Music festival season is fast approaching and music lovers all over the country are marking their calendars and booking their spots at some of India’s most high-octane jam sessions. Festivals are an experience unlike any other. They have a certain energy that comes from hundreds of strangers bonding over one common interest.
But what I really love about festivals is the way they curate their line-ups. It’s an unfortunate truth, but emerging artists struggle to break into the popular music scene. Because of this, I often find it difficult to discover new sounds, even within my favorite genres. Festivals, however, recognize burgeoning talent. I never know if the next festival I attend will introduce me to my new favorite band, snuck in between more mainstream names.
So, if you’re looking to enjoy your favorite tunes in the best kind of surround sound — or hoping to discover something fresh and new, I’ve got just the list for you.
Magnetic Fields, Rajasthan
Date: December 14th–16th 2018
About: The Alsisar Mahal in Rajasthan is a 17th century palace-turned-hotel that was once home to kings. Now it’s home to one of India’s favorite music festivals — Magnetic Fields. This love-letter to electronic music takes place over three days every December, and masterfully blends modern sounds with old-world Bedouin charm. Here, the best of both the big names and newcomers perform side-by-side, filling the arid nights with pulsating beats — the line-up is carefully curated to choose the rarest or most promising talent. And you don’t have to rough it out! Staying at the palace, or even in one of the opulent tents on the grounds only adds to the experience.
Dress Code: Dress to dance — you never know when you’ll stumble upon a hidden celebration!
Date: February 2019
About: Music lovers and wine lovers find common ground at the Sula Vineyards in Nasik, where SulaFest takes place every year. Wine and music flow freely at this event, which offers a diverse line-up of electronic music, dubstep, and reggae. The end result is a festival with a laid back yet electric atmosphere — the perfect break from a stressful city lifestyle.
Dress Code: From dancing the night away to chilling with a glass of wine, your outfit needs to be able to handle it all.
Mahindra Blues, Mumbai
Date: February 2019
About: For those who prefer something slower and smoother, Mumbai is the place to be. Mahindra Blues, which takes place every February, is India’s largest blues festival. It plays an important role in keeping the local blues community thriving as established performers share the stage with budding artists. Soulful tunes and snazzy performances give this event an old-school aura with warm melodies that have the audience swaying along all night.
Dress Code: While it’s hardly a black tie event, it helps to have a little flair. Choose something stylish but comfortable enough to groove to the music.
NH7 Weekender, Pan India
Date: November 2018–January 2019
About: Music lovers who step off the beaten path flock to NH7 Weekender, the largest indie music festival in India. This event is about more than just the music, taking place in cities all over the country to give indie musicians a night in the spotlight. The attendees are as diverse as their line-up but all share a common love for unique sounds and good times.
Dress Code: Take the opportunity to express your personal style — just make sure you’re up to dancing along to your favorite tunes.
This is just a small taste of the many music festivals India has to offer. Whether you’re looking to dip your toes into the music scene or already have a few fests under your belt, these rich, diverse events are the perfect pastime for any music lover. So pack your bags and book your tickets to experience music like never before. And if you happen to meet me at the next big gig, stop by and say hi!
Got your own festival story to share? Sound off in the comments!
Shivangi’s interests include video games, psychology, and everything in between. Certified night owl, official nerd, and purveyor of fun facts. Follow her on instagram (@stixer11) if you want to meet her dog.