Welcome to the maiden voyage of Out in the World, a new Elsewhere Man section featuring some of the best events happening around the world each month. I’d say that I hope it goes swimmingly, but that word could technically describe the maiden voyage of the Titanic. I’ll just let it speak for itself.
This is (obviously) not a comprehensive list. Wherever you are in the world, I’m sure there are some amazing things going on, but this list is of more global significance – annual or monthly events. The kind of events you’d be willing to travel thousands of miles for. Your local music festival featuring tri-county darlings “Pistol Pete and the Six Shooters” probably isn’t on the list (don’t worry, their big break is coming, I can feel it!), but the bigger ones are. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Many of these music festivals have limited tickets, but scalping one shouldn’t be a problem. And I’m not going to condone sneaking in or anything, but hey, who hasn’t crossed a border illegally once or twice?
31-14th – KaZantip (Crimea, Ukraine) – Wrong side of the world to attend Burning Man? Then KaZantip should be your next backup plan. Also called “Z,” this bonanza-in-orange prides itself on being a city that doesn’t actually exist (hint: it does, they’re just odd). It’s the same deal as Burning Man: a spontaneous community of people who won’t let go of their childhood in the best of ways. It starts in July, so get your ass in gear.
1-9th – Crop Over (Bridgetown, Barbados) – This is another one that started in July, but you’ll catch the best events (like the Pic-O-De-Crop finals on the 2nd) in August. Think of it like Rio’s Carnival in Summer – An excuse to party in your underwear under the guise of being cultural.
2-4th – Lollapalooza (Chicago, Illinois) – One of America’s premiere music festivals in the heart of one of it’s biggest cities. It’s also one of the only big festivals to lack a camping portion. Because of this, it tends to skew a little further away from the drugged out hippy culture you may expect. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out of your mind in a mildly-offensive native headdress, just that some parents may cover their kids’ eyes when you do.
2-4th – Pickathon (Portland, Oregon) – Ah, Portland. Of course the hipster capital of America would bring us its most hipster festival. But that’s a good thing. In a competition of “put up or shut up” between all these festivals claiming to be progressive, Pickathon is definitely the festival putting up the most. Solar energy, reusable utensils, and damn good music to a beautiful Pacific Northwest backdrop.
2-26th – Fringe (Edinburgh, Scotland) – When I was in Edinburgh earlier this year, I was told that Fringe was both the most amazing and the most infuriating time of the year for the whole city. That’s the trouble with hosting something cool… lots of people want to go. Personally, I can put up with a lot of shit from crowds for the smallest things (I may be the only Angeleno on Earth that doesn’t mind traffic, who knew?), so a month of music, art, books, and shows are worth a little jostling to me.
2-4th – Þjóðhátíð (Heimaey, Westmann Islands, Iceland) – If somebody sends me a recording of themselves saying this festival’s name five times fast, I will personally mail you my jaw after it falls to the floor. I’ll even sign it. But be careful, the last guy that tried pronounced it wrong and accidentally summoned a demon. So, you know, there’s that. This is a three-day party for the locals, so make friends with them. You might get some puffin kebabs out of it.
3-4th – Hard Summer (Los Angeles, California) – The first entry from my hometown and I have to admit, I’ve never even been before. But Hard always puts on some amazing events (look for their Haunted events on this October’s list) and the Historic Park is a great venue in the heart of the city. It can skew pretty young at times (security usually doesn’t give a shit about the age limits), but if you don’t mind seeing a few 15-year-olds rolling tits in a pile, then you’ll have a good time here.
5-12th – Sziget Music Festival (Budapest, Hungary) – Foreign festival names always confuse me. Americans have Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, which are all nonsense words. So for all I know, Sziget is either a reverent Hungarian reference or the sound you make when you sneeze. What I do know is that this seven day island bash is one of the craziest and biggest festivals in the entire world. Don’t miss it.
7-12th – Shambhala Music Festival (Salmo, Canada) – In Buddhism, Shambhala is a hidden paradise city in Asia. You’ve probably heard of it by its bastardized western name, Shangri-La. It’s a lofty eponym to aspire to, but by all accounts, this music festival in British Columbia pulls it off.
8-10th – Way Out West (Goteborg, Sweden) – You gotta hand it to the Swedes… they make awesome tunes. From the indie folk of Jens Lekman to Shout Out Louds’ rock to some kind of techno mafia or whatever they’re called, they run the gamut of great. And they all seem to go home for Way Out West. Toss in a who’s who list of International acts and you’d have a hard time justifying not going. One Swede noticeably missing is Avicii… but I think we’ve all heard LE7ELS enough anyway.
9th – Colour Festival (Joburg, South Africa) – It’s Holi come early. Dance to some thumping electronic tunes while being pelted with colored powder and gobs of who knows what. Raves are grimy enough as they are, so just remember to keep your mouth closed and worry about hygiene in the morning.
9-11th – Outside Lands (San Francisco, California) – Take the world class lineup (and world class looking audience) of Coachella, the cool, inner-city location of Lollapalooza, and toss in the cuisine and drink of NorCal. That’s Outside Lands. Like Lollapalooza, there’s no camping, so expect an older crowd again. Feel free to drug it up – it’s San Francisco, you won’t be alone – but I find this to be a better opportunity for spending your attention on the food and wine, as far as festival accoutrements go.
10-11th – Summer Sonic Festival (Osaka/Tokyo, Japan) – For somebody living in Asia right now, I don’t have a whole lot of Asian events on this list. So if anybody wants to send some in, the contact form’s at the top of the page. This event combines international acts with the kind of Japanese rock and pop you’ve started to hear since ignorant people didn’t know where PSY was from. You can go to either location, as they share acts.
11th – La Pourcailhade (Hautes-Pyrénées, France) – Music festivals aren’t the be-all-end-all of early 20s travel. We also want to eat like fucking pigs before our metabolism taps out. The Festival of the Pig, in France, is literally that. All the pork you can eat, along with porcine races, shows, and even impressions. It’s like that opening scene of Spirited Away, but without the nightmares.
11-21st – Esala Perahera (Kandy, Sri Lanka) – I’m not sure how a display of the original Buddha’s tooth turned into an extravagant parade of elephants dressed up like Christmas trees, but there you go. Cultures are weird. It’s a bright and festive mood, but your enjoyment of it might hinge on whether you think it’s abuse to dress the elephants up like that. Some people do. Personally, I think the only abuse going on is how ugly some of the dressings are (heeeeeey!), but it’s up to you.
14-27th – Tango Festival (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – South Americans take their dancing seriously. For two weeks, the city practically turns into High School Musical with dances going on everywhere. If you’re a bit left-footed, you might want to stick to the beginner classes – there’s dozens of them. And find a partner. After all, it takes two to… you know what, nevermind. That’s low hanging fruit. Sorry.
16th – Il Palio Horserace (Siena, Italy) – If the Super Bowl is football for people who, well, don’t like football, then Il Palio is a horserace for people who don’t like horseracing. The actual event is, like, 90 seconds long around a single plaza, and you have to stand in place for hours to actually see it. The real fun is wandering the city and taking in the party atmosphere. Pick a Contrada to root for and act like you’ve lived their your entire life. And if that horse finishes the race without its rider in sight, well, there’s always the afterparties.
17th – Henley-On-Todd Regatta (Alice Springs, Australia) – The only regatta in the world to be cancelled because of wet weather. This overland boat race combines the ridiculousness of San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers run with the awesome drinking power Australians are known for the world over. Put a boat together or race on a giant hamster wheel… just don’t puke on it.
17-18th – V Festival (Essex, England) – At a certain point, you’re probably going to festivals for the sake of going to festivals. But then again, that’s the point of travel – doing shit for the sake of it. V Festival is yet another festival with a great lineup, and it fills a few dead days on this calendar. If you’re so inclined, check it out. The free, American version is next month.
21st – Full Moon Party (Koh Phangan, Thailand) – It seems obvious, right? If you’ve been to Southeast Asia, or considered going there, then you probably have this on your itinerary already. For those backpackers with their heads in the sand (which would look a bit like the people passed out on the beach the day after, actually), take note: it’s one of the biggest beach parties in the world. If you’re a drunken European on your gap year and you just don’t quite feel like you fit in anywhere else, allow me to point you to your new home.
23-25th – Reading and Leeds Festivals (Reading and Leeds, England) – As far as European festivals go, I’ve heard fewer great things about these ones. The younger crowd (16+) seems to be a big reason, and there are probably better options. But Reading did give me this video, which is one of my favorite live performances ever (especially because of the audience participation), so I’m still calling it a must visit.
23-25th – Creamfields (Cheshire, England) – England is one of the last bastions of the classic rave. The warehouse party with a small and intimate audience dancing to cutting edge musical styles with a culture all their own. Creamfields is not part of that scene. Creamfields is a massive festival in the spirit of EDC, with top notch DJs and an audience that doesn’t know if its PLUR or mainstream.
24-25th – FYF Fest (Los Angeles, CA) – Any festival that can pack in this many amazing acts into two days for only $99 is a must do, if only because it’s so easy. Throw in the great venue that is the LA Historic Park and you’ve got a deal. Foreigners take note: those people camping nearby? On the street? Homeless, not festival goers. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
25th – World Bog Snorkeling (Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales) – World Bog Snorkeling sounds like something a couple of drunk guys came up with while they were stumbling home from the bar. But then again, that’s where some of the best ideas come from. WBS is exactly what it sounds like. You strip down, climb into a bog, and paddle a few laps through the mud and snakes. There’s a lot of liquid courage and liquid wetsuits going around this place, which really just brings it full circle.
26-2nd – Burning Man (Black Rock City, Nevada) – I wasn’t sure about putting this one on the list. Obviously it’s an amazing… I hesitate to even call it a festival, but it’s an amazing thing to go to. But Burning Man is so complex and so requires so much preparation that if you’re finding out about it through a list on an obscure blog, it’s probably too late to go. Last chance tickets are being sold now, but be aware. It’s a week long romp through one of the most inhospitable places in America. Worth every bit of commitment, but it does take a lot.
28th – La Tomatina (Buñol, Spain) – I’m willing to bet money you’ve soon one of those high school movies with a massive food fight. I’m also willing to bet money you’ve never actually gotten to participate in one (Thanks Bin Laden!). La Tomatina is like a crack in the dam for all the frustrations you’ve built up by not being able to peg a stranger in the face with a tomato. Trust me, it’s in there. Let out the animal.
31-1st – Bumbershoot (Seattle, Washington) – The Pacific Northwest is one of my favorite places on Earth. I lived near Seattle for a while. The entire city has an atmosphere of art and culture that’s hard to find anywhere else. Bumbershoot is the culmination of that. It’s one of the oldest and largest festivals in America, and with comedy, music, food, and everything in between, it’s definitely worth checking out.
For Future Reference
Registration begins for South By Southwest (Austin, Texas, March 2014) on August 1st. The passes will allow you to attend any show covered by that pass, and while there’s plenty going on all over the city, a pass really makes it easy. Registration is also open for Glastonbury (Somerset, England, June 2014). You need a picture to get a ticket, so if you have even an inkling of wanting to go, register. Tickets go on sale in October. Tickets for Primavera Sound (Barcelona, Spain, May 2014) go up in price on September 2nd, so look into those soon if it’s on your radar. Big Day Out (Australia & New Zealand, January 2014) will be announcing it’s lineup in the next few days. Tickets will then go on sale on the 2nd (presale), 7th (regular), and 12th (Aukland location).
For a more complete Festival calender involving only music festivals, check out this site. Expect a calendar for September soon. An earlier release gives you guys more time to plan.