As the world builds its barriers and countries draw back into themselves, music is a common thread that can draw people together. At a music festival, a sea of strangers become sympathetic friends. Asia is diverse as it is vast, with the western regions of India as vastly different as those to the eastmost shelf of Japan. But, a quick glance at the Top 40 on the radio confirms a few bops that are staple across borders. Year after year, artists from around the world have crossed over into Asia to join locals in a diverse festival of sounds. It’s a specific sort of magic that touches you, the moment you realize the crowd knows and connects with the same lyrics you did.
There’s something for every type of rock lover at Fuji Rock Festival! From funk-rock and folk-rock to the eclectic likes of Bjӧrk and The Gorillaz, the eastern slope of Mount Takenoko has truly seen it all. Throughout the years, Fuji Rock has bounced back from a disastrous first year into a highly anticipated event with over 200 acts. The festival started out on a ski resort at the foot of Mount Fuji, then a waterfront area in Tokyo, until finally finding a home at Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata. Over the last weekend of July, more than 100,000 people heat up the green slopes with their presence. Camp out nearby and keep close to the festival; or, experience true Japanese hospitality in a ryokan (traditional guesthouse).
Naeba Ski Resort, Yuzawa-cho, Niigata Prefecture, Japan
With 500 kilometers between them, the crowds at Summer Sonic share two days of the same musical soul. Choose between their two locations: Osaka, a cosmopolitan city known for their street food thoroughfare (Dotonbori), and Chiba, a laid-back city across Tokyo and the bay. Summer Sonic is always in early August, to make the most of Japan’s sunny season. Chiba’s crowd gets a little wet n’ wild, whether they’re at the Marine Stage in the arena or at the Beach Stage on the sand. You won’t miss out on your favorite band as they shuffle between Osaka and Chiba over the two days—with a few special exceptions. Rock is the soundtrack of choice, with a balanced mix of Japanese and international acts taking to the five stages.
1 Mihama, Mihama-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba-ken, Japan
지산 밸리록 뮤직앤드아츠 페스티벌
Icheon-si, South Korea • Recommendation •
Taking the cue from Fuji Rock’s international success, a younger sibling was born in Incheon, South Korea. Jisan Valley Rock brings many of Fuji Rock’s international headliners to a summer-y ski resort in South Korea on the last week of July. Imagine: 2017, the rolling hills, lush with trees, slope around the festival grounds as Radwimps and Sigur Ròs take the stage. Even with lyrics in Japanese and Icelandic, their cinematic melodies possess the crowd to vibe along.
267 Jisan-ro, Majang-myeon, Incheon, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Even with a pulse on the music scene’s under-the-radar and breakout acts, you’ll still come home from St Jerome’s Laneway Festival Singapore with a new discovery. St Jerome’s Laneway Festival started in Australia, with only 1,400 people in attendance in 2005. It was six years later in 2011 when the festival crossed over to Singapore, bringing with it an impressive line-up: Foals, Two Door Cinema Club, and so many more! The Laneway sweet spot has always been in late January and early February, when the rainy season welcomes in the dry summer season. But, even a little rain couldn’t hamper the spirits of those in the crowds during the festival’s inaugural year in Singapore. Since then, they’ve been nonstop in bringing the freshest acts to the laneway.
18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore
“ZoukOut” from dusk till dawn on Singapore’s Siloso Beach! Shake off your inhibitions to the beat of dance music’s best tracks. Welcome the new year early, as this festival takes place early in December each year. In 2017, ZoukOut levelled up the beach blowout with a newly opened bungee tower, larger-than-life mainstage design, and a pimped out party bus. Bigger attractions call for bigger names and ZoukOut always brings in the stars. Internationally recognized names like Marshmello and Tiësto are just some of the ZoukOut’s previous acts. True clubbers, though, will recognize the various nuances between techno, house, trance, and more that play through the festival!More details
If paradise were one big party, ULTRA Bali would be it! As the sun sets over the picture-perfect beachfront feel your heart fall into perfect time with the music. In 2017, ULTRA brought Hardwell, Zedd, and Kygo to the party! Every September, Potato Head Beach Club sets the stage and shifts into one big party destination. Even with an international phenomenon like ULTRA, they keep their local spirit, supporting the nearby communities at each turn.
Potato Head Beach Club, Bali, Indonesia
Away from the hurried city of Metro Manila, the tropical oasis of Puerto Galera opens its arms to pilgrims looking to let loose. A mish-mash of genres—reggae, folk, jazz, dance—brings the chillest crowd you’ll ever vibe with to Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival. Discover an island soul within you as you lounge on the grassy hill, a grove of palm trees rising up around you. Malasimbo is timed early in March, between the cooler months and sunny summer days, ideal for a day of frolicking outside.
Malasimbo Amphitheater, Mount Malasimbo, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
A celebration of heritage and diversity sounds utopic, but over three days, the Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia actually succeeds in bringing the world’s cultures together in music. During the day, Sarawak Cultural Village hosts music workshops and cultural programs; but when night falls, musicians from all over the world share the main-stage. Hop onto their website and Facebook from time to time for event updates as the festival's dates throughout the years shift somewhere from late June to early August. You can come to Sarawak Cultural Village any time of the year as the Rainforest Music House collects musical instruments from various cultures. Ultimately, it's the global community of artists and music-lovers that you'll only catch at the Rainforest World Music Festival.More details
Wonderfruit, a music and culture event set just outside the beach town of Pattaya, has a mission to promote eco-living. Their headliner acts are always a wildcard, so find out for yourself what else Wonderfruit has in store! In 2017, the crowd jived to the percussion duo, the Hernandez Brothers; in 2016, soulful R&B siren, Lianne La Havas stole the crowd’s heart; and in 2015, Wonderfruit honored Thai folk music in its program. The fun doesn’t stop at music, though. They also have yoga, Muay Thai, and a bevy of activities for the eclectic festival-goer. The festival pops up in the middle of December, just in time to inspire a "new year, new me" lifestyle change.
The Fields at Siam Country Club, Pattaya, Thailand
Leave the babysitter at home! Clockenflap Festival is fully equipped with kid-friendly activities while the grown-ups go play in the mosh. Larger-than life art installations, family activities, and international acts promise a weekend of fun in the city. Clockenflap plays on a gentle balance on one hand, Hong Kong rock-pop group Supper Moment and local indie experimental rock Chochukmo; in the other, British indie band Kaiser Chiefs and Californian producer Tokimonsta. Clear your schedules for the weekend between November and December for this too-good-to-miss festival.
Central Harbourfront Event Space, Hong Kong
Set sail on a four-day music festival cruise that lines up international DJs as impressive as its on-board amenities. It’s The Ship is considered Asia's largest sea-based festival. All-hands on deck for water slides, mini golf, and rock climbing walls perfectly paired with the high-adrenaline tracks lined up on the DJ’s turntable. November is the month to keep an eye on so file those leaves, book a sitter. Best leave the kids at home for this one, only adults allowed on the party boat!More details
Sway to a different rhythm at Singapore International Jazz Festival, also called Sing Jazz. For a few nights—usually in February, March, or April—musicians break out the brass instruments for some soulful, funky fun. Sometimes, a little sprinkling of other genres break through in the festival like Spanish rumba and techno, but it all blends into a beautiful celebration of jazz’s far-reaching influence.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Witness the rise of jazz’s next generation of soulful musicians and sultry crooners at Java Jazz. The new, the classic—it's all here every March in the unsuspecting city of Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s one of the largest jazz festivals in the world, bringing a diverse crowd from the all over the region to the island for three nights of toe-tapping, hip-shaking, sing-along tunes. Hardcore jazz purists and the younger generation of eclectic tastes alike can find something to soothe their ears at the festival, Even in its first year, the festival had 35,000 people in attendance, and 11 stages to choose from!
Jakarta International Expo, East Pademangan, Jakarta, Indonesia