Music enthusiasts put on their travelling boots

Music enthusiasts put on their travelling boots

Many people are now curating their travel plans around music festivals or concerts that they wish to attend

From the picturesque hills of Shillong to the beaches of Goa, each of these destinations are worlds apart from each other. They have a lot to offer visitors from a very diverse culture to breathtaking topographies. Now, imagine listening to your favourite artistes perform in these scenic locations. 

India is currently home to almost 20 big-ticketed music festivals that provide a platform for both, international and homegrown artistes. People have now begun to curate their travel plans around the festival dates.

The Northeast is becoming a major tourist destination for its promise of a cultural and experiential extravaganza, says Ashish Dhruva, vice president, Cleartrip. “The Hornbill Music Festival of Nagaland held in Kisama village, for example, is among the most popular music festivals in the country. During the Hornbill Music Festival last year, flight bookings for Dimapur (closest airport for reaching the festival) saw a hike in bookings. Guwahati (another close-by airport) also saw a substantial increase in air bookings,” he shares. 

Bengaluru-based Prachi Tembhare keeps traveling to Pune for the NH7 Weekender and Vh1 Supersonic. “In 2015, I travelled from Mumbai to Pune for the Weekender, and that was the first time I went out of town for a music festival,” she says. However, she chooses to simply attend the concert and return home. “I have thought about staying back and exploring the place after a festival. But, I rather do that when I visit somewhere offbeat, as opposed a metropolitan city,” she explains. 

Ron Bezbaruah, a freelance photographer, on the other hand, has travelled extensively, for both work and pleasure. In 2015, he travelled to Bengaluru from Mumbai for the Emerge Music And Arts Festival to catch Alt-J, an English indie rock band, live. He has since attended the NH7 Weekender at Pune, as well as Shillong, Magnetic Fields in Rajasthan, Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh, and the Covelong Surf Fest. 

“Apart from Alt-J, I never make plans based on the artistes. I like to catch these events to experience what it is like to be a part of a music festival in that particular place,” shares Ron. He also makes it a point to stick around a week or so after the fete so he can explore the place as well. “At the venue, almost every place is the same. When you stay back, you get to experience these destinations for what they really are. If I am going to make the trip, I might as well make the most of it,” he explains. 

In 2018, Ron travelled to Russia to attend the FIFA World Cup. Once he reached, he made it a point to look up the artistes that would be performing in the country. “I figured since FIFA was being held there, many artistes would also would also be travelling to the country. Roger Waters, Leon Bridges and Guns N’ Roses were performing there in a span of one month,” he shares. He chose to attend Park Live Festival, a two-day music festival, where he was able to see Kaleo and Gorillaz perform. “In the future, if I were to travel, I would plan ahead and create my itinerary around concerts that will be taking place there,” he adds. 

Apart from great line-ups, many people are motivated by the experience these festivals promise. Destination specific fests, especially ones in more quaint locations, involves travelling to the location and experiencing the local food and culture. The ones set in cities, offer flea markets, curated experiential zones, food and beverage, and are often held in locations that are in the outskirts or large enough for people to forget that they are still within city premises.

Rumit Virman, DJ and music curator, says that apart from being able to experience music at different places, travelling for concerts allow him to meet and connect with new and interesting people. He makes it a point to try and stay a day or two after the event to enjoy the local food.

Cost factor

Prachi Tembhare says that having to make out-station trips require some planning ahead as ticket prices tend to go up around festival season. She ends up spending anywhere between Rs 10,000 to 12,000 including air fare and concert tickets.

Rumit Virman, who attends up to ten festivals a year, plans his trips around work. “I try to look for gigs I can perform during those dates, in that area. But sometimes, I just go with my friends because I just like the vibe at a particular festival,” he says. 

Ron Bezbaruah, however, says that it is possible to travel without having to spend exorbitant amounts. “Carry a tent, a sleeping bag, a bottle with you. Don’t forget some instant noodles for emergencies. Be genuine and kind to the locals, and you won’t spend a penny. You can hitchhike or share a Sumo,” he says. Don’t hitchhike at night though, he adds. 

What’s music tourism?

Visiting a city or town to see a music festival or other music performances. These events attract many non-local visitors. The self-proclaimed largest music festival in the world is Summerfest, an 11-day event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with an annual attendance of nearly 10 lakh people.

Popular music festivals in India

Echoes of the Earth, Bengaluru

Enchanted Valley Carnival, Amby Valley 

Hornbill International Music Festival, Kohima

Orange Festival of Adventure and Music, Dambuk

Covelong Surf Festival, Covelong

Ragasthan Music Festival, Khuri Dunes

Popular international music festivals

Tomorrowland, Belgium

Glastonbury Festival, England

Burning Man, Nevada

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, California

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