The Sherp chronicles 8 brilliant rustic festivals that wear the soul of the backwoods on their sleeve, even as they do a good job representing the culture of their land.
The Coachellas, Tomorrowlands and Glastonburys of the world can take a backseat, for if you ever wish to attend a festival that’s equal parts intimate and unique, then the rural festivals of the world would be it. By rural, we don’t necessarily mean for them to take place in a village, but here are those festivals that reject the city for the idyllic lifestyle afforded by small towns to put together a gathering that ingeniously represents their spirit. We pick the ten best festivals that manifest this idea.
1. I Never Went South (Aldrei fór ég Suður)
Where: Ísafjörður, Iceland
When: March 25 to 26
If you’re a music fan up for an experience that is as intimate as intimate a festival can be, then Aldrei fór ég Suður, or I Never Went South, held in the small fishing village of Ísafjörður in Iceland would be the festival for you. The festival is borne from an extremely special sentiment – the name is taken from a song by folk legend Bubbi, which talks about everyone abandoning their small fishing village in favour of the city. The festival, by that sentiment, is a call to its wayward children to return home to Ísafjörður. It’s cozy as it promotes love for music, culture and community, and it’s free of charge.
(Source: I Never Went South Facebook and http://aldrei.is/)
2. Fireflies Festival
Where: Purushwadi, Maharashtra
When: May to July
About 180 kilometres from Mumbai, stands Purushwadi – a tribal village adopted by Grassroutes, an organization whose sole purpose has been to promote village tourism over the last five years. What really sets this particular village apart from the rest is quite fascinating. The village is home to millions of fireflies that light up summer nights starting around May up until July, every year. To celebrate this gorgeous phenomena, every year, Grassroutes organises a firefly sighting festival, that includes bonfires, jam sessions and traditional organic food to compliment this extraordinary experience. And in that attempt, they manage to secure Purushwadi rural tourism in its finest form.
One of the first things to catch your attention is that the quaint little festival of Indietracks takes place at Midland Railway Centre in the heart of the Derbyshire countryside! As puzzling as that sounds, the festival indeed is a step away from alighting at the train station, covering what is a modest-sized venue for the benefit of its balanced turn out. A festival that is reflective of the quintessential English summer experience, with surprise showers in tow, caters to people of all ages alike, thereby becoming a family festival that countless people head to every July. As the name suggests, the festival gathers some incredibly and criminally underrated independent acts to perform, so in the event you’re out scouting for some impeccable new music to listen to, Indietracks is your place to go.
Where: Bruton, Somerset
When: July 29 to 30
Farmfest has perhaps grown to become eponymous with the idea of intimate gatherings guaranteed by rural festivals. In the last decade, since its inception, the festival has earned favour from cultural takers from around United Kingdom, despite sticking to its roots, and therein lies the charm. Held in the beautifully warm countryside of Somerset, Farmfest is a cumulation of the finest music, as it is a relaxation for body, mind and soul. People flock to the festival for a much needed weekend of positive stimulation and fun. Farmfest achieves all this and more, even as it actively promotes good causes across the spectrum.
5. Latitude Festival
Where: Suffolk, United Kingdom
Easily the most popular ‘rural’ festival, given how it manages to even attract urban-dwellers in full force. But apart from being a family-friendly festival, it remains a musical event that brings together not just the best musical acts, but at its heart a truly rustic festival. The festival’s list of voices includes performers such as Thom Yorke and Ed Sheeran, and in addition to that, the festival puts together a slate of activities that would make everyone, from the most-adult adult to the youngest child truly happy.
6. Hinterland Music Festival
Where: Des Moines, Iowa
When: August 5 to 6
Heading away from the city is no reason to compensate on the music. Because Hinterland Music Festival manages to offer the bucolic pleasures of the countryside, along with the most qualitative music curated with exceptional care. Taking place in the scenic location of Des Moines with the ethereal Water Works Park for backdrop, the festival is a two-day enjoyment that includes camping and exceptional hand-picked music under the stars. The festival truly amalgamates the best features of a thorough urban festival with the rustin comfort of a farm.
7. Hornbill Festival
Where: Nagaland, India
One might be forced to think that India’s festival culture is most limited to its metropolitan cities and the party capital that is Goa. Each year, the well-tucked-in-the-east festival of Hornbill debunks this idea by putting forth a fascinating display of Naga culture. Titled ‘The Hornbill Festival’, this state-sponsored ten day event’s main aim is to promote inter-tribe interaction as well as the rich and varied cultural heritage of the Nagaland. In addition to that a contemporary Hornbill Rock Festival is hosted in Kohima, where the best of bands battle each other for a grand prize and some serious street cred. Adventure car rallies, chilli eating contests and quirky events are also part and parcel of this glorious celebration.
(Source: Hornbill Festival Facebook)
Where: Træna, Norway
When: June / July
As far as backwoods go, there is no other festival that goes are further from urbanscape as Traena. It is, after all, considered the most remote music festival for nothing. A tiny island festival, it provides an opportunity for travel and music enthusiasts to attend a wonderful curation of music surrounded by the beautiful cliffs of the Nordic valley. The festival requires of its audience to take a ferry to the island, where they remain cut off from the dreadful punishment of the mundane, as they revel in Norway’s beauty and music.