Five of the best music festivals in Asia this winter

Escape the Hong Kong chill with hot beats in Singapore at Zoukout and Laneway, the Wonderfruit and Paradise Island festivals in Thailand and at India’s Sunburn four-dayer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 November, 2016, 8:03am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 2:18pm

The colder months are approaching and while you won’t have to break out the fur coats in Hong Kong, you’ll still want to be somewhere a little warmer – and with a few more tunes. Escape the chill for hotter climes and enjoy Asia’s best music festivals being staged this winter.

Zoukout

We like to think of Singapore as a more sedate, less impressive sister, but the Lion City has us beat when it comes to electronic dance music (EDM). The 16th edition of Zoukout, Singapore’s premiere electronic music and dance festival, has grown from some 9,000 attendees in 2000 to a 50,000-strong rave-ready crowd, making it Asia’s largest dance-off. The two-day event takes place right on Siloso Beach, serving up the pleasure of raving with sand between your toes. Acts are a who’s who of EDM, with headliners including electro house and moombahton icon Dillon Francis; Dutch wunderkind Martin Garrix, who’s only 20 and has just topped DJ Mag’s list of the world’s best DJs; and Hardwell, who’s topped that list a couple of times himself. Make sure to leave enough in the tank after Saturday night for the festival’s sunrise sets, which will have you partying as the sun comes up over the waters of Singapore.

Siloso Beach, Sentosa, Singapore, Dec 9-10. Two-day passes S$218 (HK$1,212) from zoukout.com/2016

Sunburn

India’s major EDM festival turns 10 this year, and it marks the decade with an all-new location. After nine years on the coast of Goa, it’s moving to what it’s calling the “Sunburn Hills” just outside of Pune in eastern India. The move has met with controversy and plenty of anger from fans, but the organisers blame government hurdles for the change of plans. At any rate, Sunburn is billing the new venue as an all-green wonderland, with extensive campsite facilities for the true festival feel (just presumably without the mud of an English summer). At this four-day fest, headliners include Dutch legend Armin van Buuren; Axwell and Ingrosso, formerly of Swedish House Mafia; and sibling DJ act Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, ranked second in the world on this year’s DJ Mag list. The final night is a New Year’s Eve gig headlined by KSHMR, whose electro house ensures you’ll be ringing in the new year at 125 beats per minute.

Kesnand, Pune, India, Dec 28-31. Four-day passes 8,500 rupees (HK$990) from sunburn.in

Wonderfruit

With the death of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the whole of Thailand has entered into a 100-day grieving period – meaning that the nation’s end-of-year music festivals have all been postponed for a few months. Wonderfruit is a young festival, launched in 2014 near Thailand’s party city of Pattaya. It doesn’t want to be Asia’s next huge party: instead it has a decidedly more indie, hippy vibe, with a focus on smaller-scale acts and sustainability. Wonderfruit is proudly eco-conscious, with plans to offset the festival’s entire carbon footprint by investing in an Indonesian biodiversity reserve. On the ground, you can expect art installations, culture workshops, design salons, wellness offerings and plenty of family fun. The music line-up has been thrown a little into turmoil with the postponement, but confirmed acts include UK drum’n’bassers Rudimental, superb London indie songstress Lianne La Havas, and Junun featuring Shye Ben Tzur & the Rajasthan Express – a fascinating collaboration between Israeli composer Shy Ben Tzur, Indian ensemble the Rajasthan Express, and Radiohead guitarist/genius Jonny Greenwood. Ticks pretty much every hippie box there is, doesn’t it?

The Fields at Siam Country Club, Pattaya, Thailand, Feb 16-19. Four-day passes 5,500 baht (HK$1,219) from wonderfruitfestival.com

Laneway Festival

The St Jerome’s Laneway Festival started out in 2005 as a more-or-less impromptu street party held down a tiny central Melbourne alleyway, headlined by Aussie electronic gods The Avalanches. Since then the festival has spread to five Australian cities, as well as New Zealand and Singapore. The closest and soonest of 2017’s festivals is in Singapore, where the festival returns to the Gardens by the Bay. It’s a lush green venue for line-up of indie favourites, including Nick Murphy – better known as Chet Faker – as well as UK songwriter Tourist (writer of Sam Smith hit Stay with Me); experimental poppers Glass Animals and US rockers The Julie Ruin, who are fronted by riot grrl legend Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill. Think of it as a slightly more low-key Clockenflap and you’ve got the right idea.

The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, Jan 21. S$185 (HK$1,027) from ticketflap.com

Paradise Island

Another festival pushed back by the death of the Thai monarch, Paradise Island is a new arts and music festival taking place on the island of Koh Samui. Samui may be better known for its messy full moon parties, but Paradise Island is billing itself as an eco-conscious, environmentally friendly alternative. Organised by Soundcrash, the same people behind Croatia’s Soundwave festival, it’s aiming to have a positive impact on the island, setting up a trust to fund education for rural Thais. There’s no word on who’s playing just yet, but it’s all looking good: the organisers are promising feel-good tunes, graffiti jams, sunset yoga, massage and cooking classes, secret after-parties and – because this is Thailand – boat parties. And all in a little slice of paradise, and without a single full mooner in sight.

Big Buddha Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand, Apr 8-9. Weekend tickets HK$419 from ticketflap.com