written by
Will Mitchell

These 25 Music Festivals in Unique Locations Will Spark Your Wanderlust

Features Festivals Travel 11 min read

As coronavirus panic sweeps across the globe and travel bans are beginning to roll out, music festivals are being cancelled left, right and centre. Although many of us are being confined to our houses for the foreseeable future, we can still fantasise about life post-quarantine, so here's a list of music festivals held in unusual places across the globe.

1. Norbergfestival (Sweden)

July 9-12, 2020 | Mimerlaven, Norberg
Website: https://norbergfestival.com/

For over two decades, the electronic and experimental Norbergfestival has been held at the abandoned iron mine site, Mimerlaven. During the festival, contemporary DJs, ambitious art installations and dazzling light displays transform the site's barren concrete walls into an audio-visual wonderland.

The inside of Mimerlaven for Norbergfestival
Image source: Peo Bengtsson

2. Atlas Electronic (Morocco)

August 27 - 30, 2020 | Villa Janna, Marrakech
Website: https://atlas-electronic.com/festival

In a short space of time, Atlas Electronic has proven itself to be one of Morocco's pioneering music festivals, showcasing leading DJs as well as local collectives whilst remaining mindful of the environment.

The event is held 7 miles outside of Marrakech at the idyllic Villa Janna— a Moroccan-style eco-lodge built solely from raw earth.

People dancing at Atlas Electronic festival in Morocco
Image source: Laisa Maria

3. Træna Music Festival (Norway)

Jul 9–11, 2020 | Husøya and Sanna, Træna
Website: https://www.trena.net/

There can't be many festivals in the world that are only accessible by ferry. Trænafestivalen is located on the Norwegian islands of Husøya and Sanna, right on the edge of the Arctic Circle, with an enormous ancient cave featured among its venues.

The mainstage at Træna Music Festival, Norway
Image sources: Ludvik Baksaas

4. Meadows in the Mountains (Bulgaria)

June 3–6, 2020 | Rhodope Mountains

Nestled away 850 metres above sea level in Bulgaria's Rhodope Mountains, this festival is all about freeing yourself and diverging away from the mainstream. The lineup is curated so as to reflect Meadow in the Mountains' values, preferring to showcase underground acts that match their ethos instead of the usual commercial noise.

Meadow in the Mountains, Bulgaria
Image source: Meadow in the Mountains

5. Magnetic Fields (India)

Dec 11-13, 2020 | Alsisar Mahal, Rajasthan
Website: https://magneticfields.in/

Described as a "little oasis of magic in the heart of the Rajasthani desert", Magnetic Fields is the shining jewel in the crown of India's festival scene. The event is held in the breathtakingly beautiful Alsisar Mahal, an ornate palace whose rooftop boasts panoramic views of the surrounding desert.

6. Tauron Nowa Muzyka Katowice (Poland)

August 27-30, 2020 | Katowice Culture Zone
Website: http://festiwalnowamuzyka.pl/en/

Tauron Nowa Muzyka Katowice is a pioneering electronic festival that takes place at the former Katowice coal mine. Over the course of four days, the sprawling industrial site hosts an impressive lineup of international frontrunners from multiple genres.

Tauron Nowa Muzyka Katowice, Poland
Image source: Tauron Nowa Muzyka Katowice

7. Burning Man (US)

August 30-September 7, 2020 | Black Rock Desert, northwest Nevada
Website: https://burningman.org/

If you haven't heard of this one then you don't spend long enough on the internet. This iconic event takes place in Black Rock City—a temporary settlement that's established each year in the heart of Black Rock Desert. If you cycle your way around the dusty plains you'll encounter a plethora of moving structures, countless art installations and an abundance of semi-nude, sedated hippies— no shade (I mean it there's no shade, pack a hat).

Temple at Burning Man festival, Nevada
Image source: Burning Man

8. Day Zero (Mexico)

Jan 10-11 2021 | Cenote Dos Palmas, Dos Ojos park, Tulum
Website: http://2019.dayzerofestival.com/

Think back to 2012... London hosted the Olympics in July, Obama was re-elected by November and— thanks to the Mayan calendar— the end of the world was penciled in for December. Day Zero takes its name from the 2012 apocalypse phenomenon, as the first edition was held that year.

Since then, the event has been held annually at a Mayan village deep within the jungle, fusing electronic music with ancient cultures. When you're not bouncing between the trees to the hypnotic beat of techno, you can cool off in the cenote, peruse the markets or chill out at the theatre.

Jungle stage at Day Zero, Mexico
Image source: Day Zero

9. Festival Forte (Portugal)

2020 TBC | Montemor-o-Velho Castle
Website: https://www.festivalforte.com/

Another electronic festival, but this time sheltered within the walls of the castle of Montemor-o-Velho, which was built before Portugal even became a country (she's OLD old). This one's a viable alternative for those wanting to avoid the larger and more commercial European festivals. Forte's picturesque backdrop and outstanding lineups have made it a favourite amongst die-hard techno fans, with many returning year after year.

Festival Forte at night
Image source: Festival Forte

10. Spectrum Formosus (Taiwan)

2020 TBC | Wenshan Farm, Xindian
Website: https://www.facebook.com/SpectrumFormosus/

After taking the metro as far south as it'll go, you'll find this festival just a short bus ride up into the mountains, located on Wenshan Farm. It's here that you can dance among the tea fields, discover Taipei's vibrant techno scene and embrace the true spirit of Spectrum Formosus. Organised by Smoke Machine, Spectrum goes beyond the music by providing a space for Taiwan's queer community to come together, sharing their culture with others through workshops, ballroom demonstrations, drag shows and more.

Spectrum Formosus music festival in Taiwan
Image source: Spectrum Formosus

11. Into The Valley (Estonia)

June 29-July 1, 2017 | Rummu Quarry

Originating in Sweden, electronic festival Into The Valley relocated to Estonia in 2017, where it was held in a former limestone quarry that also houses an abandoned prison. The festival was supposed to move to Spain the following year, but was axed due to low ticket sales.

Into The Valley at Rummu Quarry
Image sources: Resident Advisor

12. Les Dunes Électroniques (Tunisia)

2020 TBC | Ong Jmal à Nefta
Website: http://www.dunes-electroniques.com

North Africa has had some pretty interesting festivals emerge over the last few year, but this one's up there with the best. Whilst you might not have heard of the event before but you'll probably recognise the venue... Les Dunes Électroniques is a rave like no other, as it takes place in the setting of Luke Skywalker's hometown from the original Star Wars films.

Crowds in the desert at Les Dunes Électroniques
Image sources: Les Dunes Électroniques

13. Secret Solstice (Iceland)

June 26-28, 2020 | Engjavegur 7, 104 Reykjavík
Website: https://secretsolstice.is/

I chose Iceland's Secret Solstice not purely for the festival site itself, but more because its one of the very few festivals in the world where you can see the midnight sun, in fact its nickname is "Midnight Sun Music Festival". Besides this, Secret Solstice also hosts a series of side events, one of which is the world's only rave inside a glacier cave, whereas another is held within a 5200 year-old magma chamber.

Image source: Ross Silcocks,

14. It's The Ship (Asia)

Various dates | Singapore/South Korea/China
Website: https://www.itstheship.com/

No tent? No worry! Cruise Ship festivals are a growing phenomenon, with plenty of them already setting sail each year in the US and Europe (Holy Ship, Groove Cruise and so on). It's The Ship (ITS) is praised as Asia's largest festival at sea, originating in Singapore before expanding into China and now South Korea. Swapping sleeping bags for luxury cabins, ITS brings a whole new meaning to the term glamping.

Aside from a slew of onboard entertainment activities, the biggest draw for floating festivals is that the artists stay involved throughout the whole journey. No backstage means DJs spend the weekend participating in classes and mingling among the guests.

It's The Ship festival, Singapore
Image source: It's The Ship

15. Great Wall Festival (China)

May 1-3, 2020 | Beijing HuaiBei Great Wall

It's not every day you can say you partied on top of an ancient monument. Great Wall Festival is the only opportunity you'll get to see Berlin's nightlife mainstays perform on one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, with previous years featuring Ben Klock, Nina Kravitz, Chris Liebing, Marcel Dettmann and more.

The festival also offers the chance to take part in the Great Wall 5km Run, so you can get your sweat on and feel like a decent human being before pumping your body with toxins later.

Nina Kravitz at Great Wall Festival, China
Image source: Great Wall Festival

16. Melt Festival (Germany)

July 17-19, 2020 | Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen

This long-running festival takes place in Germany, at the Ferropolis open-air museum, near Gräfenhainichen. Dubbed 'the city of iron', the Ferropolis is littered with imposing industrial machines that tower above the crowds, providing an immensely dramatic backdrop.

Throughout the festival, leading artists perform across 7 stages. One of these—the sleepless floor—runs for the entire duration of the show, so that's 90 HOURS of non-stop music for those who are counting. Another bonus feature is the nearby lake, where you can chill and watch the sunrise as the last drop of serotonin leaves your body.

Melt Festival at dusk in Germany
Image sources: Nicola Rehbein & Jen Krause

17. Organik (Taiwan)

2020 Cancelled | Huting, Hualian

Back to Taiwan now, Organik is the country's premium techno festival, attracting a loyal fanbase who make the annual pilgrimage to Hualian's black sand beach. The steep cliffs encompassing the coastline and the waves thrashing their way up onto the sand add to the overall charm of this open-air party, which has been running for almost a decade.

Organik Festival campsite by night, Hualian, Taiwan
Image source: Organik Festival

18. Polifonic (Italy)

July 23-26, 2020 | Puglia
Website: https://www.polifonic.it/

Whilst this year's location is still under wraps, in 2019 Polifonic lit up Italy's south coast from Masseria del Turco in Monopoli. This beautiful venue completely elevated the festival atmosphere, with its grand, rustic walls and unparalleled vistas of the coastline.

Flares at Polifonic festival, Italy
Image source: Resident Advisor

19. Horst Arts & Music (Belgium)

September 11-13, 2020 | Willem Elsschotstraat 15, 1800 Vilvoorde
Website: https://www.horstartsandmusic.com/

After relocating from it's on the site of Horst Castle, Horst Arts & Music found its new home at ASIAT in Vilvoorde, to the north of Brussels. To put it simply, the new venue is a creative's wet dream: a former military site complete with six hectares, warehouses galore and two looming cooling towers. Where the festival really shines is the attention to detail. Horst's organisers pulled out all the stops, using art installations and creative stage design to transform an otherwise desolate wasteland into a stunning party setting.

Horst Music Festival cooling tower
Image source: Kasia Zacharko for Resident Advisor

20. Hydeout (Singapore)

October 9-10 & 16-17, 2020 | The Meadow at Gardens by the Bay
Website: https://hydeout.sg/

Singapore's answer to Coachella. Hydeout is a brand new entry to Singapore's festival scene and is praised as the region's first multi-genre event of this scale. Hidden away from the bustling city in the luscious Gardens by the Bay, you'll almost forget you're in the heart of a metropolis.

Hydeout will be spread out over two weekends and will host a stellar list of heavyweights, including A$AP Rocky, Alison Wonderland, DJ Snake, Gucci Mane and Martin Garrix.

Meadow at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Source: Gardens by the Bay

21. Future Frequency Festival (South Africa)

2020 TBC | Sunnyside Cres, Salt River, Cape Town
Website: https://www.facebook.com/FutureFrequencyFestival/

Future Frequency Festival (FFF) is an avant-garde music festival that places a strong focus on the relationship between music and setting. The pictures below show its home at the Sunnyside Crescent container yard in Cape Town, but the festival has been held in various locations around South Africa and each is as stunning as the last. From The Station in Johannesburg to an airport hangar in Cape Town, FFF plays with the contrast between high-tech sounds and industrial, low-tech settings, allowing them to compliment each other perfectly.

Crowd shot at Future Frequency Festival
Image source: Sonder for Future Frequency Festival

22. eZo Festival (Georgia)

2020 TBC | Mtatsminda Park, Didgori
Website: https://www.facebook.com/festivalezo/

eZo kicks off on the slopes of Mount Mtatsminda (or Mtatsminda Hill, but that doesn't sound as impressive), which is an ecological preservation that looks down upon Georgia's capital of Tbilisi. In 2019, the festival welcomed a handful of world-renowned acts across two stages, including Zip, Margaret Dygas and Derrick May.

eZo Music Festival, Georgia
Image source: eZo Festival

23. Sahara Music Festival (Morocco)

May 29-31, 2020 | M’Hamid
Website: https://www.facebook.com/saharamusicfestival/

Another desert festival. Think Burning Man but with more camels and less drugs. The first edition of the Sahara Music Festival was held in 2019, which means it's still a newcomer to the scene. If you prefer smaller events then this is for you, as DJs play a mix of electronic, house and techno in an intimate setting.

24. Houghton Festival (UK)

August 6-10, 2020 | Houghton Hall, Norfolk
Website: https://www.houghtonfestival.co.uk/

What could be more British than an electronic festival in a forest? Houghton takes place on the grounds of Houghton Hall, a stately home in Norfolk. What makes this one stand out is that the venue has a 24 hour license, making way for extra long sets and music around the clock.

Houghton Festival in UK
Image source: Jake Davis for Here & Now, Houghton Festival

25. Carnaval de Bahidorá (Mexico)

February 19-21, 2021 | Las Estacas, Morelos
Website: http://bahidora.com/en/

Mexico again. This festival's location is too beautiful to not mention. At Bahidorá, festivalgoers float along the river that gracefully winds its way around the venue, whilst listening to the music permeating through the jungle.

The 2020 edition took place in February, but the organisers are already looking at plans for next year's show.

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