And thus we enter the first real month of Summer for the northern hemisphere. Otherwise known as the hemisphere where shit actually goes down. With love to those crazy Southies, of course, and I’ll take that back when New Zealand and Uruguay start pumping festivals out their wazoos, but the North puts on so much during the hotter season that it presents a problem for this event guide. Do I include as many festivals as possible, thus cluttering the page and leading to a bevy of “TL;DR”? Or do I curate – and it’s gonna take some heavy curation – and risk defeating the purpose of the damn thing? I don’t want to become one of those guys who only lists the festivals with ad campaigns. Looks like it’s gonna be a season of experimentation for me, Summer of Love style.
This month, I’m gonna try to include as many festivals as possible, while cutting down a bit on the descriptions of each. If it sounds interesting to you, then by all means look into it further yourself. I mean, shit, most of my descriptions don’t even talk about the festival anyway. If you want the longer paragraphs of Elsewhere Plans past, then let me know in the comments.
And, of course, for the crazy abbrev’d version, check out and subscribe to the Google Calendar and iCal versions, with links in a place I hope your blind self can find (hint: right here v).
So without further ado…
2nd – Dragon Boat Festival (Hunnan, China) – In China, the dragon (sun) represents masculine energy while the phoenix (moon) represents feminine energy. Thus, when the Summer Solstice approaches and the days are their longest, the energy of the world is said to lean heavily towards the masculine. That’s the cultural way of saying that this festival is basically a celebration of all things Dude, mostly through the drinking of copious amounts of wine and the racing of dragon boats. Of course, it’s not just about that – it’s 2014, we’re in touch with our sensitive side – and there’s a heavy cultural implication as well. So don’t just show up with a six pack of natty looking for high fives. Tact is the crux of manliness.
5-7th – Optimus Primavera Sound (Porto, Portugal) – Last month, I called Primavera Sound one of the best festivals on the planet lineup-wise. Optimus Primavera Sound is that festival’s idiot, less attractive sister. It’s a smaller version of the same festival in a different country, with less going for it despite having a near-identical lineup. But, like any hot chick’s less attractive sister, there’s a certain appeal to it just by association with something awesome. And if that star cheerleader isn’t gonna happen, well, there’s no shame in bagging the sibling and pretending it’s basically the same.
5-8th – Wakarusa (Ozark, Arkansas) – Not to toot my own trumpet, but I briefly dated the daughter of a Texas oil baron a few years back. I got scared and ended things when she started talking about picking me up in her private plane and flying me out to go to music festivals with her, because I’m a massive fucking idiot who didn’t understand that private plane trumps commitment phobia. Anyway, point is, her favorite festival was Wakarusa. So I know literally nothing about this one, except that it’s the festival of choice for outdoorsy millionaire oil heiresses who like rock climbing and hiding the fact that they have money. So if that’s you, or the kind of chick you’re into (and who isn’t into private planes?), then hit it up.
6-8th – Governor’s Ball (New York City, New York) – New Yorkers can’t catch a break, can they? The city finally gets a massive summer festival and what happens? It rains so hard that the entire island turns to mud. But bless ’em, it’s like that scene in Spider-Man where all the bridge people get patriotic. They’re gonna rep their city no matter what. So hey, the Governor’s Ball lineup is actually pretty baller. Maybe this year it won’t rain the one day it needs to be sunny. Maybe the Green Goblin won’t throw a few people off the bridge. You never know in that town.
7-8th – Field Trip (Toronto, Ontario) – It’s always nice to watch a baby grow up. Field Trip started last year as a 10th anniversary celebration for Toronto Arts & Crafts, before they realized that human beings enjoy music festivals and would attend one in Toronto without reason. It’s still relatively small, being only two days and booking shy of two dozen acts, but it’s punching in the sensitive spots, lineup-wise. And with a small, awesome lineup, you’re less likely to miss that band you want to see.
7-8th – Field Day (London, England) – When I was in London, I was struck by how snooty everybody was. My apologies to all other Londoners. Every one of you that I’ve met outside the borders of the city are excellent people. It’s like there’s something in the air that turns people into assholes once they step off the Chube in Zone 1. Field Day takes place in an urban center of the city, and it’s tough to get a different impression once you read up on the place. Noise restrictions, a one-in-one-out policy on attending shows… yikes. It’s like some dystopic idea of post-modern fun.
7-9th – PinkPop Festival (Landgraaf, Netherlands) – It’s probably the girliest name a festival’s ever taken by choice. And it embraces it, too: the decorations and crowds are both awash in a sea of neon pink, while the logo itself is an adorable (read: kind of creepy) little doll. I can only hope and pray that somebody, somewhere attending the festival did so under the impression they would be seeing Demi Lovato or something. Contrary to all indicators, PinkPop is Europe’s oldest rock festival, with it’s usual draws being guys like Metallica, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen. Try wearing a pink tutu to one of those shows. No really, do it. Other people here will.
12-14th – Sonar (Barcelona, Spain) – Sonar isn’t really a music festival. It’s more like a tiny musical city where everybody gets involved in every aspect of the craft. There are trade shows and classrooms to teach people with absolutely no ear for it how to create music (spoiler: you’re not gonna get much better in three days, but bless ya for trying), along with the usual concerts all over the place by people who know what they’re doing. It’s split into two parts: Sonar+D is the craft and class side of the fest, while Sonar itself (also split into Sonar Night and Day) is where the major acts play. If you’re looking to hear good music, it’s pretty obvious to which side you’ll want to stick.
12-14th – Feast of St. Anthony (Lisbon, Portugal) – Most people wouldn’t associate romance with sardines. Most people wouldn’t associate most things with sardines. Sardines are disgusting, salty little things that can make even pizza taste bad. But for some reason, Lisbon developed a folk attachment to them after St. Anthony supposedly summoned fish to listen to his sermons when people ignored him. What better way to repay such faithful fish than by making their massacre a yearly tradition? The feast, for some reason, has also come to represent a matchmaking ceremony where girls believe they’ll find their husbands. Looks like the guys of Lisbon are gonna be tasting fish one way or another, huh?
12-15th – Bonnaroo (Manchester, Tennessee) – It’s tough to say whether Coachella or Bonnaroo is the best American festival. Obviously I’m biased, having only been to the former, but by all accounts, the ‘roo is a four day party compared to Coachella’s three day concert. Throwing in superjams and comedy shows definitely helps swing the ball towards Tennessee (though being in Tennessee automatically swings the ball back). Kanye West is headlining this year, and after such an epically terrible performance last time he was there, it’s sure to be worth a visit just to see how many “FUCK KANYE” antics you can find.
12-15th – Isle of Wight (Isle of Wight, England) – The Isle of Wight is so tiny, even people from England would call it small. And this is the country that considers a two hour drive a cross-country road trip. It’s a wonder people can even live there. But if there’s one thing small islands are good for, it’s music festivals. The seclusion means you really get that Shangri-La oasis feel, and that’s one of the best part of going to festivals in the first place. And Isle of Wight, despite its size, still manages to put on a huge show with huge names. It’s like the opposite of Napoleon. Isle of Wight is that guy driving a mini-cooper around with a very satisfied wife back home.
13th – Full Moon Party (Koh Phangan, Thailand) – Ordinarily, when I include this on the list I simply refer to the first time I wrote about it. It’s on every month. June is special, however, as it’s both the beginning of the influx of drunk Brit students on break and the shortest nights of the year. It’s a deadlier combination than the “red bull vodkas” you’ll be drinking there. Just try and imagine how many new cases of chlamydia are gonna pop up on the island in one night.
13-15th – Chicago Blues Fest (Chicago, Illinois) – Say what you want about Chicago: it’s got shit weather, its youth crime rate is abysmal, it kind of smells funky. But no matter how gross it gets (it gets pretty gross), there’s one thing you can’t take away from the Windy City: it’s pretty much reinvented music more times than it can count. And no matter what your tastes are, you gotta admit that bringing about blues and jazz was a pretty swell thing. The Blues Fest is Chi-town’s biggest music festival, and it spreads out of the festival itself into the clubs and lounges that still lie scattered around the city. It’s worth a trip, because even if you’re not a fan of blues…
13-15th – Spring Awakening (Chicago, Illinois) – …you still owe Chicago a debt of gratitude for inventing House. Because let’s face it, you like one or the other. Nobody dislikes both Blues and House except bitter deaf people and neo-nazis who still hold a grudge against Otis Redding. Spring Awakening is one of Chicago’s bigger EDM festivals and since it goes on concurrently with the Blues Fest, anybody in the area gets a chance to check out either. Or both. The people with the best musical taste check out both.
13-21st – Fes Festival of World Sacred Music (Fes, Morocco) – Sometimes it’s easy to make fun of the festivals I’m encouraging you to attend. Sometimes it’s not. The Festival of World Sacred Music is one of the latter. I mean, sure, I could make jokes about Casablanca and all that, but the FFWSM has literally been appointed by the UN as one of the cultural events doing the most to encourage interfaith and intercountry dialogues. One of those, “music is the universal language,” kind of things, which sounds so hippie-esque that it actually works. There’s music of all kinds, from Balinese gamelan orchestras (which, apparently, is a thing) to whirling dervishes to Björk. When Björk has the least ridiculous sounding title, you know there’s some good world mingling going on.
13-22nd – Oerol (Terschelling, Netherlands) – Getting to the island where Oerol takes place is a feat unto itself – it takes up to six hours by train and boat. But a secluded island is really the only place a thing like Oerol could take place. An arts festival of every kind, Oerol involves theater, dance, music, and paint. And that’s just what the audience brings themselves. The entire island is covered with shows, and finding the ones you want to go to involves more luck than planning. But if stumble into a neo-dubstep shoegaze extravaganza with a post-Shakespearean ethos, then hey, roll with it. You’re not gonna see it anywhere else.
14-15th – Playboy Jazz Festival (Hollywood, California) – Hand it to Hugh, that velvet-robed son of a bitch… for being a titty mag, Playboy oozes class. The Jazz Festival takes place at the Hollywood Bowl – already one of the classiest venues around – and you can expect the evening to consist of laying down a blanket, popping a bottle of wine, and listening to the finest music this side of the roaring ’20s while fireworks pop overhead. It’s so nice you’ll forget it’s put on by a magazine more often than not stained by the sad ejaculations of lonely men in truck stop bathrooms.
15-17th – Qoyllur Rit’i (Sinakara Valley, Peru) – Some say the festival to the Temple of Qoyllur Rit’i is an ancient pilgrimage made with the intent to finally raise the Dark Lord C’thulu from his ancient slumber. Or, you know, nobody says that. But the name does sound Lovecraftian. The pilgrimage is actually to a Peruvian mountain in honor of both the religion of the conquistadors and the religion of the mountain tribes that have lived there for centuries. Jesus and Pachamama Prayer Team Ultra. You’re gonna want to wear some heavy clothes for the winter mountain climb, but you’ll notice everybody else wearing elaborate costumes and masks. Join in on that.
17th – Regatta of St. Ranieri (Pisa, Italy) – A good friend of mine did coxswaining in college. I’ve always found regattas a little boring, but I maintain that if they piped a mic from the coxswains out into the audience, it would become an international sensation (or at least a YouTube one). The Regatta of St. Ranieri went a different path to make itself unique. Instead of pimping out its coxswains (and again, you need to hear them), it adds a pole climb at the end of the race. The race transitions from Oxford class to boot camp savagery in half a second. Unless you’re a regatta enthusiast (usually reserved for the flashpackers, not the backpackers), you only really need to catch the last two minutes of the race, but they’re a good two minutes to see.
18-22nd – Stonehenge Summer Solstice (Wiltshire, England) – I’ve always loved hippies. Dreads and hula hoops and an aversion to bathing aren’t my thing, per se, but respek to those who dedicate their whole lives to it. And if you are one of those people, then chances are you’re already planning on heading to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice. It’s a very significant time for astrology/voodoo/mumbo jumbo enthusiasts, and since nobody really knows what Stonehenge was for, it might as well be related. So if you literally think you’re a druid, or you just like marveling at those who do, you might as well make the trip. It’s also one of the only times you have free reign to wander the stones, so keep that in mind as well.
19th – Los Diablos Danzantes (San Francisco de Yare, Venezuela) – I don’t know why San Francisco likes to dress up like devils so much. For such a fiercely religious region, a lot of their festivals seem to involve satanic costumes and dancing. Although when you think about it, so do a lot of ours. Diablos Danzantes is Venezuela’s biggest festival, celebrating Corpus Christi, so San Francisco de Yare isn’t the only place to see it – just the best. The coastal villages hold smaller celebrations, but they get the Caribbean coast, so it balances out.
19-22nd – Firefly Music Festival (Dover, Delaware) – Firefly is another one of those young festivals that dreams of doing big things. It’s the Kid Flash to Coachella’s Barry Allen – mostly in that it’s catching up quick. In the three years since its inception, Firefly has just about tripled in size while still drawing the same kind of acts that Coachella books year-by-year. But unlike Coachella, it still tries to hold onto its small-festival roots (hence the whole Firefly thing, named for the nostalgia of bottled bugs). For some reason, this includes a partnership with Toms shoes, which try so hard to pretend they’re not one of the worst things to happen to Africa since Apartheid. Nostalgia.
19-22nd – Wanderlust (Stratton, Vermont) – You gotta love festivals for the 1%. I wrote about the Hawaiian edition in times past, but here, they’ve moved from cringeworthy appropriation of island culture to a full embrace of their WASPiness in ways only New England could provide. It’s a yoga/lifestyle/wellness festival on a Vermont resort. I mean, for fuck’s sake, you can practically smell the sailboats and caviar from here. And if that description doesn’t just beg for a backpacker invasion, Animal House-style, then the world just doesn’t make sense to me anymore.
19-22nd – What The Festival (Dufur, Oregon) – Have you ever seen Portlandia? Good show. Makes Oregon look like a really strange place, and by all accounts it’s accurate. For some reason, everything about Oregon needs to be hip. I’ve never been to What The Festival, but a friend described it as “Portlandia meets The Goonies meets Coachella.” If that’s the truth (and by all means, please correct me if it’s not – what is the Elsewhere Man without his credibility?), then I can only assume that the WTF moniker is well earned. I mean, it has a wading pool for a dance floor. That’s enough for me.
19-23rd – El Colacho (Castrillo de Murcia, Spain) – I’m a big fan of this latest Pope. He seems like a genuine guy who only wants people to do right by each other. So when he feels the need to personally distance himself and his church from the festival your culture celebrates, you know you’re doing something right. El Colacho, otherwise known as the Baby Jumping Festival, is a baptism ceremony in which infants are laid out on the street while a man dressed as the Devil literally tries to leap over them all. Newborns have been killed before, which kind of explains why Mr. Infallible up there felt the need to clarify that real baptisms involve drowning, not crushing. In any case, it seems like a good time. For the spectators, if not the babies being Eval Kineval’d.
20th – Hurricane (Scheessel, Germany) – You don’t see a lot of German music festivals in my event guides. That’s mostly due to taste – try as I might to be open-minded, I just can’t find metal music appealing. And maybe it has something to do with that famously cold German efficiency, but Germans love their metal. Hurricane is one of the exceptions, playing a broader range of music that fits my tastes better. Which is funny. “Hurricane” would have made such a great name for a speed metal festival.
20-22nd – Electric Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas, Nevada) – Here we go. The Granddaddy of all electronic music festivals. And by Granddaddy, I mean the creepy old dude wearing too much kandi hitting on all the young girls on drugs. EDC is probably the single largest EDM fest on the planet, and since it moved to Vegas a few years ago, it has the full support of Sin City backing it. The week surrounding the festival is dubbed “EDC Week” by the mayor, which is a little like providing that creepy grandpa with your daughter’s phone number. Something is bound to go terribly wrong. Be there to witness the train crash.
20-22nd – Rainforest World Music Festival (Kuching, Malaysia) – I’m a big fan of the rainforest. World’s lungs, yo. And yes, I know that title actually belongs to the giant ocean algae fields, but until they host one of the top 25 music festivals in the world, I’m gonna pass ’em up. I hope their feelings aren’t too hurt. The Rainforest World Music Festival is both amazing and for a good cause, benefiting the conservation of the jungle and the animals within it. I consider myself a bit of an environmentalist, so much respek. Also, I want to party in a rainforest. Whatever your reasons.
23rd – Festa de Sao Jao (Porto, Portugal) – When the Summer Solstice approaches, each city in Portugal chooses a saint to celebrate. Lisbon, as said, chose St. Anthony. Porto celebrates Saint John the Baptist. The ceremonies are roughly the same, but the party vibe in Porto is legendary, since the country isn’t as religious as it used to be. Instead of chomping sardines and hoping their crushes notice them, girls go out and smack their suitors with hammers, proving once again that history is cyclical, and now the females of the species get to do the whole “club ’em and drag ’em to the cave” thing the men enjoyed back in the stone age.
24th – Inti Raymi (Cusco, Peru) – This Incan celebration comes on the back on their C’thulu-worshipping Qoyllur Rit’i event. Where that one involves a long mountain hike to honor several religions, Inti Raymi stays right in Cusco (good news for you, fatty) and celebrates the Incan God, Inti, for nine days straight over the Winter Solstice. South of the Equator, yo. The final day is the major ceremony that you probably came to see, but if you’re there for Qoyllur Rit’i, you may as well stay for the full nine day ceremony at Inti Raymi. Call it a detox.
25-29th – Glastonbury (Somerset, England) – Back in Vietnam, I met some awesome English chaps, and we made a deal. If they came out for Coachella, I would come to England for Glastonbury. That’s the reciprocal: Glasto is one of the few festivals I know of on par with – or even exceeding – Coachella in terms of size, genre breadth, and prestige. Any big name Coachella can claim has also been at Glastonbury, and though it used to be primarily a rock festival, this has been changing ever since Jay-Z headlined a few years ago (which has, amusingly, pissed off Liam Gallagher, as does everything). The weather isn’t always on par with Coachella, but hey, stomping in the mud is fun sometimes. Keep in mind, this festival will be nigh-impossible to get into as their tickets have photos on them. I don’t encourage illegal border-hopping, but…
25-July 6th – Summerfest (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – I’ve heard a lot of people claim that, at eleven days straight, Summerfest is the longest pure music festival in the world. I’ve also heard people claim that there are lots of things to do in Wisconsin and that cheese is the greatest food on the planet, so I’m gonna take any “facts” that come out of that region with a plate of salted cheddar. I’m gonna host a twelve day music festival, with one act per day involving a naked man playing ukelele in the town square until he gets arrested. Call Guinness.
26-29th – Electric Forest (Rothbury, Michigan) – Alright, EDM, we get it. You’re electronic. Machines. Cool. Change the fucking record already. Electric Forest, Electric Zoo, Electric Daisy Carnival. I’m sitting here waiting for the announcement of 2015’s hottest music festival, Electric Under A Bridge. I guess it works, even if it’s not very creative. Electric Forest, wouldn’t you know, takes place in a forest. And it’s electric! Okay, the light up trees are pretty cool. Boom, Trees Of Light. It’s not much better than Electric Forest, but at least it doesn’t have the word “Electric” in it. I’ve said “electric” so many times now that it doesn’t even look like a word to me anymore.
26-29th – Fusion (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany) – Earlier this year I worked as a landscaper in a tiny resort town south of Melbourne. My coworkers were three German backpackers, and they were boring bollocks – never left their tent outside of work hours. But all three of them had wristbands for Fusion on their arms that they refused to take off. If the festival can inspire that kind of loyalty in three of the most dull people I’ve ever met, it tells me one of two things. Either the festival is boring as shit and attracts that kind of people, or it’s so awesome that even spots of wet paint want to leave their tents for it. Go see for yourself and let me know which is which.
27-29th – Boi Bumba (Parintins, Brazil) – There are two types of people in the world: those who are cool with roughing it and those who aren’t. And while the latter may want to see the Amazon rainforest in theory, they’d probably never go in practice. But Boi Bumba is a nice draw. The island city that hosts it is in the heart of the Amazon (you need a multi-day boat to get there), but once you’re there you’ll see a giant carnival with parade floats, hundreds of stage performers, and even more drums and feathered costumes. Of course, since it’s not really a tourist area normally, you’re still gonna need to sleep in a hammock on the boat you rode in on. Don’t tell the high-maintenance people until they’re there.
27-29th – Donauinselfest (Vienna, Austria) – If you’re having trouble pronouncing it, just split it up. Donau Insel Fest. Means Danube Island Festival. The eponym is a 13-mile long manmade island in Austria, which is appropriate. Remember that thing about islands being the best place for fesivals? Danube Island Fest is the largest open air music festival in all of Europe (which is saying something… are there many closed air festivals?) and features thousands of acts playing all over the island. The people who go embrace the secluded culture – if you get to hot, feel free to strip off your clothes and run into the water. Lots of people are doing it. Gotta love Europe.
28-29th – Pride (San Francisco, California) – Having lived in West Hollywood, I’ve seen my share of gay pride. And I always hear the comment, “why do they hold these parades and dress like that if they want people to think they’re just normal people and not deviants?” I’ve found that the ones that say that most often are the ones who go out that night and puke on a girl before passing out in a bush. You know, normal people. Luckily, San Francisco is such an awesome town with such an established gay culture that their Pride events are basically Christmas in Summer. “Gay” used to literally mean happy, so have a gay old time. Fuck being normal.
28-July 6th – Roskilde (Roskilde, Denmark) – Denmark doesn’t really have a whole lot of large-scale festivals. It piggybacks on its neighbors a lot, and for such a tiny country with such a developed transportation system, that matters zilch. Who cares about local stuff when the EU is basically the Roman Empire risen again? Roskilde is their major festival, but it’s a good one, and it usually brings in some lesser known acts like Mø, who I absolutely love. That gives the danes a few points in my book.
28-August 4th – Crop Over (Bridgetown, Barbados) – Now we’re really coming full circle. Crop Over was actually one of the first festivals I wrote about in my event guides, nearly a full year ago in August. Of course, that was in the context of the festival’s final weekend – and I should note that that is when all the biggest events occur – but the festival does begin here in June and lasts through the whole of Summer to celebrate the harvest with music, dancing, and all that sweet Barbados rum. And when you’ve got those three things, you don’t need some structured final weekend to have a great time.
29th – Haro Wine Festival (Haro, Spain) – I don’t really get wine. People talk about under-notes of oak with a smoky finish and, fuck, I don’t know, nitrogen-rich soil. I just taste rotten grapes. So the Haro Wine Festival holds a special place in my heart. Instead of sticking up your nose and swirling a glass, you get to throw that wine in the face of whoever has the misfortune of standing close to you. Wear something white, because it’s gonna be purple after five minutes. And look, not that I’m complaining, but… tomatoes, wine, what is it with Spain and food fights?
29-July 5th – Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling (Edirne, Turkey) – That title gets you excited, doesn’t it? Brings you back to your frat house days, when you got sexy little coeds to lather themselves up with whatever was in the kitchen (seriously, like, we’re talking olive oil) and duke it out in a kiddie pool in the living room for all your brothers’ amusement/wank banks. Well, prepare to question your sexuality (again, just like your frat house days!), because the Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling festival is a man-on-man grudge match with muscles and shaved heads glistening in the sun. These guys take it seriously, and winning is a pretty big deal, so maybe treat them with a little more respect than you did those coeds.
29-July 6th – World Bodypainting Festival (Portschach, Austria) – Normally I take points off a festival for a boring name, but when the festival involves the kind of group hallucination this one does, it kind of needs its participants to be informed going in. The body is a canvas here, and if you’re not gonna take part, why the hell are you there in the first place? After you’ve been painted up, go see the professionals dancing under the black lights and see how far the medium can really go. It’s a nice way to keep the mood from Donauinselfest going if you’re in the area.
Finally! That’s it for the month of June. Lots of stuff to do, and even more stuff to plan for. Remember, most of the festivals that will be popping up in the next few months will either sell out their tickets soon or already have. Make sure to follow my Facebook page and Twitter, where I do updates on these ticket sales as they come in. I swear, once I start making enough money from writing, I’m going to dedicate my life to seeing every festival I’ve ever written about. See you guys there.