Trip Editorial Team
Trip Editorial Team
Menlo Park, California, USA
Less work. More fun.

Unmissable Summer Festivals: the Big, the Bad, the Boutique

Since millions of hippies gathered in a field in the summer of 1969 at a farm in Woodstock, New York, the summer music festival has held a certain muddy, half-clothed mystique. Where else can you let your hair so completely down, listen to all your favorite bands in one weekend, meet the love of your life (or the next three days), not to mention, in some cases, pay apocalyptic prices for a bottle of water?


We’ve chosen some of our favorite bacchanals worldwide, from UK camping-with-wellies, to eastern European electronic hedonism, to good old American indie industrialism. Read on...we dare you not to book tickets at at least one.


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Burning Man Festival

Pershing County, Black Rock Desert, NV

Hardly an unknown these days, with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg parachuting in for a day, but Burning Man is still pretty mindblowing. 50,000 people create a moneyless city in the Nevada desert, with an ethos including radical inclusion, gifting, radical self-reliance, and leave no trace. For an artistic blowout with creative works, nutty costumes, and the final famous burn, this still can’t be replaced. This year’s artistic theme: Caravansery. Think Silk Road, nomads and storytellers.

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EXIT Festival

Novi Sad, Serbia

Set in the Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad, Exit is an award-winning festival that got its start as a student movement for peace and democracy - and is non-profit to this day. Cool alternative music is headlined by Damon Albarn, with many more. This is one of the newer and coolest European festivals, that has retained its cool despite growing in popularity.

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Shambala Music Festival

Kelmarsh Hall, Kelmarsh

Festivals are a major feature of a UK summer, from Glastonbury to Bestival to countless small events. Shambala stands out for its dedication to sustainability (no waste to landfill is their 2014 goal after strikingly successful recycling programs in the last few years (bring or buy your own bottle for life). Excellent catering for families but plenty of room for a wild party as well; Shambala is the best of British creativity with music, classes, and a healing area on offer all day and crazy fun music and an enchanted woodland at night.

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Soundwave is the independent coffee shop to the Ultra Music Festival’s Starbucks. Relatively intimate, with only about 3000 people, this is the place to chill with that independent, boutique vibe. Acts aren’t major superstars, but think grooving to people like Fat Freddy’s Drop on the beach and you’ll start to get the idea. Perfect for sun-seeking missiles and nocturnal music junkies who like to get to know people.

Firefly Music Festival

1131 N Dupont Hwy, Dover, DE 19901

With an onsite craft beer bar by Dogfish head, a woodland coffeehouse to keep you awake through the night, artists like Beck, the Lumineers, and Jack Johnson among many others, this not so little Delaware festival then dispels any lingering hesitations you might have with a hammock area and on-site farmer’s market.

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Coachella Music Festival

Indio, CA 92201

Coachella is as well known for a great time as it is for the sometimes vacuous hipsters that frequent it. Scheduled over two weekends, big names like Outkast, Skrillex and Beck play alongside up and comers. Perfect for the Outdoorsy California dreamers out there, whether neo-hippies or weekend warriors.

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Sziget Festival

Budapest, Hajógyári sziget Hrsz: 23796/58, 1033 Hungary

Haven’t heard of Sziget yet? You’ll want to put it on your radar. Hosted on the ‘Island of Freedom’ near Budapest, headlining this year are Macklemore and Ryan Lewis plus Lily Allen on her comeback tour. Perfect for Euro-curious pop princes and princesses looking for a wild summer time. Reserve a few days to detox in the famous baths in Budapest afterwards.

Secret Garden Party

Mill Hill Field

This UK festival has a serious reputation on the ground for its crazy art performances and installations, costumed festival goers, and pure indie music cred. The Saturday night party’s reputation alone would make it worth the while. You won’t find any big big names on the lineup, in fact, the ethos is strongly anti-establishment and new society, almost like an early days Burning Man where everyone has a British accent.

Last updated at Aug 28, 2014