From Japan to London to California, this is your list of experiences to brag about
There are certain legacies in this world that will overwhelm no matter how cynical you might be. Like musicals a la West End (London) and Broadway (New York). The song and dance extravaganzas are enhanced by the magic of outrageous costumes, award-winning compositions (Lion King) and long-running shows (Les Miserables at West End and Phantom of the Opera at Broadway).
Started in June 2011 on Randall’s Island in New York, this is a mix of music, food and games. By games, we mean a good, old-school line-up of ping pong; by food, we mean some of New York’s best food trucks and pop-up restaurants. The music line- up is a mix of pop, rock, and hip hop, which Kanye West headlined last year, and Outkast has been announced as one of the headliners for June 2014. You can book VIP passes for backstage access as well.
Coachella is split across two weekends in April – it’s the only way to accommodate the music and its enthusiastic audience. The music moves across genres and is delivered by some of the biggest names in the business. Last year, they added a cruise ship to the mix, moving from Florida to the Bahamas with Pulp. This year, Arcade Fire has been confirmed as a headliner, and the art installations promise to be edgier than 2013’s kaleidoscopic travelling slug.
It’s one of the largest and oldest music festivals in the world (started in 1968), and takes place on 75 acres of property against a lake. With 9,00,000 people in attendance, this pretty and friendly venue can be tough to navigate through. So be specific about the bands you want to catch. It’s very family friendly too, with a host of activities from comedy routines to firework displays. Book your tickets now for the late June-early July dates – Lady Gaga is lined up for 2014.
Few festivals command a view like the Fuji Rock Festival, in July. The mountain is as much a draw as the bands (2013 saw Nine Inch Nails). The festival ground also doubles up as one of Japan’s most popular ski resorts, so a range of activities can be planned around the seven stages – skiing and dragondola rides (gondolas that take you to vantage points). Surreal doesn’t come close to describe this experience. But then again, it’s the least you can expect from the Japanese.
The fact that Glastonbury 2014 (end June) tickets have been sold out should predict just how intense this can get. A resale is expected very soon. This one draws in celebrities, dictates fashion trends for the year, provides column miles of celeb hook- up gossip, and oh, has some pretty great music too. It’s epic in terms of street cred as well as just how muddy it can get when it starts raining (and that’s a guarantee). Performers this year include Robert Plant and Arcade Fire.
Technically, this isn’t just a music festival – there’s a whole lot of equally fabulous films and conferences thrown into the mix. But the festival is critically acclaimed, very popular, and decidedly experimental. Last year, it pulled 25,000 people to more than 2,278 acts. The music bit takes place in March, and this year promises indie artists like New Orleans rapper Vockah Redu, Texas country singer Rodney Crowell and Swedish rock band INVSN.
From July to late August, the annual summer Puccini festival kicks off in Torre del lago, a small Italian town between Tuscan beaches and Pisa. Dedicated to the master composer, this festival draws in the most ardent of Puccini fans to see the best of his works performed in an open-air theatre. It’s a thrill watching Madame Butterfly, under a summer sky, next to Puccini’s house, drinking in the very air that inspired the operas.
Sometimes the best jazz you hear might be in an unmarked tavern off some cobbled street in Paris. Or New York. Or Cuba. But the thrill of it wafting through New Orleans, its birthplace, is goosebump-worthy. It helps that the New Orleans Jazz Fest is also one of the best the genre has. The festival rightfully celebrates the heritage of the city, so as you head to deeply talented corners of New Orleans in end April-early May, brush up on your Creole, and prepare for a hauntingly beautiful journey.
The world’s most famous opera house can tempt even the most cynical of opera detractors. Built in 1778, it has hosted some of the best composers in the world. It still carries some of Mozart’s original handwritten scores. The theatre’s acoustics — thanks to the shape of the orchestra pit — are superb with a massive theatre hall to complement it. Savour the experience of watching La Traviata where it was born, lapping up the history that lives within its walls.