Lifestyle & Culture

Go Global: Dispatches’ debut list of the world’s best festivals and parties

Even we get a bit bored with Paris and Berlin. So, what else is going on? To answer that, we’re tracking festivals and parties from the Caribbean to the exotic Orient.

Dispatches is – obviously – all about expat life here in Europe. But, hey, we expats know it’s a big world and you can get to most of it in one hop from airports in Frankfurt, Paris, London or Amsterdam.

We’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time and we finally gave in when we got a push via an interesting list from Stephen Flynn in London.

So, get ready to burn up some serious frequent flyer miles.

Soho Garden Dubai – Soho Garden Dubai, on the grounds of the famous Meydan Racecourse, is starting its 2019/2020 season with a full lineup of acts.

This is waaay more than just another club. Soho Garden Dubai has 4,000 meters2 (about 43,000 square feet, or one acre), of clubs, restaurants, pools and a 10,000-capacity concert venue.

The complex includes the renowned Las Vegas nightclub Drai’s, Bohemian chic beach party location Soho Beach, high-end London based club, Toyroom, minimalist underground nightclub CODE DXB, European brasserie & bar Glasshouse by Soho and Japanese eatery Tokyo Vibes.

You can make reservations here.

Les Dunes Electroniques Episode III, Ong Jmal, Tunisia 16 & 17 November:

LDE is back 16 & 17 November at Tunisia’s famous “Star Wars” set after a three-year hiatus. LDE is held at Luke Skywalker’s hometown, Mos Espa, from the original Star Wars flick. This 30-hour rave is like none other, with sand dunes and traditional Tunisian domed houses in the backdrop of the festival’s two stages, which will host 30 of the best acts from Tunisia and the global underground electronic music scene. 

Mixmag is billing it as a “30-hour rave in the desert.”

Yes, this is Tunisia, and we’re well aware the issues. (Please … we survived six wars!) But LDE’s partner is Tunisia’s national department of tourism, so we’re thinking security will be optimal. Also, tourism in this North African country so close to Europe is way up this year. So far, so good.

Tickets start at 42.50 euros and you can get them here.

Heart Festival, Miami (Part of Art Basel), 6 & 7 December in Miami:

On 6 and 7 December, Heart Festival at Wynwood Factory will revive the legendary Heart Nightclub, which closed in 2018 after a battle with the neighborhood over sound levels.

This two-day event runs concurrently with Art Basel in Miami 2019, when every billionaire on the planet uses “buying art” as an excuse to come to Miami in December.

The team behind Heart Nightclub is reviving the brand for a 2-day, 63-act, genre-bending festival at Wynwood Factory. Designed by the experienced team behind Heart Nightclub and Humans Alike, Heart Festival at Wynwood Factory has more than 60 of the best electronic DJs and live performers utilizing three distinct rooms and one open-air lot, each featuring a top-of-the-line sound system and a distinct energy.

The lineup features techno headliners from Ibiza and Malta such as The Martinez Brothers, Sasha & John Digweed, Damian Lazarus, Cassy and Bedouin, but also brings live performers as well as newbies such as Rodriguez Jr.

Tickets start at $50 and you can get yours here.

Magnetic Fields Festival, Rajasthan, India, 13 thru 15 December:

This festival has it all … a 17th century palace outside of the pink city of Jai Pur, globetrotting EDM acts, local hipsters and culture and expats. There’s camping, glamping and high-end hotels and stuff going on at multiple stages and venues.

Headliner acts including Maribou State, the Black Madonna and newcomers like Ross from Friends (the British music producer, not David Schwimmer.)

Tickets/tents start at about 13,000 rupees, which sounds like a lot. But it works out to about 167 euros at current exchange rates. You can get them here.

Afro Nation Ghana 2019, Accra, Ghana, 27 to 30 December:

Hip hop didn’t go global … it was born global, sweeping the planet from New York to LA, London and Ghana.

So there are worse places (Finland) to be in mid-winter than Ghana. Which is why Afro Nation is on our list, which includes an increasing number of destinations that aren’t in Europe, but are easy flights via Heathrow, Frankfurt or Schiphol.

Afro Nation celebrates all things afrobeats, hip-hop, London rap, reggae and dancehall, “a party on the country’s golden sands will see party goers enjoy celebrations across Ghana’s sun-soaked coastline, surrounded by beach bars and beautiful lagoons,” according to the news release we got. And there’s surfing.

Oh, yeah … the music. The lineup 6 months out includes J Hus, Medikal,Russ MB, Santi and Tion Wayne, Burna Boy, Wiz Kid, Not3s and Yxng Bane.

Tickets start at 110 pounds (this is aimed at a mostly British audience) and you can get them here.

Yet another play all day, party all night event. You’re welcome.

Epizode Music and Art Festival, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam, 27 December thru 7 January:

If you haven’t been to booming Vietnam, here’s your motivator.

Epizode Music and Art Festival returns for a fourth edition. Phu Quoc Island has green-blue tropical seas, epic sunsets and white sand beaches, where every December the world’s best house, minimal and techno DJs put on a week-long party for guests from 80 countries

The experience is all about beautiful sunsets, yoga and chilling in the tropics.

The festival “builds a bridge between the East and West as an international music gathering of the highest order,” according to the news release we got.

This year, Epizode will explore an even wider musical landscape  along with striking art installations, creative stage designs and top-class sound systems. 

Tickets start at the equivalent of about 130 euros and you can get yours here.

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, multiple cities across Australia (and New Zealand) on 27 January thru 07 February:

You know it’s a big festival when you go to the website and it says, “Select your city.” One festival, but it’s held on multiple days in six cities in two countries. So, almost worth flying 20 hours from Frankfurt, right?

SJLF is in:

• Adelaide, Australia

• Auckland, New Zealand

• Brisbane, Australia

• Freemantle, Australia (which we never even heard of)

• Melbourne, Australia

• Sydney, Australia

Okay, you’ve never heard of this unless you are Australian or New Zealand(ish?), but this is a huge freakin’ deal … a festival that started as an excuse to drink with mates and grew into a phenomenon.

It looks like tickets start at $139 Australian and you can get yours here.

Jai Thep Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 31 January to 2 February:

As festivals go these days, this is a tiny one, but kind of interesting. The Jai Thep Festival brings art, music and well-being to the sleepy hills of Northern Thailand, with 3,500 attending last year’s edition.

“Imagine true escapism, surrounded by natural beauty with a flawlessly curated arts and music program which covers the full spectrum of varying talent,” states the news release. Throw in live performances, 80s aerobics and wellness workshops and you come close to imagining what Jai Thep has to offer. 

We’re down …

This is more of a trek than a festival. Chiang Mai is Northern Thailand’s largest city, nestled into the mountains away from crazy Bangkok. The capital of the north, Chiang Mai is an eclectic mix of tradition and modern creativity, boasting vibrant music, arts and wellness scenes.

Tickets start at 63 euros and you can get yours here.

Envision, Uvita, Costa Rica 17 thru 24 February, 2020:

Envision is a 7-day wellbeing and music festival held on a beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast “where the jungle meets the ocean,” according to the news release.

There’s a big focus on yoga: classes run all day in two “yoga temples,” with top teachers from around the world. Expect workshops on everything from permaculture to natural remedies and astrology, while music – across four stages – highlights local and international live acts and DJs.

You can see the full lineup here.

Tickets start at $349 and you can get yours here. There are also pre- and post- festival tour options available to explore those beaches and jungles.

SXM Festival, St. Martin, 11 thru 15 March 2020:

Okay, St. Martin will never be confused with St. Barts. But it’s still one of our favorite affordable Caribbean destinations … and this is an interesting EDM festival. SXM Festival prides it itself on “drawing the most discerning crowd of music lovers,” according to the news release we got.

SXM is meant to be an alternative to “large, faceless festivals around the world … bringing an influential group of dance floor aficionados – who value and respect the scene’s history and culture – together in beautiful surroundings ….”

There are venues on the beach, in villas and – so they say – “in the jungle.” Okay, we’ve been to this French/Dutch island, and we’ve never seen a jungle. But hey, who knows.

There’s no list of acts yet, but SXM showcases underground house/techno DJs.

Five-day passes start about about $400 and you can get them here.

You can see our original festivals/parties lists here.

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