11 unforgettable international music festivals

From Cape Town to Havana to Las Vegas, explore your passion for music at these city-centered celebrations of sound.

by Maria Milkova

Music festivals are a fabulous way to dive into a new city and treat yourself to some new sounds while you’re at it. Whether you’re a fan of indie, Latin rock, electronica, hip hop, jazz, or punk, here are 11 epic sonic celebrations that will rock your world.

Governors Ball
June 2-4, 2017
Randall's Island Park, New York, New York

Festival heaven for: Brooklynites, urbanites, Urban Outfitters employees, tourists, the characters on 'Girls'.

Set on Randall’s Island on the East River, Governors Ball is NYC’s most important music festival. Though it draws a smaller crowd than Coachella or Lollapalooza, it brings in big names like Chance the Rapper, Tool, and Phoenix, along with other luminaries that include Lorde, the Wu Tang Clan, and Cage the Elephant. Taking a ferry is the best way to get here, but trains and buses work, too - and you can dive right back into the city when it’s all over.

Looking for a place to crash?  Check out our coverage of top New York City hotels.

Governors Ball
Field Day
June 3, 2017
Victoria Park, London, UK

Set in Victoria Park, the ultrahip Field Day festival always features a clever, interesting blend of indie, electronica, and emerging artists you’d be unlikely to hear anywhere else. While you’re indulging your ears, you can also sip excellent craft beer and munch on seriously good street food. Note: Get your tickets early - 2017 is the festival’s tenth anniversary, and they sell out every year.

TripExpert's got you covered for the best places to lay your head in London when you're ready to call it a day.

Field Day
June 15-17, 2017
Barcelona, Spain

Founded in 1994 by Ricard Robles, Enric Palau, and Sergi Caballero, Sonar is a three-day spectacle of progressive music, multimedia art, and new technology that temporarily transforms the city of Barcelona into an electronic music hub. Divided into Sonar by Day and Sonar by Night, the festival features live acts and DJs across multiple stages, along with art installations, a technology and record fair, lectures, video art projections, and film screenings.

Assuming you ever decide to sleep, you'll want to check out our list of the best hotels in Barcelona.

Electric Daisy Carnival
June 16-18, 2017
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nevada

A colorful extravaganza in the spirit of its host city, the Electric Daisy Carnival brings together the best in electronic dance music, full-sized carnival rides, performers in outrageous costumes, mesmerizing art, and cutting-edge stage productions. They’re serious about amenities, too — you’ll find everything from food and drink stands to battery charging and hydration stations, lockers, and ATMs.

Vegas has hotels as colorful as the Carnival, find your favorite on our list of the best.

Electric Daisy Carnival
Secret Solstice
June 16-18, 2017
Reykjavík, Iceland

Celebrate the midnight sun and experience the magic of Iceland at this otherworldly festival, which features an eclectic program of indie, folk, hip hop and urban music, along with glacier raves, boat parties and blowouts on the lagoon. On the bill for 2017: U.S. and U.K. standouts like the Foo Fighters, The Prodigy, and Foreign Beggars, as well as Icelandic favorites like Alvia Islandia and Amabadama.

Find a place to stay in the environs of the festival by checking out our list of outstanding Reykjavík accommodations.

Secret Solstice
FYF Fest
July 22-23, 2017
Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California

An annual two-day celebration at the LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park, FYF Fest offers an ever-innovative line-up of rock, indie, hip hop, metal, punk, and electronic musicians, along with sculpture, art exhibits, and a night street food market. Organized by the folks behind Coachella, it draws headliners like Kanye West, Morrissey, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, though its lesser-known acts are just as intriguing. 

FYF brings you the greatest acts, TripExpert brings you L.A.'s greatest hotels.

FYF Fest
August 9-16, 2017
Hajógyári Island, Budapest, Hungary

Held on a lush island in the Danube River in northern Budapest, Sziget is one of Europe’s biggest music and cultural festivals. Boasting over 1,000 performances every year, the program features an impressive range of rock, alternative, hip hop, punk, heavy metal, world, psychedelic, and indie acts. Stars like PJ Harvey and Jamie Callum are on the program for 2017, along with heavyweights like Kasabian, Major Lazer, and Interpol. 

You know what brought you to Budapest, but do you know where you'll stay?  Try our top picks in every price range.

Pentaport Rock Festival
August 11-13, 2017
Incheon, Korea

About 20 miles outside of Seoul, the Pentaport Rock Festival is one of Asia’s top live music events. The festival explores five main themes -- music, DIY, passion, the environment, and friendship, and its five stages feature some of the best indie rockers from Asia and further afield (Weezer, Suede, Nell, Idiotape, and Nothing but Thieves, to name just a few). The festival usually happens in August (which is the rainy season in Korea), so be sure to pack an umbrella with your sunglasses.

Check out TripExpert's favorite hotels in Incheon or, if you prefer, consult our experts' top picks for nearby Seoul.

Pentaport Rock Festival
2017 dates TBA
Havana, Cuba

At its 2016 debut, Musicabana drew over 450,000 attendees over two weekends, thanks to an attractive, multi-genre bill of more than 20 artists, bands, and DJs from around the world (including top acts like Major Lazer, Ibeyi, Cedric Gervais and Havana D’Primera). The festival’s mission is to “bring Cuba back into the global equation,” and 2017’s festival promises to be just as exciting as the first. Another bonus: you can explore the sultry, music-loving city of Havana while you’re here.

Vive Latino
March 2018 (specific dates TBA)
Mexico City

Every year, Vive Latino attracts the very best new and emerging Latin bands from around the world for a heady celebration of rock en español. Besides headliners like Cafe Tacuba, Enanitos Verdes, and Los Fabolosos Cadillacs, the festival also features a strong ska and reggae lineup, along with a handful of non-Spanish speaking acts (including past performers like Jane’s Addiction and the Chemical Brothers).

When it's time to kick back and relax after rocking out, these hotels in Mexico City are our experts' top picks.

Vive Latino
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
March/April 2018 (specific dates TBA)
Cape Town, South Africa

Africa’s biggest jazz festival always draws a star-studded line-up across a variety of genres, offering a 50-50 mix of South African and international artists. In 2017, its five stages are set to feature everyone from R&B sensation En Vogue to trumpeter Darren English, rapper Dope Saint Jude, guitarist Ernie Smith, and jazz singer Gretchen Parlato.

After days of world-class jazz, spend your nights in world-class accommodations.  Here are our favorite hotels in Cape Town.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival
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