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.

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.

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

Though they’re neighboring islands, 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.

Ultra Music Festival, 20 thru 22 in Miami

Europe has the most and arguably the best music festivals. But the USA tends to have the biggest. Ultra might be the biggest of the biggest, with more 160,000 people over three days at this EDM extravaganza in downtown Miami.

Worth flying all that way? Well, the setting alone is like nothing you’re going to see in Europe … Biscayne Bay on one side and downtown Miami glittering on the other.

The lineup? Pretty much everyone we’ve ever wanted to see from Sofi Tukker to Carl Cox. Top DJs such as Richie Hawtin, Martin Garrix, Tale of Us, AfroJack and Armin van Buuren along with literally dozens of acts we’ve never heard of. Space Jesus, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

You can see the full lineup here.

This being ‘merica, the tickets are not inexpensive, though with virtually every major act on the planet, $399 doesn’t seem ridiculous. Throw in a $500 per night suite and that’s ridiculous.

You can get your tickets here.

Mallorca Live Festival 2020, Calvià, Mallorca 14 thru 16 May

Okay, kids … it’s nostalgia time. The Pet Shop Boys are back and this lovely island way down in the Mediterranean has them just as the weather heats up. We’re guessing the “West End Girls” will be there in droves.

For those of us who don’t really remember PSB, Mallorca Live will feature contemporary acts such as Michael Kiwanuka (a Dispatches favorite and the guy behind the music for “Big Little Lies”), amazing British/Spanish band Crystal Fighters and a lot more.

Tickets for the Mallorca Live Festival are 75 euros fees for the 2-day pass (Friday and Saturday) and for 90 euros plus management fees for the three-day pass (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and you can get yours here.

JouJouka Festival, Joujouka, Morocco, 5 thru 7 June

For the most adventurous only. And it helps to be a fan of those reedy clarinet-looking instruments and crazy drumming. This annual festival brings a small group of outsiders to spend three days hanging out in the Rif Mountains with Sufi trance musicians, eating local food and absorbing one of the most interesting cultures in the world.

This event, which even provides interpreters for English speakers, is limited to 50 people. And best of all, it’s 100 euros for probably the most authentic event we’ve ever listed. You can get your tickets here.

Rolling Stone has a great post about it, which is how we heard about it.

Secret Solstice, 26 through 28 June in Reykjavik, Iceland

Okay, we always avoid posting about festivals in Iceland because we can’t spell, much less pronounce, Reykjavik. But Secret Solstice is worth taking a shot at it in a place where the sun never sets in summer, and everyone is someone’s daughter or son.

There are top acts including Lil Pump and Cypress Hill. But Secret Solstice is also a celebration of Icelandic culture and there are local music groups.

From the website:

We’re not your standard festival and by combining and highlighting music with distinctly Icelandic characteristics we push boundaries to provide that extra special offering to our diverse and adventurous audience.

Passes start at 109 euros and you can get yours here.

Splendour in the Grass, 24 thru 26 July in Wooyung Beach, Australia between Brisbane and Sydney

TwentyTwenty is the 20th anniversary Australia’s biggest winter festival and draws big acts including Australia’s favorite son, Tame Impala (Kevin Parker), Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino.

Last year, all 42,500 tickets sold out. Get yours early, or at least get on the newsletter list to find out who’s playing and when tickets go on sale.

Fuji Rock Festival ’20, 26 thru 28 July at Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata Prefecture, Japan

The biggest alternative pop festival in Asia, Fuji Rock in the mountains of Japan (though NOT at Mt. Fuji) annually hosts major acts from Bob Dylan (who’s what now … like 80?) and Coldplay. The 2020 lineup hasn’t been announced, but last year, it was the Chemical Brothers, The Cure and Sia on the same bill … not just crossing the genres, but legends from across the ages from ’70s punk to one of the hottest current EDM duos.

You want to miss that? Seriously …..

You can get on the list here.

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