HOP FARM FESTIVAL, PADDOCK WOOD, KENT, UK.
After conducting a survey of festival goers, the Hop Farm organizers found that many fans felt jaded with modern events and so decided to go back to the good old days when only the connection between music and audience mattered. Hop Farm attempts to return to the roots of the experience by avoiding all branding and sponsorship and promises to give everyone with a ticket the same experience. Getting down with Joe Public will be an eclectic line-up of old warhorses like Paul Weller and Echo & The Bunnymen plus festival feel-good favourites such as Ash and the Fratellis. Try not to sleep in and miss noisy upstarts Johnny Foreigner either – not that you’ll have much choice in the matter. If the music’s not enough there will be a full fun fair on site and the celebrity Soccer Six footie tournament to boot.
SONISPHERE, KNEBWORTH PARK, HERTFORDSHIRE, UK
If moshing to within an inch of your life under a hail of flying missiles is your idea of fun then Sonisphere could be the festival for you. Brand new for 2009, Sonisphere comes to Knebworth, a legendary venue steeped in musical history – from the 70’s pomp and pomposity of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, to the moment Oasis were crowned as kings of Britpop. Sonisphere is gearing up to be Valhalla for hard rock fans with a line-up bordering on the relentless: Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park and Anthrax among them. One of the other highlights will be the first reunion show for seminal US metallers Fear Factory. Once you’ve had enough of bleeding eardrums, you can recover in the peace and quiet of nearby Knebworth House and its grounds which reopen once Sonisphere is over. For those still pining for monsters of rock, the concrete dinosaurs in the surrounding gardens will have to suffice.
BESTIVAL, ROBIN HILL COUNTRY PARK, ISLE OF WIGHT, UK
Fans familiar with this edgy little festival’s penchant for theatre will know that one of the things that sets Bestival apart is its love of fancy dress. Those attending this year’s Space Oddity bash will be required to get glammed up in futuristic fashion. Get your look just right and you could even win a prize from Lily Allen and her team of judges. Failing that, you’ll just have to stand around looking like C3PO listening to the likes of Elbow, MGMT, Fleet Foxes and Friendly Fires. Smart people will add a few extra inches to their Chewbacca costumes to get the best view of rising electropop starlet Little Boots. If all the space weirdness gets a bit much, you have the choice of slipping into something more comfortable and heading across to the Big Wheels of Motown festival at the Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park where a host of tribute acts will be getting soulful from Sept. 11- 15.
MELT, FERROPOLIS, GRÄFENHAINICHEN, GERMANY
Situated in an open air museum surrounded by huge, looming machinery, Melt is like watching your favourite bands in the gasoline compound from Mad Max or in a forgotten corner of Blade Runner’s futuristic nightmare. Ferropolis, the City of Steel, makes for a dramatic setting and one which gives the festival an End-Times atmosphere while creating a tribe-like community within the crowd. Providing the headlining vibes in this post-apocalyptic scrap yard will be heavyweights such as Oasis, Kasabian, Klaxons and Bloc Party. Don’t miss acts like jungle legend Goldie on the Red Bull Academy Floor and keep your eyes peeled for excellently titled local electrofreaks Mediengruppe Telekommander. For more German hipness, Berlin with its extensive social agenda is only a short train journey away.
FREQUENCY, GREEN PARK, ST. PÖLTEN, AUSTRIA
Frequency moves from Salzburg to St. Pölen for 2009 with the organizers saying that the new site offers better environmental opportunities, larger arena sites and lower costs. As well as moving, the festival is essentially splitting into two; the Daypark, which is where all the main events and headliners like Radiohead – playing their first show in Austria, The Prodigy, Grace Jones and MIA will be performing, and the Nightpark, where those who never sleep can party on at the dance and DJ stages. There are plenty of new bands on the menu too but make sure you take the time to hunt down Sweden’s International Noise Conspiracy if you’re suffering from Green Day or Foo Fighters deficiency. If you fancy a slower pace of festival during or after Frequency, Vienna’s Summerstage event runs from May to September and takes in everything from food and drink to sport and music, all by the banks of the Danube.
EXIT, NOVI SAD, SERBIA
Started as a form of protest against Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, EXIT has gone from strength to strength while somehow remaining one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Symbolically situated in the18th century Petrovaradin fortress on the banks of the Danube in Novi Sad, the festival has remained true to its initial mission of providing entertainment to Serbian youth while keeping political and social issues on its agenda. It doesn’t do too badly in attracting big names either. This year Manic Street Preachers, punk godmother Patti Smith, Arctic Monkeys and Moby are all making main stage appearances while a bulging list of international DJs such as Carl Cox and Laurent Garnier will spin and mix on the dance stage. The ancient, accommodating and lively city beyond the fortress walls provides a good reason to extend your stay once EXIT is over.
SUMMERSONIC, TOKYO/OSAKA, JAPAN
For those who want to go that extra (thousand) mile, Summersonic is definitely worth the trip. Just like Reading and Leeds in the UK, this Japanese festival rotates its acts through two cities: the unsleeping, surreal capital Tokyo and Osaka, Japan’s commercial heartbeat and the nation’s kitchen. Both play host to an eclectic line-up with something for everyone; Beyonce, My Chemical Romance, Elvis Costello and Keane are set to dominate the main stages. For something new, try and catch precocious teenage singer-songwriter Never Shout Never at some point and be sickened by his undoubted talent. You have two chances so there’s no excuse. If it all gets too much you can eat your way around Osaka or shop ‘til you drop in Tokyo – neither of which will give you must respite from the frantically exciting pace of Japanese life.
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS, ZILKER PARK, AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA
For those who never want summer to end, thank the oppressive Texas sun for Austin City Limits. Avoiding the deadly heat of the high season, this festival brings things to a close in early Autumn. It should be well worth the wait. As well as featuring headliners such as Pearl Jam, Beastie Boys and Kings of Leon, Zilker Park will also play host to current buzz band The Airborne Toxic Event and The Dead Weather, Jack White’s new supergroup featuring The Kills’ Alison Mosshart and various Raconteurs and Queens of the Stone Age. Set in rolling greenery on the banks of the Colorado River, the festival also hosts a food fair, an art market and a children’s festival running alongside the main event. For those wanting more than the festival can offer, head to Austin’s famous Sixth Street, the reason why the city is known as the live music capital of the world. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you must be dead.