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World’s 15 Best Summer Music Festivals

Ashley Garmon

As the temperature rises, music lovers flock to massive festivals around the world to see their favorite artists live and feed off the energy of fellow fans. And with each passing year, there are more and more options to choose from. From Chicago’s quintessential Lolapalooza to a global music showcase in Morocco, these festivals provide multiple days of entertainment—and unforgettable concert-going experiences. Here are our picks for the world’s fifteen best summer music festivals. —Emily Wasserman

Forest Woodward
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The Governors Ball Music Festival

WHERE: New York City

When: June 3-5, 2016

A relative newcomer to the summer music festival scene, The Governors Ball offers an eclectic mix of performers and a taste of New York culture. Visitors can catch sets from rock, electronic, and indie performers, all while sampling food from popular New York City restaurants and food trucks. To take a break from the music, festival goers can participate in activities such as Silent Disco or lawn games. Don’t forget to snap a picture or two with friends at the festival’s photo/gif booths.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

© Advanced Music
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WHERE: Barcelona

When: June 16-18, 2016

One of Europe’s most vibrant cities is also home to one of its most colorful music festivals. Founded in Barcelona in 1994, Sonar features performances from cutting-edge artists. Every year, visitors flock to the city’s Fira Gran Via area to watch shows by performers and DJs. But the festival is not a one-trick pony; it also boasts eye-catching video art projections, installations from modern artists, and audio-visual displays.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Barcelona Travel Guide

Steffen Jørgensen/Roskilde Festival
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WHERE: Roskilde, Denmark

When: June 25-July 2, 2016

Created by two Danish high school students, Roskilde has evolved from a hippie gathering ground to a mainstream music festival. The four-day extravaganza attracts an international following and features performances from more than 3,000 artists. Bands include a mix of contemporary and lesser-known performers, and visitors can watch their favorite artists perform inside large tents. Don’t be surprised if you see a few scantily clad attendees; on the Saturday of the festival, Roskilde Festival radio hosts a naked run around the campsite.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Roskilde Guide

Courtesy of Splendour in the Grass
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Splendour in the Grass

WHERE: New South Wales, Australia

When: July 22-24, 2016

Although Splendour in the Grass is technically a summer music festival, it falls during Australia’s winter season—a period that typically calls for indoor fanfare. But despite the colder weather, the three-day festival attracts an international audience. Held in New South Wales’ North Byron Parklands, Splendour features an impressive lineup of big-name musicians and up-and-coming artists, while boasting a capacity of 30,000 guests. When you’ve heard your fair share of music, stop by the city’s picturesque coast and hang-ten with local surfers.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New South Wales Travel Guide

Ashley Garmon
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WHERE: Chicago

When: July 28-31, 2016

Few music festivals carry the same name recognition and star power as Lollapalooza. Created in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band, the festival has since evolved into an extravaganza of musical performances, dance, comedy, and crafts. Lollapalooza hosts more than 160,000 visitors over a three-day period and has helped popularize artists ranging from Pearl Jam to Ice-T. Although the festival initially focused on alternative and indie rock, it has expanded with eclectic performers and smaller sub-genres. This year’s headliners are Paul McCartney, Metallica, and Florence + the Machine.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Chicago Travel Guide

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WHERE: Montreal

When: July 29-31, 2016

As summer nears its end, Osheaga gears up in Montreal. Held annually at the scenic Parc Jean-Drapeau, the three-day musical festival includes five stages and performances from a diverse lineup of artists. Festival-goers can jam out to popular indie rockers or listen to mellow, up-and-coming folk artists while taking in the city skyline. Set times vary based on the status of each performer, with emerging artists opening the show and headliners concluding with longer, 90-minute sets. Consider getting to town a week early, as the city hosts concerts and exhibitions prior to the main event.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Montreal Travel Guide

© 2011 FFJM Lionel Flusin/
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Montreux Jazz Festival

WHERE: Montreux, Switzerland

When: July 1-16, 2016

Set on Lake Geneva’s picturesque shoreline, the Montreux Jazz Festival attracts a global audience. Founded in 1967 as a jazz-only festival, Montreux has since evolved into a two-week-long showcase that attracts more than 200,000 music enthusiasts. Jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald, B.B. King, and Miles Davis were early performers, but blues and rock artists such as Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, and Prince have also made appearances over the years. Performances don’t end on the shore; visitors can catch themed shows from boats and train cars.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Montreux Guide

Courtesy of Festival Bažant Pohoda
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WHERE: Trencin, Slovakia

When: July 7-9, 2016

Every July in Trencin, Slovakia, music lovers flock to Pohoda. The festival features a diverse mix of genres, including rock, pop, world music, and techno, and it also offers theater, dance, and literature workshops. The word “pohoda” in Slovakian means “well-being,” and visitors don’t have to look far for opportunities to relax. Festival-goers can kick off their shoes in huge, chill-out tents or unwind with a holistic treatment or massage. Make sure to book your festival tickets well in advance, as Pohoda’s capacity maxes out at 30,000 guests.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Slovakia Travel Guide

Courtesy of Exit Festival
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WHERE: Novi Sad, Serbia

When: July 7-10, 2016

For a summer music festival with a conscience, look no further than EXIT. Started by a band of students fighting for peace and democracy in Serbia and the Balkans, the festival remains true to its activist roots. Visitors from around the world come to watch their favorite artists, all while learning more about politics and social advocacy. EXIT’s main stage is located at the heart of a fortress, and festival-goers can stop by one of six themed stages to catch concerts. Explosive Stage features music from heavy metal and punk bands, while Elektrana Stage introduces festival attendees to up-and-coming regional electronic artists.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Serbia Travel Guide

Courtesy of Rock al Parque
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Rock al Parque

WHERE: Bogotá, Colombia

When: July 2-4, 2016

Most music festivals require tickets, but Rock al Parque isn’t your typical shindig. The three-day festival does not charge an admission fee and boasts an estimated attendance of 88,600 visitors a day. Festival-goers line up to watch performances from some of Latin America’s most popular artists, but the festival also offers sets from international bands. With genres ranging from rock and ska to punk and hardcore, Rock Al Parque offers something for everyone.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Bogotá Travel Guide

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WHERE: Dour, Belgium

When: July 13-17, 2016

A French-speaking village in Belgium transforms every year for Dour, one of Europe’s most popular music festivals. Named after its host town, the festival is easily accessible from many European countries and has grown over the years to include six stages that host 200 bands and DJs. A wide range of musical genres round out the lineup, including electronic, hip-hop, reggae, and indie. Performers carry on through the wee hours of the night, and visitors can move through outdoor stages and tents to watch the latest set.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Belgium Travel Guide Mohai
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WHERE: Budapest

When: August 10-17, 2016

Every year, 400,000 music lovers from more than 70 countries convene at the Sziget Festival. The week-long, nonstop event features 50 venues and around 200 programs daily, including live concerts, ongoing parties, and theater and circus exhibitions. Located on an island in the center of Budapest, the festival draws upon the city’s palpable energy to create a lively concert-going atmosphere. Sit back and take in alternative or jazz music, or join the crowd to watch performances from international pop and rock stars.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Budapest Travel Guide

Sife Elamine
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WHERE: Rabat, Morocco

When: May 20-28, 2016

Also known as “Rhythms of the World,” Mawazine attracts an international audience as well as a celebrity following. The festival was founded in 2001 as part of a government initiative to promote a more liberal image of Morocco, but has since expanded. Big-name performers like Stevie Wonder and Rihanna have graced the festival’s stages, and artists from around the world exhibit their works in individual and collective shows. In addition to popular artists, Mawazine also features a diverse set of international musicians. Attendees can hear everything from Berber fusion rock to Colombian cumbia music.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Rabat Guide

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WHERE: Somerset, England

When: June 22-26, 2016

Take a step back in time at Somerset’s Glastonbury festival. Founded in 1970, the five-day festival still rings true to its hippie and counterculture roots. Performances are held on 900 acres of verdant farmland, and the event boasts the title of largest green-field music festival in the world. In addition to music, visitors can also catch theater, circus, and cabaret shows at one of the festival’s alternative performance areas. For a true Glastonbury experience, consider getting up early on Sunday morning and joining the procession to Stone Circle, a small monument that overlooks rolling green hills.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s England Travel Guide

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Fuji Rock Festival

WHERE: Naeba, Japan

When: July 22-24, 2016

The beautiful surroundings practically overshadow the performances at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival. Held in the mountains at Naeba Ski Resort, the festival site enchants visitors with its sparkling streams and hilly green forests. Visitors can take a gondola lift to the top of the mountain overlooking the festival and attend performances from more than 200 Japanese and international musicians. Whatever you do, come equipped with an appetite; the main site boasts more than 30 food stalls from around the world.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Japan Travel Guide