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Summer Sonic

WHERE AND WHEN Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, August 18-19.

LINE-UP Green Day, Gotye, Rihanna, LostProphets.

OFF-STAGE Like Reading and Leeds, this festival shares the same line-up on different days at its two locations. Tokyo is an obvious tourist draw, but for an equally frenetic experience, Japan’s third-largest city measures up. There’s a museum built to look like a castle and Universal Studios Japan (essentially a huge theme park); stirring temples and shrines; vast expanses of flashing neon; and a smart nightlife that includes a branch of New York’s Blue Note jazz club.


WHERE AND WHEN Chicago, US, August 3-5.

LINE-UP Black Sabbath, Calvin Harris, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

OFF-STAGE Lollapalooza has always been about bringing together different genres, ever since Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell booked Nine Inch Nails and Ice-T for his musical carnival. And its home town, Chicago, is a similarly duplicitous beast, where America’s best hot dog and the beginning of molecular gastronomy are both claimed, and fine art rubs up against public works (see The Loop, the city’s central business district that doubles as an open-air museum of sculpture). Add sandy beaches and green parks, and there’s plenty to make up for the weather in the Windy City.

Fuji Rock Festival

WHERE AND WHEN Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata, Japan,
July 27-30.

LINE-UP The Stone Roses, Radiohead, Beady Eye, The Shins.

OFF-STAGE The ski resort might be closed to powder-riders for the summer, but there’s still plenty to do in Niigata. The capital of the prefecture, Niigata City, is home to more than 100 breweries and a thriving bar scene, as well as what is hailed as some of the best sake in Japan. Nearby Niigata-ken also boasts beaches and hot springs, and Tokyo is two hours away by train (or five-and-a-half by bus).


WHERE AND WHEN Helsinki, Finland, August 8-12.

LINE-UP Bon Iver, The Black Keys, Bjork, Feist.

OFF-STAGE Because a festival in a field is just too darned common these days, this Finnish fest is held in the shadow of the smoke stacks of a former power plant. If you find yourself fancying a less industrial setting, try catching the winter sun in Tampere (see P74).


WHERE AND WHEN Tisno, Croatia, July 20-22.

LINE-UP De La Soul, DJ Yoda, Ghostpoet.

OFF-STAGE The tiny Dalmatian town of Tisno is just across the bay from the Kornati Islands, an archipelago of gorgeous islets, cliffs and coves. Snorkelling, diving and sailing are all available, and you can even arrange to stay with a traditional Kornati family – going olive-picking, sheep-shearing, and fishing for dinner – with tour operators in Murter.

Burning Man

WHERE AND WHEN Black Rock Desert, Nevada, US, August 27-September 3.

LINE-UP There is no scheduled line-up as such – Burning Man is about as far removed from your typical festival as David Cameron is from a scandal-free premiership. Every year, tens of thousands of people gather to create Black Rock City,
a community built on art and self-expression (and no little nudity), where everyone is a participant. 

OFF-STAGE Come on, you’re in Nevada. Where else would you go after the unbridled freakery of Burning Man? Besides the casinos, strippers and epic benders of Las Vegas, check out the museum where the old neon signs go to die (


The ultimate guide to summer festivals around the world
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