The best music festivals, events and celebrations in 2023

The best music festivals, events and celebrations in 2023

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What are the best festivals to attend in 2023? We’ve got some amazing parties, smaller celebrations and hidden gems to put in your calendar for 2023

If you’re looking for the biggest and most popular festivals this year, this article might not be for you. But if it’s small, exciting and interesting you’re after, this is the place. Whether it’s a music festival, or something more cultural — food, literature, history, that type of thing — we’ve got some great ideas.

The best hidden-gem music festivals

Governors Ball, New York, US

@govballnyc kendrick lamar, lil uzi vert, pink pantheress, omar apollo, lizzo & many more in 2023 ⚡️ tickets are on sale now! #govball #newyork ♬ Let Go NJ Edit VIP – h.o.l

Coachella? Too passé. Burning Man? Tryhards. For festivals in the US, the Governors Ball is where it’s at. In its early years, the festival took place at Citi Field, Queens (home of the NY Mets baseball team), but has now outgrown it, moving next door into Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Its accessibility by public transport, on foot, or by ferry from anywhere in NYC is plus point number one: simply take the 7 train or the LIRR to Mets-Willets Point station. The fact that it’s in one of the best cities on the planet for food and drink means it’ll be a feast for the tastebuds as well as the eyes and ears.

And we haven’t even talked about the music! It’s as hip as you like, with acts like HAIM, Odesza, Joey Bada$$ and Sofi Tukker among those on the lineup. Obviously, it’s not a camping festival, jammed as it is in the middle of Flushing Meadows, but when you’ve got the whole of the Big Apple to keep you entertained, what more could you really ask for?

Down the Rabbit Hole, Beuningen, Netherlands

Open glamping tent from the outside —ShutterstockGet your glamp on at Down the Rabbit Hole — iStock

Only a thing since 2014, Down the Rabbit Hole already attracts all manner of acts from electro to skinny-trousered indie, via soul, Americana and more. The festival is located in a hidden valley between the Maas and Waal rivers, and the location has given rise to its description as “where you are who you are when no one can see you”.

Well, people certainly will see you, and you’ll have to make your peace with that. But who will you see? Well, this year, you can take your pick from (among many others) Paolo Nutini, Death Grips, IDLES, Sleaford Mods, Phoenix, and Belgium’s Stromae. When you’re not watching bands, there’s the usual array of things to eat and drink, the two rivers to paddle in, and the option to camp without having to lug tents and such back and forth; there are glamping rentals, pre-built sites, or the luxury Rabbit Resort including a bar, breakfast, pool, sauna and spa!

Selvámonos, Peru

This festival will be held on the last weekend of June in the town of Oxapampa in the center of the country, and it has gradually become one of the most important cultural gatherings in the region. Not only will you encounter music of every genre — reggae, rock, funk, electronic, hip-hop, ska, and even local Andean music — but also includes a lot of activities related to environmental conservation, as well as art and music workshops for attendees.

It’s also beautiful, set as it is in a steep-sided valley surrounded by lush, green forests and with a river running through it. The lineup is heavily centered around acts from South and Central America such as No Te Va Gustar from Uruguay; Clubz, from Mexico; Shirel, of Chile; and Argentina’s Silvestre y la Naranja.

The best cultural festivals 

Juneteenth and Black Music Month Festivals, Texas, US

African-American flag on blurred background — iStockThe African-American flag is waved proudly on Juneteenth — iStock

Juneteenth commemorates the liberation of the last slaves in Texas, on June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had abolished slavery in the Confederate States. Enshrined as a federal holiday in 2021 — the first new addition to the holiday calendar since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983 — it’s a celebration of Black culture that includes prayer readings, poetry, music, and mass events such as family gatherings, cookouts, street parties and concerts.

In Galveston, Texas, (generally accepted as the city where the commemorations began back in 1865), there will be a banquet, a poetry festival, parades and picnics, educational walking tours, and a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

In cities across the US, the month of June will also be crammed with festivals celebrating Black music, with grassroots groups and local organizations coming together to promote and celebrate Black musicians across all genres, highlighting the legacy and enduring influence of Black artists on contemporary culture.

Feria del Mole, Mexico

Mexican dish with mole sauce — Getty ImagesMole is a well-celebrated, traditional Mexican savory sauce — Getty Images

A food festival originating in the community of San Pedro Atocpan and now taking place all over the country (as well as places with large Mexican populations such as parts of California), it celebrates mole sauce, a traditional sauce and marinade used in all sorts of traditional dishes.

However, if you want to get to the heart of the matter, San Pedro Atocpan is really where you need to be. 92% of its population makes their living in some way connected to the preparation of the various mole sauces, and it produces 60% of the mole used in Mexico as a whole.

The event also includes things you might expect from a cultural festival — crafts, music, carnival parades and rides — but it has one more important message. Historically, it was prominent women in each community that were given the responsibility of preparing the sauces, and due to this, the San Pedro Atocpan’s Women’s Empowerment Program (part of the Universidad Popular Mexicana, a project designed to bring culture closer to the people) uses the festival each year to highlight womens’ education and success stories both locally and nationally.

World Dog Surfing Championships, California, US

Dog on a surfboard in the sea — iStockThe World Dog Surfing Championships might just be the ultimate feelgood festival — iStock

Finally, let’s look at something a bit unusual. Normally relegated to the feelgood item at the end of a regional news program, surfing dogs is, apparently, a genuine, competitive thing.

On the morning of Saturday, August 5, down on Pacifica, California’s Linda Mar Beach, it’s “the premier dog surfing event in the world”. These cool canines and their owners are encouraged to compete against each other, with proceeds from the event going to various dog, surfing, and environmental charities.

Don’t worry about the safety of the dogs either — if you watch the event (the 2022 version was live-streamed, as will this year’s be), these soggy doggies are clearly having a great time, and the entire event is overseen by enthusiastic volunteers. And hey, if you fancy teaching your dog to surf, they even sell books on the topic. Maybe it’s time to get training…?

 

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David Szmidt

David is a lead writer for Kiwi.com, as well as a football-watcher, music-listener and beer-appreciater. @UtterBlether