Announcing the World's 300 Best Festivals for 2016

Article by: Laura Mason|@masonlazarus

Wed February 10, 2016 | 00:00 AM

Here it is! Fest300's 2016 List of the World's Best Festivals. From traditional stalwarts like Glastonbury and Fiesta de San Fermín, to cultural tastemakers like the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, there's a whole new mix of worldly happenings to expand your mind and plan your year around.

This year Fest300 saw the largest participation ever in our annual Best Fest Quest , a crowdsourcing campaign every November in which we remove 30 festivals from our list and ask the international festival community to vote on new ones for the new year's list. As we hoped, the winning festivals were spread all across the globe. Our readership tends to skew towards music festivals – and particularly independent, immersive events – we definitely saw an increase of these on the 2016 List. Also, based in San Francisco with our largest following on the West Coast, we saw many festivals added from California, the Pacific Northwest, and British Columbia. But in spite of these factors, new festivals from 11 different countries still surged to the top of the Best Fest Quest and won.

Our congratulations to the 30 new festivals on our list and to winning voter of the Best Fest Quest who was announced this morning Fest300's Instagram. 

What the 2016 List Says About Global Festival Trends

As we know, the global festival scene continues to change at a lightning pace – we dedicate our daily lives to tracking that evolution. So, what do the new festivals on our 2016 List say about emerging global festival trends? For one thing, independent, immersive festivals are hot right now. Events with an aspect of adventure beyond music and art programming –  like Boomtown Fair in England and Dirtybird Campout in California – are leading the charge of a new wave of whimsical events that take escapism to new levels. As behemoth festival franchises continue to spread to far-flung countries and vie for larger and louder than life sensory experiences, there is an equal movement in favor of independent boutique events like Bass Coast in Canada, and Desert Hearts in California. These are festivals with their own dedicated, year-round communities and reputations for great vibes. Conscious gatherings are also in vogue, Shambala Festival in the United Kingdom is a great example of a green festival, and Lake of Stars in Malawi gives a tremendous amount back to its native community. There is a trend away from VIP experiences towards more participation, such as the mandates you'd find at Canada's Astral Harvest, Colombia's Rock al Parque, and ARISE Music Festival in Colorado. Exotic destinations have always been in vogue and this year we’ve added raving in a glacier at Iceland's Secret Solstice and the desert vibes of Oasis Festival in Morocco. While Fest300 tends to stay away from intense music-related discussions, as it can sometimes divide the tribes, we have noticed a surge in house music lately. The interest in more underground artists and curated lineups is replacing the boom in mainstream EDM that reigned supreme a few years ago.

There is clearly a proliferation of interest in festivals that encourage their attendees to become more creatively involved. This leads to better tailor-made experiences and a shift away from the one-size-fits-all festivals that turn into franchises. Older, larger festivals are spawning more boutique experiences. For example, California's Lightning In a Bottle gave birth to the house-and-techno-focused Woogie Weekend and the popular Liquid stage from Glade Festival has been reborn as Noisily Festival in the UK.

Participation, community and whimsical narratives are themes of the festival world in 2016 and innovative ways of making our events more green and sustainable are on everyone’s minds. Fest300 is delighted to see how these trends bear out this year and what our community chooses for our 2017 List on the next go-around.

The 2016 List, By Region

Fest300 2016 Map

Congratulations to the 30 new festivals on our list, winners of our Best Fest Quest and denoted with an asterisk below.

Click here to access our full Festival Finder , where you can sort by region, date, and festival type!

Africa and The Middle East


Australia and Oceania

Caribbean and Central America


North America

South America