Sounds of the summer: The World’s Best Music Festivals for 2016

Does anything beat seeing our favorite band belting out their classics live on stage? Well, yeah.

Seeing our favorite band belting out their classics live on stage in a field, in the summer. And as the sun begins to warm up the northern half of the planet, thoughts naturally turn to that annual summer staple: the music festival.

Yes, these can be rain-cursed mud baths where our tents get stolen by patchouli-scented weirdos. They can also be endless sun-drenched parties that we’ll remember forever — even if the details are a little hazy.

This is a list of the hottest places to see the best live music, drink warm beer and feel giddy as the sun goes down.

music festival

Roskilde, Denmark, June 25 – July 2

Nine stages. More than 170 acts.

And an old-school festival experience that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

Like the UK’s Glastonbury, Roskilde has been going since 1971, although unlike its British counterpart it has retained its hip, off-the-wall feel.

If that all seems a little out there, the lineup this year is first-rate, with New Order, PJ Harvey and LCD Sound system all booked.

Primavera Sound, Barcelona, Spain, June 2-4

Four days without a shower.

A leaking tent that becomes an oven the second the sun crests the horizon. Just two of the worst things about festivals that won’t be found at Primavera.

Dispensing with the traditional campsite, this three-dayer held in the city’s Parc del Forum has become a mainstay of the European scene, with a focus on cutting-edge alternative acts.

Running from Thursday to Saturday, tickets come in cheaper than standard festivals, this year’s headline act: Radiohead.

End of the Road, Dorset, England, September 2-4

“Boutique” festivals have boomed in the UK over the past decade. But while many have earned a reputation as twee breaks for the “keep calm and carry on” generation, End Of The Road has developed into the UK’s best weekend for live music and comedy.

Set in the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset, southwest of London, and taking place as the summer nights begin to creep in, the music here is unashamedly left field. This year sees art-rock stalwarts Animal Collective and songwriter-harpist Joanna Newsom take headline duties.

Canadian alt-pop outfit Broken Social Scene and London punks Savages also make the roster. 

Melt!, Germany, July 15-17

Melt!, held at the dystopian Ferropolis industrial museum between Leipzig and Berlin, is arguably the most hedonistic three-day festival out there. A chance to check out some of the world’s best techno and house music, there’s also a smattering of psych rock thrown in for good measure.

Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago, July 15-17

Uber-cool music publication Pitchfork has been holding a festival in Chicago’s Union Park since 2006. As with Primavera, this three-day gathering is all about getting tickets and then sorting a comfy bed in town to crash on.

NOS Alive, Lisbon, Portugal, July 7-9

The festival formerly known as Optimus is back in the Portuguese capital this July.

Rather than offering the camping free-for-all of Roskilde and the zero-accommodation approach of Primavera, NOS Alive has a series of novel options for festival-goers.

Exit, Novi Sad, Serbia, July 7-10

Born out of Serbia’s democracy protest movement at the turn of the century, Exit’s been topping best festival lists for years. It’s not hard to see why. Its setting, inside Novi Sad’s imposing Petrovaradin Fortress, makes farm field-fests look somewhat pathetic by comparison.

There’s a dance and pop music focus this year, with Ellie Goulding and Bastille set to play the main stage. But Exit is about more than watching bands. The welcoming vibe and late-night partying make it unlike any other festival.

Osheaga, Montreal, Canada, July 29-31

Spread over five stages at Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau, Osheaga is now in its 11th year, booming from a small indie event into Canada’s best-loved festival. There’s still an indie feel to the three-day gathering, with acts including Beirut, Frightened Rabbit, Kurt Vile and Wolf Parade filling the critically acclaimed quotient.

Rock en Seine, Paris, France, August 26-28

Rock en Seine has a well-earned reputation as one of Europe’s best festivals, its bookers striking the perfect line between the best upcoming and critical acts and huge names that pull in the crowds. This year’s event, held as ever at the end of August in the stunning Domaine National de Saint-Cloud park in the west of Paris, is no exception.

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