MAGAZINE

The World's 300 Best Festivals in 2017

Photo by: Jesse Thompson
by Emily Ward | @_drawylime Mon March 13, 2017 | 10:00 AM

Each November, Fest300 staff removes 30 festivals from our list and asks the international festival community to vote on 30 new ones for the next year's list. When the legendary Kuti family heard that Felabration, the Nigerian festival that celebrates Fela Kuti's legacy and his trailblazing Afrobeat music, was nominated to join Fest300’s list of the world’s best festivals for 2017, they sprung into action. ( See the entire list of 2016 nominees here). Fela's family, including son Femi Kuti, rallied Felabration’s enthusiastic fans to vote daily. In the three years we've run this voting, Felabration's was one of the most impressive community turnouts we've ever seen. After weeks of campaigning, Felabration topped the list with more than 2,000 votes.

Out of 200 nominees, Felabration and 29 other festivals made the cut. Our congratulations to all 30 new festivals on the list! What do these new events say about our ever-changing festival culture? 

What the 2017 List Says About Global Festival Trends

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A scene from Eastern Electrics, a new member of Fest300's List. Photo by: Khris Cowley

In Fall 2016, Fest300 staff evaluated the global festival scene, and nominated 150 events for our "Best Fest Quest" that we felt deserved the title of "World's Best." After a public nomination process, we ended up 200 nominees representing art, music, film, food, and cultural festivals around the world. More than 20,000 of you voted! Nineteen different countries are represented in the winners list, and 90% of those thirty festivals are music-related.

Two unique flavors of boutique gatherings continue to take the festival world by storm. On the North America side, we’ve seen an uptick in “conscious gatherings” - events more experiential than musical, centered around personal growth and emphasis on community. Enchanted Forest Gathering  (USA, California), Gratitude: Migration (USA, New Jersey), Fozzyfest (Canada) and Genius Loci (Mexico) are prime examples.  On the other hand, Europe’s winners are more focused on escapism, on fanciful experiences you're unlikely to encounter in daily life. These posh, boutique events include Meadows in the Mountains (Bulgaria), Pete the Monkey (France), Love International (Croatia), and Eastern Electrics (UK), and are geared towards electronic music lovers.

Another trend that jumped out was a love for festing in cool, exotic, cutting-edge locations. Romania's Electric Castle takes place on the grounds of a Transylvanian castle, Russian megafest Alfa Future People has one of the most insane stages in the world, the beaches of Croatia host Love International and Bulgarians flock to the Rhodopes Mountains for Meadows in the Mountains .

Overall, the events you voted for are driven by entertainment but equally focused on spreading ideas, encouraging environmental action, and building meaningful lives. By creating a certain atmosphere, festivals showcase their ability to be a step ahead of what festivalgoers want in their lives. People are festivaling with a purpose, and attending festivals that give them the tools to make sense of a changing culture.

2017 Winners: The Complete List

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A scene from Bulgaria's Meadows in the Mountains. Photo by: Aron Klein

Congratulations to the 30 new festivals on our list! 2017 Winners of our Best Fest Quest are denoted with an asterisk below.

Africa and The Middle East

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A scene from Nyege Nyege Festival. Photo by: Gilbert Frank Daniels

Asia

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A scene from Djakarta Warehouse Project. Photo by: RUKES

Australia and Oceania

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A scene from Yemaya Festival. Photo by: Boaz Nothman

Caribbean and Central America

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A scene from Junkanoo Parade. Photo by: Michael Glass

Europe

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A scene from Balaton Sound. Photo by: Rockstar Photographers

North America

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A scene from Genius Loci. Photo by: Laura Jenkins

South America

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A scene from Universo Paralello. Photo by: Rizza Bomfim