Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
Hosted in the heartland of America, Bonnaroo has become the darling of the rock and blues festival circuit, with a reputation for pairing musical legends with some of the industry’s younger heavyweights. Aside from selling out in 2007, the festival saw The Police reunite and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin fame rocking out with young bloods Ben Harper and bluegrass band Uncle Earl. Offering a funky repertoire of fun attractions in cabaret, cinema, yoga, and a jam tent for kids, Bonnaroo pushes the envelope with quirky features such as the Silent Disco (where people dance to their own tunes on
headphones), a karaoke hot spot for self-styled prima donnas, and a Brewer’s Festival for hops and ale enthusiasts.
Summer blast: (clockwise from above right) The final day at Lollapalooza, 2007; Issa Bagayogo at the 2004 Rainforest Festival; Iggy Pop at the 2005 Exit Festival in Serbia.
2008 highlights: Pearl Jam, Metallica, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, B.B. King and DJ Tiesto.
Tickets: From $209 (around Rs8,000) for a four-day advance weekend, camping and parking pass.
Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts
Glastonbury is the grandaddy of festivals and essentially a heady mix of camping, music, installation art, spiritual musings and avant-garde performances, all in the name of peaceful and charitable causes such as Oxfam and Greenpeace. With a reputation for rain, mud and flower power, Glasto attracts music lovers of all ages, including hippie-chic regulars such as Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. The 900-acre farm, with six stages, has hosted biggies such as Coldplay, Oasis and Radiohead, and has witnessed some particularly memorable performances from legends such as David Bowie, Shirley Bassey, Traffic and Jeff Buckley. Those requiring more of a reason than the music can look forward to smaller circus, theatre and comedy acts, including a new attraction called the ‘Shangri-La Field’, which will include free parties, DJ sets, a secret garden and hoe-downs.
2008 highlights: The Verve, Fatboy Slim, Massive Attack, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen and Groove Armada.
Tickets: From £155 (around Rs12,000) per person.
Festival International de Jazz de Montreal
26 June-6 July
Attracting more than two million people annually, the Montreal Jazz Festival has become as much of an attraction for serious jazz lovers as it is for those wishing to take a crash course in soulful improvisation. With close to 650 concerts taking place over 10 days, entire street squares get cordoned off and concert halls get booked up to accommodate jazz bands, as well as rock and experimental music acts from all over the world. Most of the performances are free, but more discerning visitors can shell out to see jazz greats like Miles Davis and BB King, who have all performed here over the years. Street corners, outdoor cafés, and bars are generally packed with people enjoying back-to-back open air performances, so get a schedule before you head into the crowds (available on the site from 3 June). Be prepared for lots of walking and look out for an all-stars outdoor improv jam session at the end of the festival.
2008 highlights: Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, Leonard Cohen, James Taylor, Glenn Miller Orchestra and Woody Allen, who will perform with his New Orleans Jazz Band.
Tickets: The majority of concerts are free, though expect to pay between $35 and $120 (Rs1,416 and Rs4,857) for big-name acts.
Exit Festival, Serbia
Only in its eighth year and already trumpeted as Europe’s best festival, Serbia’s Exit Festival started life as an expression against the oppressive dictatorship of president Slobodan Milosevic. Today, Exit still aims to bring social and political issues to the fore, but is essentially all about dance music. Held at the Petrovaradin Fortress of Novi Sad on the river Danube, Exit offers picturesque views of Vojvodina and hopes to attract close to 200,000 people this year. In the past, the show bill has included the likes of the Pet Shop Boys, Massive Attack, Fatboy Slim, and The White Stripes. But, dance-shy patrons be warned: This festival is not for the faint of heart. Frenetic beats and bass heavy rhythms drive the vibe at this hedonistic gathering.
2008 highlights: 2manydjs, Carl Cox, Primal Scream, Soulwax, Juliette and the Licks, M.I.A. and Kruder and Dorfmeister.
Tickets: £72 for a four-day festival pass.
Rainforest World Music Festival
As its name implies, the Rainforest World Music Festival is held in the midst of thick jungles and misty waterfalls of Borneo, where some 20 bands will belt out energetic songs on traditional and customized instruments from kettle drums and congas to sitars and flutes. The brief for participating bands is ethnic or traditional music and as a result, several international bands specializing in their own unique style of folk music flock to the island to meet other artists, hold workshops and create new blends of fusion music that would never ordinarily emerge. Look forward to names from as far afield as Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia and the Congo, and expect more than a couple of instruments you might not recognize.
2008 highlights: Ross Daly Quartet (Greece), Hiroshi Motofuji (Japan), Oikyotaan (India) and Cholo Valderrama (Colombia).
Tickets: From RM90 (around Rs1,000) for a one-day pass.
One of the biggest rock and alternative fixtures in the US music calendar, Lollapalooza has long drawn comparisons to the hippie vibe of 60s Woodstock and has played witness to key moments in indie-rock history (Nirvana pulled out a day before Kurt Cobain killed himself in 1994). With seven stages offering a variety of rock, jazz, DJ sets and hip-hop, you can expect a truly whirlwind experience in signature Lolla style. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails and Iggy Pop have all left their mark here, and though the festival has become somewhat subdued in recent years, audiences can expect an eclectic mix of big- and little-known rock and alternative acts. In another nod to its gentler makeover, arts, crafts and fringe theatre can also be found around the park, not to mention some of Chicago’s best known eateries, which make a ferocious bid for festival-goers’ food dollars.
2008 highlights: Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Gnarls Barkley, Kanye West, Cat Power and Bloc Party.
Tickets: From $190 for an advance three-day pass.
Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
San Francisco, USA
In its inaugural year, and aiming to become the American West Coast’s answer to Coachella, Outside Lands is set in 1,000 acres of San Francisco’s scenic Golden Gate Park and has already claimed some of the biggest names in record label history for its opening show. With more than 45,000 people expected each day, Outside Lands is driven by a “greener” calling, providing biodegradable crockery and cutlery, biodiesel generators and even the chance to recycle old mobile phones. Staying true to its West Coast roots, yoga and meditation sessions will be held throughout the festival, giving visitors a chance to recharge their batteries.
2008 highlights: Radiohead, Beck, Tom Petty, Jack Johnson, Alicia Keys, Steve Winwood and Manu Chao.
Tickets: From $85 for a one-day pass.
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