Popularized by large-scale productions like Coachella and Bonnaroo, festivals have become an integral component of music and tourism culture. The summer months are an open buffet for young people to choose from a variety of stylistic offerings, and many will attempt several in a year to become the ultimate fest veterans. For avid festival fiends, the winter can be a rather depressing period when one must hang up their Birkenstocks and hula-hoops until spring.
However, there are a few advantageous festival promoters willing to keep the tunes going during the colder months. We’ve assembled six of our favorite early year festivals that will provide you a respite from the winter woes with fresh music and interactive art.
South Lake Tahoe, CA, Dec 29-31
SnowGlobe is a winter festival for the brave. The entirely outdoor dance and hip-hop event is equal parts New Year’s Eve celebration, music festival and slope shredding (ski passes are not included in the price of the festival ticket, unfortunately). This frigid festival does an excellent job gathering the top artists in pop culture and giving fans motivation to keep the party going well after midnight. The Chainsmokers, Major Lazer and Flume sit atop the electronic lineup, while Lil Uzi Vert, Del The Funky Homosapien and D.R.A.M. round out the hip-hop performances. It might seem crazy to subject oneself to the winter elements just for a festival, but when guests crowd in like penguins, the dance floor will warm your soul.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Jan .6-15
In the dance music community, BPM is mecca. For ten days in January, this festival packs over three hundred renowned house and techno DJs into Playa del Carmen. During the day, beach parties are the place to be and after sundown, the festival takes over the city’s best nightclubs. Carl Cox, Pete Tong and Guy Gerber are BPM regulars, and top the long list of acts that would be easier to read through if it were presented as a book on tape. Although ten days of partying may be a daunting feat for some, the festival also offers the convenience of nearby attractions such as swimming with dolphins, water sports and exploring the Mayan ruins of Tulum. If Ibiza isn’t in your future and a large scale EDM festival sounds like misery, BPM will satiate all of your dancing desires.
GEM & JAM
Tucson, Arizona, Feb. 2-5
Gem & Jam Festival is an experimental fest that makes use of the earthy crowd attracted to the annual Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil showcase and layers on some nightlife entertainment.The three-day music event melds dancing, workshops, live art and crafting into a transformational experience for jam and electronic fans. This year’s lineup is headlined by glitch-hop beatmaker Grammatik, Phish bassist Mike Gordon, and funk electronic ensemble The Floozies. The festival is known for its kaleidoscopic stage productions and crystal-laden artist community, so if your chakras aren’t aligned, this might be the perfect place to find your inner peace.
Port Canaveral, Florida, Jan. 6-10 and Jan 10-14
If you aren’t already a member of the illustrious “ShipFam,” you probably never will be. These coveted tickets sell out shortly after the previous ship’s voyage arrives back in Florida’s Port Canaveral, and priority is given to returning customers. Despite its exclusivity, the nautical festival is still worth pursuing by newcomers for its innovative parties and topnotch lineups. Shippers spend four days cruising around the Caribbean with stops in Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas while getting loose to dance music’s most revered DJs. Holy Ship!’s first weekend is kicked off by the masked future-bass star Marshmello, Grammy-nominated DJ Snake, and bloghaus titans A-Trak and Boys Noize. Weekend two brings another fresh lineup, marked by Dirtybird’s Claude Vonstroke, veteran Fatboy Slim and the diverse sounds of JAUZ.
Pattaya, Thailand, Feb. 16-19
Thailand’s Wonderfruit should be on every festival fanatic’s watch list. The boutique event is a carbon neutral music and arts festival that epitomizes the “transformational festival” experience (think Burning Man or Lightning in a Bottle). The focus of Wonderfruit is experience, education and awareness. Attendees can take parkour classes, receive a Shaolin Kung-Fu lesson by Master Zhu Qiguo or go hang gliding above the festival grounds for that perfect Instagram selfie. Workshops and discussions on sustainability and nature preservation utilize an onsite farm for hands-on instruction. And dining options are provided by world-class chefs, including Food Network’s Morimoto and Asia’s highest rated chef, Gaggan Anand. However, let’s not forget about the music. The eclectic lineup features live drum and bass performers Rudimental, hip-hop trio Young Fathers and Grammy-nominated singer Lianne La Havas. It’s hard to tie Wonderfruit to one musical style, although it is best to describe the festival and it’s lineup as cosmopolitan. Oh and 4-day passes are less than $200, so it’s kind of a steal once you pay to get there.
TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS
Chicago, Illinois, Jan 11-15
Underground rockers and their fashion-forward friends, the mighty hipster, can abandon their coffee shops and vinyl record stores this January and make the wind-laced trek to Chicago for Tomorrow Never Knows festival. This multi-venue indie rock fest draws easy comparisons to Austin’s South by Southwest, however, its more reasonably sized lineup provides an intimate setting for those looking to warm up by the amplifier. Although indie rock has a rather ambiguous definition, TNK features the contemporary jazz group BadBadNotGood, melodic emo with Title Fight and the ‘90s local staple Tortoise. Comedians Phoebe Robinson, Beth Stelling and Michelle Wolf also grace the lineup for a nice change of energy.
ABOUT THAT TIME WE ATE OUR WAY THROUGH LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE