Lonely Planet Writer

Five music festivals to get you out of the campsite and into the city this summer

What’s your excuse for not booking your summer festival yet? Be honest, it’s the prospect of the tent, isn’t it? Thankfully, you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag and a portable cooker to enjoy some amazing music, art and performances. Here are five festivals taking place over the coming months to get you out of the campsite and into the city.

Distortion, Copenhagen; 1-5 June

Distortion is a week-long street party of “emerging dance music and orchestrated chaos”. Spread over five days in five different Copenhagen neighbourhoods, the festival moves location and builds new stages every day. Your days will be spent exploring all that Copenhagen has to offer while at night, the party moves to 122 venues all over the city.

Street Party in Nørrebro
Street Party in Nørrebro Image by Lærke Møllegaard via Distortion Facebook

Locals are even encouraged to throw their own street parties or create new projects or events to make the festival bigger and better. Rest assured, you’ll be dancing with locals who take their parties very seriously.

The street parties are free for everybody to attend but you can donate and get free water, beer and all-important toilet facilities for free. Night passes can be purchased individually by day or weekend or fling yourself into it by purchasing the week-long pass.

Northside Festival, Brooklyn; 6-12 June

Now in its 7th year, Northside brings together music and talks on video, technology, entrepreneurship and design. For 6 days it dominates the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighbourhoods, making it easy for punters to discover new acts and move seamlessly between talks and gigs.

This could be you this summer.
This could be you this summer. Image by Northside Festival

This year, music fans can treating themselves to 4 days of music with more than 400 bands playing in 25 venues, all for the bargain price of $75. Just don’t forget to take a breather to grab yourself a craft beer or two in one of Brooklyn’s hippest bars.

The Great Escape, Brighton; 19-21 May

If you like to be ahead of the crowd in your musical tastes, Brighton’s The Great Escape is a festival you should seriously consider. It’s dedicated to showcasing emerging artists from all over the world. This year they’ll be hosting 450 acts in 30 venues, all within walking distance of each other. In their own words, it’s “the first place to discover your new favourite artist and see them in an intimate setting before they go on to headline major festival stages.”

They're saving you a spot in Brighton.
They’re saving you a spot in Brighton. Image by The Great Escape Festival

Previously a traditional seaside town, Brighton has flourished into a mecca for bohemian and creative types who don’t want to live in London, making it the perfect destination to discover the best and brightest acts of the future, while enjoying a stroll on the pier.

NXNE, Toronto; 13-19 June

NXNE is the summer sister festival to Austin’s SXSW. It sprawls across all of Toronto’s buzzing downtown area, and doesn’t just restrict itself to traditional venues either; you can expect events in parks, boats and even airports.

Crowd-surfing at NXNE
Crowd-surfing at NXNE Image by NXNE

Comedians and film screenings are welcome here but with Toronto’s reputation for being Canada’s number one music city, you can expect plenty of awesome musical talent you’ve heard of (and some you haven’t). Tickets go on sale soon so you still have lots of time to get planning.

Darwin Festival, Australia; 4-21 August

Sure, it’s winter in Australia but Darwin, being part of the Northern Territory, maintains a pleasant 21°C – 31°C (69°F – 88°F) temperature all year around, making it perfect for a musical winter retreat.

Darwin's tropical climate means you can enjoy the outdoor events at night.
Darwin’s tropical climate means you can enjoy the outdoor events at night. Image by Darwin Festival

The Darwin Festival is spread out over 18 days and features music, theatre, art and dance. There’s also plenty of free outdoor events to enjoy the tropical sunshine. Tickets to some shows are becoming available in two weeks time so take a look and make a plan to enjoy Darwin’s unique climate and vibrant multiculturalism as more than 50 nationalities are represented here.