IT'S SUMMER AND all over the world music fans are gathering in fields to watch their favourite bands at weekend-long orgies of rock, dance, free love and booze. In Europe, and even in the United States, the summer festival has become the highlight of the music fan's year. But this is Hong Kong, where the closest thing we get to a rock festival is a collection of aged, bankers-by-day covers bands playing at grubby Wan Chai pubs. That, or Suede. So if Stairway To Heaven played by hideous old men in spandex trousers or Animal Lover played by the equally horrendous Brett Anderson doesn't turn you on, what can you do this summer to get your rocks off and get your freak on? The options are limited, and all involve getting out of Hong Kong. But they're worth the effort. Although the Pearl River Delta festival, a proposed two-day event of local and foreign rock bands, was felled, like many a good idea, by the over-sensitive bureaucrats of the government, and the Lijiang Snow Mountain Music Festival in Yunnan, which attracted about 10,000 fans, is not being repeated this year for reasons unknown, Hong Kong's music fans can still rock out relatively close to home. Fuji Rock 2003 Where: Naeba, Niigata Prefecture, Japan When: July 25-27 What's the vibe?: Peace, love and karaoke. Fuji is the daddy of all Asian festivals, the oriental equivalent of Glastonbury and Japan's very own annual Woodstock. With a line-up that spans all modern musical genres, it's a huge pan-denominational gathering where the emphasis is on unity through music, man. With more than a dozen stages, venues and arenas playing host to more than 400 bands, DJs and other assorted performers, Fuji is one of the biggest festivals in the world. It's also about the friendliest; where punters even dispose of their cigarette ends in self-carried ashtrays. Fuji is a camp-on-site festival where punters sleep, eat and get drunk in one big sweaty horde. And while the bathroom facilities are, by the very nature of the event, portable and prone to filling up, it's good to remember one thing: this is Japan, not Britain where festivals have become by-words for huge lakes of waste seeping from the portaloos. At Fuji, they flush. The big attraction: Although the line-up is a little on the mature side this year, there are some outstanding acts booked across all stages. The main-stage bills are topped by dance acts Underworld, Bjork and Massive Attack, but there's a fair smattering of good rocking. Punk godfather Iggy Pop returns, as do Primal Scream. Soft-rockers Coldplay will be there as will heavy metallers Godsmack and Anthrax. Of particular interest to indie-punk fans will be the appearance, or lack thereof, of British snot-rock band The Libertines. They've been filling the music press pages since madcap lead singer and guitarist Pete Doherty was ousted from the band. All eyes will be on the Green Stage on the Friday to see if potty Pete has been brought back. Acts to watch out for: It's the turn of the antipodeans this year as Australian heavy-rock and blues bands Jet and D4 make their first Asian appearances since being declared earlier this year as the future of rock'n'roll. Irish newcomers The Thrills are hotly tipped and have a summery sound that should complement the weekend. Acts to avoid: The irritatingly croaky wails of Macy Gray on the Friday will only ruin the rest of the weekend and Sugar Ray should be avoided at all costs. What to wear: Love beads, sandals and Wellies. Tickets: three-day Pass, Y38,000 (HK$2,500), including camping fee; two-day Y29,000; one-day Y14,500 available online at eee.eplus.co.jp Summer Sonic Where: Tokyo and Osaka, Japan When: August 2-3 What's the vibe: Let's rock. Summer Sonic has about the best line-up of any festival anywhere in the world this year. Over four stages and throughout two days the cream of the rock mainstream and underground will strut their stuff. Summer Sonic is not a camping festival, so there's unlikely to be the communal atmosphere of Fuji, but among the brotherhood of fellow rock fans, you'll always find good company. And it means the toilets won't be quite as unapproachable. Also unlike Fuji, there appears to be a big emphasis on corporate sponsorship this year, so expect lots of company reps handing out flyers at every turn advertising everything from mobile phones to condoms. The big attraction: While the stadium-friendly likes of Blur and Radiohead are topping the bill, most excitement is being generated this year by the appearance of The Strokes, New York's ambassadors of cool. Since the release of their Is This It? debut album two years ago, The Strokes have become the hottest band since Nirvana. The Summer Sonic show is the only live appearance the band have booked this year and enormous anticipation surrounds it as The Strokes are expected to debut new songs from the forthcoming second album. On a curious note, 1960s psychedelic freaks The Doors will be playing, with the lamentable Ian Astbury from The Cult filling the space left by the unavoidably absent Jim Morrison. Acts to watch out for: Again, it's the time for the kids from southern hemisphere, with Kiwis The Datsuns set to appear. Canada's Hot Hot Heat are a feisty punk-pop outfit whose debut album this year evoked memories of the early 80s new wave. Expectations are also high for country-punkers Kings of Leon. Acts to avoid: The perennially dull Travis are booked to headline the indoor stage, which means there will be a rush for the outdoor stage. Also give creepy goth moaners AFI and old dinosaurs Cheap Trick a miss. What to wear: Black band T-shirt, baggy skater trousers and corporate sponsor logo. Tickets: two-day Pass Y23,000; one-day Y13,000 available online at eee.eplus.co.jp WOMAD Where: Fort Canning Park, Singapore When: August 29-September 1 What's the vibe: Save the Third World. The World of Music and Dance (Womad) is the aural equivalent of Greenpeace, founded by singer Peter Gabriel to foster interest in ethnic music from around the world. It's a symbolism-heavy, right-on, politically correct event put on in the hope of providing a living for musicians who would normally never be heard outside of their own communities. While Womad can be a bit poe-faced, it has brought many great artists to world attention. Youssou N'Dour and the Bundhu Boys would probably still be playing to their own friends had it not been for the evangelising force of Womad. The big attraction: Unfortunately Womad has yet to reveal details of the line-up but you can almost guarantee there will be a jangly-guitar African band. And this being Singapore, there is bound to be a couple of Chinese and Indonesian bands. There will also definitely be some sitars. Acts to avoid: Jangly guitar African bands, Tuvan throat singers. What to wear: Embroidered African skullcap, Thai fishermen's trousers, Doctor Martens boots and a CND badge. Tickets: Womad has yet to announce details, but keep an eye on website womad.org/singapore.