The 7 best music festivals of 2016 in Asia, starting this weekend

Japan, South Korea and Taiwan play host to Asia’s finest festivals during spring and summer. Here are our top seven

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2016, 8:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2016, 5:37pm

Enjoy travelling? Like music? Of course you do, so why not combine the two over spring and summer this year and take in one of Asia’s best music festivals? A few more recent arrivals (such as Ultra Korea and Labyrinth in Japan) have joined more established events (such as Fuji Rock) to provide a huge range of festival options over the warmer months. Here are the seven best.

Spring Break on the Beach, Taiwan

Kenting Beach, April 2-4

Every spring, the young, the beautiful and the tattooed from all over Taiwan converge on the southern beach town of Kenting for a raucous three-day celebration of electronic dance music. Its musical headliners tend to be drawn from the more commercial side of the business (this year’s main act is 20-year-old Spanish EDM hero Danny Avila), but that doesn’t matter much to the swimsuit-clad masses who flock to the Chateau Beach Resort (the festival is co-sponsored by Tinder, if that helps explain anything).


Ultra Korea

Seoul, June 10-12

Ultra is one of the biggest global electronic dance music festivals, and since being launched in Miami, Florida in 1999 it has branched out to a dozen more cities around the world, including Seoul, where it has exploded in popularity since its launch in 2012. It’s likely that scaled-down Road to Ultra events will also be held in Hong Kong and Macau, but that won’t stop diehard Asian EDM fans from flocking to the big one in Seoul in June to catch a range of huge names such as Afrojack, Martin Garrix and Avicii.


Fuji Rock, Japan

Naeba, Niigata prefecture, July 22-24

Asia’s biggest music festival is this year celebrating its 20th anniversary with a huge line-up including American rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros, Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett, US experimental outfit Battles and British dance music duo Disclosure. Red Hot Chili Peppers to headline 20th-anniversary edition of Fuji Rock

Every music fan living in Asia should experience Fuji Rock at least once – you’ll never forget joining about 130,000 people in the mountains of rural Japan for three days of excellently curated music and frolicking in the forests.


Jisan Valley Rock Festival, South Korea

Jisan Resort, Icheon, July 22-24

Organised by many of the same people behind Fuji Rock (and this year sharing many of the same artists such as the Chili Peppers and Disclosure), Jisan has grown into one of South Korea’s biggest music festivals since it was launched in 2009. It’s held in a similar environment to Fuji (think forested hills and sprawling campsites) and is quickly catching up with its Japanese counterpart in terms of stature, having already hosted the likes of Radiohead and Massive Attack.


Pentaport Rock Festival, South Korea

Songdo, Incheon, August 12-14

Held in a more urban setting than Jisan Valley, this festival takes over Pentaport Park in Incheon’s Songdo International Business District for three days of rock and electronica provided by local and international artists. This year’s line-up is scheduled to be announced soon, but artists to have graced the stages in recent years include Manic Street Preachers, Korn, LCD Soundsystem and Muse, so big things can be expected.


Summer Sonic, Japan

Osaka, Chiba, August 20-21

Summer Sonic, long seen as the more urban alternative to Fuji Rock, is an annual two- or three-day rock festival held at the same time in the cities of Osaka and Chiba (artists playing in Osaka on day one then move to Chiba, and vice-versa). Summer Sonic has scored one over Fuji Rock this year by securing rock gods Radiohead, who will be appearing alongside artists such as Underworld, The 1975, Two-Door Cinema Club, Mark Ronson and Suede, making the choice between Fuji and Summer Sonic a very tough one this year.


Labyrinth, Japan

Naeba, Niigata prefecture, September

Labyrinth stands in stark contrast to commercial dance music events such as Ultra, and is known for its impeccably curated line-ups drawn from the electronic music underground as well as an obsession with top-quality sound systems. It’s staged in the same ski resort as Fuji Rock, and its standing among fans of obscure electronic music has skyrocketed in the past few years – last year the tickets allocated for international sales were snapped up in less than a minute. The exact dates and line-ups of this year’s festival in September have yet to be announced.