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Summer’s hottest music festivals

We uncover this summer’s hottest boutique music festivals—and tell you what else to see while you’re in the hood.
Image: Tom Petty performs
Tom Petty performs during day two of the Outside Lands festival on August 23, 2008 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.Karl Walter / Getty Images file
/ Source: Condé Nast Traveler

We uncover this summer’s hottest boutique music festivals—and tell you what else to see while you’re in the hood.

What: OUTSIDE LANDS, August 28-30,

Where: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

The vibe: Jack Johnson and Ben Harper are alumni of this West Coast eco-chic festival, now in its second season, which attracts surfers and hippie rockers with day jobs, and mixes jam band acts with edgier alternatives.

What to bring: Stay hip and hydrated with the latest from Blue Q, an eco-conscious accessories company that specializes in water bottles (; $18).

Don’t miss: The wine-tasting tents—sample the latest Napa vintages, plus super-fresh Hog Island oysters.

In the hood: Take a side trip to hike along the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore, an hour north of San Fran (

What: HOVE, June 22-23,

Where: Tromøy Island, Norway

The vibe: One of the Continent’s most exciting and eclectic showcases after only two years (Jay-Z headlined in 2008), this carbon-neutral festival attracts outdoorsy types because of its bucolic Scandinavian countryside setting—think fairy-tale forests, pristine beaches, and clear, fish-filled lakes.

What to bring: Want to keep up with crazy Scandi style? Pack a graphic bag by Finnish textile authority Marimekko (; $469).

Don’t miss: The Killers, headlining this year’s lineup, along with Franz Ferdinand, Fleet Foxes, and the Ting Tings.

In the hood: Check out the former home of Henrik Ibsen, the country’s most famous playwright, which is now a museum in nearby Grimstad (

What: BESTIVAL, September 11-13,

Where: Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight, U.K.

The vibe: Fancy dress parade in the English countryside, pulling university types and those old enough to know better. When it comes to the music, anything goes, from dance to alternative—and an army of supercool DJs, including founder Rob da Bank, spin daily.

What to bring: Jimmy Choo doesn’t normally design for festival follies—which is why the stiletto king teamed up with Hunter Boots to keep feet dry in fun croc-print wellies (; $395).

Don’t miss: Kraftwerk and Massive Attack. And if you fancy a bit of burlesque with your crumpets, the tea tent offers just that.

In the hood: A pint of Greene King IPA at the Hare & Hounds pub, close to the action and with oodles of English atmosphere (Downend Rd.; 44-198-352-3446).

What: ROCK EN SEINE, August 28-30,

Where: Saint-Cloud Park, Paris

The vibe: Rock and alternative fete with a French focus—Arcade Fire, the Raconteurs, Louis XVI, and Rage Against the Machine are among the boldface names that have played to an audience of industry insiders and hipster French kids too cool to abandon Paris for their parents’ country homes in sultry August.

What to bring: Pop on a light cardi by record label turned fashion label Tigersushi, known for underground electro (; $140).

Don’t miss: Leave plenty of time for une promenade on the grounds of the Château de Saint-Cloud, a maze of statues, fountains, and nooks perfect for une pique-nique.

In the hood: Take the subway from Boulogne to the Left Bank in central Paris for summer sales on designer duds like Paul & Joe (14 rue Commines) and Vanessa Bruno (12 rue Castiglione).

What: WAY OUT WEST, August 14-15,

Where: Gothenburg, Sweden

The vibe: Alumni include inter-national A-listers Kanye West and Neil Young as well as native talent such as Lykke Li and The Hives, but this northern European number remains obscure, drawing a slightly older crowd who take their music, and their food (everything’s organic here), seriously.

What to bring: Channel Helena Christensen and the rest of the Nordic set in a belt by Odd Molly, a Stockholm fashion fave of the supermodel’s (; $149).

Don’t miss: Big acts on the roster this year include Lily Allen, Bon Iver, and the Arctic Monkeys.

In the hood: Take a side trip to Styrsö, a beautiful island just outside Gothenburg, and tool around on a three-wheeler flakmoped.

What: BENICASSIM, July 16-19,

Where: Costa del Azahar, between Valencia and Barcelona

The vibe: International but edgy, this is arguably Europe’s hottest summer road trip, patronized by indie fans who come for a mega-party in the Spanish sun. Last year’s top acts included Hot Chip, Gnarls Barkley, and Mika.

What to bring: Don’t miss a second of the action with the Sony Webbie HD MP4 camera, a video-camera hybrid—and upload the results directly to YouTube (; $200).

Don’t miss: Oasis, Kings of Leon, and Franz Ferdinand are all on the bill for ’09—and the nearby beach is a good spot to work on your tan.

In the hood: Sample the Valencian specialty cocktail Agua de Valencia at the Café Sant Jaume bar in this gem of a city an hour by train from the festival (51 Calle Caballeros; 34-96-391-2401).