Since most festivals happen once a year, I have a pretty easy time putting these things together. I just consult the previous year’s events, get the new dates, throw in any new ones, and badabing badaboom, check dat SEO. But going through last year’s festivals for September was a little like Thor chasing the God Butcher. Where did they all go? Tons of them (like Unknown) are taking the year off to prepare for something next year. Some have flat out jumped to the Spring. Some of jumped to October. It’s leaving September a little more barebones than usual. There’s still plenty of opportunity to get down, but you may find yourself driving a little further to make the entrance. And while I didn’t write entries for every major music festival on the planet (I like to keep it at least a little balanced between the debauchery and the culture), you can find a more comprehensive list of those here.
And as usual, subscribe to the Elsewhere Plans Festival Calendar via an easy-to-read Google Calendar version, as well as a downloadable iCal version. Don’t forget to tweet any that I missed to @theElsewhereman, and I’ll add them in.
The Elsewhere Man’s Top 5
11th – Wodaabe Gerewol & Cure Salee (In-Gali, Niger) – If you’ve made it to Swaziland this month to see the Reed Dance, and you’re a bleeding heart liberal that weeps silently for the injustice of women appealing to men, then this is the festival for you. In stark contrast to the image of the fierce African warrior, the Wodaabe people put on a male beauty pageant, complete with painted faces, dancing, and a talent show in front of a panel of all-female judges. But of course, not to be too emasculated, there’s also the Soro, where they try to keep their smiles on while other guys whack them with gigantic sticks. So really, the entire thing is like every frat party you’ve ever attended. But better, because it’s cultural.
11th – The Oasis (Marrakech, Morocco) – Morocco is a country of contradictions. It’s deeply religious, to the extent that you can hardly find a beer in the country outside of a hotel. But it’s also hungry as hell and willing to sell it’s soul (and a fuck ton of fake Ray-Bans) for a bit of that Western dolla. It’s a country that will invite Jennifer Lopez to headline a music festival and then try to sue her for shaking her ass on stage. So The Oasis will be an interesting experiment if nothing else, being held in Marrakech, where the tourists practically outnumber the locals. It could be an absolute party. Or it could just be a good chance to get arrested.
21-26th – Hajj (Mecca, Saudi Arabia) – It really sucks that Muslims are getting such a bad rap right now because of a few terrorists that can hardly even be called Muslims. Some of the religions traditions are just outstanding – for example, giving a huge percentage of your wealth to those in need, which inspired Mesut Ozil, the German soccer star, to pay for the surgeries of 23 underprivileged Brazilian children. The Hajj is another great tradition, where every able Muslim, at some point in their lives (if they can), comes to Mecca to see the Kaaba. You don’t need to be a practicing Muslim to appreciate the spectacle and the beauty of it. It might just help change some perspectives.
25-27th – Lake of Stars (Lilongwe, Malawi) – Last year, the Lake of Stars moved into the City, with a bigger and better projection. This year, they’re taking that production right back to the lake from whence it came. With more art, more music, and a whole new system, the Lake of Stars wants to become the entry port for visitors discovering the heart of Africa and finding out that it’s not all darkness. It’s already been called one of the best festivals in Africa, and it goes down rain or shine. But don’t worry about rain. I hear it’s blessed.[/accordion_section][accordion_section title=”Asia”]19th – Ultra Singapore (Singapore) – September is a good month for Asian gurning fans, as Ultra brings three separate events to the continent. I’m gonna be honest: I have a hard time believing this event will actually go forward. Earlier this year, the Singaporean government kicked Future out after concerns about the immorality of the event. And if Future is immoral, then Ultra is Dorian Fucking Gray incarnate. So I wouldn’t get my hopes up until you’re through the door and dancing your ass off.
19-21st – Ultra Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – Ever see Japanese porn? They blur out the naughty bits. They’re a country willing to extol some of the strangest and most disturbingly kinky parts of human nature, but they don’t want to be seen doing it. So it’s going to be interesting to see what goes down at Ultra, which is known in Miami for drawing the kind of people who snort cocaine off each other’s vaginas or pee in the mouths of unconscious people. I don’t think you can pixelate real life.
24-25th – Ultra Bali (Bali, Indonesia) – And oh God, just as Japan gets another installation, Ultra decides to bring their decadence to Bali. It’s not so bad here, though. Ultra in Bali is a bit like spitting into an ocean of drunken Aussies as it is, so really maybe there’s no harm done. It takes place right on the beach, which is always a fun setting as it gives you a chance to cool down after a long set of dancing, while also giving you a chance to hide your shame when you sober up and realize what you look like.
25th-Oct 4th – Mask Festival (Andong, Korea) – Masks and dancing are an important part of Korean culture, especially in the smaller town of Andong. Every year, the Mask Festival invites dance troupes from all over the country and come and perform for tourists and locals alike in over 50 events covering over a week of the town’s time. After two Ultra events in a row, I think it’s time you go ahead and enjoy some nice, quieter cultural events. You’ve earned it.
26-27th – Mid-Autumn Festival (Beijing, China) – The Equinox is a good chance to find harvest festivals all over the world. Hell, if China’s visa situation is giving you trouble, you can just pop on over to Korea (well, one of them, anyway) for Chuseok, which is essentially the same festival. They’re also held all over Vietnam, Singapore, and Taiwan. But for the biggest and best one, hit Beijing. A festival built around mooncakes and lanterns will be the most fun when celebrated in a city that can afford a bit more than a village. The festival is all about celebrating the Moon (…I just now understand the game Harvest Moon 64), and somehow that includes parades, matchmaking ceremonies, floats, and White Nights-style building illuminations. Hopefully the smog doesn’t play havoc with the lighting.
28th – Full Moon Party (Koh Phangan, Thailand) – I always give EDM festivals a hard time for involving ridiculous foreigners getting out of control. So I don’t know why I’ll give the Full Moon Party such high marks. Maybe because I’ve been. I’ve seen the people fucking in the water while logs of human shit float right into them. And yet, there’s still something fun about the beach party that makes it okay, if only just once.[/accordion_section][accordion_section title=”Central & South America”]6-13th – Groovefest (Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic) – I’m always a bit surprised to see big festivals with international acts popping up in poor, developing countries. Obviously I know that there is an upper class in any economy, but I can’t help but feel that the majority of the effort put into developing the festival is enjoyed entirely by tourists. But then again, more power to putting that tourist money into the economy, so I don’t even know what I’m rambling about. It’s almost like I don’t know what to say about a gorgeous electronic lineup in a great, tropical country like the Dominican Republic.
18-27th – Rock In Rio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – South America doesn’t really show up on my lists very much. Outside of Carnival, there’s just not that many festivals down there that aren’t so regional that they’re worth thousands of miles of travel. Which is a shame, because Brazilians are some of the most beautiful people on Earth, and they know it. So with that in mind, it’s safe to say that when they do throw a party, the world takes notice. Rock in Rio is the largest music festival on Earth. Over a million people attend every year. If that doesn’t say enough about its credentials, then I don’t know what does. This year’s got everybody from Beyonce to Metallica playing, so if you’re able to go, you should. It’s safe to say that you’ll be able to find something you like. Besides the millions of gorgeous Brazilians.[/accordion_section][accordion_section title=”Europe”]
1-Oct. 4th – Ibiza Closing Parties (Ibiza, Spain) – As if anybody under the age of 30 needs an excuse to go to Ibiza (which, coincidentally, is usually the cutoff where you become classy and educated enough to pronounce it right). But starting September 1st, the clubs and parties start to prepare for their winter hibernation (read: hangover recovery). And Ibiza isn’t the kind of place to go quietly into that good night. There’s a full schedule leading to the final soirees, headed up by the biggest names in electronic music – pick a party and dance yourself silly.
2-6th – Outlook Festival (Pura, Croatia) – Just a short time ago, there was the Reggae Sumfest in Jamaica. Outlook is the festival cleaning up those scraps, taking in the lo-fi dubheads who can’t quite afford to hop across the pond. However, it encompasses much more than just reggae, and in fact pretty much any band that’s ever felt its influence is there. By all accounts, this is one of those festivals where the rich British kids on holiday flock, and like the Unknown festival later in the month (and not too far away, either), it’s full of yacht parties and beach raves. You can structure your own festival based one what you want to see, but you’re gonna need to buy some extra tickets if you really want the full experience.
4-6th – Electric Picnic (Stradbally, United Kingdom) – There are two types of electronic festivals there. You’ve got the unique, amazing ones like Tomorrowland and Lightning in a Bottle, that strive for an ideal. And then you’ve got the ones with “Electric” in their name. For some reason, if the festival has Electric in the name, it’s an indicator that the festival will be just another chance to pop some pills and dance that remix you hear at every set. That’s not to say it isn’t fun. But it’s certainly not a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
3-6th – Festival Number 6 (Portmeiron, Wales) – Festival No. 6 is either some kind of post-modern commentary on the increasing ubiquity of the music festival as a concept presented to youth culture through a façade of progress hiding a corporate shadow… or the creators were just lazy as fuck. Either way, congratulations Festival No. 6, you’ve officially surpassed “Music Festival North West” for least creative name.
5th – Scottish Highland Games (Braemar, Scotland) – It’s every man’s worst nightmare: being humiliated by a guy in a skirt. But when that guy is tossing a 20-foot log (not what it sounds like, despite the skirt) and pulling twenty other guys into the mud for the tug of war, you’ll be forgiven for stepping aside when he walks through a doorway, kilt twirling ever-so-sweetly in the breeze. The Braemar Gathering is one of the original Scottish Highland Games. While you probably won’t be joining in the games (you weakling!), you’re more than welcome to grab yourself a kilt and buy a round of scotch at the bar. And make sure you congratulate the winner. After all, there can only be one (sorry).
5th – Joust of the Saracen (Tuscany, Italy) – Remember when going to a Renaissance Fair meant a surefire wedgie come Monday morning math class? Now that the nerds have inherited the Earth, you can finally admit to yourself that dudes on horses in armor thrusting giant metal spears into each other’s faces is actually kind of badass. For Il Saracino (“Joust of the Saracens”), the whole town comes out to dress up in old clothes and watch four horsemen try to kill an effigy in the most glorious manner ever. With the authentic Italian atmosphere, it might just be the closest to living Game of Thrones you’ll ever get.
6th – Regata Storica (Venice, Italy) – Venice’s main transport system involves gondolas in the canals, so when you think about it, dedicating an entire day to gondola racing, with all the fanfare they can muster, is a bit like opening day at the Del Mar Racetrack being celebrated with a race of taxi cabs around the track. But hey, playing ridiculous things straight makes the most fun. At the Regata Storica, gondola drivers are in full 16th century costume, with trumpeting announcements. And unlike most regattas, the course takes turns, so you’re actually watching these guys duke it out for a spot and not just getting down a line first.
10-13th – Bestival (Isle of Wight, England) – It’s a bold claim, throwing out a name like that. Bestival. Appeals to the arrogant nation in me. If something were to happen and it just wasn’t up to snuff, people would mock them for the rest of eternity. But under curation from DJ Rob da Bank (and wife, Josie da Bank), they’ve been going strong for over a decade now and nothing has taken the title away from them (they’ve won awards for both Best Major Festival and Best Mid-Sized Festival, what?) so by all accounts, they’re holding up their end of the bargain.
12-13th – Lollapalooza Berlin (Berlin, Germany) – German music festivals are an interesting monster. Most of the people actually at the festival are either Dutch, Australian, or English. You’ll be talking to them and pick up the accent immediately. Now, the people hanging out by themselves, not socializing with people outside their group? There’s the Germans. So if you’re a tourist, you’ll need to be able to find the friendlies. Luckily, Lollapalooza is an import festival, which means it will draw lots of people for the Germans to ignore. More friends for you.
18-19th – Egremont Crab Fair (Egremont, England) – This fair was established in the 1200s. And like all things from the Dark Ages, it’s weird and a little backwards. Sure, some of it is fairly standard festival fare: the music, the food, the art. It’s the competitions that really make you scratch your head. The greased pole climb isn’t exactly the most complicated thing in the world (though obviously not the easiest either), but then there’s the gurning competition. You stick your head through a horse collar and twist your face into the most ridiculous shape you can, then snap a picture for all of your friends to laugh at for the rest of your life. It’s the kind of thing everybody has done in the privacy of their own home but would normally never reveal in public – just like all the other worst parts of the Dark Ages.
18-24th – Les Festes de la Merces (Barcelona, Spain) – It’s pretty clear that music festivals are the lifeblood of my travel ambitions. But sometimes the best festivals aren’t nearly so… restricted. For La Mercé, the entire city goes crazy. Over four days, there’s something like 600 events – from swimming races in the harbor to fun runs, from free concerts to parades. And those are just the normal ones. There are also papier-mâché giants roaming the streets and human pyramids in the squares. The human pyramids involve dozens of people and can rise over 40 feet into the air, so at least you know the person at the top won’t be blowing over with those balls of steel weighing him down.
19th – Paris Techno Parade (Paris, France) – My least favorite part of music festivals is walking between the stages. Sure, there’s some good people walking, but the stages are where it’s at. That’s the problem solved by the Paris Techno Parade, because hey, if you’re gonna be dancing like a madman, why not move forward while you do it? The PTP is a giant street party through the roadways of Paris. Think the Zurich Street Parade, minus all the copious nudity (so much for the City of Romance…). True to France, it celebrates Liberté, Diversité, Rhythmicité. And when you’ve reached the end of the parade, there’s another festival, Dream Nation, for all the people whose drugs haven’t quite burnt out yet.
19-20th – Cow Ball (Bohinj, Slovenia) – So, I’m not one to judge. Everything is a reason to celebrate. But the people of Bohinj really stretch for it when they throw the Cow Ball, a giant celebration… to their cattle. To be fair, it’s really more of an alpine celebration, with yodeling, cheesemaking, dancing, music, and everything that makes a festival great. But the centerpiece is still the cows coming back to pasture. So I hope you like milk. Or at least White Russians. Though you shouldn’t need the latter to start showing off your yodeling skills.
19-Oct 4th – Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany) – Look, you know what this is. Hot chicks in dirndls serving twelve pints of Spatenbräu at a time, prost!-ing your maßkrüge so hard it shatters, sloshing all over your sauerbraten and laugenbrezel. You know, basic stuff. It’s the biggest fair in the world, so if you haven’t heard about it, chances are you don’t drink beer anyway. Just make sure you’ve got a handle on how to get home. There’s a reason every picture of Oktoberfest you see is taken during the daytime – at night, there are too many people passed out facedown in the shot. And if Germany’s win in the World Cup says anything about their ability to party, it’s that this year is going to be huge.
19-27th – London Design Festival (London, England) – London has one of the richest histories of design in the world. It’s the only city where you can find a beautiful centuries-old cathedral perched directly next to a gigantic dildo skyscraper. The London Design Festival celebrates such a rich (and phallic!) history with 9 days of workshops, lectures, art exhibits, and street installations all over the city. Design extends to too many different things – food, advertising, art, architecture, hell, even gardening – and the LDF has space for them all. Some of the best pieces are in the major tourist destinations (Tate Modern, Trafalgar Square), but don’t discount some of the back alley establishments. There’s art everywhere.
24-27th – Galway Oyster Festival (Galway, Ireland) – Ireland’s oyster festival must have a bit of a younger sibling complex, seeing as it’ll never top St. Patrick’s Day in the world’s eyes. Which is a shame, because it’s still one of the biggest and best festivals in Europe, with shucking competitions, parades, music… and of course, all the seafood you could eat. Plus, it’s Ireland. You can expect all the pubs to get in on the action.
28th – Concurs de Castells (Tarragona, Spain) – The Festes de la Merce earlier in the year has some human towers, but that’s child’s play compared to the biannual Concurs de Castells. We’re talking nine story tall towers of human beings sprouting out of the ground like some grotesque palm tree. And for the coconut, because this is the country that baptises babies by Evil Kinevaling them and child welfare means nothing, each tower is topped by a child. Nine stories up. A child. This festival was recently named by UNESCO as one of the best forms of intangible heritage and culture in the world, so now we’ve got UN-sanctioned child endangerment in the mix. Awesome. What’s better is these things are stadium level sporting events during the festival, so if you’ve got a morbid sense of curiosity, you’re in luck.[/accordion_section][accordion_section title=”North America”]
4-6th – Electric Zoo (New York City, New York) – I wrote a bit about responsible drug use after a few kids died at Electric Zoo a few years ago. Luckily, the festival is moving in the right direction in terms of both security and safety (last year’s event went off without a hitch, and it seems like festivals in general are warming up to the idea of mitigating drug dangers rather than the drugs themselves), so I’ll be interesting in seeing how it goes this year. If anything, everybody should try riding a giant animal statue while listening to fat beats at least once in their lives.
5-7th – 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. I mean, it’ll rain and pour for sure, but you can deal with that, right?
10-13th – Lockn’ (Arrington, Virginia) – It was only just recently that I made peace with the fact that I couldn’t see every act I wanted to at a music festival. It took a while. But I’ve realized that I can always see them again. That it’s the experience that matters, more than the individual sets. So why does Lockn’ have to come around now and just ruin it for me? The Interlocking Music Festival only has two stages and works by jumping back and forth, thereby “interlocking” all of their sets, across genres and generations. And I hate it. How else am I going to smugly tell everybody about the moments they missed?
11-13th – Riot Fest (Chicago, Illinois) – When I was a kid, I thought I was a punk. I listened to bands like Blink-182, Brand New, and Yellowcard. Of course, I wasn’t actually punk – I dressed like my good ol’ mother told me to and ate my vegetables – but the music at least defined my middle school experience. So Riot Fest is a bit like a time machine. All of those great bands (who admittedly kept making music after I was over them) are coming back together, and they’re bringing their friends from ska, metal, hip-hop, and even some quieter indie. So if you want to break out and rage against, I don’t know, some machine somewhere, then this is your stop.
12-13th – LouFest (St. Louis, Missouri) – LouFest doesn’t exactly break new ground in the creative naming department (swear to god, it’s a September thing), but for a relatively small festival, it’s bringing in some big guns. OutKast (though even Andre admits he’s selling out at this point), Arctic Monkeys, Grouplove, Kelis… it’s actually a pretty similar, and at times better, lineup than Splendour in the Grass, and considering it’s only two days and a quarter of the price, the experience gets packed in. They’ve also got the Nosh Pit, where you can pick up gourmet food far beyond what you’d expect from the standard dry pizza festival fare.
12-13th – Forever Never Land (San Luis Obispo, California) – Ya know Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is for sale? The ultimate symbol of a man who simply wanted the opportunity for a childhood is on the market. This has basically nothing to do with Forever Never Land music festival, but if any rich manchildren read this, you’re welcome anyway. Forever Never Land, like Michael Jackson, is all about never growing up. And in that sense, it’s one of the few festivals out there that is strictly 21+. Thank. Fucking. God. The lineup itself isn’t fantastic (Sublime with Rome never lived up to the legacy, though RJD2 is pretty cool sometimes), but the fact that it’s a no children allowed festival gives it all the points it needs. No guarantee there won’t be adults acting like children, though. In fact, it’s borderline guaranteed.
14th – Laneways (Detroit, Michigan) – When I went to Laneways in Auckland, I complained that the venue was shit. It was a hot summer day, and we were packed into a shipping yard on a dock full of metal boxes and hard concrete with nowhere to sit and hardly any shade. So it makes sense that Laneways would move to Detroit, another miserable town of iron and concrete where you’re constantly forgetting about the music because your back is starting to cramp. At least the music you can hear is great.
15-16th – Grito de Dolores/Fiesta Patria (Mexico City, Mexico) – Also known as Mexican Independence Day. If you thought Americans went HAM for their country, then you don’t know Mexico. They’re so patriotic, they start the party the day before. At 11 PM on the 15th, the President will utter the Cry of Dolores to signal the beginning of the event, at which point there are parades and music all over the city. If you can’t make it to the capital, there are celebrations in towns all over the country. And hey, maybe it’ll embody so much brotherhood and patriotic goodwill that even the cartels will stop beheading people while you’re there! Party in peace! Ha, just kidding. Like the cartels would stop beheading people. It’s like they get off on that shit. But seriously. Mexico’s a beautiful country, and as long as you’re not stupid, you’ll be fine to visit and celebrate with them.
15-20th – Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival (Fredericton, Canada) – I’ll admit, a lot of the festivals I suggest aren’t the most family-friendly of affairs. They’re usually the kind of place where you can practically trip and fall into a big bowl of drug-addled 20-somethings. So allow me to get classy. The Harvest Festival in Canada has expanded beyond its Jazz and Blues roots – you can hear everything from hip-hop to pop there – but it retains its intimate atmosphere, with a collection of small venues hosting 400+ acts over the course of six days. There’s just something about jazz and blues that make you want to dress nicely and drink an expensive glass of wine. So take a break in your debauchery and get a little bourgeois.
16-20th – Pop Montreal (Montreal, Canada) – I like to imagine the name of this festival refers to the actual city just popping from this bubble of self contained Canadianality into this monstrous, city-wide riot of music and dancing where women and children huddle behind shuttered windows while the men peak through with their guns (ha, nevermind, Canada) wondering when the chaos will end. But I’m pretty sure it’s actually just the genre of music playing. But hey, whatever works. At least Arcade Fire is playing a hometown show.
18-20th – Blues & Brews (Telluride, Colorado) – Hot off the back of the Telluride Film Festival comes the Blues & Brews Festival. It’s like the ultimate town for the snob that only watches art house flicks and only drinks that special craft brew double fermented in a dead goat’s nutsack. Still, if you can put up with that population, there are a lot of really good beers on site (over 170 of them, actually), and the music is damn good. Unlike most festivals that stray away from their eponym, B&B keeps the blues and guitar sounds flowing. If you need any more convincing, just think. Colorado is gorgeous this time of year.
18-20th – Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey, California) – There’s a lot of jazz festivals popping up around now. Maybe it’s the equinox, the harvest, all that jazz (badum tsh!). There’s just something classy about the Autumn that the genre fits so well. Monterey works in the same way – foggy, breezy, a little mysterious and a little inviting at the same time. Fall is also the perfect time to visit northern California, when the fog banks roll in and the weather gets a bit more wet, turning the evergreen coast into something a bit closer to Seattle than Los Angeles. Keep dry with music and enjoy the pumpkin pie.
23rd – Equinox (Chichen Itza, Mexico) – Screw harvest parades and jazz. The Mayans really knew how to celebrate the Equinox. At Chichen Itza, home of the gigantic pyramid El Castillo, deep in the jungles of Mexico, you’ll be able to celebrate the new season by watching the shadow of a snake crawl down the pyramid. It may not sound that impressive, and the crowds can kill the effect if you get your hopes up too much, but you’ll be able to find your school of people if you look hard enough. So while many people are standing around to watch, you can dance your ass off while the pyramid is lit up like a giant neon candle. You could, dare I say it, party like it’s 2012.
23-27th – Decibel (Seattle, Washington) – Decibel was founded back in 2003 as a way to introduce people to that new and shocking genre of music, that horrible, child-corrupting tunage known as… EDM. It’s almost crazy to think how much the community of dance musicians has grown since then, but still, Decibel is all about innovation. Don’t expect to see the David Guettas and Calvin Harrises of the world here. Oh sure, drop a molly and go crazy if you want. But the music on display here is far more in-depth and technical than what you might find at a HARD show. Paired with the workshops and lectures about the industry and technology, and you’ve got more of a talent show than a festival. People showing off the batshit crazy material they can come up with, one-upping each other and actually pushing a genre that’s gotten so stagnant even Zedd is getting tired of it.
25-27th – Lobster Festival (Los Angeles, California) – It’s hard to imagine the days when lobsters were considered a shit food, the kind of thing you serve to prisoners and the poor (though their logic was sound – we’re afraid of little spiders yet are totally cool with these fuckin’ ocean roaches?). Now you’re lucky if you can afford to eat it once a year. And that once a year is here. The Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival is the largest lobster fest in the world and holds the Guiness world record for Most Seafood Served in a Day. They fly in fresh Maine lobster at all hours and cook it on the spot for you. There’s a beach near me in Vietnam that sells fresh lobster, and even that’s, like, $17/kilo. I only wish I could be in LA for this.
25-27th – Life Is Beautiful (Las Vegas, Nevada) – There will come a day when I do not make a sarcastic joke about Vegas being a quiet town… but it is not this day. So yeah, obviously I don’t know why you would want to go to Vegas. It’s quiet. Syke! Anyway, Life Is Beautiful is a new festival out in Sin City, similar to most festivals, but it’s got the location behind it. It professes itself as having “music, food, art, and learning.” Now, my first reaction was that the only thing I’ve learned in Vegas was exactly how much I can drink before I pass out and get thrown out of a club for getting a lap dance from a middle aged flight attendant, but then I looked at the actual lineup. They’ve got motivational speakers and some really intelligent people there. So if this is their attempt to make Vegas look intellectual, it may actually be working.
25-27th – TomorrowWorld (Fairburn, Georgia) – TomorrowWorld is the second festival to come out of the now-franchised Tomorrowland brand of electrowhatthefuckitude. The original is still widely regarded to be one of the best festivals in the entire world, and TomorrowWorld needs to live up to the exotic stages of Belgium. I guess Fairburn, Georgia is exotic to somebody. Because nothing says “young, open-minded, and willing to try new things with interesting people of different races” like the Deep South.
27th – Atlantic Antic (Brooklyn, New York) – It doesn’t seem fitting to end the month on one of the smaller offerings I’ve got for you, but the Atlantic Antic hits close to home. The Brooklyn block party turns an entire street into a walking festival. Explore the area, grab some food, check out some art. America’s got some pretty cool stuff.[/accordion_section][accordion_section title=”Oceania”]
4-5th: Birdsville Races (Birdsville, Australia) – Australians love their sports, no matter how far into the desert they have to go to find them. Birdsville is a little junket town in Queensland with a population smaller than most movie theaters. But their annual horse race has become popular with people who want a new venue experience, because there’s something appealing about dressing to the nines and then watching that rented tux get absolutely filthy with red dirt. But it’s the biggest thing the little town of Birdsville has going for it, so they put on more events and races for the weeks surrounding the starting gun. If you’re on your way to Uluru, there are worse towns to travel through.
4-6th – Poison City Weekender (Melbourne, Australia) – Poison City is a music label in Melbourne founded by a couple of guys that included “loving beer and punk rock” on their actual resumes. Those are usually the best guys to party with, so luckily they’ve created their own music festival too. Like any music festival with poison in the name, the bookings are normally hard rock and metal, which isn’t my usual scene. But it’s quiet in Victoria around this time of year, and anything’s a better alternative to quiet.
5-26th – Brisbane Festival (Brisbane, Australia) – I damn near almost forgot about this one. I’ve been living in Brisbane for four months now and while it’s a great city, it is yet to truly come alive for me. So it fucking figures that it’s going to do that six days after I leave. Brisbane does have a thriving arts community (the Parklands, where most of it is located, is one of my favorite urban areas ever), and for nearly the entire month of September, everything is put on display: music, food, comedy, movies, art, lectures… literally everything. It’s a bit like last month’s Darwin Festival in that regard, but on a larger scale. The grand finale takes place on the 27th – known as the Riverfire, it’s a giant fireworks show. If you can only make it to one of the events, make it that one. Brisbane likes to call itself Australia’s newest World City, and this is it proving it.
11-Oct. 3rd – AFL Finals Series (Melbourne, Australia) – Like I just said… Australians love their sport. AFL (Australian Football League) isn’t played anywhere else in the world (it’s a bit like rugby), and yet, no matter where Australians are, you’ll find a raging party to celebrate the finals. Last year, I spent them in Hanoi, Vietnam, playing beer pong against a 50 year old man while his kids cheered him on. The hostel bar was packed. So I can only imagine what it would be like in Melbourne, the sporting capital of Australia greater. Games are played in venues all over the country, so if you can score tickets (or shit, even if you can’t – the sports bar’s down the street), you’re in for a great time. Just don’t make the mistake of rooting for the wrong team.
12-Oct. 11th – Floriade (Canberra, Australia) – You ask the standard person what the capitol of Australia is, they’re gonna say Sydney. Hell, most people don’t even know Australia even has a Capitol Territory. And while nobody’s saying that Canberra’s the most exciting city this side of Uluru, it’s Spring (oh yeah, it’s Spring down here) Festival is the largest flower festival in the southern hemisphere. There’s rides and stands and events going on in conjunction with the gardening. It’s one of those festivals that’s great for families and couples, but it’s also free, which means that if you’re heading between Sydney and Melbourne around this time, it’s worth a swing through.
19th – Small World (Sydney, Australia) – A few days ago, I ran into a friend from America. In Germany. She popped around the corner, and my drunken ass got so excited that I tackled her to the ground, where we rolled in the dirt for a few minutes before brushing ourselves off and getting rejected from the club for acting too drunk outside. It’s exciting finding out just how small the world can be. And when a festival celebrating that fact can still bring in some big International artists, you’ll be rolling on the ground in excitement too.
26th – Surry Hills Music Festival (Sydney, Australia) – I was never the biggest fan of Sydney, mostly because of how expensive it is when you’re not working and living there. You’re gonna face this problem too, when you visit. Unless, of course, you go during the Surry Hills Music Festival, which is one of the few festivals in the world (RIP FreeFest) that can actually draw a decent lineup while refusing to charge an entrance fee. Sure, make a donation to say thanks for saving your sorry weekend, but feel free to party like you just got paid no matter what. You’ll end up spending everything at the bar anyway.
26/27th – Listen Out (Melbourne/Perth, Australia) – Listen Out is a single-day music festival (don’t let the dates fool you) that travels around Australia. The Sydney and Perth events have already happened, and if history repeats itself, it’ll be a sight to behold. If you’re one of the more intrepid travelers, you’ll make it to both. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in the Jetstar flight that lets you know the drug situation beforehand, just for convenience’s sake.[/accordion_section]