Ramble On

Our summer music travel guide takes you around the world and back again

Amid the sheer amount of summer travel options, a “music festival marathon” might be the most exciting and fun way to escape the desert heat. Planning a trip like this is quite a task, but that’s where I come in. Think of me as your personal musical travel agent. From L.A. to Japan, I handpicked some of the best music festivals and have pieced together the ultimate summer music travel adventure for your reading pleasure.


Glastonbury Festival Glastonbury, England (June 23-27). This is one of the largest, most intense musical festivals in the world, with an expected 150,000 people. Check out the famous Pyramid stage or dance your way on over to the Dance Village for an unforgettable start to the summer.

Bands: Stevie Wonder, Muse, Gorillaz, Vampire Weekend, the Flaming Lips, LCD Soundsystem, Phoenix, the Dead Weather, Hot Chip, MGMT, the xx and Dirty Projectors.

Roskilde Festival Roskilde, Denmark (July 1-4). Danish music fans know what’s up. More than 140 bands and 25,000 volunteers will give the approximate 75,000 festival-goers a more intimate festival experience while still having access to major artists.

Bands: Prince, Muse, Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem, Pavement and Patti Smith.

Optimus Alive! Lisbon, Portugal (July 8-10) Although the Optimus Alive! Music Festival is only on its fourth year, it has become one of the most popular in Europe. Everybody who buys a ticket gets a free “Alive!” T-shirt, and of all tickets sold, there are five “Golden” tickets. Lucky winners will get V.I.P. entry and backstage access, a guided tour and a chance to meet the bands.

Bands: LCD Soundsystem, Faith No More, the xx, Girls, Florence and the Machine, Gogol Bordello, Devendra Banhart, Gossip, Crookers, Pearl Jam and Deftones.

EXIT Festival Novi Sad, Serbia (July 8-11) Deep in Eastern Europe, on the lands of Novi Sad, Serbia, is home to one of the more impressive and eclectic lineups of the summer.

Bands: Yeasayer, Crystal Castles, LCD Soundsystem, Faith No More, the Chemical Brothers, Missy Elliott, Klaxons, A-Trak and Chromeo.

Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago, USA (July 16-18) Curated by the popular music website Pitchfork Media, this festival takes place in Union Park. The P4K Festival is one of the most reasonably priced—$40 for single-day passes and $90 for three-day passes.

Bands: Pavement, Modest Mouse, LCD Soundsystem, Broken Social Scene, Panda Bear, Major Lazer, St. Vincent, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Liars, Raekwon, Lightning Bolt, Beach House, Girls, WHY?, Neon Indian and Sleigh Bells.

Fuji Rock Festival Niigata, Japan (July 30 – Aug. 1) The Fuji Rock Festival takes place high up in the mountains in an atmosphere that is isolated from any metropolitan areas.

Bands: Belle and Sebastian, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT, !!!, Them Crooked Vultures, Broken Social Scene, Dirty Projectors, Yeasayer, Hot Chip and Air.

HARD Summer Music Festival Los Angeles (Aug. 7) This is my personal favorite festival of the summer. It’s only a five-hour car ride from Las Vegas, and my band, the Afghan Raiders, has recently been added to the lineup. With legendary electronic acts such as Soulwax, Crystal Castles and Digitalism, and hot up-and-comers Tiga and the Twelves, this is the best electronic music lineup that I’ve seen in the U.S.

Bands: Major Lazer, Diplo, Erol Alkan, Green Velvet, Sinden, Breakbot and Rory Phillips.

Øya Festival Oslo, Norway (Aug. 10-14) One of the most environmentally sound festivals in all of Europe, Øya will host more than 60,000 attendees and 80 bands.

Bands: Pavement, M.I.A., LCD Soundsystem, Iggy & the Stooges, Panda Bear, the xx, Major Lazer, Raekwon, Air, Girls, Fucked Up, the Gaslight Anthem and Sleigh Bells.

Lowlands Biddinghuizen, Netherlands (Aug. 20-22) In addition to seeing live music, festival-goers can experience street theater, movie tents, comedy stages, visual arts, literature arenas and multimedia stages. The lineup is diverse and solid.

Bands: Queens of the Stone Age, Massive Attack, the xx, A-Trak, the Specials, Snow Patrol and Air.

London Electronic Dance Festival London (Aug. 27-28) The final stop on our summer music adventure is back in London for the London Electronic Dance Festival. Two days of pure dance-friendly madness, the L.E.D. features the absolute best of the best in electronic dance music. I can’t think of a better way to spend the final days of summer.

Bands: Soulwax, Goldfrapp, Calvin Harris, Tiga, Boy 8-Bit, Afrojack, Friendly Fires and Die Antwoord.

Mikey Francis is the lead singer of the band Afghan Raiders. Read more at afghanraiders.com/mikey.

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