Whether it’s a music, travel or cultural festival the venue and the setting play a key role in establishing the vibe and feel of the event. That being said, hosts of these festivals take great care in picking apt locations and sometimes build the festivals on the basis of a gorgeous or obscure venue. Here are The Sherp’s favourites from year 2015.


1. A mountain in Niigata Japan that hosts Labyrinth (a.k.a  Japan’s best kept secret)

When : September

When it comes to unique music festivals, you’d be surprised by where they pop up. Take for example, The Labyrinth Festival. Hidden away on a grassy mountainside in Niigata, Japan the event is dedicated to featuring the best and brightest techno and experimental artistes. Organised and run by American national Russ Moench, everything about Labyrinth promises to display perfection and attention to detail. Artistes and live performers are carefully picked out with its sound system (The Funktion-One) being exemplary. For Labyrinth, quality always precedes quantity, as the two-day event features one stage with a flawless line-up that will leave any techno enthusiast floored.


2.  The Salmo River Ranch in Canada that hosts Shambhala

When : August

Held on the stunning Salmo River Ranch, Canada annually, Shambhala Music Festival is a traveler’s haven.  A quiescent farm land surrounded by forests and hidden away in the Salmo River Valley in the West Kootenay region of Southern British Columbia, Canada. The farm is owned by the family that also organises the festival, therefore setting up beautiful, permanent stages. The festival is careful to line up artists that are mostly underground, with a few popular ones thrown tastefully in. This year’s lineup features Kygo, Skrillex, Pretty Lights, DJ Jazzy Jeff and more.


3. The quaint corners of the city of Amsterdam that hosts the Amsterdam Dance Event

When: October

From re-purposed churches and dairy factories to underground warehouses and beer cafes, ADE employs some really unique venues for its city-based electronic music gathering. As far as music festivals go, Amsterdam Dance Event or ADE is an absolute revolution, as it has converted inert city halls into buzzing musical spaces. Cities are plastic in nature; hollow blocks of cement. And almost every major city knows of spaces that are either unpurposed, or remain largely unused. But for ADE, which takes place across the city of Amsterdam for five days, most city venues are metamorphosed into thriving houses of music, as electronic music breathes and lives its best form for the musical gathering. The Sherp was at ADE this year, and came back impressed at the festival’s ability to transform the otherwise beautiful city to a scene straight out an electronic music fan’s fantasy.


4.  Abbots Ripton in the UK that hosts theSecret Garden Party

When: Last weekend of July

Two words. Magical and carnival-esque. This annual independent festival for music and arts is probably the most well known and loved boutique festival that exists. It takes place in Abbots Ripton, near Huntingdon, England. The location of the festival is its USP – a Georgian farm house accompanied by its own lake, river and gorgeous landscape.  The organizers concentrate on making the festival a visual experience with floating boats, crazy entertainment and a yearly theme. Over the years (starting in 2004) Chase and Status, Django Django and Bastille are some of the bands who have featured at this festival.



5.  Portmeirion in Wales that hosts the Festival No.6

When : September

Imagine a dreamland of music, arts, culture and comedy, all set in the one of the most stylish Italian-themed village. Every September, Festival No 6 returns to this beautiful village of Portmeirion in Wales to enchant and delight people of all ages. The perfect destination for backpackers and travellers, Festival No 6 has earned itself more than a few accolades for being intimate, stylish and awe-inspiring. The festival, which brings together the whole town, is also a healthy alternative to over-crowded and hedonistic EDM festivals, with its family-friendly camping areas and activities.


6. The Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh that hosts Ziro Festival of Music

Where: September

Nestled in the beautiful Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh is festival that’s known for its perfect location, and the unique bunch of artists that perform there. Ziro Festival of Music is a camping festival, and is situated right in the middle of Apatani tribal villages. The festival is an organic musical experience that combines the stunning beauty of Arunachali hills, non-mainstream indie music, north-eastern folk music, and Apatani tribal culture. With a gorgeous view in every direction, amazing people around, and artists like Alisha Bath and Omak Kamut Collective playing, Ziro is worth every bit of travelling needed to get here.


(Image Courtesy : Nicole Alice Photography)


7. Alsisar Mahal in Rajasthan that hosts Magnetic Fields

Where: December

One of the most scenic desert/boutique festival in India, Magnetic Fields has created a unique space in the Indian festival sphere for itself. Set in a gorgeous Mahal in Rajasthan, this small (first time) & yet undeniably eclectic music festival captured the hearts of all who attended and were part of it, last year. The lineup and production were delightfully unique, attendees were literally treated like Kings and Queens and the sense of community was strong. This cozy festival has set quite the bar when it comes to executing intimate boutique festivals in India.



8.  A beach side jungle in Costa Rica that hosts the Envision Festival

When : February

Presenting Envision, a festival hosted on a beach-side jungle in Costa Rica, where community, the environment and culture comes together in a beautiful balance.Envision has all the elements of a perfect experience – music, art, culture and communal living on a beach. Among the activities, apart from the music, expect to be blown away by drum circles, healing workshops, yoga, permacultures, art and even plant healing.


9. Monte Piana in Italy that hosts the Slackline Festival

When: September

Italy’s International Highline Meeting is one of the most spectacular and dangerous festivals to ever be held on the globe. The event takes place in the northern Italian alps at Monte Piana, near Misurina, and gathered extreme slackline enthusiasts from around the world. Besides the fact that the slackers spend a good part of their days their days (and nights) on slacklines suspended hundreds of feet above the Italian dolomite Alps, the meeting has all the trappings of a normal festival – a kitchen, a bar, and awesome musical jam sessions. And just look at that stunning view!


10. Norway’s venue for Traena

When : June or July

What can we really say about this festival? Set in one of the most incredibly unique locations, off the coast of northern Norway, At Traena you will witness caves being transformed into stages, music and under the bluest and brightest skies known to man.