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17 of the BEST Winter Music Festivals in the World

Looks like summer is off, so let’s take a look at the best winter music festivals around the world shall we?

Admittedly, out of the 60 festivals in 22 countries I’ve been to, not many of the festivals have been in winter. Looks like 2020 could be the year to change that! 

festival in canada

Think ‘festivals’ and you might think of the slick, sweat-dotted skin of a summer’s crowd, the deep bass that reverberates through our bodies; tents, campers and rooms that barely see any sleep because its occupants are too busy partying to banging tunes.

You might picture heated atmospheres where musicians collide at either open-air venues or anonymous dark halls.

But how does that work at our winter festivals? 

The BEST Winter Music Festivals

Break those winter festival stereotypes in your mind – these winter music festivals will have you jumping in the snow. Well, you have to make your own heat at these winter solstice events!

Here are some of the best winter music festivals across the globe, that are still scheduled to go ahead this year. Make sure to check out the official websites for the exact dates of fun… and, whether they’re still going ahead, closer to the time. 


READ MORE: Festivals Still Going Ahead in 2020


Music festivals in November

Winter festivals

1. Polaris Festival – Verbier, Switzerland

29thish of November 

As we veer into winter, Verbier waves farewell to November with a fitting tribute: the Polaris Festival. One of the earliest music festivals in winter, the stage is set at an impressive altitude of 2,200 meters. And I don’t just mean a regular stage at the mountain base; its famous le Mouton Noir is perched on the slopes within Verbier Ski Resort.

This winter music festival’s tickets come with free ski lift passes so you can access the main stage at no extra cost.

Headliners include house and techno masters who play for four consecutive days. I suggest pairing the festival with an actual ski trip to make the most of the location. Do book lodgings ahead of time though, as it gets extremely busy during the season.

2. MIRA Digital Arts Festival – Barcelona, Spain

5thish of November

The Barcelona I know has always been an astonishing gallery of arts and innovation, which is why MIRA Digital Arts Festival came as a delightful addition. Emerging in 2011, the event encourages visual arts and music to mingle – to great success.

The program is an astounding mish-mash of installation work, concerts, audiovisual projects and workshops. The icing on the cake is that this festival is produced by volunteers and non-profit associations. Cultural and artistic exchange is the main goal, not money making.

Creative projects and meaningful subtext? Love to go!


READ MORE: The Sapporo Snow Festival, and the Otaru Winter Light Festival


3. Iceland Airwaves – Reykjavik, Iceland

4thish November

For such a small population, Iceland has produced a startling amount of musical stars (Asgeir is my all time favourite). And the first place they debut at? The winter music festival of Iceland Airwaves.

Best of all, you get to know them on an intimate stage before the big break-out.

winter festivals

Most of the venues fit hundreds of people versus thousands, marking a community feel rather than anonymous stomping grounds. Performances aren’t limited to big concert halls either; some take place in bars, basements and even churches. Having run for 20 years, you can expect new ideas every year as well as solid execution.

Past headliners include Cashmere Cat, HATARI, Blood Orange and Tommy Cash.

I’ve been wanting to go this for years, but been too scared of the price. Maybe 2020 could be my year! 

4. Popload Festival – Sao Paulo, Brazil

15thish November

Just as Brazil is known for its vibrant community and festive atmosphere, Popload Festival brings a unique colour to winter music festivals. Posing between international sensations and underground local scene, it favours indie acts that have some degree of notoriety.

Previous performers include Iggy Pop, Beirut, Tame Impala and The XX. It markets itself as a niche festival outside of mainstream music and it works.

If you appreciate indie bands or follow certain Brazilian names, this is the festival for you. As a bonus, you get to enjoy warm weather too!

winter music festivals

5. Clockenflap – Hong Kong

22ndish November

As if Hong Kong isn’t a bustling hub all hours, every day; Clockenflap winter festival debuted a decade ago to add to the noise. Featuring international bigwigs and local artists, this outdoor festival endeavours to showcase various flavours of music. Like the city’s blending of East and West, the music acts emphasise diversity.

Clockenflap takes over Central Harbourfront to a backdrop of Hong Kong’s skyline. It’s an incredible sight as the city of lights emerges during dusk. The location is conveniently close to the party district of Lan Kwai Fong too.

When you’re high on throbbing bass and electronic beats, pop over to the clubs to show-off your moves. You can also find classy and quiet bars to come down from that high, or grab bites at late-night eateries. Not just a winter music festival, you can also enjoy the city. 

6. Visa for Music – Rabat, Morocco

18thish November

How many of us have dreamed of visiting sultry Morocco? Well, here’s a convenient excuse to go. Visa for Music gathers artists from across the Middle East and Africa to mix concerts and music workshops. It also offers a cultural dive into Morocco’s capital, charming Rabat.

winter festivals

While the line-up changes year by year, you’ll notice that these names are often musicians on the rise that haven’t quite made it to the top yet. One of the best advantages you’ll have is catching their show before they’re running the stage solo, with no tickets to spare.

One of the few winter music festivals in Africa. 

Music Festivals in December

winter festival

7. Trans Musicales – Rennes, France

2ndish December

If you dream of disappearing into anonymity while head banging to rock tunes, Trans Musicales is a December festival you won’t want to miss. Sign up for a romantic France trip with a side dish of local music; French indie bands and rock artists gather in Rennes to scream out their soul messages. This winter music fest is known for producing the ‘next best thing’, perfect for avid music lovers.

What I like about this winter solstice event is that the bands share a multi-room venue, meaning you can pop in and out of simultaneous shows as you like. Since the festival lasts for 3 to 4 days, you won’t feel pressured for time. The ticket price is more than affordable too!

8. SnowGlobe Music Festival – Lake Tahoe, California

29th December 

Lake Tahoe festival

Every New Year we pop open the champagne and make toasts to resolutions that slowly peter off in the coming weeks – why not charge straight into your bucket list? The roaring 20s make a comeback at snowy Lake Tahoe with the weeklong winter music festival: SnowGlobe.

Fire literally spouts on stages as bands rip their way towards the crowds. Freezing temperatures are forgotten once you join the mesh in screaming along to hip hop acts and EDM bops. Major pop artists also pencil in their slots so everyone gets their fix. Rather than shelling out thousands of dollars in clubs and formal bars, grab VIP tickets for $399 (3-day pass) and lose yourself in the music!

9. Rise Festival – Les Deux Alpes, France

Bet you never thought there’d be a six-day fiesta happening up in the French Alps!

Combining winter magic and music, Rise Festival will have you set up in comfortable lodges with optimum mountain-top views, yoga in fresh air and six-day lift passes for the requisite ski hours. When your face has skimmed red from the cold, mulled ciders and frothy drinks get passed around cafeterias.

Check out their video on YouTube

Maybe you’ll even sign up for a husky safari – or skip straight to the main event. Shed your thick coats at night as you jump to the beat of fantastic stages, hosted in various venues. Some performances are cast in a green glow while others fire up streamers and confetti bombs. It’s not exactly your typical winter holiday!

10. Your Paradise Fiji – Mamanucas Islands, Fiji

Yes, it’s time to bring your Fiji dreams to reality with this winter music festival fun. Fiji is known as one of the most stunning places in the world.

Clear, sparkling water and luxurious resorts are the least of what you’ll find; friendly locals, fellow tourists to be excited with, gorgeous landscapes and water-bound activities will keep you busy when you’re not dancing on the beaches.

Watch the winter music festival video on YouTube

Early December brings a musical fervor to the Mamanucas Islands; specifically at Malolo Lailai. There are only 600 spots at this festival. With limited attendees, you can get much closer to stage without feeling like a packed sardine. Expect electronic dance music curated to fit the beach theme.

Of course, there are loads of other things to do in Fiji too, including snorkelling in Fiji’s waters, and surfing too. Don’t skip the Kava!

11. Rakastella – Miami, Florida

Florida isn’t just about spring break – its thriving art scene is brought to the forefront with the annual Art Basel. For 16 non-stop hours, Rakastella takes over the famous Virginia Key Beach Park with specially prepared stages and lighting design.

While you dip in and out of shows by techno DJs and other pop favourites, there’s also a hi-fi tea garden and sunset hors d’oeuvres to keep you fuelled. The event isn’t restricted to Miami artists only, so look forward to hot debuts by European artists too at this winter music festival.


READ MORE: For Even More Festivals in December, click here. 


Music Festivals in January

winter music festivals

12. Project Sound – Tulum, Mexico

The name of this festival couldn’t have made it clearer: Project Sound is here to collect all your creative sound bites. Plan your trip to this vibrant destination in early January so you can sightsee in the day and party it up at night. You’re guaranteed all the warmth of Tulum’s jungles too, in a newly built club ready for intense music jamming.

An interview once called it this winter music festival Mexico’s ‘dance music jewel’. What an apt description!

Not to mention, the event directors work respectfully with the Mayan land to emphasise both production quality and the location’s natural beauty. This is a great chance to explore new music.

13. Eurosonic Noorderslag – Groningen, Netherlands

The party almost always reigns supreme where the students are and you’ll find that this rings true at Groningen, a college town that can boast about its status as music magnet. Drawing in new musicians every January, it’s one of best places to find your next favourite sound.

As the name suggests, the four-day festival Eurosonic is sectioned in a three-to-one day ratio; first, a broader range of European artists (Eurosonic) followed by performances by Dutch artists only (Noorderslag).

winter music festivals

This winter festival is an opportunity for Dutch artists to show off to an international crowd so head up there to support the community!

The festival gives established fan bases a voice too as several awards are presented throughout. From the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards to Pop Media Award, cheer on the winners. Since the festival hops around a variety of venues, you’ll get to experience different sides of Groningen too.

14. Sydney Festival – Sydney, Australia

8thish January

Spending winter months in Australia is like arriving into perpetual paradise. From the balmy breezes that wrestle with your clothes to hearty brekkies, Sydney welcomes with natural and homey comforts. But from the second week of January, the laid-back atmosphere is discarded for an eclectic range of performances and laughter-filled activities at the Sydney Festival.

Even better, this winter music festival lasts for three weeks!

The Sydney Festival takes place across 48 venues around town, so you can discover different neighbourhoods while you party. And if almost 500 performances of varying genres aren’t enough for you, there are plenty of other things to do – including circus acts, theatre troupes, art instalments and riveting dance sets.

15. Igloofest – Montreal, Canada

14thish January 

Even temperatures in the negatives can’t stop this outdoor music festival from taking place… across four weekends. Tens of thousands flood into Montreal, Canada’s artsy quarters, for throbbing music in an ice-cold stage for Igloofest.

Well-established and offering a global range of artists, it’s one of the biggest winter solstice festivals in general. With a focus on electronic music, you can expect the matching strobe lights and urge to dance. Do check out the line up before you go as it switches every weekend, or cover all of them to be pleasantly surprised.

Montreal has plenty of cultural and historical highlights so I recommend spending a few days just exploring the area. Pack snow shoes just in case!

16. The FriendShip – from Miami, Florida to CocoCay, Bahamas

You’ve most likely heard of travelling circuses but what about travelling music festivals?

This one of a kind cruise (the Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas) will take you on a four-day journey from Florida to the Bahamas with music on full blast. Pool-side sets, elevated rave balconies and more electrifying stages define the theme of this boat ride, known as The FriendShip.

Winter Music Festival

Music festival shenanigans aside, there are other attractions too!

The boat’s ice rink hosts Ice Disco for those who are slick on their feet while comedy performances are catered to those who prefer comfortable sit-downs. You’ll also get to party on a private island when you reach your destination – so there’s that.

17. Holy Ship! Wrecked – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

22ndish January

Pretty sure ships aren’t the the only things that get wrecked here; anyone attending this on-beach festival will need to sleep for a few days afterwards. If you’re planning on an exotic getaway in the winter anyway, this Dominican Republic specialty is a great option.

winter music festivals

Taking over the resort for four consecutive days and nights (it’s all-inclusive), the winter festival of Holy Ship! Wrecked is all about chilling in beach gear and sipping lemonade to the beat of dance music. Previous lineups have invited the likes of Diplo, Chris Lake and Claude VonStroke so you know quality is guaranteed.


READ MORE: The Best Festivals in January Around the World


9 more winter music festivals!

1. by:Larm – Oslo, Norway

2. Tallinn Music Week – Tallinn, Estonia

3. Snowboxx – Avoriaz, France

4. Tomorrowland Winter – Alpe D’Huez, France

5. Rock the Pistes – Portes du Soleil, France

6. E Komo Mai – Oahu, Hawaii

7. Snowbombing – Mayrhofen, Austria

8. Zermatt Unplugged – Zermatt, Switzerland

9. SXM Festival – Saint Martin, the Caribbean

More on festivals around the world 

19 Festivals Like Burning Man But Cheaper

Coolest Winter Festivals in London

The Importance of Music Festivals

The BIG Festival Quiz  – 50 Questions & Answers
The Importance of Festivals for Society

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