Nothing says “It’s summer!” like going to a music festival. Unfortunately, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had such a luxury. The good news is that some of the most well-known festivals are on the verge of making musical waves once again.
And if you’re eager to attend a globally revered music festival, you don’t have to trot across the globe to do it. But in some cases, you might want to. Here are the most popular music festivals in the world.
Belgium | Electronic Dance Music
Held in Boom, Flanders, Belgium, Tomorrowland kicked off in 2005. Today, the biggest Belgian electronic dance music festival spans two weekends and typically sells out in a matter of minutes. This otherworldly event is said to be anything other than your typical concert.
Its fairy tale setting is filled with firework shows, top-notch food, and people from all over the world. Most importantly, it always has an incredible line-up. Doing electronica right, Tomorrowland’s massive stage has been graced by every major DJ you could think of.
California | Variety
Of all the festivals on this list, Coachella is by far one of the most recognizable in 2021. Today, the United States-based event has become one of the most famous and most profitable music festivals in the entire world. It’s also one of the largest.
Held every spring in California, the biggest names in fashion, music, and social media all flock to Coachella for sun-soaked fun. It’s frequently dubbed the festival with the most gram-worthy setting in the game. If you’ve seen Coachella selfies on social media (and frankly, who hasn’t?), it’s not hard to see why.
United Kingdom | Variety
As of 2019, Glastonbury became the largest outdoor music festival in all of the United Kingdom. And there’s so much more to it than musical acts. The five-day festival celebrates a wide array of contemporary performing arts. It’s held in England once a year.
On top of contemporary music, the Glastonbury festival offers showings of cabaret, comedy, circus acts, dance, and theater, to name a few. Going strong for 50 years, many on the other side of the pond consider Glastonbury the biggest and best festival the world has to offer.
Manchester, Tennessee | Variety
Launched in 2002, the Bonnaroo music and arts festival was once an under-the-radar gathering to hear psychedelic jam bands. These days, all of that has changed. The Manchester, Tennessee-based festival is now one of the most famous and popular in existence.
Endlessly boasting solid line-ups, Pearl Jam, LCD Soundsystem, Elton John, and Kanye West have all taken the outdoor stage at Bonnaroo. One thing that’s never changed about this farmland festival is the sense of community it cultivates. Those who know it best say “community” is the main thing people come back for year after year.
Budapest, Hungary | Variety
The Sziget Festival is one of the largest music and cultural festivals held in Europe. Every August, thousands of concert-goer’s flock to northern Budapest, Hungary. No matter what type of music you’re into, there’s something for everyone at Sziget.
Sadly, this week-long spectacle is one of many major festivals that had to cancel its line-up in 2021. Those who love Sziget have high hopes for the two-time winner of the Best Major European Festival award to return in 2022. And rightfully so.
Chicago, Illinois | Alternative, Rock and More
Lollapalooza blew up during the 90s. Once a traveling rock festival, the four-day event now takes place in Chicago’s Grant Park every July. And it sells out every year. Lollapalooza has secured its spot as one of the most iconic and respected music festivals in the world. It has the longest run of almost any music festival in the United States and is considered the second most famous, next to Coachella.
Some history making acts to appear at Lollapalooza include Pearl Jam, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Lady Gaga, The Killers, and Chance the Rapper, to name a few.
Miami, Florida | Electronic Dance Music
Better known as “UMF,” the Ultra Music Festival is EDM and big-room house music Mecca. It hosts epic dance parties all over the world, but its Miami festival is definitely its most famous hotspot. In recent years, the popularized festival set a new record for the City of Miami with over 70,000 people in attendance. UMF continues to hold the title for most tickets sold at a single event in Miami.
Austin City Limits
Austin, Texas | Alternative, Rock and More
In the United States, the Austin City Limits music festival ranks as the second most popular and the fifth most famous. The three-day festival’s locale has been honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a rock and roll landmark. Inspired by the hit series of the same name, Austin City Limits is produced by the same company that hosts Lollapalooza. With an all-inclusive approach to its line-up, Austin City Limits remains a crowd-pleaser with staying power.
Barcelona, Spain | Variety
Between May’s end and June’s start, Primavera Sound takes place in Barcelona, Spain. While this one’s been putting on a renowned festival for about twenty years, it’s seen a resurgence of popularity in the 2000s. In 2017, Primavera’s attendance swelled to 200,000 people for the first time. The numbers have only gone up from there. The line-ups are famously diverse, gender-balanced, and welcoming of all genres.
Today, Primavera is considered one of the largest and most widely respected music festivals in all of Europe.
SXSW: South by Southwest
Austin, Texas | Alt-Country, Americana and More
First held in 1987, South by Southwest is still considered the holy grail for all things alt-country, Americana, and genre exploration. It’s also the largest music festival of its kind. Gradually going from a local event to a global powerhouse, SXSW remains the creme de la creme launching point for musicians on the rise, obscure films, and promising tech startups.
Splendour in the Grass
Australia | Variety
Often called “Australia’s answer to Glastonbury,” Splendour in the Grass has made a big name for itself down under. Last year, the two-day gathering was dubbed a national finalist for ‘Best Event.’ It welcomed welcoming 42,500 people in 2019 and proudly had a record number of returning sponsors. Commonly called Splendour, the popular festival promotes established and up-and-coming artists. Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, Tame Impala, and Lorde have all taken the stage at this one.
Let It Roll
Prague | Drum and Bass
Let It Roll is often revered as the largest and most influential drum and bass music festival worldwide. Located on the outer edges of Prague, Let It Roll consistently showcases today’s biggest names in the world of drums and bass, including over 300 DJs. Every year, people travel from all over to witness this light and sound spectacle held on its 8 stages.
Rock Desert, Nevada | Counterculture Variety
Since 1991, part of Burning Man‘s mission has been to stay under the radar. However, this festival held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada has seriously blown up in recent years. Spanning nine days and lasting through Labor Day, Burning Man has gradually become a countercultural phenomenon. Priding itself on preserving its unique community and culture, many “burners” say there’s no festival quite like it.
Praia da Rocha, Portugal | Hip-Hop, R&B and More
Afro Nation is the world’s biggest Afrobeats festival. Held on the breathtaking Praia da Rocha beach, concert-goers make their way to Portugal and groove to Afrobeats, hip-hop, dancehall, and R&B every summer. While this one is currently postponed, it plans to be back sooner rather than later. Its 2021 lineup includes Chris Brown, Burna Boy, Wizkid, Skepta, Davido, Beenie Man, and Popcaan.
Best Kept Secret
Beekse Bergen, Netherlands | Variety
The secret is out about Best Kept Secret! But it was never that much of a secret, really. The three-day music festival is annually held in Beekse Bergen. These days, more people than ever before are trying to figure out how to get to this buzz-worthy Netherlands event. Whether you take a plane, train, or car, you’ll have to hop on the special shuttle to get to its “hidden” venue. But those who’ve made the journey say it’s totally worth it.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco | Variety
Outside Lands is the largest independently owned music festival in the United States. It’s slowly but surely becoming one of the most popular as well. In 2018, Outside Lands became the second highest-grossing music festival in the world. Situated in Golden Gate Park, people come for the picturesque landscape along with the one-of-a-kind line-ups.
Fuji Rock Festival
Yuzawa, Japan | Rock
This three-day rock festival is held at the ever-so-dreamy Naeba Ski Resort in Yuzawa, Japan. The Fuji Rock Festival features over 200 Japanese and international musicians. Today, it remains the largest outdoor music event Japan has to offer. Some of the biggest names in rock have graced its scenic stage. Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters, and Radiohead have all performed at Fuji Rock.
Miami, New York and More | Hip-Hop
Rolling Loud is the world’s largest hip-hop festival. The United States-based festival started out as a one-day event in Miami and now it is often considered Miami’s most notable event. It’s had popular festivals pop up in New York, L.A., and has recently gone global with Rolling Loud Portugal. Rolling Loud continues to grow more and more each year primariy thanks its A-List line-up and traveling venues.
Lac de Malsaucy, France | Contemporary Rock
Les Eurockéennes is one of France’s biggest rock festivals and some say the most popular. Located in a nature reserve beside Lac de Malsaucy, it is becoming the premier attraction for those making their way to Belfort each summer. While you might not be familiar with the location, its line-up always boasts the most recognizable names in contemporary rock. Artists like Alice in Chains, Cigarettes After Sex, Queens of the Stone Age, and Macklemore have all performed at Les Eurockéennes.
New York City | Variety
The “Gov Ball” may not be the biggest on the list, but it continues to steadily grow in size, scope, and popularity. Since 2011, it’s been filling the deep void New York City once had for a music festival of its own. Originally held on Governor’s Island, this little festival broke records with the highest attendance of any event on the island when it debuted. Today, the three-day festival offers amazing food truck selections, a diverse musical line-up, and a really good reason for locals to escape the sweltering concrete jungle during summer.
Amsterdam, Netherlands | Techno
In some parts of the world, techno is a pretty big deal. In turn, the Awakenings festival is one of the most popular techno festivals on the planet. The two-day dance fest typically takes place in Amsterdam. Almost as quickly as tickets go on sale each year, they sell out. For all interested parties, Awakenings plans to return to the Netherlands in 2022.
Montreal International Jazz Festival
Montreal | Jazz
The Montreal Jazz Fest has held multiple Guinness World Records as the world’s largest jazz festival. For 10 days, jazz aficionados, jazz enthusiasts, and those just looking for a really good time come together and celebrate all things jazz. Adding to its popularity, ticket costs can be surprisingly low.
Belgium | Rock
Four days, four stages, and a whole lotta rock-n-roll. For many years in a row, Rock Werchter has received the Arthur award for best festival in the world at the International Live Music Conference. Along with hosting some very big names in music, this festival is famous for boosting the careers of up-and-coming artists. Many music industry bigwigs have frequented Rock Werchter to scout new and talented acts.
Novi Sad, Serbia | Variety
If you’re thinking about a trip to Serbia, plan to go to this summer music festival. EXIT has won the Best Major Festival award at the European Festivals Awards twice. It was also once been dubbed the “Best European Festival” at the UK Festival Awards. Known for its high-energy performances, EXIT showcases some of the biggest names in Rock, Techno, Electronic dance music, Heavy metal, Hip hop, Reggae, and Punk rock.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival
Montreal | Variety
The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is revered as the most important festival of its genre in all of Canada. The popular indie and pop festival sets up numerous outdoor stages at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Montreal’s Sainte-Hélène’s Island. In this multi-day July event, the headliners and newcomers always share the spotlight. Currently, its pending line-up for 2021 includes Foo Fighters, Cardi B, and Post Malone.
Madrid, Spain | Pop and Indie
Concert goers flock to Madrid, Spain, every year to catch some of the best international music acts in the land. The Mad Cool festival is one of Europe’s most popular events to date. Headlined by major pop and indie artists, it has started to sell out months in advance. Those who love Mad Cool say the only real downside with this one is that since it takes place in late summer, it’s mad hot.