One of the best parts of summer is the number of bands who hit the road bringing music to the masses. (Speaking of music for the masses, Depeche Mode is on tour throughout the summer.) So who are you going to see? Beyoncé’s “Mrs. Carter World Tour” touches down in the U.S. on June 28 , but if you prefer Mr. Carter, Jay-Z has teamed up with Justin Timberlake for the “Legends of the Summer” series, which kicks off on July 17 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON.
You could battle the tweens at a Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or One Direction show. Alternatively, you could shell out big bucks for the Rolling Stones’ “50 And Counting” anniversary concert, see Sir Paul McCartney make magic on stage, or try to catch Pearl Jam during one of their rare outings.
Those are all good options, but increasingly dedicated music fans seem to be wondering, why they should pay the hefty ticket price for one band, when for a few more dollars they could see twenty acts on one bill at a festival? Whether it’s Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers headlining Bonnaroo; Bjork, R. Kelly and Belle & Sebastian at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago; Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio at London’s All Tomorrow’s Parties, or Kraftwerk playing eight albums over four nights in Sydney for the Vivid Sydney festival, these days the biggest bands in the world are adding festival dates to their tours, or skipping solo gigs all together.
For their part, festivals have come a long way from their camping-in-a-field roots. Many are outfitted with good food, reasonable crowds, decent accommodations and great sound systems. Of course if you want to camp in a field, most festivals still offer that option (like, Tennessee’s Bonnaroo), while others, like Governor’s Ball, which is located in New York City, take a more urban approach, with fans being able to watch Kanye West, Grizzly Bear and Guns N’ Roses before heading back to the city to sleep in a hotel.
To get the most bang for your buck, though, international festivals allow you to combine global tourism with incredible music, like at the Øya Festival in Oslo, Norway’s insanely picturesque Medieval Park or Outlook Festival, which puts Mos Def, Talib Kweli and The Pharcyde in a moated fortress in Pula, Croatia. In short, whatever or wherever your musical interest lie, there’s undoubtedly a festival that fits the bill.
Here are 11 of the best bets for summer-festival fun: