Pack your bags, let your hair down and revel in the company of international artistes across different countries — desi youngsters are doing just this and contributing to the phenomenon of music tourism, which is on the rise. From Tomorrowland in Belgium to RDC in Japan, the Burning Man Festival in Nevada or Glastonbury in the UK, music and travel aficionados are planning vacations centered around music festivals and having a riff-etting time.
The 27-year-old Ritansha Patni and her gal pals had one must-do thing on their list — to attend Tommorowland, a popular EDM Festival in Belgium. “My two best friends from university and I wanted to go for the event in 2017, but couldn’t get online tickets. So we enrolled into the waitlist and then bought tickets on a reseller platform. We decided that we didn’t want to stay in tents at Dreamville because we were apprehensive about the rain, and we also wanted clean toilets and a neat room.” The girls had to choose between Brussels, Antwerp and Mechelen to stay at. “We ended up booking a Novotel in Mechelen. Later, I got an email from Tomorrowland saying I’d made it through the waitlist. We decided to buy those tickets and we got the official boxes and bands — it was absolutely incredible! Now, we were even more kicked — we’d planned an entire Eurotrip around it and downloaded the app which had each day’s outline.” The trio selected favourite artistes and chalked out their days roughly. A pro tip, she says, is to study the map of Tomorrowland thoroughly so that one doesn’t waste time getting lost. Describing the multiple stages, Ritansha reminisces, “One was in the middle of a forest and a green cover on top and there was another one bathed in neon and blacklight. The theme was ‘circus’ and they had stilt walkers and acrobats in the crowds. The walk back is the only thing I’d give people a heads up about — it took us 40 minutes to reach the buses, and it was hard as it was freezing.”
The BPM Festival in Playa del Carmen in Mexico is another event that’s on the wishlist of several music buffs. Says Aashish Gupta, DJ at Tech Nomads and director at ModeM Networks, “I follow a lot of labels, and keep track of global music festivals that pique my interest. I choose BPM as my first festival abroad because of the presence of many house and techno labels that I follow, it was also easily accessible and well-organised. The trip also aligned with my other interests — I’m a deep sea diver and Playa has some of the best dive spots in the world.” Aashish also made his way to a smaller festival called Groove on the Grass in Dubai to watch musicians like Nicolas Jaar and Nightmares on Wax.
While he did a solo backpacking trip to the US before heading to Mexico, his next tuneful tour is going to be with a bunch of friends in the end of April. “We chose the Rainbow Disco Club Festival in Japan as we wanted an intense musical experience. Japan has so much to offer, but the planning is taking a bit longer as it’s a boutique festival and the information is harder to come by.”
A group of Bengalureans recent went to Singapore for the Chris Botti live, and a member of the same group went to the Burning Man Festival in the US as well, all part of their music touring. Desi music festivals like Supersonic, Sunburn, Ragasthan and Magnetic Fields also attract a huge number of music enthusiasts. Akshay Bhurke, designer at Artifact attended the recently-held Supersonic Festival in Pune. “Despite being a hardcore electronic fan, I was equally blown away by the performances on the other stages. My friends and I have a pact to go for Tomorrowland by 2020 as that is the mother of all festivals!” he says.
As for what he’s learnt from his several trips, Aashish shares, “As a DJ/music producer, I get to observe new sounds first hand and as a programmer I draw inspiration for the key elements that help make a festival successful.”
Ritansha chips in, “There’s something magical about such diverse people jamming and moving together to the exact same song and beats — it’s so unifying.”
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival: Indio, California, April 13 to 22
Tomorrowland: Belgium, July 20 to 29
Ultra Music Festival: Florida, US March 23 to 25
Burning Man Festival: Nevada, August 26 to September 3
HANGOUT FEST: Gulf Shores, AL, May 18 to 20
Live tours for pop singers across the world.