From the breathtaking Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria to the stunning coast of Dhërmi in Albania, music festivals are as much about the location these days as they are the DJs and bands that provide the soundtrack. There is something so magical about festivals that immerse you in nature and transform otherwise sleepy towns into party paradises.
Journeying to remote locations isn’t the easy option, but it’s almost always the most rewarding. Nothing quite beats waking up to luscious green fields and dancing the day away in fairytale forests. There are so many incredible festivals that take place in all corners of the world, each with its own unique selling point, line up and the environment - the hardest bit is choosing which ones to attend.
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As an avid festival goer, my dream festivals combine breathtaking backdrops, dazzling decor, a mixture of music to get you moving and of course a crowd of people you instantly fall in love with. Festival season has only just started so it’s not to get tickets to what I think are some of the most scenic music festivals in the world… and don’t worry if it’s already sold out, there’s always next year.
So, in no particular order, these are the festivals that will make your jaw drop and have you constantly reaching for your camera, smartphone or disposable.
Meadows in the Mountains
Located in the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria, Meadows in the Mountains is by far one of the most magical festivals I’ve ever been to. It’s situated just above the rural village of Polkovnik Serafimovo which is around 2.5 hours from Plovdiv and 5 hours from Bulgaria's capital, Sofia. Everyone who attends this festival has made the mission by a mixture of plane, train, coach, shuttle or even by bike and the final leg of the journey has to be made on foot.
Music plays pretty much 24 hours a day and sunrise is without a doubt one of the main highlights. Every morning at around 5 am, people gather at the Sunrise Stage to watch the sun as it peeks over the mountains opposite, bringing with it the excitement of a new day. I’ve never met as many salt-of-the-earth people as I did at Meadows and I’m already excited to return to those magical mountains.
There might not be any greenery at Burning Man, but it’s breathtakingly beautiful in its own way. The festival's main focus is art, music, self-expression and self-reliance. It takes place in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada - a remote rugged area of treeless mountains and dried-up lakes. For many festival fanatics, Burning Man is the pinnacle of free-spiritedness – once on-site, there’s no telling who you might meet or what you may stumble upon.
Burning Man is a festival run by the people for the people - for 7 days this extraordinary landscape is transformed into a bustling city and just like that, it’s gone without a trace. I’m yet to attend this extraordinary festival but it’s right near the top of my bucket list.
If you’re after a smaller festival a little closer to home Noisily, attracts the same type of crowd as Burning Man only tickets are less in demand and you don’t have to battle with desert sand storms. The festival takes place deep in Coney Woods, Leicester, UK and three main stages occupy stunning clearings surrounded by luscious trees.
It’s very much a leave-no-trace festival and the people who attend are so environmentally conscious that most won’t even so much as someone dropping a cigarette butt. It’s famous for the 100 steps you have to descend to get into the main festival site but it’s worth every ounce of energy. Not only does the surrounding woodland provide some much-needed respite from the sun but it makes you feel grounded and in touch with nature from start to finish.
Depending on where you’re traveling from, even the journey to Gottwood is stunning. I’ve been twice and both times I’ve opted to go the slightly longer route through Snowdonia so I can take in the stunning landscapes. This independent, boutique festival takes place on the island of Anglesey in very northwest Wales.
The campsite is situated on the clifftop which makes for beautiful sunsets while the festival itself takes over the grounds of Carreglwyd Estate. It combines beautiful woodland, lush meadows and a massive lake (though swimming is not permitted) however there is a beach close by that you can sneak off to if you can find the secret path.
If you’re a fan of psytrance, chances are you’ve already been or at least have Boom on your list. The biennial, psychedelic and sustainable festival is somewhat of a pilgrimage - it runs in sync with the full moon and describes itself as a transformational, multidisciplinary festival. It takes place in Idanha A Nova, Portugal - an area surrounded by trees and a very inviting lake that is perfect for cooling off in.
Not only is the festival in an area of natural beauty but the decor itself is second to none. Architects, artists, lightning wizards and 3D mappers work together to transform the Dance Temple ( the festival's main stage) into a dazzling spectacle for the senses combining lasers, fractals and mandala style patterns.
This relatively new festival takes place on the dramatic coastline in Dhermi in Albania. By day you can dance at open air, beachside stages, hop on an excursion to explore the unspoilt surroundings or chill out on the sandy white beaches. This intimate, accessible festival brings together tourists and locals alike who are looking for a different festival experience in the Alvanian riviera, If you’re after a beach holiday and a music festival all wrapped into one, look no further than Kala.