As the last days of summer sun play out in the northern hemisphere, many are getting ready to trade in their cut-offs for winter woolies, BBQ parties for wholesome Sunday roasts. But for those who aren't ready to say goodbye to thumping basslines over flat beers in the warm embrace of the setting sun and other festival goers, we’ve picked out ten of the best music festivals happening across the world between the months of September and March.
From ski resorts to ancient mountains overlooking the Dead Sea, you can treat the senses and expand your horizons in one go. If you choose to embrace the chill of winter, you can warm up drinking pints at intimate gigs in Ireland, or go for cool as you embrace the Parisian nightlife. If you’d rather chase the sun, there’s cruise ships in the Caribbean and balmy temperatures in the Fijian islands waiting for you.
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Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love
September 26 - 29, Marfa, Texas, United States
Who’s playing: Broken Social Scene, Margo Price, Chicano Batman
The Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love is pretty representative of what the high plains of Marfa, Texas has to offer all year round. Close to the Mexican border and approximately six-and-a-half hours from Austin by car, the area is renowned for cattle ranching and for luring in artists from all over the world. Set in the grounds of El Cosmico, a trailer-themed hotel and campsite, this festival invites all “intrepid wanderers” for a weekend of live music, sandlot baseball, workshops, parties, urban hikes and great food, with camping available in pre-pitched bell tents and safari tents. Running on the spirit of community, you’re encouraged to switch off from the outside world so you can indulge in fireside chats and dreamily gaze at the endless night sky.
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Day Zero Masada Rosh Hashanah: Dwellers of the Dead Sea
September 27, Masada, Israel
Who’s playing: AE:ther, Bedouin, Damian Lazarus
Overlooking the Dead Sea and located on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert is the ancient mountain fort of Masada and, for one night only, it will be home to the Day Zero Festival. Run by British DJ Damian Lazarus, Day Zero is the 18-hour dance music festival that merges modern and ancient cultures. Usually at home in the Mexican jungles of Tulum, this groundbreaking event takes place at the base of Masada, where King Herod built two castles. Rich in history and filled with archaeological wonders, this Unesco site is close to the Biblical ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah and approximately two hours away from Tel Aviv. Kicking off at sunset, the party culminates with a sunrise set from Lazarus himself and it’s bound to be both a breathtaking and wild experience.
Pitchfork Music Festival
October 31 - November 2, Paris, France
Who’s playing: Skepta, Charli XCX, Belle and Sebastian
The 19th arrondissement is a cultural hub of Paris, which makes it the perfect location for the Pitchfork Music Festival. Taking place on Halloween weekend, there’s something quite inviting about shutting yourself off from the outside world and immersing yourself in live music from some of the best indie, hip-hop and pop acts. Taking place in the former abattoir of Grande halle de la Villette, music begins at 5pm each day so, hangover permitting, you can explore the area during the day, with public parks Parc des Buttes Chaumont or Parc de la Villette close by. However, it’s Paris so don’t limit yourself to one area. By public transport, you can visit Sacre Coeur, the infamous bookstore Shakespeare & Company, Cimetière du Père Lachaise or Place de La Bastille all within 40 minutes. So instead of just festivaling it up, add a chic city break into the mix.
November 6 - 9, Reykjavik, Iceland
Who’s playing: John Grant, Pillow Queens, Whitney
At Airwaves Iceland, alternative acts from all over the world can be found playing in a wide range of venues from the grand concert hall Harpa to the Sundhollin public bathouse. By attending this festival, you’re also undertaking a walking tour of one of the most culturally exciting places in the world. At this time of year, there’s a higher chance of seeing the Northern Lights in action - although they may not always appear - but make sure you set aside some time to leave the city. Go and explore the Golden Circle, which includes stops at the Gullfoss waterfall and the active geysers in the geothermal area of Haukadalur, or go south and visit the glacial lagoon of Jokulsarlon before warming yourself up with shot of brennivín, Iceland’s sharp schnapps, before a night full of music.
November 16 - 17, Berlin, Germany
Who’s playing: Deerhunter, Black Lips, Stereolab
As if you ever need an excuse to visit Berlin, the added treat of a music festival that deals especially in dark n’ synthy psychedelic music should entice you out of winter hibernation. Taking place in the post-punk dive bar 8MM in the neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg, Synästhesie has been running since 2016 and it puts a huge focus on its community. A less intensive festival than most, you will have time for the full Berlin experience too, whether that’s going for a float in the salt waters of the Liquidrom spa, taking a Berliner-Unterwelten tour of the WWII air raid shelters and tunnels or visiting all of the bars and gallery spaces in the Urban Spree area. Time moves differently in Berlin, so be sure to keep an eye on the Synästhesie timetable, just in case...
November 29 - December 1, Dingle, Ireland
Who’s playing: TBC
If getting cosy in a pub is your idea of perfection, then Other Voices is exactly for you. Taking place in the coastal town of Dingle, Co. Kerry, this festival began as a television broadcast from St. James’ Church and it has since grown into an event that involves the entire community, with gigs happening in pubs, shops, restaurants and distilleries. Intimate gigs from the church, where the likes of Amy Winehouse, Loyle Carner, The xx and Jessie Ware have previously performed, are still recorded for the festival’s ongoing TV series but the Music Trail allows gig goers to get to know Dingle while enjoying live music from Irish and international acts. Over the years, Other Voices has travelled to Austin, London and Berlin, celebrating the local culture of each destination, so for a music festival with a local focus, Other Voices is the one.
December 6 - 12, Mamanuca Islands, Fiji
Who’s playing: A-Trak, The Blaze (DJ Set), Gorgon City
It shouldn’t be a hard sell to convince anyone to go to the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji and the Your Paradise Festival more or less calls it as it is; this place is paradise. Running for six years, this festival specialises in electronic music and by combining flights, accommodation, ground and sea transfers and access to all billed artists in a standard festival package, they couldn’t make it easier for you. The Mamanucas are a volcanic archipelago and the event itself takes place on Plantation Island Resort. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, tall palm trees and white sandy beaches, if dancing all night doesn’t wear you out, resort activities include paddle boarding, golf, coral snorkeling and hiking. And here’s one more fun tidbit that should seal the deal for you; eight series of the reality TV show Survivor have been filmed in the Mamanucas. Sold.
Holy Ship! Wrecked
January 22 - 26, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Who’s playing: Diplo, Armand Van Helden, Claude VonStroke
In one hell of a rebranding, the festival previously known as Holy Ship!, is now operating as Holy Ship! Wrecked. Where party goers once boarded a cruise ship in Florida and wound up in the Bahamas, they will now be fully docked in the Dominican Republic. Taking over the entire resort of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana, this EDM festival is not for the faint of heart. It will be non-stop partying and with 12 pools, four swim-up bars and nine restaurants, you might find it difficult to break free from the resort but while you’re in that part of the Carribbean, you really should embrace it. Swim in the pools under the Damajaqua Cascades waterfalls, stroll through the old town of Zona Colonial or watch the sunset from the Dunas de Bani. Break up the party with a bit of culture, for we can’t live off EDM alone.
Rainbow Serpent Festival
January 24 - 27, Lexton, Victoria Australia
Who’s playing: Benny Page, Öona Dahl, Opiuo
It’s safe to say that the art and the atmosphere of Rainbow Serpent Festival has inspired festivals from all over their world to up their game in terms of vibe and visual displays. Taking place on expansive farmland in south-eastern Australia, this four-day camping festival combines music of the psychedelic and trance persuasion with spirituality, environmentalism and permaculture. Centring around the celebration and public holiday of Australia Day (January 26th) and located two hours outside of Melbourne, this festival is a big draw for Aussies but if want to ditch winter entirely, go Down Under for this summer fest and join a tribe of brightly dressed and feathered humans.
March 14 - 21, Alpe D’Huez, France
Who's playing: TBC
However hard we try, it’s impossible to ignore that winter exists and the good people of Tomorrowland full committed to it by hosting Tomorrowland Winter smack bang in the middle of the snowy French Alps. A skiers paradise, Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine Ski is one hour from Grenoble, two hours from Lyon and less than five hours from Paris and it has 250 km of ski slopes and a week full of music to keep you entertained. A ticket to this event includes a lodging in the surrounding villages of Auris en Oisans, Villard Reculas, Oz en Oisans or Vaujan and lift and ski pass, which will bring you right up to the top of the slopes and the festival. Bringing all the usual spectacle of Tomorrowland, the indoor and outdoor stages keep your adrenaline pumping from the piste to the dance floor.