Best International Festivals of 2015

No tickets to Burning Man? We’ve compiled a winning list of alternative international festivals.

By Slava T Gordon

It is not just a hint of spring that is fresh in the air this week. In an alarming number of spandex-loving households around the world a real panic is setting in. We are referring to that sinking feeling when you realise that you and many of your favourite miscreants failed to secure tickets to Burning Man 2015. As the festival grows in popularity, without being able to scale-up to Glastonbury-style proportions, this problem is bound to compound each year.

Fortunately, it is nearly impossible to go to Burning Man and return to the ‘default’ world untouched (watch out for gropers… just kidding) and unmoved (watch out for epiphanies). Its impact is evident in the diverse and exciting Regional Burns that are springing up in an ever-increasing number of locations around the globe. Burning Man culture is spreading its influence and ethos like a gloriously shimmering, neon art-seeking virus.

anThis is not, however, to belittle the scab of your FOMO (fear of missing out). Your forthcoming 2015 Playa absenteeism may be due to a lack of tickets. Or perhaps you feel you have ‘graduated’ from the Black Rock Desert experience. Whatever the reason, now is the right time to be in your particular predicament. In your hands you hold the guide to the best and the brightest international festivals the world has to offer.

There is a global smorgasbord of funk and adventure on offer this year, at radical hotspots where participation and self-reliance are equally highly prized. So kick back, don something outrageous and take a deep breath… Crisis averted! All that is left is to make sure you order the right amount of Faust’s Potions natural hangover cures, to fuel and sustain your insatiable festival appetite all summer long. Game on!

 

Transahara 

transahara

When: 8 – 12 April

Where: Morocco

Who: World-class line-up featuring full range of electronic music.

What: Calling all electronic-music-loving-extreme-adventurers who yearn to make love to the dust! 2015 is your last chance to enjoy the unparalleled experience that is Transahara. The organizers are claiming this to be the final chapter in the odyssey of their unique blend of breath-taking landscape and soul-shaking sound systems – or is it soul-shaking landscape and breath-taking sound systems? Both apply. Set in an undisclosed location in the Moroccan Sahara, the dancing, camping and art all take place for 4 days amidst dramatic sand dunes. This event attracts only the boldest and most intrepid souls on the festival scene. Transahara is one of the most ambitious festivals taking place this year.

Get in the Mood: Check out The Hedonist’s in-depth conversation with Transahara founder Abdou Elouali.

 

AfrikaBurn

afrikaburn

When: 27 April – 3 May

Where: Tankwa Karoo National Park, South Africa

Who: Open-source. Participant generated content.

What: With an equally stunning, brutal and remote desert location, AfrikaBurn is the closest you can get to the Burning Man experience outside of Nevada. As an official Regional Burn, all 10 Guiding Principles are abided by, including ‘decommodification’. This means that no money changes hands once you arrive. Be sure to pack everything you need to stay alive and thrive in order to have the best week of your life. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer and perform. There are also a number of art grants available to support creative projects.

Get in the Mood: MORE THAN FOOD have created A Review Through the Lens of Instagram to inspire your trip. 

 

Lightning In A Bottle

lib

When: 21 -25 May

Where: San Antonio Recreation Area Bradley, California

Who: Flume, SBTRKT, RL Grime, ODESZA, GRiZ, Tycho, John Digweed, Panda Bear, Wolf + Lamb, Shaun Reeves.

What: LIB is the perfect festival for eco-conscious electronic music connoisseurs. If you have been to Coachella you have probably already encountered the Do Lab stage. Their jaw-dropping large-scale sculptures, pounding bass and fully immersive experience are often cited as being the best thing about Coachella. You may not have been aware that these Burning Man veterans host their own music and arts festival, but now you know, and it is a visual and sonic stunner. With an ethos as strong as their musical line-up, LIB is the only US festival to win the prestigious ‘Outstanding Award’ in each of the 5 years A Greener Festival has been running the scheme. None of the green-goodness gets in the way of fun and games. Rather, it creates an evolved playground where one feels safe to push the boundaries to their outer limits. In addition to a healthy portion of earth-shaking beats, there is a teeming buffet of workshops of offer.

Get in the Mood: The wonderful people at Locale Magazine have put together a complete list of everything you need to know about LIB including a playlist of music videos from the headliners.

 

Meadows In Mountains 

mitm

When: 12 -14 June

Where: Rhodopes Mountains, Bulgaria

Who: Albrecht Wassersleben, Mo Kolours, Beat Pete, Binh, Brand New Wayo, Bruni Schmidt, DNR Viny + more TBA.

What: Truly a family affair, MITM is an intimate gathering of 1000 kindred spirits, started by two brothers on their mum’s retirement farm, situated in a lush and ethereal Bulgarian setting above the clouds. If you value Burning Man as your spiritual home but for whatever reason find yourself unable to make the pilgrimage this year, we urge you to reroute yourself to Bulgaria. A ‘leave no trace’ event, this team practices what they preach – all areas of the festival are immaculate and litter is unheard of. All the stages are constructed from locally sourced timber with limited plastic use across the site. In addition to camping there is on-site accommodation in the farm’s own abandoned village. Great find Mum!

Get in the Mood: Read this great review of last year’s festival by Meoko.

 

Þjóðhátíð (Festival of the people), Westman Islands Festival

westman

When: 31 July – 3 August

Where: Westman Islands, Iceland

Who: John Grant, Quarashi, Skítamðrall Jonas Sig, Mammút, Kaleo, Jðn Jðnsson, Sálin Hans Jðns Mins.

What: Going strong since 1859, this is the longest running and most unique festival on our list, Þjóðhátíð is located on a remote island created by a volcanic eruption. This Icelandic festival is known for its jovial atmosphere. Locals pitch tents on the beautiful shoreline and offer a warm welcome. Expect spectacular fire displays each night. There is also opportunity to participate in native sing-alongs to the tune of copious amounts of alcohol. This is a rocking 24/7 party without much time (and limited darkness) for beauty sleep. Mischief-makers who revel in all things fluorescent will blend in perfectly. Many islanders wear day-glo fisherman’s outfits to protect themselves from the unpredictable weather. Island transport is via festively decorated communal trucks kitted out with sound systems. Make time to hangout with the hospitable natives and to sample smoked puffin, a local delicacy. You will come away having experienced the festival familiarity in an entirely new way.

Get in the Mood: Fest300 explains the history of Þjóðhátíð, and everything you need to know on getting there and back again.

 

Symbiosis Gathering – Ten Year Re:Union

symbiosis

When: 17 -20 September

Where: Woodward Reservoir, Oakdale, California

Who: TBA.

What: Large portions of the revellers at this sponsorship-free American ‘transformational’ festival have been to Burning Man – some will be heading there straight from the Burn with their impressive art pieces in tow. With mutant vehicles, all night parties, a stunning natural backdrop and fully costumed revellers it is the perfect place to soak up the vibes if you missed out on Burning Man. This may also be your last opportunity of the summer to soak up the sun and blow away any tenacious mental cobwebs. Could there be any better way to accomplish this than by rocking a mermaid tail while swanning about at Symbiosis?

Get in the Mood: Most festival goers have dreamt about creating their own ideal festival. With this simulation game you can try your hand at creating your perfect event.

 

Wonderfruit 

image1

When: 18 -20 December (TBC)

Where: Siam Country Club, Chonburi, Thailand

Who: TBA.

What: Last year saw the debut of Wonderfruit festival. While still too early to share line-up details, you want to keep space in your diary for this gem. Expect dancing in bikinis until dawn, mouth-watering banquets, curiosities around every corner, large-scale art installations, a fully equipped wellness area and a jam-packed schedule of stimulating programming. We are welcoming next year’s event as brilliant excuse for a winter sun seeking adventure.

Get in the Mood: Read Bane + Antiodote’s Review of Wonderfruit 2015. 

 

WITH THIS LINE UP, YOU’D BE WISE TO PURCHASE A FAUST’S ESSENTIAL TRAVEL KIT TO EASE JET LAG AND COMBAT HANGOVERS.

You might also like: The 7 Best British Festivals of 2015 – Your Summer Curated.






What is the Collective Noun for Unicorns?

Alex Volkers for Bane + Antidote reviews Morning Gloryville – the early morning rave sensation that is taking the world by storm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I first heard about Morning Gloryville last year I’m afraid I got the wrong end of the stick. It must have been the effect of encountering the words ‘morning rave’ and ‘East London’ in one sentence. Clammy handed flashbacks of a base seeker’s AM adventures bowled me over, as I remembered regional treasures such as Public Life and Aquarium with the glorious trepidation of hindsight. I had shut said terms firmly in the ‘Shoreditch poser’, ‘drug haze’ and ‘awkward techno’ files of my brain. And I thought nothing more of it. Until I found myself grumpily cycling through the rain in the dark at the god-awful hour of 6am, bound for Morning Gloryville London #20, to do the research for this piece.

My reluctance doesn’t last long. Upon my rain soaked arrival I am immediately accosted by a spandex-clad wing-bearing angel, and treated to a lengthy bear hug in spite of my soggy state. This angel’s name is Sean and he is one of the Morning Angels, he proudly tells me (as he strums on his ukulele). It’s their mission to ease people into the day with joy, and send them off to work blissed out, limber and open hearted. As I stop to accept a few lashings of glitter from one of Sean’s feathered colleagues I am overtaken by someone in a dinosaur onesie. Then two strapping men clamber out of a taxi to my left. The one with a huge beard is wearing a tiny nighty. His friend is sporting a neon tutu and I suddenly realised I’ve been caught off guard; ‘painfully cool’ is nowhere in sight. This crowd seems comfortable with silly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As I climb the external stairs of the Oval Space the picture is familiar enough: smokers’ draped over warehouse railings that rattle to a beat from within. But as I open the doors and am blasted by a cloud of sweet chunky disco funk my face bursts with an enormous grin, and I lay my eyes the delightful reality of Morning Gloryville London. There is not a sweaty palm or shifty gaze in sight. This huge, light, airy space is teeming with bright-eyed ravers and they all appear to be having the time of their lives. They are quite literally having it. There are grannies and babies, unicorns and narwhals, fairies and Yodas, yoga bunnies and stiff shirted businessmen, all bouncing in unison to the most spectacularly chunky yet playful disco set I have ever heard. That’s Plump DJs someone tells me, rendered sublime by the empowering loved-up rhymes of MC Angel, and done justice by a surprisingly impressive sound system (authors note: it takes a lot for Bane + Antidote commend a sound system).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lining the walls are purveyors of all things delicious and healthy. I warm up with a free massage and yoga session. After moving on to cacao and a croissant I work my way into the tightest, sweatiest nook on the dance floor that I can find. The vibes will be optimum here. All around me random bursts of swing and breakdance erupt. This is exuberance and exhibitionism on a massive scale and there’s a cynic in me that wants to object, yet it all a strikes me as extremely genuine; infectious, in fact. The stage is crammed with an eclectic mix of beautiful weirdoes, of all shapes and sizes, in varying states of disarray. They are populated by a preponderance of unicorns and all have one thing in common – they can seriously bust a move. Surrounded as I am by 700 people who are dancing like nobody’s watching, it’s near impossible not to follow suit. As I lose myself in the delights that The Loose Cannons and DJ/unicorn Miles Metric have to offer, my thighs start to burn and the sweat pours and I’m not even high. I want to know more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dajana (one of the founding team members) tells me that two years ago this was just an idea. An idea that Samantha Moyo and Nico Thoemmes came up with after searching in vein for the euphoria of a club vibe without the inextricably linked communal drug and alcohol consumption. They liked to have fun but needed to find a more sustainable way of raving. And so Morning Gloryville was born. 150 people attended the first rave, most of them Samantha and Nico’s friends, but word soon got out. The elation that the frontiersman left with was enough to light the fuse. This was something that people wanted; needed, even. And with a mentor of the calibre of Felix from Basement Jaxx behind them, it’s little surprise that things got so big so fast. Morning Gloryville now happens in over 19 cities worldwide through regional Glory Agents (Dubai was the most recent metropolis to follow suit). Each is culturally attuned – in Tokyo it’s all gym gear, Paris too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Morning Gloryville is clearly making waves. So much so that founder Samantha Moyo was recently asked to speak at TEDxEastend (see the talk at 1:56 here). I can see why. Over the course of two hours I have smiled and laughed more than I have all week. The sweat flows in torrents (I really went for it) and my stiff and rather intelligent looking hat (fit for journalist on assignment) has melted and now drips limply across my face alerting me to the fact that this is more exercise than I’ve had all year. I have met some wonderful people. I have reconnected with at least 5 friends I hadn’t seen in years. I’ve consumed delicious and potent snacks. And I lost myself in the music, in the movement, in the heaving throng in a way I never thought would be possible without a basic level of intoxication. But it’s more than that still. Samantha, when addressing her TEDx audience on the topic of Society Beyond Borders, really brought it home. This is about playfulness and physical connectivity. We are playful, physical creatures. And when we connect through play and physical contact all the other crap just falls away. ‘Take it with you as you go,’ a Morning Angle tinkles as she writes me a sick note for work. And I do, for a time. As my jellied legs carry me down the stairs I bump into Anneke, an old friend, now a unicorn. ‘The collective noun for unicorns is a fabulous’, she tells me, and Morning Gloryville is their heartland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Things to Look Out for @GloryvilleHQ: 

  • Guest DJs – on top of mind blowing residents, Morning Gloryville pulls in some serious guest jockeys. Basement Jaxx recently played to 1000.
  • Regional Morning Gloryvilles – around the world in 19 early morning raves.
  • Summer – at Morning Gloryville London there is live music and yoga on the terrace for low-key ravers.
  • SleepoversMorning Gloryville London recently held a sleepover for 150 lucky flannel clad Londoners complete with cacao ceremonies, storytelling, massages and an early morning rave.
  • The Fabulous of Unicorns – these hooves for hire are professional sparkle spreaders. Catching a glimpse of them is an auspicious happening… keep your heart open and your eyes peeled.

How I kept Dancing for 3 Hours Before Breakfast:

morning gloryville

With a Faust’s Awake Potion health shot.

Thanks to Nicole Cataldo-Davies for the above image of Faust’s Potions keeping in real on the dancefloor.

Thanks to Sam, Dajana, Tegan all the Morning Gloryville for making this review so much fun and for being so fabulous.