteran punksters NOFX who are more likely to provide the weekend’s highlights.

The crowd: With room for more than 10,000 visitors, chances are the core group of Swedish, Norwegian and Danish revellers will be diluted with a handful each from other nearby European nations.

The rest: Nothing has been announced yet – keep your eyes on the blog section of the festival’s website for updates.

Tickets: A thoroughly reasonable Dhs550 gets you a three-day pass, with an extra Dhs83 earning access to the campsite.

Getting there:
Qatar flies to Stockholm via Doha, with return flights from Dhs2,830.

When and where?
Crans-sur-Nyon, Switzerland, June 6-10.

The line-up: Lou Reed will be stopping by as part of his latest European tour, with Kasabian and Gossip also in attendance. Keep your ears peeled for more announcements soon.

The crowd:
Given the, erm, experience of the fest’s 70-year-old headliner and the site’s location on the tranquil banks of lake Geneva, you could see a more mature bunch turning out, some fresh from mooring the boat.

The rest: There’s the option to register your interest in volunteering at the festival through its website, but otherwise this one’s all about the music.

A four-day pass costs Dhs910, a three-day pass Dhs686 and day passes start at Dhs280.

Getting there: KLM flies to Geneva via Amsterdam, with return flights from 2,420.


Festival Internacional de Benicàssim
When and where?
Benicàssim, Spain, July 12-15.

The line-up: With more European festivals scheduled for this weekend than any other in 2012, competition over the big acts has been fierce. Once again, this phenomenally popular Spanish stalwart has come out on top, bagging plenty of big names inlcuding The Stone Roses, Florence and the Machine, At The Drive-In, David Guetta, Dizzee Rascal and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, among stacks of other huge names.

The crowd: It’s Spain’s biggest music festival and, as such, about as mainstream as they come. You know the deal: Ray-Bans, flip-flops, straw hats and hot pants will be absolutely everywhere – often attached to mud-fearing Brits.

The rest: Given the festival’s size, most of the sideshows here tend to be commercially orientated – think sponsored bars, markets and silent disco tents. Last year there were even on-site branches of H&M and Dr. Martens.

Tickets: Four-day festival passes with camping cost Dhs905.

Getting there: Etihad flied to Madrid via Brussels, with return flights from Dhs3,420.

When and where?
Tromsø, Norway, July 19-21.

The line-up: No superstars here, but a fine roster of up-and-coming acts and comeback efforts, with Thin Lizzy, The Cardigans and Lars Winnerbäck standing out, alongside a strong Norwegian contingent.

The crowd: The organisers’ dedication to promoting home-grown talent means tourists are likely to be outnumbered by locals. Pack a phrasebook.

The rest: Given the natural beauty of the site’s surrounding areas, there’s a strong green focus; guests can drop empty drinks cups into designated recycling stations to earn money for local charities.

Tickets: A three-day pass costs Dhs448.

Getting there: Qatar flies to Oslo via Doha, with return flights from Dhs4,610.

Fuji Rock
When and where?
Niigata, Japan, July 27-29.

The line-up: Japan’s most established music festival looked in trouble last year, after the country’s devastating natural disasters caused several acts to cancel their appearances. Thankfully, this year’s bill is bigger and better, with The Stone Roses, Radiohead, At The Drive-In, Jack White, Elvis Costello and The Specials looking to make up for the disappointment of last year’s understandably subdued festivities.

The crowd: Unlike many festivals, children are more than welcome at Fuji Rock, lending the site and camping areas a slightly more mature, family-friendly vibe.

The rest: There’s loads to do besides gawping at guitarists. Revellers can catch a film at the open-air cinema, get noisy with some drums at the stone circle or chill out in the massage tent.

Dhs1,996 with campsite access, although buying tickets from outside Japan isn’t exactly straightforward.

Getting there: Etihad flies direct to Tokyo, with return flights from Dhs5,650.


Electric Picnic
When and where?
Stradbally, Ireland, August 31-September 2.

The line-up: US rockers The Killers, led by flamoybant frontman Brandon Flowers, will be playing their second and final show of the summer (the first being at the UK’s V Festival two weeks before). The Cure, Elbow, Sigur Rós, Orbital, Hot Chip and The XX will join them at the top of the bill.

The crowd: It’s usually a young congregation and this year’s line-up will exacerbate matters somewhat. Welly-booted rock chicks and their skinny-jeaned admirers will likely dominate, although an older crowd usually congregate in the theatre and comedy tents.

The rest: There are tents for both comedy and spoken-word gigs, theatre and circus performances and loads, loads more – you won’t run out of things to do.

Tickets: A weekend camping ticket costs Dhs1,124, while a Sunday-only ticket is Dhs486.

Getting there: Etihad flies direct to Dublin, with return flights from Dhs3,860.

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