Camille Grange, translated by Aurélie Avice
4 Juillet 2013

Summer is festival season. Most of the line-ups have been revealed. Do you enjoy mud, crowd, beer heated by the 35°C air temperature, and most of all music? Le Journal International provides you with a selection of the best international festivals.

Crédit Photo -- Keystone
Crédit Photo -- Keystone

Burning Man Festival – United States

"Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind."
The festival is held in the last week of August in Nevada, in the middle of a dry lakebed, the Black Rock Desert. Burning Man is a kind of a more casual Coachella. Seen from the sky, the Festival site, such as an agitated anthill, looks more like a group of crop circles than the campground of the Rock en Seine Festival. Burning Man is a half-pagan, half-hippie fest, in which art and self-expression play an important part.
The Festival finds its origins in 1986 and was named after the first "burned man", a giant wooden man burned in front of the San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. This moment of madness between Larry Harvey and his friends gave birth to an event that now welcomes more than 50,000 people.
In this arid and quiet environment, everything is based on bartering. There is only one watchword: "There are no rules here". The festival organizers are mainly counting on volunteering and creativity of the participants. Street art shows and bands put on the show. Do not look for the main stage or the Big Top: participants are also in charge of playing music. Musicians are invited to create their own stage or to play with other artists. Even if Burning Man seems disordered, this is what makes it so enjoyable. It is a call for improvised and unforgettable evenings in the middle of the American desert.   


North of Budapest, Obuda Island is the new European spot. Since 1993, more than 400,000 people have come together along the Danube to experience a Hungarian week. Communism and rock and roll do not mix well, but it did not concern the two Sziget Festival founders. This is a classic, but huge and magnificent place, composed of 13 stages and fields destroyed by the participants’ fury. The program honors both big-name stars and small Hungarian bands. Rock, pop, electro, world music: there is something for every taste here.

Named the 2012 Best Major European Festival, Sziget Festival will be another good year with Blur, Boys Noise, Azealia Banks, Parov Stelar, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, who are only the first announced bands… You will need 229 euros for the weekly pass – which is a pretty reasonable price that also includes a shower – as well as a ticket to go to Budapest. All in all, this is quite expensive, but it is a pretty decent price for such an event held in a European capital.


Ken West wanted to "create urban mayhem and controlled chaos", and that's what he did. The festival began in 1992 in Sydney and the "small" band Nirvana headlined this first edition. It has significantly grown since then. Several cities welcome the festival every year. At the end of February, Big Day Out travels to more than 5 Australian and New-Zealander cities, such as Sydney, Perth, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Melbourne and even Auckland. The country's biggest event welcomes almost 350,000 people who need to be spoiled with a nice program. Muse, The Killers, Animal Collective, M.I.A or Rammstein: anything but great names!

In the crowd, the young Australian jet set mingles with Metallica's fans. The Big Skate Tour is offered by the festival as an alternative to music scenes in keeping with the important role played by the Australian urban culture. If you feel like hearing Kanye West's or Red Hot Chili Peppers' concerts while performing back loops, the Big Day Out is the place for you.


This is the world's oldest popular music festival. According to Dave Simpson, journalist for the Guardian, "it feels like a parallel universe". The Leeds and Reading Festivals take place simultaneously on the last weekend of August. Both festivals share the same bill: the artists perform one night in a city, and the next night in the other city. Leeds and Reading, distanced by 350 km, welcome almost 85,000 people for 3 consecutive evenings. The festival, which is supported by the NME (a British music – and especially rock – journalism publication) and the BBC, and is composed of 8 stages each dedicated to one musical style, on which perform the greatest rock and mainstream artists as well as new bands, has nothing to envy to the neighboring Glastonbury Festival. Green Day, Phoenix, Alt-J and even Eminem will be spotlighted this year. The Festival spirit, which consists in offering a program mixing old school rock and punk with more conventional groups, has remained untouched for 40 years. This is enough to gather all generations under the British "sun"


This is not a Gangnam Style-like festival, but the largest Asian rock festival. Once again, concerts will be held in the middle of magnificent scenery, in the city of Niigata, on the Sea of Japan's coast. The festival's first edition took place for the first time in a very "simple" location, at the base of Mount Fuji. The style of the international and rock-oriented program is not commonly associated with Japan.
The five main stages are separated by mountains and forests. The cable car takes you to the top of the neighboring hills, where you can enjoy a quieter atmosphere and have an overview of the Festival site.
Two huge tops of the bill, Toro y Moi and Björk, as well as the band Nine Inch Nails that will make its major comeback, will be performing at the occasion of this year's 17th edition.

Rock on!