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International Music Festival Bucket List

Aside from the horde of popular Canadian music festivals (and Wayhome and Bestival on the horizon this summer), there are the obvious choices in America such as Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Governors Ball among others. But if you want to experience music festivals around the world, there are select ones that rise to the top. Here are eight must-see international festivals to put on your bucket list.

Fuji Rock Festival – Niigata Prefecture, Japan


(Photo by Kentaro Ohno via Flickr Creative Commons)

Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival this year occurs the same weekend as the upstart Wayhome Music & Arts Festival. But, over the years, stellar lineups at the woodsy, lush Naeba Ski Resort (Radiohead, NIN) has made it a critic’s darling. Muse and Foo Fighters headline this year’s version.

Glastonbury – Pilton, Somerset, England


(Photo by Andrew Parnell via Flickr Creative Commons)

Great bands, massive crowds and ridiculously large flags characterize this legendary event founded by Michael Eavis on his farm. Although sporadic between 1970 to 1981, Glastonbury has been almost annually with a break every five years for the grounds to recover. Rainy weather often leaves over 130,000 trudging through thick mud in their boots best known as “wellies.”

Rosklide – Roskilde, Denmark


(Photo by Stig Nygaard via Flickr Creative Commons)

Two high school students created Roskilde in 1971, and it’s been a mainstay ever since. In 2000, Roskilde was touched by tragedy when nine were killed after being trampled during a Pearl Jam set. However, the annual event – and “naked run” around the campsite since 1999 – have made it a requirement for music lovers. Muse and Pharrell Williams are set for Roskilde in 2015.

Rock In Rio – ‎Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


(Photo by Bruno Farias via Flickr Creative Commons)

Although expanding to include versions in Madrid and now the U.S., Brazil’s Rock In Rio has been a blockbuster for over three decades. While not annually, Rock In Rio sees some 600,000 attend this South American Woodstock, down from the inaugural year which had 1.4 million rocking to Queen, AC/DC and Rod Stewart.

Isle Of Wight – Isle of Wight, England.


(Photo by David Jones via Flickr Creative Commons)

Isle Of Wight made rock history in 1970 when roughly 600,000 saw Hendrix, The Doors and Leonard Cohen perform. Despite being dormant for decades, the festival’s prestige was resurrected in 2002 and has been an annual “A-List” bonanza since featuring The Strokes, Jay-Z, Pearl Jam and Springsteen.

Iceland Airwaves – Reykjavík, Iceland


(Photo by Laurent Gauthier via Flickr Creative Commons)

Iceland Airwaves might sound like an airline or radio program. It’s neither, but it originated in a Reykjavik airplane hangar in 1999. Since then, the country’s biggest musical exports (Bjork, Sigur Ros) have lured other heavyweights every November to a festival Pitchfork described as possessing an “unbelievable zest for music and celebration.”

Montreux Jazz Festival – Montreux, Switzerland

Don’t let the name fool you. Montreux built its name by incorporating a bevy of rock acts over its almost half century. New Order, Prince and Arcade Fire have graced the stage of this annual Swiss festival, held each July.

Primavera Sound – Barcelona, Spain


(Photo by Michał Majewski via Flickr Creative Commons)

Barcelona’s Primavera Sound is one of Europe’s festival youngsters, having started in 2001. However, it has quickly become a very credible rival with its incredibly rich, indie-infused lineups. The three days in May this year see Sleater-Kinney, Interpol and Run The Jewels – among others.

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