Lollapalooza, Electric Zoo, South by Southwest, Ultra, Governors Ball, Coachella, all on the festival lovers hit list.
The US is well-known for its diverse festival scene — Ultra alone attracted over 165,000 attendees hailing from all corners of the world to sunny Miami last March.
The more serious festival lovers will recognize global festivals in other countries, such as Tomorrowland in Belgium, Sunburn in India, and Sziget in Hungary, each of which attracts hundreds of thousands of people. (Sziget had a record-breaking 565,000 people attend in 2018). But are the best festivals always the biggest? Perhaps not.
In this post, we take a look at some of the world’s lesser-known but exceedingly unique music festivals:
Paradiso Festival (United States)
Set at The Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington (we’re not kidding, that’s actually the name of the town), the Paradiso Festival has redefined the camping music festival experience. A open-aired amphitheater, The Gorge is rated as one of the country’s most beautiful music venues, making for a extremely scenic and Instagram-worthy event. The lineup is mainly EDM but varies throughout the genre, brining in headliners such as Dj Snake and AC Slater. Attendees gush about the party scene among the campgrounds and enjoy amusement park rides free with the purchase of a ticket.
Exit Music Festival (Serbia)
The Exit Music Festival is held in the Petrovaradin Fortress, a 17th century Serbian castle. Described as one of Europe’s grittiest music festivals, Exit was founded in 2000 as a student movement for democracy and freedom in Serbia and the Balkans. 20 stages are set up throughout the gothic fortress grounds, accessible through a sprawling mass of winding tunnels The music ranges from EDM and pop to reggae and heavy metal, with diverse set lists spread throughout the course of long Serbian summer days (performances start at dusk and continue late into the night!) Make sure to bring plenty of water and to watch out for the dust. This is not the festival to wear nice dresses or those brand-new sneakers.
Imagine Festival (United States)
Called one of America’s last remaining independent festivals, Imagine Festival in Atlanta, Georgia is an aquatic fairytale. A 3-day event set in the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the all-things-water-themed event features more than just good music: dazzling circus acts, numerous art installations scattered throughout the grounds, a gigantic splash pool for awesome pool parties, and one of the largest silent disco parties in the country. The artists too are nothing to scoff at. In 2017 alone, Big Gigantic, Flux Pavillion, Hippie Sabatoge, and Illenium were headliners.
Meadows in the Mountains (Bulgaria)
If the gritty or aquatic masses aren’t appealing, how about a tranquil and highly secretive festival held in the quiet Bulgarian countryside? It might sound otherworldly, but the Meadows in the Mountains festival exists. As much a music festival as a celebration of nature, MTM is a 3-day performance with less than 2000 people and is, perhaps, the festival world’s most fascinating gem. Apart from being exceedingly difficult to get to, the festival and its four stages play host to a range of house, disco, and alternative artists, and is hidden in the midst of the Rhodope mountain range. Wander from the main stages with a couple of venturous friends and you could find hidden dance scenes in a two-floor treehouse or a giant wooden Viking ship strung up with fairy lights. It’s mostly a nocturnal festival, so after you’ve danced the night away, gather with everyone above the clouds at the Sunrise stage to cheer on the sun as it rises over the beautiful mountains. It’s an experience that, for the most dedicated of festival and nature lovers, is nothing short of magical.
Dimensions Festival (Croatia)
Dimensions is situated in a 19th century fort on the coast of Croatia in the famed historical city of Pula. With music stages located throughout, around, and inside the fort, get ready to sweaty-dance in a dungeon, a well-preserved Roman amphitheater, and a legitimate moat with 80-foot stone walls that hosts performances starting from 9pm and continuing to 6am for those party zombies. What if you’re the claustrophobic type? If you want to breathe some fresh air, get out of the literal dungeon, and treat your feet to something a little less rocky, there’s a stage on the nearby beach, close to which you could also find yourself having a blast at one of the several epic boat parties. You won’t find any huge EDM names here; instead, get ready for the vibey underground DJ scene.