The summer music season heralds some of the best live rock action in Asia
Jeans and T-shirt? Check. Passport? Check. Festival tickets? Check. The music season is about to kick off, which means you can get busy planning your holidays around some of the best live shows in Asia.
Hong Kong's festival circuit gets going later, in the cooler autumn months, but this year promises to the best yet. The city welcomes the North Sea Jazz Festival to add to the home-grown success that is Clockenflap and a possible return for Pharrell Williams' urban music bash, Blohk Party, in December, if the global superstar isn't too busy doing shows in Britain and the US.
Sadly, South Korea's top event, the Ansan Valley Rock Festival, has been cancelled this year out of respect for the 250 students from a local school who lost their lives in the Sewol ferry disaster. It's worth noting that all events are subject to change, especially in Asia, so check information on the organisers' official websites before travelling. Here's 48 Hours' guide to the best of the stage action you can see this summer around the region.
HK Beach Festival
June 28, 1pm-11pm
Almost 2,000 people have indicated on Facebook that will attend "the biggest beach party in Hong Kong", which promises international DJs plus an open bar day and night for guests, barbecue, contests and body glow painting. But that's about all we know, as this festival is being kept under wraps by organisers Kenwell Events. Last year's event was held at Deep Water Bay.
Kitec, Kowloon Bay
Local concert promoter Your Mum brings a midsummer treat for dance-pop lovers with chart-topping singer Ellie Goulding, whose infectious hits include Burn and I Need Your Love, making her Hong Kong debut. The concert at Kitec will be one for fans of all ages, so expect to see mums and daughters leaping up and down together. Tickets are HK$540 and HK$640 available from HK Ticketing.
Strawberry Music Festival
One of the highlights of China's entertainment calendar, Strawberry Music Festival features foreign acts as well as top Chinese indie performers such as Carsick Cars and Cui Jian. The organisers are now rolling out the fun all summer across the mainland, stopping in 10 cities from Changsha to Xiamen. Check the (Chinese language) website for cities, dates and prices.modernsky.com
Rainforest World Music Festival
Often rated as one of the best world music festivals on the planet, this annual shindig makes the most of its beautiful location in Kuching in Sarawak. Now in its 17th year, the event brings together performers from all around the world and includes workshops for those who want to get involved. This year's eclectic bill includes English folksters Blackbeard's Tea Party and DakhaBrakha from Kiev, whose sound reflects on Ukrainian "ethnic chaos". Apt timing. Tickets and packages available from website.
Fuji Rock Festival
The mother of all Asian festivals is a must-visit for any serious music fan in the region. Hosted in the ski resort in Niigata, Fuji boasts the most star-studded international roll call in the region. Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, Jack Johnson, Damon Albarn and Outkast headline this year, to be watched by more than 100,000 of the best-behaved festival-goers you'll ever encounter. The campsite's so clean and well-equipped, it looks like a kind of anti-Glastonbury.
August 16 and 17
Also big in Japan and easier to reach is Summer Sonic, held in Tokyo and Osaka with acts alternating days between the two venues. Arctic Monkeys, Kraftwerk and Megadeth are among the headliners, along with Queen and Adam Lambert, with the American Idol runner-up hamming it up like the late, great Freddie Mercury.
Bazooka Rocks 3
August 30 and 31
SMX Convention Centre, Pasay City
Now Manila has been taken off the government's no-go list, Bazooka Rocks is a destination for those who like their music hard and loud. Punk and hard rock acts dominate the line-up, although it also features pop and other genres. It's all held in the air-conditioned environment of the SMX Convention Centre. The Used and Taking Back Sunday lead the sonic assault.
And coming up later in the year ...
North Sea Jazz Festival
One of Europe’s most successful and distinctive festivals comes to Hong Kong for the first time. From its beginnings in The Hague in 1976, the festival now features more than 1,000 musicians, spread out over 150 performances and 13 different stages in Rotterdam. Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau and Outkast are among the stars on show in the Netherlands this summer, but it remains to be seen who will be performing in Hong Kong. The festival reportedly has a harbourfront site. You’ll have to watch the website and local media for details.
West Kowloon Cultural District
The hippest weekend in Hong Kong keeps getting bigger and better, with more than 30,000 people getting into the action by the harbour at the West Kowloon promenade. Expect one or two household names and some lesser-known acts you’ll be glad to be introduced to. This year’s line-up and ticket details will be released later in the summer.
JZ Festival Shanghai
China’s largest jazz festival celebrates its 10th anniversary, showcasing international bands and artists. It’s a great weekend to visit the city and relive the early 20thcentury vibe when Shanghai was known as the “Paris of the East”. This year’s line-up is yet to be released, but there are events before and after the main weekend that sees Shanghai sway to rhythms from bebop to big band during September and October.
Asia’s best-known dance festival transforms one of the beaches on Sentosa Island into an outdoor dance floor with more than 20,000 people moving to the beats of worldclass DJs such as Paul van Dyk and Armin van Buuren. This year’s date and line-up will be out in autumn.