It requires a following to send across a message. And because music festivals have followers by the thousands, they can inspire some genuine social change.

Festivals command attention to a level that has inculcated them into pop culture conversation. They not only help people watch their favourite artists live, but they also let them experience a lifestyle, hitherto unavailable. And because they wield such high stakes in the cultural scene, many of them have taken it upon themselves to actively promote social causes of varying kinds. And The Sherp thinks that many of these activities have the ability to foster some serious change. We look at the ten festivals than can inspire genuine social revolutions.

1. Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
Where: Imphal, Manipur

What It Promotes : Environmental Conservation and Celebration

Where Have All The Flowers Gone? is dedicated to the music and environmental messages of the legendary artist Pete Seeger, and is thus celebrated for three days, culminating on this birthday, the 3rd of May in the scenic green expanse of Imphal. The artists performing at the festival all have incredibly strong environmental activism leanings. The festival, initiated by singer-songwriter and activist Akhu Chingangbam also collaborated with Jadav Payeng- the man who raised an entire forest all by himselfin Assam in 1979.

With climate change spearheading global discussion, Where Have All The Flowers Gone? is a community-involved environment celebrating festival. With the universality that Pete Seeger’s music has always enjoyed, it definitely has the potential to become a groundbreaking event that can be held the world over, bringing back the emphasis on forestation and greenery.


2. Life is Beautiful

Where: Las Vegas

What It Promotes : Inspirational Discourse

While the Life is Beautiful festival takes place at the world’s quintessential party capital, Las Vegas, it also brings to fore an amazing collective of musicians, along with a great display of art and positivity. One of the stronger aspects of the festival is the conversations and talks scheduled that invite entrepreneurs, activists, artists, technologists and social innovators to participate.

They not only touch upon where their respective fields are headed and the visible changes in trend, but also participate in discussions that can reshape the world to a better future. If all festivals invited inspiring people to shed light on various topical issues, prevalent to the location and country where it’s held, it would definitely make way for better festival experiences.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot (Source: Life Is Beautiful Facebook)

3. Coachella

Where: Colorado, California

What It Promotes : Energy Conservation

Coachella is one of the largest festivals in the world, not only because of its sheer size, but because of its growing influence in the music festival circuit. So much so, that artists who feature in its lineup go on to carve unique musical careers. So when a festival as grand as that pushes for energy conservation, its attendees are bound to pay head.

Not only does Coachella have charging bikes, requiring of people to peddle their way into charging their batteries. But it also has a trash bin art contest, leading to adorable installations of trash cans around the arena for use. The festival has solar and human powered stages, in addition to awarding carpoolers with added benefits and VIP tickets. Not only does this push attendees towards energy conservation with the benefits in offer, but also leads them to adopt the same ideals in real life. And every festival must push for these activities.


11070987_10153158030951648_1153402983968514179_n(Source: Coachella Facebook)

4. Green Man

Where: Wales

What It Promotes : Social habitation

Green Man is a wonderful nature-laden alternative to the infamous Burning Man, resorting to the greenery of South Wales instead of the arid expanse of Burning Man. The welsh festival sees an amalgamation of independent music, literature, art and worship in the green countryside of Brecon Beacons, a mountain range in South Wales. Nature and art walks hand-in-hand, as the four day festival watches families descend to have the best kind of British Summer. Like Burning Man, the festival ends with the customary burning of the Green Man sculpture, made with leaves.

The most unique part of the festival though, is Green Man’s Settler’s Pass which is the perfect getaway for a person wishing to be one with nature. The pass allows for people to spend a week in Green Man land, more than the 3-day festival experience, which includes camping, engaging in community activities, while letting the inner artist loose. People engages in social bonhomie, while an earthy, rooted spirit floats around. This proves a sound experience especially for children and those on family getaways!

Dom Moore(Credit: Dom Moore)


(Source: Green Man Facebook)

5. Burning Man

Where : Nevada

What It Promotes : Community interdependence

That Burning Man is the creative expanse for free-flowing liberated expression, wacky, radical individualism, and a place that pushes for display of underground art. But the festival’s most stand-out quality has been its strong sense of community spirit. You do not buy or sell at Burning Man, you only exchange, in the spirit of generosity and co-habitation.

With capitalism and commodity consumerism at an all time high, it’s nice to have a festival that still echoes old-age barter practice. Since festivals are all inclined to provide an out-of-the ordinary experience, this idea of interdependence lends greater value to the culture of giving and taking, resulting in more respect for the commodity exchanged.

Jeff Weigt(Source: Jeff Weigt)

Neil Girling(Source: Neil Girling)

6. Summerfest

Where: Milwaukee, MI

What It Promotes: Charitable Living

Spread across eleven days, Summerfest is a music festival extravaganza like no other. With an enviable lineup, and a great programming schedule, Summerfest is right up there with some of the biggest festivals of the year. Set on the shores of Michigan Lake and having featured acts by Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Kings of Leon, Keith Urban, Linkin Park, Kendrick Lamar, The Avett Brothers, Ed Sheeran, along with a great display of stalls, food vendors, and a bunch of activities, this is a mega event everyone wants to be a part of.

Along with being a hyper large event, Summerfest gets together with several charities like Kohl’s cares  to create the Kohl Captivation Station, an area of the festival offering educational and musical experiences for kids and families. The festival also encourages donation of non-perishable food items that are sent to Hunger Task Force in return of a free admission ticket. Every festival must align with at least one organisation, as the reach can be tremendous.

10644528_10153193122732480_7577234348036668969_n(Source: Summerfest Facebook)

7. Tortuga Music Festival

Where: Florida, USA

What It Promotes : Marine Life Conservation

Often referred to as the Coachella of Florida, the Tortuga Music Festival is special for a number of reasons, the most important being their outlook to marine life conservation. The festival’s sombre lifestyle holds an important message. That one can soak the heat in the warm Atlantic Ocean nearby, while playing audience to a number of rock and country artists, all the while being educated about the bit they can do for the marine wildlife. The conservational festival makes it a point to educate its attendees, albeit with music.

This idea is conveyed in various forms. They have stalls educating people of the same, and brilliant real-time sand installations depicting marine life. There is no way you can stay at a festival like that and not be influenced by the positivity of environmental conservation. Most festivals can do with educating people about conserving the wildlife that dominates the area of the festival location.


1926647_758564054176697_2853658203618170209_n(Credit: Tortuga Festival Facebook)

8. LA Rising

Where: Los Angeles

What It Promotes : Music with a message

The amount of music that champions for social causes exists by the millions. LA Rising is a festival brought together by members of the hard rock band Rage Against The Machine. The band is itself known to vociferously campaign for liberal issues with its frontman Zach de la Rocha being an active opponent of war and pro-immigration rights. To promote music with social causes, they bring together artists that echo this very sentiment.

They have featured artists like  El Gran Silencio, Immortal Technique, Lauryn Hill, Rise Against, and Muse, all bands with music that stretches beyond rhythms, and has socially relevant lyrics. When you put together a line-up of musicians, it won’t do you well that you include any artist who has indulged in any activity strongly detrimental to the message you wish to put across. LA Rising, for instance will bring together artists who bring to the stage music that carries strong social messages. That level of conformity shines through.

2011 L.A. Rising Festival(Source: Chelsea Lauren | wire Image)

9. Landmark Music Festival

Where: Washington DC

What It Promotes: Cultural and Historical Preservation

The aging National Mall has been a monumental place for some of the most historical events in America. It is the site where the famous Martin Luther King ‘I have a dream’ speech took place, and also houses the country’s most recognizable monuments, historical buildings built in the memory of various American heroes. But unfortunately, the place hasn’t been renovated for over 40 years.

The Landmark Music Festival has been kickstarted to direct attention and possible funds towards the heritage site, by using music as the instrument of togetherness. The Sherp thinks that music festivals act as great tools to support causes of cultural importance, and more and more festivals can rally their support to the preservation of Historical artifacts.


10. Kumbh Mela

Where: India

What It Promotes: Stronger Cultural Understanding

India has since forever been a country relegated to poor understanding of its culture and its practices. This can be attributed to the country’s culture being subjected to stereotypes due to misrepresentation and glaring racist undertones. The Kumbh Mela, a traditionally rich festival is one that aims to clear this out by promoting a deeper understanding of India’s strong cultural buoyancy.

Kumbh Mela sees attendees by the millions every year. People flock to the festival from all around India and around. The attendance is not only to participate in its religious activities but also to experience India’s vibrancy first hand; which is seeped in great respect of the human spirit and spirituality. If all festivals could seek to promote a stronger cultural representation, it would make for lesser stereotypes.

Danish Siddiqui(Credit: Danish Siddiqui / Reuters)