As the music festival landscape becomes more and more crowded, some festivals are exploring new ways to set themselves aside from the crowd. Finding a unique and spectacular location could well be the best possible route to standing out.
From secluded islands to industrial machinery and hilltop fortresses, we run down ten of the best festival locations...
Headliners (2018): Helena Hauff, Pantha du Prince
First up is The Castle of Montemor-o-Velho, a medieval fortress that has is technically older than Portugal's nationality itself.
Not the instinctive location you'd envisage when hosting a techno festival, but since 2014 Festival Forte breathes new life into this historic and imposing man-made creation each year, emphasising the heritage steeped within the brick walls using state-of-the-art video projections and lighting.
Mythical, medieval, and magical.
When & where: Dates for 2019 TBA; Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal
Meadows In The Mountains
Headliners (2018): Donna Leake, Marques Toliver, Charlotte Dos Santos
In the discussion for most beautiful festival setting in the world, Meadows In The Mountains takes place 850 metres above sea level in the Rhodope Mountains. Listening to mesmerising grooves while watching the light fade across the valley as the sun sets behind the great hills is a truly special experience.
When & where: 6-10 June 2019; Polkovnik Serafimovo, Bulgaria
Headliners (2018): Rag'n'Bone Man, Faithless
Set in the 400 person town of Syðrugøta, way up north in the Faroe Islands, G! Festival is in every sense of the term off the beaten track. A close-knit relationship with the festival brings the whole town into the experience, making music, food and drink on offer throughout the whole thing.
When & where: 11-13 July 2019; Gøta, Faroe Islands
Headliners (2018): Chromeo, Zhu, Bonobo, Marshmello
A festival now so exceedingly popular it spreads itself over two weekends, Electric Forest transforms the giant redwood forests of Rothbury, Michigan into a psychedelic woodland.
Sherwood Forest opens its branches to trippy illuminations and projections, as well as kooky installations creating magical moments that bring the forest to life.
When & where: Dates for 2019 TBA; Michigan, USA
Headliners (2018): Kool Klap, Medlar, Pillowtalk
In what has to be the perfect example of escapism, Obonjan takes over an entire island off the coast of Croatia for a ten-week residency. Festival-goers will have the chance to experience music, lectures, film, water sports, wellbeing and more in what is a festival first.
When & where: 2019 Dates TBA; Obonjan Island, Croatia
Headliners (2018): The XX, Jon Hopkins, Fever Ray, Florence and the Machine
Contemporary sounds contrasted with an industrial setting, the opencast coal mine at Melt still retains the old towering cranes and iron machinery to look out over its diverse stages and all-night partying.
When & where: 2019 Dates TBA; Gräfenhainichen, Germany
Headliners (2018): Richie Hawtin, London Grammar, The Horrors, Jessie J
The clue is in the name when it comes to Electric Castle's setting. Taking place at Romania's Banffy Castle – the biggest in Transylvania – the festival embraces every corner of this famous castle's grounds, from its lakes to its stables. After being partially destroyed during World War II and having since been set on fire, the castle receives the festival's profits to help fund its restoration, creating a unique bond between festival and site.
When & where: Dates for 2019 TBA; Bontida, Romania
Headliners (2018): The Black Madonna, Carl Cox, Rødhåd
Surely one of the world's most beautiful mountain ranges, the Atlas Mountains overshadow the country's popular tourist city of Marrakech. Oasis Festival straddles in between those two stunning landmarks at the luxurious Source Hotel, perfectly balancing the frantic pulse of Marrakech's markets and bazaars, and the serene sight of the Atlas mountains in the other direction.
When & where: Dates for 2019 TBA; Marrakech, Morocco
Colours of Ostrava
Headliners (2019): The Cure, Florence + the Machine, Rag'n'Bone Man, Years & Years, Mogwai, Richie Hawtin, ROSALÍA
Another festival that works the post-industrial theme is Colours of Ostrava, which takes place on a European Heritage Site. Having kept its steel and coal works intact, the site is now characterised by urban art, bringing a dash of colour to past bleakness. And the festival nestles in wonderfully, hosting Main Stage sets underneath overwhelming structures and intimate lectures and talks inside spaces such as a former miners' bathroom.
When & where: 15-18 July 2020; Ostrava, Czech Republic
Headliners (2018): Jackmaster, DJ Koze, Objekt
Mixing music with art and political discourse, Elevate takes up residence in a hilltop fortress. Woodland, a castle and even tunnelling within the hill itself: all of these distinctive and intimate spaces are brought to life with gigs, film screenings, workshops and panels.
When & where: 27 February - 3 March 2019; Graz, Austria
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