For some, attending a festival is a rite of passage; others make it an annual ritual. For still others, festivals are a kind of passion or obsession, and with so many new ones emerging each year, the possibilities are endless. Indeed, festivals have much to offer in terms of culture, entertainment, socialisation, and, in some cases, relaxation. They present the opportunity to visit someplace new, whether countryside or coast, desert sands or a captivating fortress. Multi-day passes and camping facilities mean that festivals can be a relatively affordable way to get a concentrated dose of music, art, and fun. Choosing a festival may depend on the lineup, genres, location, or overall atmosphere. Festival-goers are spoilt for choice, but there are some annual festivals that consistently provide unforgettable experiences.
It is advisable, and sometimes imperative, to buy festival tickets in advance. Check the official festival information online for restrictions on when, where, and how tickets may be purchased. Then, once accommodation, transport, and packing have been arranged, let the fun begin.
Festival #1: Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, Pilton, England
Every year since 1970, people have flocked to Worthy Farm near Pilton for one of the world's largest music festivals in the world, the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. Glastonbury is best-known for its world-class musical lineup, with past headliners including T. Rex, David Bowie, Radiohead, Neil Young, and Stevie Wonder. But the festival is comprised of many different kinds of performances, including dance, comedy, theatre, circus, and cabaret. Wandering the festival grounds, which are divided according to the performance type, people can take in a broad range of attractions.
Most attendees camp over the course of the festival, which lasts five days. There are numerous campsites, each with its own atmosphere; some are more secluded, while others are livelier, and there are designated disabled campsites and family campsites as well. A limited number of tepees are available for hire. Caravans are not permitted on the festival grounds, but there are sites just outside where people can hook up their caravans.
Festival #2: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio, California, USA
Held annually in the month of April, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been delighting audiences since 1999. With multiple main stages and big-name acts each year, plus multiple smaller stages featuring indie, rap, hip-hop, and electronic music, Coachella's musical lineup is a big draw to national and international audiences. Visual art comprises the other half of the festival, with an emphasis on interactive pieces, such as sculpture and installation.
There are four options for on-site camping, including car or tent camping, and exclusive Lake Eldorado and safari tent accommodations. Daily bus shuttles to and from off-site hotels are also available.
Festival #3: T in the Park, Balado, Kinross-Shire, Scotland
Scotland's major annual music festival, T in the Park, is a three-day event in July that includes multiple stages, camping, and a funfair complete with a big wheel. Multiple main stages and smaller venues are the scene of a variety of major and up-and-coming acts. Fancy Dress Friday kicks off the festival weekend with a costume party for all based on an annual theme. Burlesque, comedy, and circus performances are all part of the Cabaret Club, and there are plenty of other attractions and parties for T in the Parkers.
Campers can smooth out the rough edges at Refresh, a structure featuring functional WCs, showers, pamper stations, and more. The major lineups and range of attractions makes this festival a favourite for all ages, and children over five are welcome to attend.
Festival #4: Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA
Known as an edgy, experimental event where nearly anything goes, Burning Man takes place between the last Monday of August and the first Monday of September on an ancient lakebed in the Black Rock Desert. Burning Man is anything but a typical festival; in fact, it is often described as something more like a spontaneous city, with performances, exhibitions, installations, events, and more, all set up by its "citizens". The project derives its name from the ritual event that closes every festival, when a wooden effigy of a man is burned.
Because of its specific design as an intentional community, no day passes are sold. Attendees are responsible for bringing their own shelter, and, because it is a commerce-free event, they must also pack their own six-day supply of food, water, and sundries. Cars are not permitted on the grounds, so attendees are encouraged to bring bicycles for exploring. Intense and unforgettable, Burning Man is something that needs to be experienced to be understood.
Festival #5: EXIT Festival, Novi Sad, Serbia
For those who have never spent 24 hours awake, wandering around a fully-intact eighteenth-century fortress, EXIT Festival is an eye-opening experience. This friendly music festival was first held in 2000 as a form of student protest that promoted optimism and openness. It has grown steadily since then, and often been named among the top European festivals. Starting on the second Thursday in July, these four-and-a-half days of music, including major headliners and a vast selection of dance, electronica, and more, all in the beautiful surroundings of the Petrovaradin Fortress, make EXIT a perennial favourite with festival-goers.
Attendees can purchase five-day festival passes; camping access is sold separately. There are also packages that include passes, accommodation, airport transport, and local discounts. Visitors to Novi Sad can camp in the EXIT Village, or stay in a hostel, hotel, or flat in Novi Sad.
Festival #6: Tomorrowland, Boom, Belgium
Fans of trance, house, and electronica flock to Boom, Belgium for the annual Tomorrowland festival. For three days in July, visitors can enjoy a diverse set of stages and revel or relax in DreamVille, the official Tomorrowland camping site. DreamVille also features shops, bakeries, cafes, and has organised activities for those staying there. Alternatively, festival-goers can stay in a hotel in Brussels and take advantage of daily transport to and from Tomorrowland. Three-day Full Madness Passes are available, but DreamVille access tickets must be purchased separately. Special packages for air or train travel, accommodation, and festival passes are also available.
Festival #7: Hideout, Island of Pag, Croatia
For those looking to combine a beautiful beach setting with the excitement of numerous electronic music performances, Hideout offers a unique experience. The three-day festival in late June includes boat parties, water sports, bars, restaurants, and other attractions, all on the gorgeous Croatian Island of Pag. A campsite near the festival grounds offers visitors the opportunity to sleep near the seaside; they can bring their own tents, or hire one of the more comfortably-equipped "bellepads". Other options include homestays or hostels in nearby villages and towns. Package holidays, including round-trip flights, seven nights of accommodation, and a festival ticket, are available.
Festival #8: Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, Benicàssim, Spain
For a blend of rock, pop, and electronica in the lush sands Spain, tens of thousands have been heading to the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, or FIB, in July. Lineups headed by the likes of Bob Dylan, Oasis, and Brian Wilson are joined by other attractions, including fashion shows, short films, and art exhibitions. Tickets are sold for one, two, three, or all four days. There is a campsite for visitors for eight days total, allowing them to get started early and extend their holiday after the festival. There are also limited spaces for caravans, and hotel accommodations are available in the town.
Buying Festival Tickets on eBay
Many popular festivals sell out well in advance. eBay can be a good resource for getting hard-to-find tickets to your favourite festival, or ones that you are curious about attending. Start on eBay's home page and type keywords in the search bar, such as "Glastonbury ticket".
Be sure you have researched in advance the festival's policy on reselling tickets. Some have strict requirements requiring you to purchase through an approved vendor. Other festivals allow tickets to be purchased and later resold. Before making your purchase, check the dates and quantity of the tickets you are interested in, and see whether the pass includes a camping site, if applicable. You can contact the seller through eBay if you have any questions.
It is also important to research the seller in advance, to help ensure a positive transaction. Check their feedback score and read comments from past buyers. Top-rated sellers have earned their status by consistently providing quality customer service.
Festival-goers have an ever-expanding range of choices of large and small events, throughout summer and year-round. Some festivals are standouts, however, and should not be missed by those who love the experience of music, attractions, and good company all in one place.
England's Glastonbury Festival is one of the most well-known annual events; it features major headliners and a range of other types of performance. Thousands flock every April to the Coachella Valley in California for the art and music festival of the same name. Scotland's T in the Park combines big-name acts, a funfair, and other attractions. Those who want something totally different can head to Burning Man for a six-day experiment in community, performance, and more. The EXIT Festival in Serbia is beloved for its positive atmosphere, magical fortress setting, and broad spectrum of musical genres. Tomorrowland is Belgium's haven for lovers of electronica, trance, and house music. The Island of Pag in Croatia is home to beautiful beaches and the Hideout Festival of electronic music. Finally, the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim in Spain offers high-profile acts and more in a sunny coastal setting.
With more and more festivals emerging every year, there is something for everyone. Planning in advance is key to enjoying the singular experience of one's festival of choice.