Culture

Stunning Music Festival Locations Worth Planning A Trip For

See your favourite bands in these absurdly beautiful pockets of the world.

When you’re looking for travel inspiration, your favourite band’s tour schedule probably isn’t the first place you look. But perhaps it should be.

There are few better ways to experience a location than a festival, especially if you’re a music lover. You meet like-minded locals who, impressed by how far you’ve come, are determined to show you an amazing time – and you get to party in absurdly beautiful pockets of the world that you may never otherwise get to.

Looking beyond the big global names like Coachella and Fuji Rock, here are seven stunning music festivals to consider planning your next trip around.

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Marion Bay Falls Festival

Where: Marion Bay, Tasmania
When: December – January (New Years Eve)

All of the Falls Festival locations are magical, but Marion Bay has to take the cake. Held on a farm on the south-east coast of Tasmania, the festival is set on high ground – giving you a breathtaking view out across the Tasman to Maria Island and beyond. That view just casually hangs out behind your favourite acts as they play in the natural amphitheatre known as the main stage – and when there’s a gap in your timetable, you can walk down through the coastal forest and have a dip in one of the country’s most pristine surfing beaches. With acts like Childish Gambino, Foals, Disclosure, Mac Demarco and The Avalanches playing recent years, it’s certainly not the worst place to wrap up a year.

Photo: Charles Morley/supplied

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SPLORE Festival

Where: Auckland, New Zealand
When: February

This uniquely Kiwi festival takes place at a gorgeous bay in Tapapakanga Park, 90 minutes from Auckland. Feel the sand between your toes as you watch an eclectic musical lineup perform on a stage that sits right on the beachfront (although it was more mud between toes if you were at this year’s festival – but the punters made do!). Tapapakanga Park has a rich Māori history and the festival emphasises respect, community and sustainability. Doubling as “New Zealand’s greatest dress up party”, each festival has a theme that you’re encouraged to embrace. Get your freak on at the water’s edge and immerse yourself in art installations that weave through the surrounding forest. Alongside local New Zealand talent, recent lineups have featured Hiatus Kaiyote, Blackalicious, Lady Leshurr and Lunice.

Photo: Splore/Facebook

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Pemberton Music Festival

Where: BC, Canada
When: July

If you fancy a festival surrounded by rugged Canadian mountains, then Pemberton (or Pemby, as it’s affectionally known) is for you. Taking place beneath the majestic Mount Currie in the small town of Pemberton, British Columbia, it’s a four-day experience encompassing music, comedy, food and arts. Just north of Whistler, this is postcard-picture Canada: you’ll wake up and crawl out of your tent to see epic snow-capped ranges, lush green forests and alpine rivers every day. While the festival is reasonably new (having launched in 2014) it’s nothing less than massive – having already hosted Kendrick Lamar, Outkast, Nine Inch Nails, Frank Ocean, FKA twigs and The Black Keys.

Photo: Pemberton Music Festival

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FORM

Where: Arcosanti, Arizona, USA
When: May

Arcosanti is an ‘experimental town’ in the canyons of the Arizona desert. It’s an architectural playground for students who hope to improve the environmental and social sustainability of urban design. The result is an oasis that feels at once ancient and futuristic, with epic sculptures rising from the arid desert, a huge Roman-style amphitheatre and buildings decorated with intricate frescos and vast circular windows. Florida band Hundred Waters fell so in love with Arcosanti that they decided to start a festival here. Intended to be a “personal and collaborative experience”, tickets to FORM are limited and you have to apply to take part. The 2017 lineup features Solange, James Blake, Father John Misty and Skrillex – so it’s worth putting some time into that application!

Photo: FORM/Facebook

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Træna

Where: Husøya and Sanna, Norway
When: July

Located on a tiny island municipality off the north coast of Norway, festivals don’t get much more remote than Træna. The annual event takes place over two islands, Husøya and Sanna, which are accessible only by ferry. It’s a pretty nice ferry trip too, if you like gliding past glaciers and mountains in the Arctic Circle. On the islands, music takes place across some rather incredible ‘venues’, including an ancient cave described as an ‘acoustic cathedral’ and a church with blacked-out windows to block the endless midnight sun. The lineup focuses heavily on local Nordic artists, but international names that have played in the past include First Aid Kit, Highasakite, Spiritualized, The Whitest Boy Alive and Australia’s DZ Deathrays.

Photo: Træna/Facebook

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Week-End Au Bord De L’eau

Where: Sierre, Switzerland
When: June – July

Cutting edge electronic music set next to an idyllic emerald lake, surrounded by the majesty of the Swiss Alps? Welcome to Week-End Au Bord De L’Eau, or “Weekend At The Edge Of The Water”. This annual boutique festival takes place in the canton of Valais in southern Switzerland, an area characterised by spectacular mountains, glaciers, sun-drenched valleys and vineyards. The festival is set around Lac de Géronde, which you can kayak across during the day, then take a swim in the baths or play a friendly game of petanque on the shore. All soundtracked by the likes of Lindstrom, Bonobo and Nightmares On Wax. You could do worse.

Photo: Festival Week-end au bord de l’eau/Facebook

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Festival No. 6

Where: Portmeirion, Wales
When: September

Picture a festival in Wales, and I guarantee you it looks nothing like Festival No. 6. This is no green, rainy field – No. 6 is set in a unique village on the north coast called Portmeirion, designed in its entirety as an homage to the Italian Riviera. From tiny colourful houses that line the coast to lush, magnificent gardens and decadent architecture, it’s a surreal place to visit on its own – and an absolutely magical place for a festival. Taking over the whole village, Festival No. 6 embraces the absurdity of its location and curates an eclectic range of art, comedy and music across four debaucherous days. In 2017, the festival will be headlined by The Flaming Lips, Bloc Party and Mogwai.

Photo and lead image: Festival No. 6

Book your next music pilgrimage with Qantas.