25 Festivals to Discover Before You Die

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Right now, we’re right in the thick of our festival season, with a revolving door of A-list names making the long haul down here. What about when the weather takes a turn for the chilly, though?

If you frequent inthemix, you will have seen stories about the biggest players on the international festival calendar: the likes of Tomorrowland, Hideout, Global Gathering, Glade, Coachella, Bestival, Creamfields, Burning Man, Glastonbury, Sonar, Ultra Music Festival and Exit. Look a little further off the beaten track, though, and you’ll find an ever-widening list of festivals – from the intimate to the epic – worth booking a holiday around. From a very long list, we’ve got it down to 20 festivals you should put on your radar. Needless to say, we might’ve missed your favourite discovery. That’s what the comments section is for.


#25 Transahara

WHY: You don’t get much more “off the beaten track” than the Sahara Desert. Enter Transahara: a five-day festival smack bang in the middle of Morocco’s Sahara Desert. Make the pilgrimage and you’re looking at a lengthy trance, techno, house and minimal line-up; but the focus is on the whole shebang rather than recruiting big names.

Music’s as much as the focus as art, culture and getting in touch with your mind, body and soul (BYO harem pants). It’s an intimate experience with a spectacular setting: capacity is capped at 1000, so there won’t be many people ruining your view of the endless sand dunes. And to get your Lawrence of Arabia on, you’ll only be set back about $200 for the five-day pass. Bragging rights come free.

WHEN: Five days in early April
WHERE: Sahara Desert, Morocco
WEBSITE: nomadstribe.com


#24 Life Festival

WHY: With the backdrop of Belvedere House Park and Gardens, on the edge of a forest in the Irish countryside, Life Festival is like a period drama with a four-four soundtrack. The boutique festival is simply “about forward thinking music”, and in 2013 the line-up includes a Two Fingers DJ set from Amon Tobin, Seth Troxler, Floating Points, Modeselektor and Midland. If you like your festival thrills on the intimate side in a picturesque setting (Ireland also boasts the mammoth Oxegen Festival, a very different proposition), this is a weekender worth roaming to. All you have to hope is that the weather behaves.

WHEN: 24-26 May 2013
WHERE: Belvedere House, County Westmeath, Ireland
WEBSITE: life-festival.com


#23 Welcome To The Future

WHY: Dutch powerhouse ID&T needs no introduction when it comes to throwing next-level events. The ID&T résumé includes colossal festivals like Tomorrowland and Mysteryland, the ever-expanding Sensation empire and ENERGY at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, all with a meticulous approach to production, theming and sound.

One of the more ‘boutique’ sized festivals in the ID&T family is Welcome To The Future, a one-day marathon of techno and house in the Het Twiske park. Similar in format to Awakenings festival, Welcome To The Future’s mainstage in 2012 boasted Josh Wink and Steve Bug back-to-back, plus hometown heroes 2000 And One and Daniel Sanchez closing it out. There’s a killer techno stage as well and a capacity that suits the vibe. A gem worth discovering in Holland’s crowded festival itinerary.

WHEN: 27 July 2013
WHERE: Het Twiske, nearby Amsterdam
WEBSITE: welcometothefuture.nl


#22 ZoukOut

WHY: With chewing gum outlawed and swearing on-stage a big no-no, Singapore might not seem like the most obvious place to let loose at a festival. But for over ten years, ZoukOut’s been showing the world how much fun a city can have while still adhering to a bunch of odd laws. For 2012, ZoukOut recruited big guns like Avicii, Above & Beyond, Major Lazer, Knife Party and a heap more making ‘Singapore debuts’ for what’s become one of best dance festivals in Asia, run by the world-renowned Zouk club. Set on the ‘Surreal Seaside’ (read: private beach), Zoukout runs til 8am – so there’s no shortage of festival-ing over the two days. Did we mention tickets won’t break the bank?

WHEN: Two days in early December
WHERE: Siloso Beach, Singapore
WEBSITE: zoukout.com


#21 Ten Days Off

WHY: It’s all in the name: this is a 10 day stretch of epic all-nighters at the Vooruit Arts centre in Ghent, Belgium, each July. Beginning in the ‘90s as 10 Days Of Techno, 2013 will be the 19th edition of Ten Days Off, although no line-ups have yet been announced. Last year went large with an elite cast of house and techno talent, including Pachanga Boys, Richie Hawtin, Etienne de Crecy, Maceo Plex, John Talabot and DJ Harvey. The bonus of a spread-out ‘festival’ like this one is the prospect of extended sets – not something you get all that often.

WHEN: TBA, usually July
WHERE: Vooruit Arts Centre, Ghent, Belgium
WEBSITE: 10daysoff.be

Topdeck trips – the best way to explore Europe between attending the world's biggest music festivals.

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