World’s Top Music Festivals

Six events that’ll get you moving to the beat.

By Aarti Virani

The Governors Ball Music Festival, New York City

Each June, Randall’s Island Park, in New York City’s East River, transforms into the site of a pulsing pop party dominated by well-known artists such as Kanye West and the Strokes. The festival organizers take the event’s culinary experience almost as seriously as its music, so you’ll also find heavy hitters from the city’s dining scene, such as artisanal ice cream from Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen and Cuban-Mexican treats from Nolita stalwart Café Habana.

NYC's Governer's Ball
Sunset at the Governer’s Ball Music Festival. (Forest Woodward)

Tomorrowland Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil

Belgium’s premier electronic-music festival now offers an impressive Brazilian edition. Past headliners include superstar DJs such as Afrojack and Armin van Buuren, who infuse South American sounds to their house, techno and trance sets. The event is also known for its enchanting sets. In 2015 the main stage was modeled after a fairy-tale castle, complete with Gothic arches, stained-glass windows and a DJ booth wreathed by fresh flowers.

Camp Bestival, Dorset, United Kingdom

As the little sister to its older counterpart on the Isle of Wight, this four-day extravaganza caters to tots and parents each July. Fans are lining up this year to see Fatboy Slim and KT Tunstall, although there’s also a treasure trove of family-friendly attractions to explore: a Lego academy, a children’s disco and a science tent, to name a few. Add author talks and performances straight from London’s West End, and it’s little surprise this coastal circus is a perennial crowd-pleaser.

Secret Solstice, Reykjavik, Iceland

Though only in its third year, Reykjavik’s 72-hour summer jubilee has already scored headlines for featuring three consecutive days of daylight, courtesy of Iceland’s position near the Arctic Circle. Combine that with outlandish backdrops (after-parties are held inside the Langjökull glacier and inside a century-old lagoon, for instance) and boldfaced acts such as Radiohead, Of Monsters and Men and the Deftones, and you’re sure to walk away with more than one great story to share back home.

Magnetic Fields, Alsisar, India

A 17th-century palace and its fortress in the Indian state of Rajasthan serve as the mesmerizing setting for a three-day desert carnival that takes place in December. The brainchild of Abhimanyu Alsisar, a local prince and hotelier, India’s hottest music festival is an energetic ode to electronic dance music from the homeland and neighboring Pakistan. A handful of European DJs also perform. Attendees can sleep in the palace hotel or stay in luxury tents set up in the style of a Bedouin village.

Fuji Rock Festival, Yuzawa, Japan

Despite its name, Japan’s oldest continuous rock festival is no longer situated near the country’s famous volcano. Instead, the three-day event unfolds each July in a forest situated inside the massive Naeba Ski Resort, less than a three-hour drive from Tokyo. Highlights include rides on the Dragondola, which bills itself as the world’s longest gondola, and access to a natural hot spring, where you can rest your feet after dancing to hits from the likes of Sigur Rós, Beck and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.



The crowd at the Fuji Rock Festival. (Alamy)
The crowd at the Fuji Rock Festival. (Alamy)


  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: May 2016