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.






Bane + Antidote Reviews: Wonderfruit Festival 2014

image1

Sunset over Wonderfruit 2014

We love festivals. We love summer. But the downside of the summer festival season is that we have to cram a year’s worth of show-pony exhibitionism and toe-tapping exuberance into just three short months. Such syrupy, highly concentrated antics require superhuman feats of stamina. And then it’s nine depressing months before your next disco unicorn reaches full-term, and after a lengthy tutu rebirthing/mending process, it can all thankfully begin again.

You can therefore imagine our excitement to learn about Wonderfruit, which took place for the first time from the 19th to the 21st December 2014. Wonderfruit festival is brainchild of the great minds behind Secret Productions (the wizards responsible for Wilderness festival), who have exported their secret formula for fun to the sunny, smiling land of Thailand. Wonderfruit is the first festival of its kind to hit South East Asia, so we were careful to manage our expectations. This was no small feat Secret Productions were attempting. There were bound to be teething problems and challenges to overcome. It is notoriously difficult for foreigners to set up projects in the region, and it must have been especially so for an innovative project such as this.

Boy were we surprised, and in the best possible way. In a nutshell, Wonderfruit was a glorious cross between Secret Garden Party and Burning Man, with a sprinkling of Wilderness’ refinement. Voila! One Wonderfruit steak well done…

Imagine a sandy lakeside beach fringed by palm trees, nestled by a tiki bar, with bikini-clad beauties dancing barefoot to a thumping sound system under thatched parasols. Imagine a badger-set reinvented, The Quarry, the funkiest, chunkiest place to dance until dawn under a stunning Andrew Cross of AN Architects bamboo superstructure, strewn with disco balls, with luxurious daybeds and hammocks under dappled shade for disco weary souls the morning after. Imagine delicious and appetizing food stalls amidst rice paddies, serving to-die-for organic coconut pancakes and the best Thai street-food around (yum), with giant tropical crickets serenading you as you dine. Imagine flamboyant naughtiness, a cabaret cocktail tent where magestic drag queens strut, Cirque du Soleil pole dancers twirl, dwarves strike a poses in wrestling outfits and kinky 1920s porn projections tie everything together. Imagine a compelling crowd consisting of young and hip Bangkok locals, a cosmopolitan Singapore and Hong Kong set, and the diehard UK loyalists for whom no time zone is too far when it comes to a party of Wonderfruit’s calibre.

an

The Quarry by Andrew Cross, built using local techniques and materials

If there were teething problems, they didn’t show. We fell for everything that the Wonderfruit shmorgasbord had to offer. It was mouth-wateringly tasteful, incredibly well thought through AND there was no litter. The bar staff were competent and there was no shortage of ice (even on the Sunday morning). The portaloos were exceptionally clean and staffed by a hoard of joyfully enthusiastic ladies. And the security guards were friendly and smiling. Thai hospitality certainly makes for a refreshing variable in comparison to the shaken-warmly-by-the-throat British kind.

image7

Smiles and chunky tunes

Just one last gloat… to top it all off, the legendary DJ Swamy of Burning Man/Robot Heart fame created the ultimate palace of iniquity in the form of the Solar Stage, from which he proceeded to play fabulous chunky sets all weekend. Can you honestly imagine a better way to prepare for the Christmas glutfest than getting an envy-inducing tan while enthusiastically dancing all weekend in the heat, your hardest decision being whether to have another swim or a coconut and rum to cool off? We can’t. And we hope we never have to ever again.

image6

Delicious food

We feel privileged to have been there for the first run and are very excited to have found a midwinter solution to our annual sparkle-hibernation period. Thank goodness it’s only a skip-hop-and-jump away from our winter base in Hong Kong. But even if you’d have further to go, we thoroughly recommend the journey. The inner festie beast must be satisfied! Otherwise those first summer outings can get ugly. We know you know what we mean.

We salute you Jo Vidler, Dickie Cohen, Ben DeVere, Tess Acheson and all the Secret Production team for seeing through this vision. We thank you deeply Pete, for opening up your beautiful piece of paradise to the public and for battling the red tape and bureaucracy that must have blocked the path at every turn. Guys, we have no idea how you managed to pull this one out of the bag. But you did. And it rocked.

image4

Until next year… and our next Wonderfruit Festival Review!