We may still be firmly in the freezing cold clutches of January, but this is the perfect time planning for the year ahead, dreaming of the sun and fun to come. And what better plans to dwell on during these grim winter months than your summer festival season roster? Since Woodstock in the 1960s, the music festival has been de rigeur for any cool kid about town and for us millennials, the trend continues. But whereas once upon a time festival chic meant roughing it in in the mud, these days the offerings have become somewhat more diversified. The campsite for many is still an option, but so too is the luxury tepee, the hotel room or - if you're feeling a little more restrained - there's always the one day pass. Other costs for a festival trip include transport - often a packed bus - and food costs (granted, a food truck is that much cheaper than a Michelin restaurant) and of course the ticket price itself; so while you're still looking at a pretty pricey vacation package, it'll almost certainly be less costly than a beach getaway.
Still, the emphasis of any festival isn't the price - rather, it's about the priceless overall experience. Increasingly, festivals are less about who's on the main stage and more about what other entertainment's on offer at the festival wonderland. Art installations, carnival-style experiences and some serious soul food all typically set up camp on the festival circuit - but many of the biggest and best festivals can still rely on what nature gave them, boasting a stunning location as their selling point. If you're the outdoorsy type, then this year’s top ten festivals will offer you the chance to explore the more remote and exciting parts of the world: from the mysterious Nevada desert to the elegant banks of the river Danube - with a stop off on one of Spain’s many sun-kissed beaches - there's something for everyone on our list of the biggest music festivals of 2014.
For those readers who really are the richest, consider this list a handy guide of ten trips to check off your list this summer. For those with more modest budgets however, you may want to start saving ASAP. Even if you could afford a trip to all ten locations, however, that might not necessarily grant you access. Tickets for these festivals are seriously hot property, with many already sold out months in advance. And to any of you who are braving the festival circuit this summer, we offer you one piece of advice that truly is priceless: there's no such thing as packing too much toilet paper.
10 Ibiza Rocks: 17 Weeks of Festival Madness
While the other festivals listed here take place over a weekend - or at most a week - Ibiza Rocks takes the festival concept to a whole new level. While many of you may be roughing it while realising you don’t actually know how to put up a tent, the kids at Ibiza Rocks are holed up in style. Rather than take the traditional drinking-in-a-field route of most traditional festivals, Ibiza Rocks has fused the party elements of the Spanish island with a more all-round vacation experience. Ticket-holders buy their tickets online and include the price of their hotel stay on the island - the festival is essentially a package holiday for music lovers and ravers the world over. With previous performers including The Prodigy and Kaiser Chiefs, the music on offer is far more eclectic than the electro scene traditionally associated with the island of Ibiza. With the event running for 17 weeks of summer, vacationers can go in for as much or as little as they like. Chances are, however, that unless you're super-human, you won’t last the full 17 weeks at this festival known for its party-hard vibe.
9 South by Southwest: 30,000 Festival-Goers
To put South by Southwest in a list of music festivals is almost a disservice to those who organise the event. South by Southwest- or SXSW as it's also known- is an interactive event that mixes business with pleasure. The event has everything from live music performers, film screenings, Q&A sessions with some major players in their fields, conferences and demos from some of the hottest names in business and technology. The talks, which are somewhere along the lines of TED for business, cover everything from tech developments, to non-profits, to digital marketing and are seen as massively influential in their own social sphere. As the event takes places relatively early in the year (March, in case you’re lucky enough to grab yourself a ticket) SXSW kicks off our festival season in style. However be warned, Coachella it ain’t. No one at SXSW roughs it in a tent. The Austin, Texas event sees pretty much every hotel in the city sell out so that attendees can make it to their prized events - and every influential media outlet appears to be giving tips on how to make the most out of your SXSW experience. This year, highlights will include a video link with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. It may not be the wildest of events, but for any budding entrepreneurs out there, this huge festival is a must.
8 Burning Man: 61,000 Festival-Goers
The first of our Nevada-based festivals on this list, Burning Man is a must for anyone who would use the word “alternative” in their dating profile. Situated in the Black Rock Desert, 120 miles north of Reno, Burning Man is an artistic, expressive and creative festival that takes place over a week at the end of August. If this sounds a little too 'hipster' for you, you'd probably be right - but don’t let that put you off. Burning Man is in many ways the king of Cool on the festival circuit. RVs and tents are the only places to crash, with attendees using the many colourful bikes on offer to get around the massive festival. Cycle a little while and you may find a pop-up bar or movie theatre, or even a wedding. At night you can party on down to the likes of Paul Oakenfold or Major Lazer. As well as all that, there's of course a man being burnt - but don’t worry, he's made of straw. Each year sees a specific theme around which events take place at the festival, and the 2014 theme is Caravansary. We’re not sure what that means, but we’re pretty sure it’ll be the epitome of cool, just like the 61,000 hipsters at the festival.
7 Sziget: 70,000 Festival-Goers
Sziget may not be a global name in the festivalsphere yet, but don’t let the name put you off - Sziget is Europe’s best kept secret. Based in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, the week-long festival sees some of the biggest and best acts take the stage. While this year’s line-up has yet to be announced, previous performers have included Blur, Snoop Dogg, Friendly Fire and The Killers - so you know you're in for a treat. Not only that, but the spectacular sun-drenched setting of a woodland by the river Danube is almost too idyllic to be true. And if all that weren’t enough, tickets are only $242! Now all you have do to is figure out the cheapest route to Hungary.
6 Coachella: 85,000 Festival-Goers
While celebrity-spotting is something we all secretly indulge in at festivals, Coachella is the place that has made it an art from. Everyone from Trent Reznor to Kate Bosworth seems to hang out here, and the wide range of celebrities in attendance often gets more media attention than the headliners themselves. Still, with 85,000 tickets and the plains of Indio, California to hang out on, there should be plenty of space for all of us among the celbs and paps. Despite being known the world over as theee uber-cool festival in the States, things in fact got off to a rocky start for Coachella: in its inaugural year of 1999 only 25,000 fans showed up with the event generating such a huge loss that it didn’t run the following year. Since 2001 however, things have been on the up for Coachella, with attendance figures climbing every year. As testament to this fact, all 85,000 tickets for this year’s festival have already been snapped up.
5 Glastonbury: 120,000 Festival-Goers
Based in the rolling hills of Britain’s West Country, Glastonbury holds the title of the “largest greenfield festival in the world.” While its greenfield nature (what other colours do fields even come in?) may seem like something of a technicality, Glastonbury is legendary for its multicultural mix of music, entertainment and excess. However, the event has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1970. According to Glasto’s own website, the first festival had a total of 1,500 attendees, at a cost of £1 a head-including free milk from the nearby farm. Things have moved on a bit since those days, with the festival now catering to 120,000 guests every year. And there's no shortage of space for the lucky attendees of this festival: Glastonbury is spread across 900 acres of land with campsites, tepees, music, dance, food and fashion all forming part of the experience. That is, of course, if you're lucky enough to bag yourself a ticket- the 120,000 tickets available for the the June 2014 festival sold out in 1 hour and 27 minutes.
4 Primavera: 150,000 Festival-Goers
Since it was founded in 2001, the Primavera festival has grown to become one of the biggest and most sought-after festivals in Europe. Aside from the high profile acts, which this year include the Pixies and Arcade Fire, the festival takes place in Spain’s most cosmopolitan of cities - Barcelona. That means that if the indulgent festival lifestyle gets too much for you, you can chill out on one of Barcelona’s many beaches, or in the parks and galleries, soaking up the Catalan culture while still catching some of your favourite bands. Compared to other European festivals, tickets for Primavera are comparatively modest too, beginning at $134 for early bird tickets and rising to $269 if wait to purchase last minute. If sun-soaked, hipster Europe is what you’re after, Primavera is the place to be.
3 Benicassim: 200,000 Festival-Goers
Most of our readers in the States won’t have heard of Benicassim, but for those in the UK, the festival instantly speaks of sun, sea, sex - and of course great music. Situated on the glittering coast of Spain, the Valencia-based event has built up something of a reputation for attracting those from the more northern parts of Europe come down to soak up some of the famous Spanish sun. The festival began in 1995 with just 8,000 people attending but Benicassim has come a long way since then. The four day festival has featured the likes of The Killers, The Arctic Monkeys and the legendry Bob Dylan in previous years, so although the 2014 performers have not yet been announced, it may be worth putting yourself on their mailing list before tickets become too hot to handle. Of course, the organisers of Benicassim encourage ticket holders to chill out on the beach if the excitement of the concerts becomes all too hectic for them. Considering that Valencia is situated on Spain’s famous Costa Blanca, that might not be a bad idea.
2 Lollapalooza: 300,000 Festival-Goers
With 100,000 attendees per day, Lollapalooza is by far the biggest rock event in the United States. It's also the most popular: tickets for the three day event sold out last year in a record 90 minutes, netting the city of Chicago-where the event is based- a cool $120 million. Although the line-up for the 2014 event hasn’t yet been announced, if 2013 is anything to go by it should be pretty good. Last year everyone from Hot Chip, to Cat Power, to The Cure took to the stage. Add to this some of the best Chicago eateries, bars and businesses all plugging their wares and you’ve got a pretty slick weekend lined up. There’s even a Kinderpalooza, should want to bring the youg’uns along. Tickets for this year’s event are scheduled to go on sale this spring, with the festival itself taking place from August 1st-3rd. Prices have not yet been released but tickets range from general admission to Platinum, which includes free merchandise, access to the VIP area and of course, a superior, air-conditioned restroom - with the chance of some celeb sightings unofficially thrown in! We’d pay extra just for that at any festival.
1 Electric Daisy Carnival: 345,000 Festival-Goers
While our other contenders so far have all taken place in one location, Electric Daisy Carnival is a festival that has become a brand: what began as an event in Las Vegas has become a global phenomenon, with concerts now held in New York, Orlando, Mexico and London along with the original Nevada event. The original electronic music festival takes in all the traditional excesses of Las Vegas and throws in some international music acts to make a truly unforgettable weekend in Vegas. As you would expect of the gambling city, this is not a camping affair which means that any ticket-holders will have to find themselves a spot one of the city’s many flamboyant hotels. As a city based around tourism, of course, this will be easy - if you have the cash! Previous performers have included the likes of gold-standard international performers Swedish House Mafia and Calvin Harris. As with any world class festival however, tickets don’t come cheap: the price range for this year’s Vegas event is $345 to $599. Better start saving now then - and stocking up on neon face paints while you're at it.