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Top 10 Best Music Festivals

Thomma Lyn Grindstaff
festival love

Top-notch music festivals are universal connectors, and audiences travel from the far corners of the world to attend these massive celebrations of community and entertainment. The best of the fests worldwide are ranked on lists compiled by Time Out, Condé Nast Traveler, Harper's Bazaar, and Ranker. They come in a variety of genres so there's bound to be something that appeals to your taste, schedule, and budget.

1. Lollapalooza

  • Where: Chicago, Illinois
  • When: First weekend in August
  • Cost: $275+ for the weekend

Created by Perry Farrell, the frontman of Jane's Addiction, Lollapalooza started in 1991 with just nine bands on the bill. By 1992, the festival more than tripled in size and became a destination for alternative music fans around the world. Lollapalooza is also known for being one of the more organized current music festivals. It's easy to navigate, there are more food options, and it's generally more diverse. Highlights of past artists include Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, AFI, Nine Inch Nails, Patti Smith, and the Drive-By Truckers.

2. Glastonbury Festival

  • Where: Somerset, United Kingdom
  • When: Five days in late June
  • Cost: £238+ for standard five-day pass

Dubbed "the most iconic festival on the planet" by Gigwise, Glastonbury got its start in 1970 and has been rocking the UK ever since. Today, the festival entertains audiences of over 175,000 people with renowned pop and rock acts. Glastonbury is held annually except for every fifth year when the organizers take a break. In 2016, the headline acts were Adele, Coldplay, and Muse. Past acts have included U2, Radiohead, R.E.M., James Brown, and Beyoncé. From its inception, the festival has featured a hippie, counterculture vibe, and it works with various charities such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

3. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

  • Where: Manchester, Tennessee
  • When: Second weekend in June
  • Cost: $330+ for standard four-day pass

If you love summer, camping, and music, then Bonnaroo is your festival. This event wrapped up its fifteenth year in 2016 with Pearl Jam, Dead & Company, and LCD Soundsystem as headliners. It has hosted some of the biggest names in music such as Elton John, Billy Joel, and Robert Plant. "Roo" is one of the best festivals around because it consistently delivers top acts every year. It also features artwork that keeps your eyes entertained. Bonnaroo is not for the faint of heart, though. It's a rigorous, four-day camping festival, and if you want to leave, you'll have to leave on foot. Manchester, Tennessee isn't a big city, and the closest store is a good distance away from the festival grounds.

4. CMA Music Festival

  • Where: Nashville, Tennessee
  • When: Second weekend in June
  • Cost: Free for morning and afternoon performances and $200+ for nightly concerts

The Country Music Association Music Festival is held in downtown Nashville each year, drawing over 200,000 country music fans. What makes this festival one of the best is the price: all the morning and afternoon performances around downtown are FREE. Attendees can roam as they wish and see all the biggest and upcoming names in country music. The nightly, ticketed line-up at the Tennessee Titans Stadium has hosted Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett, Charlie Daniels, Chris Stapleton, and numerous other big names in country music. While the festival is held in the middle of the June heat, there are plenty of opportunities to cool down in some of the local businesses and grab a drink.

5. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

  • Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • When: Late April and early May
  • Cost: $70+ for a standard one-day pass

Jazz Fest is a more musically diverse festival than its name might suggest. Pearl Jam, Van Morrison, and Stevie Wonder were all headliners in 2016. Jazz Fest has also hosted The Who, Elton John, Jimmy Buffett, Ed Sheeran, Arcade Fire, and a number of local New Orleans jazz musicians. The traditional food is another reason it's one of the best of the fests. Cajun-style offerings like po-boys, muffulettas, and crawfish abound throughout the festival for attendees from all over the world to enjoy.

6. Austin City Limits Music Festival

  • Where: Austin, Texas
  • When: First two weekends in October
  • Cost: $200+ for both weekends

Austin City Limits is the first music festival after the initial summer rush, offering a laid-back vibe and an enormous range of genres including country, electronica, rock, blues, folk, and hip hop. Austin, Texas has become one of the newer hubs for music, and the festival is named after the popular PBS TV show. Past artists include Pearl Jam, Kanye West, Drake, Damian Marley, and Eminem. The festival has even been known to start new trends for clothing.

7. Festival Internacional de Benicàssim

  • Where: Benicàssim, Spain
  • When: Four days in mid-July
  • Cost: €149+ for a standard festival pass

The Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (FIB), began in 1995 and has grown into a yearly extravaganza during which 150,000 music fans hang out on the beach during the day and thrill to great pop and rock music all night. The event takes place along the Costa del Azahar region of Spain, so expect plenty of Mediterranean sunshine. FIB has four stages on which up to 100 artists perform, and the festival has hosted top tier artists like Leonard Cohen, Bjork, Lou Reed, Depeche Mode, and Oasis.

8. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

  • Where: Indio, California
  • When: Two weekends in the latter half of April
  • Cost: $399+ for a standard general admission pass

Coachella, the quintessential California music festival, is regarded as the official kickoff to both spring and the outdoor festival season. Held at the Empire Polo Club, Coachella launched in 1999. Headliners throughout the years have included AC/DC, Rage Against the Machine, the Beastie Boys, Kings of Leon, and Prince. Coachella is a camping festival that emphasizes fashion with a hippie vibe, attracting well-known fashion bloggers and social media mavens each year.

9. Tomorrowland

  • Where: Boom, Belgium
  • When: Two weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) in late July
  • Cost: €281+ for standard three-day pass

Fans of electronic dance music (EDM) won't want to miss Tomorrowland, which is the largest EDM festival in the world. Tomorrowland, praised by Thump as an "enigmatic mecca of holy rave magic," attracts over 360,000 fans and never fails to disappoint with fourteen stages, over 400 performers, and headliner acts that include the likes of Flux Pavilion, Eric Prydz, and Jauz. After all, what's not to love about an EDM festival that takes place in a town whose name is Boom? Tomorrowland has recently extended its magic to new locales, including Atlanta in the United States and Sao Paulo in Brazil.

10. Fuji Rock Festival

  • Where: Mount Naeba, Niigata Prefecture, Japan
  • When: Three-day weekend in late July
  • Cost: ¥43,000 for standard three-day pass

Held at a ski resort, the Fuji Rock Festival requires attendees to travel up Mount Naeba and between stages in cable cars. Despite its name, the festival isn't held anywhere near Mount Fuji, though it started out there in 1997, its first year. The area was struck by a typhoon, disrupting a set by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The festival is now held on Mount Naeba, but the organizers kept the name Fuji. Having survived its rocky beginning, it developed into an event that draws 150,000 people and is known as the "cleanest festival in the world." Fuji Rock Festival has featured celebrated musical artists like the Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, and the Cure.

A Music Festival to Suit Everyone

These are only several of the thousands of great festivals around the world. Whether you are interested in camping, partying to great music, dressing up in funky fashions, or just getting away for a weekend, you're sure to find a festival that's a perfect match for you.

Top 10 Best Music Festivals