Music is the heart and soul of our culture. Exposure to world music has opened our minds beyond the ragas of Indian classical music, while also re-establishing our respect for Indian maestros and their magical symphonies. Just as a perfectly brewed cup of coffee ignites our taste buds with its complex flavours, music weaves intricate melodies and harmonies that ignite our emotions and transport us to new realms.
The Rise of Music Festivals in India
Over the years Music Festivals in India have gained in popularity. Patrons and music enthusiasts from all over the country gravitate to these hotspots to let down their hair and let the rhythm take control! There are more than 20 recognised and widely popular festivals hosted on Indian soil. Each festival promotes a certain genre of music, bringing fans in throngs. Furthermore, when big artistes, popular bands and sensational DJs grace these festivals, you can imagine the thrill and excitement from the moment tickets come up for sale! All these festivals are sold out days after ticket sales commence, and that is saying something!
Music festivals in India have experienced significant growth in popularity over the years due to several factors:
Increased exposure to global music: Firstly, with the advent of the internet and easy access to music from around the world, Indian audiences have been exposed to diverse genres and artists. This exposure has created a demand for live music experiences, leading to the rise of music festivals that cater to different musical tastes.
Growing music industry: Secondly, the Indian music industry has seen significant growth and diversification, with a thriving independent music scene alongside mainstream film music. This has created a platform for emerging artists and bands, leading to a broader range of performers at music festivals.
Social media and digital promotion: Thirdly, social media platforms and digital marketing have played a vital role in promoting music festivals. Event organisers leverage these channels to create buzz, share lineup announcements, and engage with potential attendees. This has helped spread awareness and generate excitement around music festivals in India.
Evolving festival culture: The festival culture has evolved in India, with attendees seeking unique experiences beyond just the music. Music festivals now incorporate various elements like art installations, food vendors, flea markets, interactive activities, and themed zones. This multi-dimensional approach has contributed to the growing popularity of festivals as immersive cultural experiences.
International collaborations and tie-ups: Indian music festivals have forged collaborations and tie-ups with international festival organisers, bringing in renowned international artists and adopting best practices from globally recognised events. This has elevated the stature of Indian music festivals and attracted a broader audience base.
- Destination festivals and tourism: Finally, several music festivals are organised in scenic locations or tourist destinations, offering attendees a chance to combine their love for music with travel experiences. This fusion of music and tourism has contributed to the growing popularity of music festivals, attracting both domestic and international attendees.
Music Festival Scene in India
Just as coffee can awaken and rejuvenate our weary bodies, music has the power to awaken our minds and spirits. It can help us relax as well as get us in the zone. Additionally, music festivals, like all festivals, bring people together and help spread an incredibly positive, happy vibe. While there are over a hundred music fests across the country, there are a select few that invite large crowds. Here are some of the top music festivals that manage to lure in large audiences year after year.
The Ziro Music Festival
The Ziro Music Festival is a fantastic music festival in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. It was founded in 2012 by Bobby Hano and Anup Kutty, and is held in the Ziro Valley, a picturesque location at 5,500 feet above sea level. The Apatani tribe, are known for their hospitality, host the festival. The people of Arunachal Pradesh, and the Apatani tribe, have a love of music, and the festival was created to express this. Since its inception, the festival has attracted huge crowds from all over India and abroad.
Picture credit: Frontline The Hindu
The Ziro Music Festival is one of the greatest outdoor festivals in India. It is celebrated with enthusiasm and energy and is an excellent opportunity to display the musical talent of the artists of Northeast India. National and international bands and artists perform at the festival, and visitors are treated to exciting and impressive tunes for four consecutive days. Additionally, the festival highlights the independent music scene in India, and is a phenomenal and exciting event to attend.
Sunburn Festival is India's biggest electronic dance music festival. It attracts more than 3 million people and hundreds of artists every year. After a two-year hiatus, Sunburn returned in 2022 with renewed passion. Fans from all over the world are now welcome to come together in Goa to "Live, Love, and Dance Again."
Picture credit: JamBase
Sunburn began in 2007 as a three-day music festival in Goa. It features an eclectic mix of music, dance, and other experiences. Sunburn has travelled all over India and featured top artists such as Martin Garrix, Afrojack, The Chainsmokers, and Avicii. The festival is the perfect end-of-the-year getaway, given that it takes place in the last week of December each year. The theme for the 2022 event was "The Future is Now".The lineup included Grammy-winning artist Afrojack, as well as DJs Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike, and Lost Frequencies. This high-octane experience on the beach in Vagator, Goa is worth trying.
Magnetic Fields Festival
Magnetic Fields Festival is a contemporary, forward-thinking music festival held in Alsisar, Rajasthan, India over 3 days. It is India's premier boutique festival, introduced by Abhimanyu Alsisar in 2013.
Every December, the magnificent Alsisar Mahal is transformed into a throbbing, pulsing venue for the Magnetic Fields Festival. The festival celebrates the best of the international underground music scene, bringing in artists who present music far removed from the colourful folk tunes of Rajasthan. This contrast creates a unique and special ambience.
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In addition to the wonderful music, Magnetic Fields Festival offers a variety of other activities, such as dancing under the stars, stargazing, wellness and yoga and an exciting treasure hunt on the palace grounds.
Picture credit: LBB
The festival is an opportunity to experience the best of Rajasthani culture and hospitality, while also enjoying contemporary music and art.
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SulaFest is one of India's biggest music festivals, and it takes place in the spectacular setting of Sula's vineyards. The festival is held in Nashik, the wine capital of India, and it is staged against a backdrop of beautiful rolling hills and surrounded by the calm of the Gangapur Lake. The festival is a weekend event that brings together a cool crowd. There are over 120 artists performing, and there is plenty of great food to eat. Festival goers can also camp at the festival and enjoy the sounds of nature.
Sula Vineyards is committed to sustainability, and for every ticket sold, they will plant a tree. This makes SulaFest India's first sustainable music festival.
The festival offers some new experiences and attractions, such as wine games, grape stomping, and master classes by winemakers. In addition, a variety of food trucks and vendors offer festival goers delicious food. SulaFest is the best place to great enjoy music, food, and wine in a beautiful setting.
Bacardi NH7 Weekender
The NH7 Weekender festival, organized by Only Much Louder (OML), is an annual extravaganza that takes place in various cities across India. As one of the largest arts festivals in South Asia, it originated in Pune, Maharashtra, India, in 2010 as a three-day celebration of diverse music genres. Over the years, it has expanded to multiple cities and, in 2017, incorporated comedy performances into its lineup. From its inception, the festival has been proudly sponsored by Bacardi.
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NH7 Weekender stands as a pioneer among large-scale music festivals in the South Asian sub-continent. Its impressive lineup includes Indian independent acts, emerging artists from the sub-continent, and renowned international headliners from a variety of genres. While the festival initially categorised its stages according to rock and metal, electronic, indie, and folk genres, it has evolved in recent years, displaying an eclectic mix of artists across various stages.
The festival has gained a reputation for its lively atmosphere and unwavering commitment to showcasing the finest Indian and international music. Drawing music enthusiasts from around the globe, NH7 Weekender has become a highly sought-after destination for music lovers everywhere.
Echoes of Earth
India's greenest music festival, Echoes of Earth, immerses attendees in a lush green setting while presenting a remarkable lineup of over 40 international and Indian musicians across four uniquely designed stages. This festival serves as a grand celebration of great music, art, and culture, uniting individuals from all walks of life. Moreover, Echoes of Earth proudly upholds a leave-no-trace policy, emphasising its unwavering commitment to the sustenance and preservation of the Earth.
Picture credit: Uncover Asia
Distinguished by its pioneering use of sustainable practices, the festival ingeniously incorporates old, discarded, recycled, and upcycled materials. By employing environmentally conscious practices in its infrastructure, Echoes of Earth actively contributes to the preservation and integrity of the land. Its broader aim is to provide a platform where attendees can witness and embrace sustainable practices, ultimately raising awareness about the importance of leading a sustainable lifestyle.
The Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) is an annual music festival held in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. It was first held in 2007 by the Jaipur Virasat Foundation and Mehrangarh Museum Trust. The festival is held in the Mehrangarh Fort, a 15th-century fort that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Picture credit: Condé Nast Traveller India
RIFF is a celebration of traditional folk music from Rajasthan and around the world. The festival features over 350 musicians from India and other countries. The festival is a mix of free and ticketed daytime concerts and club nights, held from dawn to dusk.
Since its inception, RIFF has attracted over 300,000 visitors. The festival has been praised for its promotion of traditional folk music and its support for local Rajasthani artists. RIFF has also been recognised for its sustainable practices. The festival uses recycled materials and encourages festival goers to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
RIFF is a unique and vibrant festival that celebrates the diversity of traditional music from around the world. The festival is a must-visit for any music lover.
VH1 Supersonic, an annual music festival held in Pune, India, offers an expansive array of musical genres, spanning EDM, techno, indie, pop, and reggae. Additionally, attendees can indulge in the delights of flea market-style stalls and savour global cuisines. This festival has garnered immense popularity, drawing music enthusiasts from all corners of India and the world.
Picture credit: Rolling Stone India
Over the years, VH1 Supersonic has showcased renowned artists like Prateek Kuhad and Machine Gun Kelly, captivating audiences with their performances. Recently, the festival has broadened its musical horizons, incorporating an even wider range of international acts such as Bonobo, Jaden Smith, Two Door Cinema Club, Incubus, and Polyphia. Notably, the festival has gained acclaim for its imaginative installations that serve as splendid backdrops for memorable photographs.
More than just a music festival, VH1 Supersonic offers an immersive experience that unfolds over three days in February. Attendees can partake in a multitude of activities, encompassing music, culinary delights, art, and even camping. It serves as a splendid platform for celebrating the intertwining realms of music, art, and culture, inviting participants to revel in the harmony of these creative domains.
Take A Break and Get with the Beat!
The unified spirit of a crowd of enthused music fans can be quite electric. The energy is something, unlike anything you feel anywhere else. Ultimately, like drinking coffee, listening to music is not just an ordinary experience. It is a pathway to enrichment. Both ignite our senses, broaden our perspectives, and transport us to realms where we can discover new flavours and emotions.