The joys of a well-crafted summer music festival are numerous, but taking in some Vitamin D as you gather with like-minded folks to dance (or sway) your face off to your favorite bands as you all bake under the hot sun is central to the experience. Maybe you’ll even run into your favorite musicians on the festival grounds, before or after exploring immersive world-building installations and eating some of the best food around-all while staying extremely hydrated, of course.
Now, take all that festival fun and transport it to cities that could double as vacation destinations in themselves, throw in rosters packed with local and internationally known performers, and you’ve got our list of the 12 best international music festivals to check out this summer. Head to England for Glastonbury, then spend a few days kicking around London for the ol’ Buckingham Palace and all the charms of a new-old city. Zip over to Poland for Open’er, then pay a visit to a particularly chonky cat. Or traipse through the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces in the Swiss Riviera while you’re in town for the world-renowned Montreux Jazz Festival.
Or, if you feel like it, do all three. Who says you have to pick just one song-or city-of the summer? We say collect them all.
Where: Somerset, England When: Wednesday, June 21–Sunday, June 25 The lowdown: Evolving from a free festival in 1971 with 12,000 attendees and David Bowie and Fairport Convention as its headliners, the Glastonbury Festival is virtually its own city at this point. In fact, it’s said to be the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world, covering 900 acres in the historic Vale of Avalon with a perimeter of eight and a half miles. It’s ever-evolving, too, with last year’s addition of the post-apocalyptic Art Deco-inspired Lonely Hearts Club stage within the Silver Hayes dance area, and this year’s Carhenge installation, which doubles as a curious musical backdrop.
As to be expected with a festival of this size, every taste is satiated-though remarkably, it’s the first time you’ll catch Sir Elton John at the festival (and perhaps the last time to see the legend in the UK, as the appearance is part of his farewell tour). And if you like to partake in flash mobs, you’re in luck. That happens at noon on Saturday at the Pyramid Stage, where you’ll be dancing to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” alongside Rick himself. The lineup: Performers include Arctic Monkeys, Phoenix, Queens of the Stone Age, Lana Del Rey, Guns ‘N Roses, Elton John, Lil Nas X, Sparks, Kelis, Hot Chip, Young Fathers, Fatboy Slim, The Chicks, Thundercat, and more (basically name a performer, any performer). The cost: Five-day general admission passes start at £340 per person (includes camping). The festival is sold out, but you can try your luck here.
Where: Bucharest, Romania When: Friday, June 23–Sunday, June 25 The lowdown: If your only knowledge of Romania extends to it being the home of Dracula or, say, Andrew Tate’s hideout, you should probably turn your attention to their festival scene. The Balkan country is home to a plethora of EDM and rock festivals, including the legendary electronica-leaning Untold, held this August in none other than Transylvania). Elsewhere, the audiovisual Saga Festival first launched in 2021 after a pandemic delay and is still going strong with more than 100 performers spread over three stages. An extra bonus for travel nerds? It’s all going down in an airport where hangars-and, in some cases, even a plane-double as stages. The lineup: Performers include Lil Nas X, Skrillex, Fisher, Wiz Khalifa, Nina Kravitz, I Hate Models, Arkanian, and more. The cost: Single-day passes start at €45 per person Three-day passes start at €65 per person. Buy yours here.
Where: Gdynia, Poland When: Wednesday, June 28–Saturday, July 1 The lowdown: Another airport festival, this time popping off inside the unfinished Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport in northern Poland, a stark setting for a robust lineup of pop music stars like Lil Nas X and Rina Sawayama. The biggest festival in the country with an eye towards environmental protection, camping is available as well as free shuttle buses. Also on message? The “upcycling” theme for this year’s fashion stage, with young Polish designers exhibiting their creations alongside workshops for festival-goers. Plus, an NGO zone with 35 NGOs promoting the idea of Girl Power. The lineup: Performers include Sza, Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Nas X, Queens Of The Stone Age, Paolo Nutini, Rina Sawayama, Thundercat, Machine Gun Kelly, Christine and the Queens, and more. The cost: Single-day passes start at 449zł per person. Buy yours here.
Where: Montreux, Switzerland When: Friday, June 30–Saturday, July 15 The lowdown: There are a few musical ways you may be acquainted with the resort town of Montreux. As the setting for the destructive fire recounted in Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” As Freddie Mercury’s last home, with a statue of him to boot. Or as the setting of the Montreux Jazz Festival, which since 1967 has been adding some grit to the glamorous Swiss Riviera with what is now a two-week-long festival encompassing multiple venues. Founder Claude Nobs was well ahead of his time when it came to programming and abandoned the fest’s original jazz premise early on, building up a massive archive of musicians including everyone from Alice Cooper to Aretha Franklin to Beck to, of course, Deep Purple. In addition to the main musical lineup, this year’s festival has announced a slate of free shows across 11 stages-though if you want guaranteed entry, purchase a new Nightlife Pass. The lineup: Performers include Bob Dylan, Janelle Monáe, Lil Nas X, Caroline Polachek, Wet Leg, and Christine and the Queens, Mavis Staples, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Mark Ronson, and more. The cost: Some stages are free. Passes to individual shows start at CHF 88 per person. Buy yours here.
Where: Oropos, Greece When: Saturday, July 1–Sunday, July 9 The lowdown: Since its beginnings in 1996, Rockwave has basically become another temple in Greece. But this time, it’s a temple of rock. At the lush Terra Vibe Park in Oropos, pristine mountains welcome guests for a week of open-air camping and a musical lineup of big names like Robbie Williams, Mika, and the Black Keys, as well as local heroes like the folk-psychedelic Villagers of Ioannina City and Greek stoner metal band, 1000MODS. The lineup: Performers include Robbie Williams, James Bay, Deep Purple, The Black Keys, and more. The cost: Single-day passes start at €55 per person. Buy yours here.
Where: Byron Bay, Australia When: Friday, July 21–Sunday, July 23 The lowdown: Since 2001, what is now Australia’s largest festival has been running as an alternative activity during winter months. But winter in coastal Byron Bay doesn’t necessarily mean cold weather, as July temperatures range from 59 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, perfectly cool for dancing your bum off to acts like Lizzo, Flume (celebrating a decade in the industry with a festival exclusive), and Mumford & Sons, provided it doesn’t flood like last year. Besides a quality roster, the festival offers a camping experience and a wealth of interactive attractions including a comedy stage, science tent, tarot readings, massages, and an Indigenous-led dance program. The lineup: Performers include Lizzo, Mumford & Sons, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lewis Capaldi, J Balvin, Noah Cyrus, Australian DJ Flume, and more. The cost: Single-day passes start at $189 per person. Three-day passes start at $429 per person. Buy yours here.
You live for music festivals, and so does BACARDÍ – the beat, the fire ‘fits, that endless summer feeling. Casa BACARDÍ is back this festival season with all the tropical vibes, iconic cocktails, and live music that your heart could desire. Whether you’re the classic mojito type or adventurous enough to try something sweet and spicy, they’ve got you covered. So #DoWhatMovesYou and explore BACARDÍ’s 2023 festival lineup.
Where: Boom, Belgium When: Friday, July 21–Sunday, July 23 and Friday, July 28–Sunday, July 30 The lowdown: Even if you’ve never been to Belgium, you’ve probably heard of Tomorrowland. Launched in 2005, the colossal EDM extravaganza has since birthed spinoffs like the short-lived TomorrowWorld outside of Atlanta plus the still-running Tomorrowland Winter in the French Alps and Tomorrowland Brasil. Clearly, this festival is about much more than just putting artists on a stage, and made a name for itself by creating transcendent worlds via elaborate sets-think an EDM Burning Man, with accommodations ranging from an area to pitch your own tent to luxury glamping mansions. This year’s festival theme is “Adscendo” complete with video trailer describing a mythological place where humans and birds have lived in harmony for centuries. Prepare to see a lot of people wearing wings. The lineup: Performers include Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Amelie Lens, Above & Beyond, SVDDEN DEATH, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Nina Kraviz, and more. The cost: Single-day passes start at €125 per person. Three-day passes start at €295 per person. Buy yours here.
Where: Niigata, Japan When: Friday, July 28–Sunday, July, 30 The lowdown: The first Fuji Rock festival was a legendary disaster. It was hit by a typhoon, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing through the storm despite lead singer Anthony Kiedis having a broken arm. Still, it persisted. Two years later, the festival moved four hours away to the Naeba Ski Resort but kept the Mt. Fuji name, and now what’s become the largest music festival in Japan spans three days, 200 musicians, and hundreds of thousands of attendees. A 90-minute train ride from Tokyo, the setting is one the most gorgeous music festival settings ever, with hot springs to soak in and nature walks to explore. Plus the Dragondola, the longest gondola in Japan, which takes attendees on a scenic 20-minute ride above the mountains over to the Day Dreaming stage. The lineup: Performers include the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Denzel Curry, Weezer, Lizzo, Yuki, Idles, Testset, and more. The cost: Single-day passes start at ¥21,000 per person. Buy yours here.
Where: Oslo, Norway When: Tuesday, August 8–Saturday, August 12 The lowdown: Øya means “island” and, you guessed it, the festival got its start on Norway’s Kalvøya Island. In 2001, it shifted over to the city of Oslo, and stands as the largest outdoor fest in the country, reachable by public transportation and walkable from the city center. It kicks off small, however, with a club night on Tuesday taking over multiple urban venues, before launching a Wednesday through Saturday lineup that includes Blur and Boygenius, a supergroup composed of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus that’s recently reached cult status. It’s also one of the greenest festivals around, running on 90% renewable energy, with food served in compostable packaging and a total recycling rate of 75%. The lineup: Performers include Blur, Lorde, Pusha T, Boygenius, Sigrid, Lorde, Wizkid, and more. The cost: Single-day passes tickets start at NOK 1,354 per person. Five-day passes start at NOK 3,864 per person. Buy yours here.
Where: Brecon Beacons, Wales When: Thursday, August 17–Sunday, August 20 The green part of the Green Man festival begins with its setting. Wales is known for stunning scenery and the festival’s location-set on the Glanusk Estate in Brecon Beacons National Park-is no exception, with the surrounding mountains forming a natural amphitheater. Beginning as a folk festival in the mid-2000s, it now encompasses all genres throughout a manageable mid-level bash with grounds you can walk across in 15 minutes or so, and its 10 stages support exhibitions on literature, film, comedy, theater, science, and other interests in a veritable cultural smorgasbord. Do some sunrise yoga in the wellness area, camp in the Green Man Settlement, and try the festival’s very own Green Man Beer. That’s the only branding you’ll find, by the way, as the festival has eschewed corporate sponsorship in favor of promoting Welsh-made food and drink. The other green component? You’ll find lots of sustainability efforts throughout, from solar power to serving ware made from recycled materials and encouraging vendors to utilize local produce. The lineup: Performers include Devo, First Aid Kit, Self Esteem, Spiritualized, Young Fathers, The Walkmen, Snail Mail, and more. The cost: Four-day passes start at £235 per person. The festival is sold out, but you can try your luck here.
Where: Novalja, Croatia When: Sunday, August 20–Thursday, August 24 The lowdown: Dance to a soundtrack of house and techno, cool off in the ocean breeze, then wash the sweat away in the Adriatic Sea between sets. This is the promise of the Sonus Festival, held on Zrće Beach on the party island of Pag (which, fun fact, is also known for its cheese-make sure to pick some up). It’s long been the go-to open air rave for beat-thumping fans, and this year’s five-day, dusk-till-dawn affair celebrates its 10th anniversary with its usual curation of heavy-hitters and underground musicians, plus plenty of pool and boat parties. When in Croatia… The lineup: Performers include Diplo, Derrick May, Solardo, Miss Monique, Juliet Fox, Lauren Lo Sung, Chelina Manuhutu, Brina Knauss, Layton Giordani, Roberto Capuano, Silvie Loto, and more. The cost: Five-day passes start at €229 per person. Buy yours here.
Where: São Paulo, Brazil When: Saturday, September 2–Sunday, September 10 The lowdown: The Town may be a new addition to the festival calendar, but it comes with pedigree. Held over two consecutive weekends at the Interlagos Race Track, it’s backed by the founder of the massive Rock in Rio and features acts like Brazilian singer-songwriter Ludmilla as well as Post Malone, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars, and Bebe Rexha (who will hopefully have a less eventful set than in recent months). If live music set against a backdrop of São Paulo’s glittering skyline doesn’t suffice, there will also be a zip line, a roller coaster, and a ferris wheel to keep you entertained. The lineup: Performers include Post Malone, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars, Bebe Rexha, and more. The cost: Single-day passes start at BRL 815 per person. Buy yours here.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Vanita Salisbury is Thrillist’s Senior Travel Writer. Catch her bopping along in the shade.
The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’. Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health.
Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid.
Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor.
To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power.
Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.
You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks.
It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties!
An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:
‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.”