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the weirdest, most wonderful, worldwide festivals

Boutique, culture driven festivals seem to be popping up in their thousands in recent years, all promising something different, and mostly entirely indistinguishable from one another. But there are a few pockets of the globe yet where you can enjoy the entirely surprising and untainted festival experience that you felt on entering your first, muddy British field as a wide eyed teen. From the sweltering African desert, to a mountain top in Bulgaria, here are 5 festivals you should be flogging your early bird tickets for.

Text Emily Steer

  • Meadows in the Mountains, Bulgaria

    Set atop a mountain in Bulgaria, you cant get much better. Waterfalls, flowering meadows and a small crowd could make you think you’ve died and gone to party heaven. Featuring mainly unsigned, underground artists, this is the place to discover the new in dance, disco, jazz and contemporary house. A chilled out atmosphere and arty vibes make this a calmer, if trippier alternative to the standard, bass pumping European festivals. Galloping unicorns aren’t far off.  

    meadowsinthemountains.com

    Meadows in the Mountains

  • AfrikaBurn, South Africa

    Always wanted to go to Burning Man but a little terrified of the influx of playboys and business folk now turning up in their hoards and pretending to be hippies for a week? AfrikaBurn is hosted by the same team as Burning Man, but there’s a pretty good betting that the gritty edge promised by a festival in the African desert will put off those of a more sensitive persuasion. Held in the Tankwa Karoo in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, a 300km drive away from the city, and as quoted by the festival themselves “on the longest stretch of road in South Africa without petrol stations or nearby assistance”. Think Burning Man’s untainted younger cousin.

    afrikaburn.com

    AfrikaBurn

  • Træna, Norway

    Træna is held on the islands of Husoya and Sanna in the Arctic Circle. It’s only accessible by ferry, and uses an ancient cave and blacked out church for venues. The sun shines for 23 hours of the day, and you can choose to arrive or leave via a week long sailing trip up the coast of Helgeland. Expect an eclectic mix of rock ‘n roll, ska, punk and folklore played amongst jagged rocks, overlooking a glistening Arctic Ocean.

    trena.net

    Træna

  • Labyrinth, Japan

    For die hard techno fans, this festival is naturally curated to perfection. Only the best in sound system technology, with only the best playing it. No line up has been announced as yet, but this is one festival that always delivers. Hosted in Japan’s great outdoors, Naeba Greenland, Niigata Prefecture and surrounded by mountains. Only 2 hours from Tokyo, this is a boutique festival, and holiday to one of the best places on earth all in one.

    mindgames.jp

    Labyrinth

  • ATP, Iceland

    ATP might not be anything new to a Brit festival goer, but hot springs, glaciers and puffin for dinner might be. While you’re bubbling away in the blue lagoon high as a kite, Pontin’s is a million miles away. Portishead and Interpol are headlining, and festivities kick off in Reykavik the week before with art installations, live gigs and film screenings.

    atpfestival.com

    ATP