Top music festivals of Asia-Pacific
- article by Rebecca Foster
Whether you're into classic rock or EDM, there's something for everyone in the region's eclectic array of music festivals.
Musical festivals are one of the long-established coming-of-age experiences for music-lovers across the world. As these events seek to attract more visitors each year, their eclectic collection of offerings is growing.
In addition to soaking up plenty of world-class musical performances, guests can now look forward to taking part in a yoga class to innovative workshops on sustainability. Whatever vibe you’re after, we talk you through five of Asia-Pacific’s top-notch music-inspired events.
Byron Bay Bluesfest
Established in 1990, Byron Bay’s Bluesfest (formerly known as the East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival) attracts an eclectic selection of performers from across the world, in addition to audiences of over 100,000 over five days. Held over Easter weekend each year, the event comprises a cacophony of over 200 performances across seven stages, with a plethora of market stalls, al fresco food courts, beer gardens and children’s entertainment to keep visitors busy. Despite its bluesy roots, this family-friendly festival has attracted world-famous names such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and John Legend & BB King in the past, to name a few. Held at the 120-hectare Tygarah Tea Tree Farm, this year’s incredible line-up features American rock legend Patti Smith, the Zac Brown Band, the Lumineers and Mavis Staples. One of the things this festival accomplishes with ease is its ability to unite legendary, veteran performers with a younger collection of acts, who bring an infusion of everything from rock to hip hop.
Lost Paradise Festival, Australia
This beautiful event takes place in the sacred grounds of Glenworth Valley, a 75-minute drive from Sydney. Spread across an ancient valley known as “Paradise Lost” to indigenous locals, the stunning setting is one of this event’s true highlights. Born out of the desire to bring people together to party amidst stunning natural surroundings, this three-day festival has become a top-notch gathering for visitors that want to enjoy camping, music, food, art and yoga all wrapped up in one wonderful package. Once again, an eclectic variety of musical tastes are catered for, with acts representing electronic, techno, dance and indie-rock persuasions. Taking place over the New Year period, this event represents a fantastic way to close the old year and see in the new one on a high. Lost Paradise (LP) offers a plethora of experiences beyond the stereotypical festival “norm”, from four-poster day beds for guests to lounge in to revitalising massage alcoves. Often compared to California’s Coachella Festival, last year’s crowd-pleasers included Jamiee XX, Four Tet and Tkay Maidza.
Rhythm & Vines, New Zealand
Another New Year’s festival to add to the collection, Rhythm & Vines takes place on the Waiohika Estate, near the north-eastern city of Gisborne. In a spectacular setting of rolling vineyards, all of the action takes place across live stages. This is something of a coming-of-age event for many young New Zealanders, and the event attracts visitors from all over the country as a result. Over recent years, the musical line-up at Rhythm & Vines has shifted to more of a hip-hop and electronic dance music focus, moving away from its rock and indie roots. 2016’s festival also attracted a roster of top-notch comedians to entertain guests. After a big re-brand in 2014, camping was moved onto the festival site and the BYOB culture has waned significantly. 2016’s line-up included Chance the Rapper, RUFUS, Wilkinson and Goldlink, in addition to a flurry of top-quality home-grown acts.
With a focus on combining fun and sustainability, Wonderfuit is one of Thailand’s top music festivals and is attracting a growing crowd of international visitors each year. Held at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya, this year’s four-day event took place in mid-February – just before the arrival of Thailand’s hottest time of year. Wonderfruit presents a vivid kaleidoscope of music, art and food, in addition to a selection of thought-provoking workshops and talks from innovative thinkers all around the world. There are also art installations galore for those that want to treat themselves to a visual feast, and even the Wonderfruit stages are designed by world-class sculptors and engineers, just in case you were searching for something with a little extra wow factor. The festivals’ style zones form the perfect place to pick up a few pieces to complete your festival wardrobe, and there is plenty of delicious food to chow down on at the events legendary Wonder Feasts – a gorgeous selection of al fresco banquets.
Fuji Rock Festival, Japan
If you’re a fan of rock music and you crave the atmosphere of one of Asia Pacific’s finest musical gatherings, then Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival is an absolute must. The festival takes place at the Naeba Ski Resort, not far from Tokyo. There are no less than seven main stages, in addition to other smaller stages, scattered across the site – so there’s always a constant programme of acts for guests to watch while they grab a beer and soak up the atmosphere. While 2016’s line-up of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sigur Ros and Beck will be hard to follow up, 2017’s eclectic array of performers already look set to make this year one of Fuji’s best yet. Aphex Twin and Bjork have already been announced as headliners, and they will be accompanied by a diverse array of fresh, new acts. Other popular acts set to grace this year’s stages include Queens of the Stone Age, The xx, Lorde and LCD Soundsystem.
- If you’re heading to Byron Bay Bluesfest, tie in a trip to the Boomerang Festival – an exciting collection of activities and performances that run alongside the main event. Boomerang is based on celebrating living first nation cultures through traditional and contemporary music, with some of the world’s oldest instruments and traditional arts practices used. It’s a great chance to learn more about Australasia’s indigenous communities.
- Dressing up in colourful costumes has also become something of a favourite activity amongst Lost Paradise’s guests, and there are plenty of face-painting cubby holes for visitors to add the final flourish to their more flamboyant costumes. Some of LP’s other quirky attractions include belly dancing, kayaking and even skinny dipping – there’s certainly never a dull moment!
- Thailand’s Wonderfruit Festival is an event for doers, and in addition to the jam-packed itinerary of performances, there’s also plenty of chances to learn more about moving towards a more sustainable way of life. Don’t miss out on the chance to visit the festival’s onsite farm, where there are opportunities to learn more about and get involved with creative agriculture. Wonderfruit’s workshops are also a great place to exchange forward-thinking ideas.
- As well as providing the chance to witness some of the world’s greatest rock performers in action, Fuji Rock Festival provides visitors with the chance to experience much of Japan’s natural beauty at the same time. The site comprises a network of trails between the stages, some of which wind through beautiful forests and pass shimmering streams. So, don’t forget to pack your camera!