As we are now creeping into the latter half of June, I think it is safe to say that festival season is well underway. Download, Isle of Wight and Bonnaroo all went down this past weekend. Electric Daisy Carnival, Amnesia Rockfest and Firefly are all kicking off on Friday. And don’t let us forget about Glastonbury, which is set to start on the 24th. We are indeed well into the thick of things.
Music festivals, which have long been quite popular in Europe, have started to come into their own in North America over the past decade or so. In recent years, we have been quite lucky to host some absolutely massive festivals in North America, like Coachella and Lollapalooza. This sudden increase of popularity of music festivals has left me beyond thrilled. More festivals = more music = one happy Kait.
While I do love hitting up our more local festivals here in Alberta, I must say that I do have a slight addiction to hitting up some of these major international festivals. It has gotten to the point where nearly all of my international travel has involved a music festival of some sort. Oops. Other than being certifiably insane (as my friends and family love to remind me), there actually is a pile of legitimate, not crazy, reasons as to why I love checking out some of these foreign festivals.
First off, I love hitting up these huge festivals not only for all the goodness that a festival gives me, but also to get a trip out of the deal. Yes I do spend 3 or so days hidden away in a festival grounds, but after that party is said and done, I get to explore the country or city that I have found myself in. It’s absolutely fantastic and I personally find it to be an almost two for one deal! Who doesn’t love those?!
My second trip to the UK in 2011 was planned around Reading Festival. We arrived in the UK the day before the festival started, had the chance to check out Reading and then spent a week in London after the festival just hanging out. Glastonbury gave me the opportunity to spend a few days in Brighton. Coachella brought me to Los Angeles. And on and on we go.
Foreign music festivals also offer a very different music selection from what we are used to here in Edmonton. While North American festivals do offer more familiar bands and musicians in their lineups, those European festivals offer so much more. One of my absolute favourite parts of going to a giant music festival is the ability to discover a plethora of new music. Bands that are absolutely massive in the UK and Europe are virtually unknown here. And they are (almost) all phenomenal! I have been introduced to several of my now favourite bands through the process of discovery at a festival, many of whom I would likely have never heard of.
I have had so many people who just cannot understand why I am willing to drop upwards of $350 to go to a festival. “It’s sooooo expensive!” they cry. No, it’s really not. Well okay, maybe on the face of it it looks pretty steep. Dropping $350 to go to a concert would hurt the wallet quite a bit. And you could spend that money on so many different things, right?
Music festivals are quite simply a really good bang for your buck, in my opinion. Let me break it down. Being conservative here, let’s say that you catch 5 bands each day during a 3 day festival, which put you back $350. You just paid $23.33 to see each of those bands, who would have ordinarily cost you $60+ to see. And I’m being conservative with my numbers. Ordinarily, I could easily see 8-10 bands a day, if not more. Yeah, I’m a big believer in how good of a deal festivals can be.
Finally, music festivals are just awesome. Obviously you need to do some research and find one that is a good fit for your taste in music and all that jazz, but when you find one that fits man is it ever awesome. With each festival comes an entirely different atmosphere. Reading and Coachella are both party festivals. People are so happy to be there and have a great time. Glastonbury is indescribable of course, but the atmosphere that you will find there is second to none. It is just phenomenal.
I have met some fantastic people through my love of music festivals and travel, many of whom I am lucky to still call my friends today. Between this, the ability to experience a different music culture, discover great new music and see so many bands for so cheap, I don’t think I will ever stop trying to catch at least a festival or two a year. And I thoroughly encourage you to do the same. I can promise that you will not regret it.