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The dA-Zed guide to Festivals

The world's 26 most unreal festivals and gatherings, from Dazed x Victorinox

Inspired by the new Festival Ready app launching today from Victorinox, makers of the iconic Swiss army knife, we've compiled a 26-strong list of music / art-related gatherings around the globe that are beyond the norm or just outright weird of festive offerings. The Festival Ready app combines the life-saving functions of an augmented reality-enabled 3D GPS, LED messaging, a sound flair and torch functions to sort you out at any festival - we've included legendary 90s acid rave Bangface, the artier PS1 in New York, and if the usual 3am burger vans aren't your vibe, the Ottolenghi-fuelled Wilderness Festival is the one (which you can also win tickets to by downloading the app).

Austin Psyche Fest

Founded in 2008, Austin Psyche Fest has grown to become one of the world’s most renowned showcases for psychedelic rock. Run by label The Reverberation Appreciation Society, this year will see bands such as Warpaint, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, OM and Goat pour out their mind-altering vibes over the Texan city for four days in April.

Bangface Weekender

The name is somewhat self-explanatory: Bangface Weekender involves thousands of hardcore ravers descending on a campground in Newquay for a blinding four-day bender in September. This year’s line-up reads like an early 90s rave commemoration, with Squarepusher, acid-house pioneers LFO and recently reunited legends Graham Massey and A Guy Called Gerald heading up the show.

Chaos in Tejas, Austin, Texas

Predominantly a metal and punk oriented festival, Chaos in Tejas has in recent years garnered much-deserved praise for mixing things up by throwing in eclectic selections from the international hardcore, noise and industrial music scenes. Taking place in Austin in late May, The Damned, Bolt Thrower, Andy Stott and Danish newcomers Iceage are among the highlights on the bill.


Set against the more-than-a-little-idyllic backdrop of the world heritage site Wachau valley in Austria, Donau Festival plays host to one of the most tempting programmes we’ve seen in a long time. :Zoviet*France, Evian Christ, Laurel Halo, Emptyset and Actress are just a handful of a slew of enticing music bookings on offer, and the art and performance side doesn’t look half bad either.

Elevate, Graz

Elevate is a five-night convention bringing together contemporary music, arts and the more anomalous element of political discourse in the form of live performances, lectures and workshops. Held in the historic Schlossberg castle in the Austrian city of Graz, its scenic surroundings and strong focus on activism makes for a festival experience of the more cerebral calibre.

Freerotation, Hay On Wye

With its members-only ticketing system, Freerotation is like a four-day summer camp for the most fervent deep-house and techno connoisseurs. Held on a 19th century estate in the Welsh countryside, with a maximum capacity of just 650, this year’s DJs include Burnt Friedman, Karenn, Skudge, Move D and Shackleton.

Guess Who?, Utrecht

A one-day celebration of experimental indie pop and rock, Le Guess Who? will bring names like Deerhunter, Mikal Cronin, Mount Eerie and Julia Kent to the charming Dutch town of Utrecht on May 18th.

Harbin Festival

If you’ve been looking to switch up your festival habits, the Harbin Ice Festival in the northeast region of China is a good place to start. Held annually for one month starting January 5th, Harbin displays complex ice artwork and spectacular light shows in what must surely be the very antithesis to your typical European music festival.

Ideas City, New York

Ideas City is an initiative set up by the New York Museum of Contemporary Art under the sympathetic conviction that arts and culture are vital components of a vibrant urban life. Joining hundreds of artists and organisations in a four-day street fest packed with lectures and workshops, Ideas City highlights exciting potential in the creative capital of NYC.

Jajouka, Morocco

Every summer since 2008, The Master Musicians of Jajouka Festival has commemorated Brian Jones’s visit to the Moroccan hillside village in 1968, by inviting 50 people to stay with local families and watch one band play the same traditional music, three nights in a row. A psychedelic, Sufi-ritual trip unlike anything else in this guide.

K-Pop Festival: Snow, Sapporo

K-Pop featured heavily on the programme at the 64th Annual Snow Festival in Sapporo this year– a testament to the meteoric international rise of Korea’s hottest cultural export. K-Pop faves like MBLAQ, D-Unit and Park Hyo Shin were  all in attendance. Might be the Gangnam Style-effect, but it seems the world is finally paying attention to this deliciously truncated genre.

Luminaire, Kobe

The Kobe Luminaire has been held every December since 1995, in memory of the great Hanshin earthquake. A stunning light show designed by Italian art director Valerio Festi and Japanese art producer Hirokazu Imaoka, it features hundreds of thousands of hand-painted lights powered solely by environmentally friendly biomass energy sources.

MIDI, France

Festival locations don’t really come more idyllic than that of the MIDI festival, which is divided between a racecourse and a palm-lined beach in the city of Hyeres on the French Riviera. The first artists include Mykki Blanco, Christopher Owens and Mount Kimbie, all of whom are likely to sound particularly good with a view of the sparkling azure Mediterranean seas.

Nuit Blanche, France

Every first Saturday in October, the Nuit Blanche Festival transforms Paris into a virtual art gallery, with installations, public performances and themed gatherings popping up all over the city. Entrance to most of the city’s art institutions are made open to the public while elaborate lights shows merit La Ville-Lumière its epithet.

Open Source, Düsseldorf

Modeselektor, Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def with the Robert Glasper Experiment, Dinosaur Jr and Portico Quartet headline Open Source, a one-day festival set on a race course in the culturally rich German state capital of Düsseldorf. Going down on June 29th, the party continues into the early hours at the old industrial club Stahlwerk.

PS1 Warm Up, New York

On June 29, Long Island’s MoMA PS1 kicks off its acclaimed outdoor music series, hosting experimental live music and DJ sets in its CODA-designed courtyard every Saturday throughout summer. Curated by a committee of venerable industry names such as XL Recording’s Kris Chen and Pitchfork editor Brandon Stousy, the music selections are unlikely to disappoint.

Inti Raymi, Cusco, Peru

The ancient Raymi festival was among the most important ceremonies celebrated during the Inca Empire, and its annual June recreation in Cusco remains the second biggest festival in South America today. Meaning the “Festival of the Sun” it was historically held in honour of the god Inti to welcome the arrival of longer days.


Spread between several illustrious historical locations in the Portuguese cities of Braga and Guimarães, Semibreve is a festival honing in on the undercurrents of avant-garde electronic music. With past guests like, Emptyset, experimental German producer Grischa Lichtenberger and the influential Finnish composer Vladislav Delay, we’re looking forward to seeing what the arrangers have planned for 2013.

Tusk, Newcastle

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne’s Tusk Festival is back in its third year, bringing a diverse three-day programme of delightfully obscure music to the art-oriented Northern town in October. Put together by the label of the same name, headliners announced so far include Sun O)))-collaborator Oren Ambarchi, 1970s experimental noise collective Smegma and languid East Coast rockers Endless Boogie.

Unsound, Krakow

Although last year’s theme ‘The End’ might have suggested otherwise, Krakow’s Unsound festival is back for another edition in 2013. Each year centering on an overarching theme relating to current movements within the electronic music landscape, Unsound are in a league of their own when it comes to exploring musical forms and simultaneously putting on a good weekend of entertainment.

VIA, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s VIA Festival places itself at the intersection of cutting-edge music and new media art, teaming music performers with visual artists in a heavily collaborative effort. VIA also showcases a city not otherwise known for its music scene, turning museums and clubs around town into experimental music labs and redefining the boundaries of traditional music festival setups in the process.


Wilderness has been noted for its unusually chilled-out vibe – set in Cornbury Deer Park in the Oxfordshire countryside, its surroundings makes for a holistic festival experience focused as much on food and culture as on music. This year’s artists include Empire of the Sun, King Krule and rediscovered folk-hero Rodriguez, as well as gastronomic offerings from acclaimed chef Ottolenghi.

XOXO Portland

XOXO aims to celebrate disruptive creativity, bringing the brains behind cutting-edge Internet technology together with the ever-increasing herd of independent artists who make daily use of the Internet to create art. Spanning three September days in the creative cradle of Portland, XOXO importantly highlights the innovative virtues of the often-exhausting World Wide Web. 

You Are Here /AKA The Maze Festival

A two-week performance festival taking place inside a sculptural, multimedia maze installation in Berlin may sound disorienting, and part of the point is precisely that: You Are Here looks to break up traditional notions of the performer-audience relationship by hosting live music and exhibitions inside this highly unconventional space, all curated by local and international artists.

Zine Symposium, Portland

Portland is the indie capital of the West Coast, so it is only right that it plays host to one of the most comprehensive zine symposiums around. Taking place in August, the PZS is a haven for self-publishing aficionados, bringing together some of the world’s most obscure zines and their makers in a two-day celebration of the DIY mentality.

Download the Festival Ready app for iPhone or on Android for free