This is a very special edition of Elsewhere Plans, because it marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of the feature. Man. 12 whole editions. Of course, I missed a month once, but let’s go ahead and say it operates under the “13th floor of a hotel” principle. Just ignore it. I’m gonna do things a little differently this month. July is always the most packed month, especially when it comes to music festivals. So rather than include a ton of different ones that I can barely write about, I’ll include a few awesome ones, and let you check out the others in your area through the compendium here. Seriously, there’s probably one where you’ll be at the time, but I’ll be damned if I can think of anything clever to write about yet another boutique rock festival featuring a ferris wheel and teenagers on drugs.
So with that, let’s get to it. As always, the easy to read Google Calendar Version.
The Elsewhere Man’s Picks: Heiva, Independence Day, Beer Can Regatta, Taste of Chicago, EXIT Festival, Reggae Sumfest, Pflasterspektakel, Tomorrowland, Secret Garden Party, Splendour in the Grass, Kazantip
1-3rd – Marrakech Popular Arts Festival (Marrakech, Morocco) – The Marrakech Popular Arts festival is everything you already thought you knew about Morocco because you saw Aladdin and assumed that’s where it was set. Getting lost on winding alleyways, trading with men in fezes (does a plural even exist for that word?), charming snakes in wicker baskets. Really, that’s just Marrakech in general, but the arts festival takes everything up a notch and really makes it feel one magic carpet short of a Disney film.
1-31st – Gion Matsuri (Kyoto, Japan) – Kyoto loves its cultural festivals. Although the Gion Matsuri is more of a collection of festivals than any one, designed to appease the gods in any number of ways. If you’re in Japan, it’s not exactly difficult to carve some time out of your schedule (it’s not like you’re getting into Jiro’s sushi place anytime soon) for the month to check it out.
2nd – Il Palio (Sienna, Italy) – Horse races are great. Booze, big hats, money going around for a thirty second event that you probably won’t even actually watch. But if you’re in Sienna for Il Palio, the race itself will be hard to miss. It runs right through the streets, close enough to the spectators to knock them over if they lean in too far. Don’t worry if you miss it – the ride happens several times a year. You’ll probably miss it next time too, though.
2-5th – Open’er Festival (Gdynia, Poland) – For being a continuously conquered area, Poland sure does enjoy tying everything back to its war history. And with the fashion shows and disco balls everywhere, this might as well be the Cold War festival. The Open’er Festival takes place in a giant airfield, which would be a pretty cool location to party in. I went to a rave in an airline hangar once. It was hot and sweaty and I think somebody died.
2-6th – Henley Royal Regatta (Henley-on-Thames, England) – The only thing England does better than class inequality and pompousness is regattas. So when they’re able to combine the two, there’s nothing more English. The northern shore of the Thames is reserved for the well-to-do of England’s elite, while the southern shore will be full of all the pommy gits you love to socialize with. Guess which shore you’re gonna be stuck on! Mmmmm quite right guvna, pip pip cheerio.
3rd – Mwaka Kogwa (Makunduchi, Tanzania) – Sometimes, I wonder whether all these cultural festivals are really just the local tribes seeing how badly they can fuck with the white man and get away with it. Mwaka Kogwa involves beating the shit out of each other with pool noodles as a way to purify themselves of hate. It sounds ridiculous. Then again, compared to the white man world’s way of dealing with anger (passive aggressive manipulation of friend circles to turn opinion away from each other), it sounds kind of nice.
3-6th – High Sierra Music Festival (Quincy, California) – I consider Oregon the center of the west coast of America. The further north or south you get, the less Oregon-y you get. The High Sierra Music Festival, being in northern california, is all about organic foods, the bohemian progressive spirit, and good vibes with good music. You know, pretty damn Oregon-y, but not quite Portland.
3-6th – Rock Werchter (Werchter, Belgium) – Belgium bookends the month with two pretty awesome music festivals. The latter is the better of the two, but really, it’s tomato, tom-facemeltingrock-to. And while alcohol is hardly the drug of choice at an EDM festival, the stella(r) Belgian brews really lend themselves to the genre of choice here. You’ll feel better about yourself while you’re headbanging and sweating all over the chick (wait, that’s a dude) next to you if you’ve got a top-rated beer in your hand.
3-19th – Heiva (Papeete, Tahiti) – Heiva is the ultimate Polynesian experience. Stereotypically so. Rhythmic hip-shaking to drums and singing, black sand beaches, golden flesh in the sun. It’s no wonder at all the missionaries a few hundred years back banned them – it sent the bad quivers to their nethers. Luckily the ban didn’t stick, and the island is making up for lost time.
4th – Independence Day (Washington DC or Newport Beach) – Listen up, patriots. There are two ways to celebrate the Fourth of July like a ‘murcan. The first is classy – hit up the nation’s capitol, enjoy the history and free celebrations leading up to the fireworks. The second is the way we’re all probably going to actually do it: get absolutely shitcanned. Newport Beach goes crazy, with the entire boardwalk being filled with people painted red white and blue chugging Independence Day beer. Whichever way you choose – both are what it means to be American.
4-5th – Wife Carrying World Championship (Sonkjarvi, Finland) – Most guys like a tiny girl they can throw around the bedroom. Most guys don’t like making that reasoning known. The Wife Carrying competition is a good excuse. And hey, it’s 2014 – you can carry whoever you want to call your partner. Wife, husband, boyfriend, buddy. They’re all gonna be equally angry when you accidentally drop them on their head three feet from the finish line. And then there will be no throwing around the bedroom for quite some time.
4-13th – Stampede (Calgary, Canada) – Rodeos are rowdy. Rowdy, drunken affairs with bulls. I don’t know how they pull one off in a country where you could bump into one person and hear three “I’m sorry”s come out of it, but Stampede is one of the biggest events in all of Canada. And heaven knows the bulls don’t give a shit about how sorry you might be.
4-19th – Montreux Jazz Festival (Montreux, Switzerland) – In the music industry, it’s all about who you know. And if you modern music festivals are the Justin Biebers of the world, rising fast and getting big without going through the motions, then Montreux Jazz is the Frank Sinatra standing next to him – oozing class and prestige. It’s not even a jazz-only festival anymore, but it still has that lakeside class that makes it so cool a Deep Purple song was written about it.
6th – Darwin Beer Can Regatta (Darwin, Australia) – Anybody with an attention span will know that I find regattas to be a bit snobbish. In most cases. Let’s shake things up a bit, huh? Let’s do a regatta entirely on the boats we make out of our beer cans. Drunken ingenuity has given us some great things in life (see: Hemingway, penicillin, and the chocolate chip cookie), but trying to build a boat will be a special case, because drinking enough beer to build it will literally kill you. Hope your team has a strong collective liver.
6-14th – Fiesta de Merengue (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – Frankly, before I knew anything about this festival, I thought it was celebrating some lemon pie or something. But Merengue is actually an obscure afro-caribbean type of dance music. Think Major Lazer minus the computers and teenagers chewing their own faces off. Although I’m sure they’ll serve pie a the festival.
8-10th – Festival of Giants (Douai, France) – I don’t know what it is with Europe and carrying around giant paper machee and balsa wood figures of people, but it seems like every month I’m writing about at least one festival involving carrying around giant paper machee and balsa wood figures of people. Then again, every month I’m also writing about some regional Burning Man. So maybe people in glass houses shouldn’t throw giant wooden figures of people.
8-13th – Nowhere (Literally Nowhere, Spain) – Everybody wants to go to Burning Man, but there’s the issue that a lot of the hippies that want to go don’t exactly have the money to travel. Thus, regional festivals pop up that share Burning Man’s ten principles and little else. Nowhere is Spain’s edition. And with the number of unemployed youths in the country, the attendance is probably going to be pretty damn high.
9-12th – Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival (Brooklyn, New York) – I’m a west coast guy born and bred. Tupac over Biggie any day of the week. But you’d be stupid to pretend that along with Compton, Brooklyn is one of the gestation tanks for modern hip-hop. A festival there, all about its sired genre, is pretty big. I saw Nas bring out Jay-Z recently and that proved it. Hip-hop may not be Brooklyn, but Brooklyn is hip-hop.
9-13th – Taste of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois) – I give Chicago a hard time. It’s cold. It’s windy. Its teenagers like to shoot each other for fun sometimes. But for all of those problems, it has some damn good food. And I’m a New York-style pizza guy at heart (fold it till the day I die), but an entire festival celebrating deep dish is something I can wrap my mind and mouth around.
10-13th – EXIT Festival (Novi Sad, Serbia) – When Yoko Ono smashed an ancient Chinese urn as some sort of modern artistic statement, people were infuriated. How dare they treat an important historical relic that way? Meanwhile, EXIT festival features a full on rave inside a 17th century castle. Badass. And I’m not saying that people piss in bottles and throw them at every festival, but I will say that the caretakers of that castle must have a really good restoration crew on call.
11-13th – International Folk Art Market (Santa Fe, New Mexico) – There are two types of folk artists. The first is the dedicated artists who have spent ages learning and mastering a craft, who sell such artisan products to support a family. The second is that dude who taped a rock he found to a leather bracelet and taped it to his dreads. At the largest folk market in the world, you’ll find plenty of both.
11-13th – T in the Park (Balado, Scotland) – Scotland may be cold and windy 360 days of the year, but it’s home to the people who use Scotch instead of fire to stay warm in the winter. So while the weather is often against them, they at least know how to have a good time. T in the Park takes place on the few warm days of the year, so take advantage of the alignment of the planets and see what mischief goes on.
11-13th – Naadam (Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia) – Ghenkis Khan was the single greatest general in history. His empire dwarfed even the Romans. He raped so many people that 1 in 200 people in the world are directly related to him, and he killed so many people that he briefly abated global warming. So with that in mind, it’s difficult to disrespect a festival dating back to his time dedicated to showing might over others. But then you see the little pink speedos the dudes wrestle in, and it becomes a lot easier.
11-13th – Ultra Europe (Split, Croatia) – Ultra has always been the ultimate place to see your favorite DJs while engaging in such activities as getting unconsciously pissed on and snorting coke of a chick’s naked vag. Seriously, Ultra attracts the worst kind of KandiKid, and that’s in Miami. Who knows what kind of people will end up at Ultra in Croatia. Watch what you drink, guys, because nobody seems to use the bathroom anymore at these things.
12th – Camel Cup (Alice Springs, Australia) – I’ve never really understood camel riding. I mean, yeah, I get it, but it’s always reminded me a bit too much of that joke involving four people sitting on one bar stool by turning it upside down. So yeah, they’re competing in a prestigious race, but when they’ve got a mountain of camel back tit rocking its way into their anus with every step, who’s the real winner? The audience, that’s who.
12th – Full Moon Party (Koh Phangan, Thailand) – See previous. It’s no Friday the 13th like June, but it’ll probably be just as unlucky.
12-13th – Electric Daisy Carnival UK (Milton Keynes, England) – If you’re into getting peed on and just can’t quite make it to Ultra this year (and why not? Europe is, like, five feet across by train), then EDCUK is a good second choice. It attracts just as terrible KandiKids, but has the added benefit of chavs and those pommy douches who shave all the hair off the side of their heads until it looks like there’s a flower growing out of the top. For the best EDM festival around this time, look a few more spaces down.
13-19th – Reggae Sumfest (Montego Bay, Jamaica) – Back in college, you probably knew a dude with dreads and Marley posters who didn’t realize that “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was actually by Bobby Darrin. Get away from those kinds of posers by heading to the source. Sumfest in Jamaica. Enjoy real reggae and laugh at the white dudes getting stopped by security at customs.
14th – Bastille Day (Paris, France) – Say what you will about the French, but their revolution was a badass bit of change. They helped America win their independence, so its only fitting that their biggest national holiday happens right after the US’, when we’re all still hyped up on freedom and booze and ready to celebrate. Paris is the best place to celebrate it, with fireworks all over the Eiffel like a mirror to the Washington Monument. People call the French cowards sometimes, but I say they are total Freedom Bros.
15-31st – Fiesta de San Fermin (Pamplona, Spain) – As far methods of death go, getting drunkenly gored by a bull is pretty damn manly – just below skydiving without a parachute through a thunderstorm and just above getting your neck snapped by Liam Neeson. But – and maybe it’s the silly little traditional outfits – there’s something played out about doing it at the Running of the Bulls. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do it one day. Hemingway as fuck.
16-20th – Tales of the Cocktail (New Orleans, Louisiana) – I don’t know what kind of tales you’d expect here. My tales of cocktails usually involve large blank spaces in memory and embarrassed texts the next morning trying to derive if I did anything horrifying to the people I’m supposed to care about. And based on what normally happens in New Orleans, I’d guess that the tales there can get pretty damn horrifying. But there’s only one way to find out.
17-19th – Pflasterspektakel (Linz, Austria) – Compound words are probably the greatest part of the German language. If you can’t describe something in a word, make one up with twenty. Plasterspektakel means “street festival” and involves random performances, arts, music, and whatever else the artists can come up with in their own little space on the sidewalk. It’s gonna be a reallygoodtimetovisitlinzaustria.
17-20th – Latitude (Suffolk, England) – Latitude is one of those middle class festivals that doesn’t know what it wants to be. Family friendly? Burning class? Who knows. Go do both: get out of your mind and scare all the children climbing over the logos.
18-20th – Pitchfork Music Festival (Chicago, Illinois) – I wanted to write about the Pitchfork Music Festival using the same language Pitchfork does for their music reviews, but after typing “the sonic proclivities of the artists transcend into an ethereal discordance with the landscape in which they inhabit,” I promptly vomited all over my keyboard and went to bed.
18-20th – Melt! (Grafenheinichen, Germany) – I’ve said it before: if Germany had a modern national stereotype, it’d be a dude in leather and small sunglasses in a weirdly lit underground tech club. Melt! is that person’s music festival. Shit, there’s a giant crane right in the industrial museum the festival calls home. It’s like it’s begging to be known as German.
18-27th – Boryeong Mud Festival (Boryeong, South Korea) – I love clever marketing disguising itself as something genuine. The Boryeong Mud Festival plays up the healing properties of mud itself while pretending it’s not put on by marketers that sell the mud as beauty products. Stil, I can’t fault anybody that sponsors a giant mud fight. The best festivals always do have you covered in some kind of gushy semi-liquid.
18-27th – Tomorrowland (Boom, Belgium) – I write about Coachella like it’s some magical place, and I’ll fly there no matter where I am in the world at the time. I have friends that speak the same way about Tomorrowland. It’s the single best EDM festival in the world, and the organizers somehow pull off an audience culture that doesn’t involve shitheads and terrible affronts to humanity. If you’re going to go to one EDM festival, make sure it’s this one. Tickets are hard to come by but worth the price of admission.
18-27th – Cheyenne Frontier Days (Cheyenne, Wisconsin) – I don’t know why they felt the need to make a festival about the Wisconsin Frontier. That’d be like holding the LA Traffic Days festival in Los Angeles, or the Alcoholics Trying to Stab You Days festival in New Orleans. The frontier is probably a little more romantic than those things, but I’m guessing they all get equally old after a bit.
20-22nd – Aspen Food & Wine Classic (Aspen, Colorado) – Everybody knows Aspen as the tropical paradise where the wine flows like water. But it’s also pretentious! Who would have guessed a resort town filled with rich people could be. Tickets to this thing are, like, a grand. But if you can swing an entrance, your poor backpacker belly will thank you.
22-27th – Paleo (Nyon, Switzerland) – Switzerland is killing it in the music festival scene! The country that normally celebrates its cows and alps (you’ll get into those festivals in a few months, fear not) knows that the summer brings in the stupid backpackers who have a little less appreciation for the cows coming home. Paleo is like a last hurrah for everybody. The backpackers get to celebrate whatever it is we celebrate, and the Swiss get to celebrate our timely exit from their country.
24-27th – Comic Con (San Diego, California) – Since Game of Thrones and Marvel movies became popular, you’d think the nerds would start to be cool. But then you go to Comic Con and see a 400 pound greaseball dressed as Galactus hitting on one of the booth babes and realize that while the art form has elevated, the audience never did. But still, there’s a lot of cool shit announced at the convention, and it’s worth a laugh, especially if you get in the spirit and dress up with friends. And trust, just because you think everybody around you is a gigantic nerd, surely you can’t be!
24-27th – Secret Garden Party (Abbots Ripton, England) – When I was in Thailand a few years ago, I met some Welsh burlesque dancers who perform on stage every year at the Secret Garden Party. They tried to tell me about how it was this Alice in Wonderland on Acid (as if Alice wasn’t already tripping balls), but honestly, all I needed to hear was burlesque dancer. Big poofy costume, softcore stripping on stage, great music, that’s enough endorsement for me.
25-26th – Wickerman (Dundrennan, Scotland) – Not the bees! Oh god not the bees! Luckily, this festival shares nothing with the like-named Nicholas Cage masterpiece. Nothing except a giant Wicker Man. And though you’ll probably see a lot of slogans being passed around, maybe some custom t-shirts, don’t worry. Unlike the movie, the festival is actually worth something.
25-27th – Splendour in the Grass (Byron Bay, Australia) – It’s odd to see a music festival in the middle of winter that doesn’t have the word “snow” or “ice” in the name. Luckily, Australia still has grass on the ground, green enough to bring some Coachella-level acts (including OutKast’s only Australian show). And luckily, the boned up the ticket sales, so you still have a chance to grab some legitly.
25-27th – Fuji Rock Festival (Mt. Naeba, Japan) – You know that on July 25th, at the base of Mount Fuji, there will be at least a couple of people wandering, confused as shit, looking for the music. The Fuji Rock Festival hasn’t been held at Mount Fuji since its second year. But since nobody knows where Mt. Naeba outside of Japan, why change the name? It’s like the SS Coachella that was held in Miami. Marketing!
25-27th – Newport Folk Festival (Newport, Rhode Island) – It takes a special kind of festival to make people boo Bob Dylan in his heyday. But that’s what happened when he dared play with an electric backing at the Newport Folk Festival back in the ’60s. God forbid he try something new. And while the festival nowadays tries to seem less square, there’s still the tinges of trying too hard around its ears.
29th – Festival of Near Death Experiences (Nieves, Spain) – When I was a kid, I tried to jump over a grave. But since I was a stupid kid, I hit the side, fell in, and landed on a rock, knocking the wind out of myself. I told everybody that I nearly died, because all kids are lying shitheads, and was treated like a god for a day. Thus, the Festival of Near Death Experiences, where anybody who’s “nearly died” gets to celebrate how close they came to seeing the Grim Reaper, no matter how far away it really was.
31-August 4th – Kazantip (Popovka, Ukraine) – And the wheels on the bus go round and round. When I started these calendars last August, the very first event I wrote about was Kazantip. And it didn’t even start in August – the Ukrainian Burning Man was just that awesome that I had to include it. Russia’s currently doing a little liberating in the country that’s not exactly what the organizers had in mind, but if the event still goes on, it’ll be a nice break from the invasion, no?
And thus, we come to the end of Year 1 of Elsewhere Plans. Wow. A full 12 months of festivals around the world (shut up about February). See you next year, Elsewhere Fans. Or, well, next month. August. Which is by no means a marker of new years. You know what I mean.