Top music festivals of 2012

The 2012 season kicks off this January with Australia's biggest summer festival of the year, Big Day Out, with headliners Soundgarden, My Chemical Romance, and Noel Gallagher. While the UK's Glastonbury Festival is off the table this year, Lollapolooza heads to Brazil, Coachella expands to two weekends, and The Stone Roses headline Fuji Rock in Japan.

20th Big Day Out Festival
January 20 - Febuary 5
various cities in Australia and New Zealand

Founded in 1992 in Sydney, Big Day Out expects to draw 250,000 people and features multiple stages with rock, electronic music, international, and local acts performing. Acts performing at the event in January include Soundgarden, Kasabian, My Chemical Romance, and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. The show opens in Auckland on January 20, then travels to Gold Coast (January 22), Sydney (January 26), Melbourne (January 29), Adelaide (February 3), and Perth (February 5). Tickets for the event are on sale now and range from AUS $160 to AUS $165 (€120-124). Big Day Out also features a series of additional concerts by some of the festival's acts in cities throughout the region; side show tickets go on sale November 28.
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26th SXSW Conference & Festival
March 9-18 (Music portion March 13-18)
Austin, Texas, US

This extravaganza combines music, film, and interactive technologies at a conference and trade show. By night the festival features 2,000 bands from around the world performing at venues across the city and anticipated film premieres. By day, workshops and panel discussions cover the business of music from publicity to recording. A must-do event for nonstop entertainment and information with industry players, fans, and artists. To attend the conference: through January 13 badges range from $500 to $750 for single events (music, film, or interactive). Gold and platinum badges, priced at $950 and $1,195, allow entry into multiple events. Prices increase after January 13.


27th Winter Music Conference
March 16-25
Miami Beach, Florida, US

The premiere electronic music event features 2,000 artists and DJs every year with hundreds of events, club parties, and workshops. The annual gathering attracts 100,000 attendees and industry representatives from around the world for a DJ Spin-off, Record Collectors Show, and International Dance Music Awards. The Ultra Music Festival featuring electronic music happens in downtown Miami during the event. Early registration through December 14 is priced at $345.
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21st Lollapalooza

March 31 - April 2: Santiago, Chile
April 7-8: Sao Paulo, Brazil
August 5-7: Chicago, Illinois, US

First launched in 1991 by Perry Farrell, lead singer of Jane's Addiction, Lollapalooza is an iconic American festival with its roots in the alternative music scene. The event expanded to Chile in 2011 and moves into Brazil in 2012. While historically a vehicle for alternative bands, Lollapalooza has come to encompass a wide range of acts. These are urban festivals with no camping options, but the festival site does provide a list of hotels. Bjork, Foo Fighters, MGMT, Artic Monkeys, and Skrillex are booked in Chile.


13th Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
April 13-15 and April 20-21
Indio, California, US

After last year's event sold out in under a week, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will hold its 2012 installment over two weekends (April 13-15 and April 20-22) in Indio, California. According to a statement, organizers will attempt to produce two identical festival weekends featuring the same lineup. Every year, more than 100,000 music fans head to the Southern California desert for the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In the decade since Coachella launched, the multi-stage event has grown in size and acclaim and is now considered the opener of the summer festival season. Artists include headliners in pop, rock, electronica, and hip-hop. Tickets go on sale in February.


43rd New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
April 27-May 6
New Orleans, Louisiana

A 10-day cultural feast filled with thousands of musicians and an audience of 400,000 enjoying music on 12 stages, spanning genres from blues to R&B and African to Latin. Artists have included Senegal's Youssou N'Dour to Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Connick Jr. and B.B. King. Arts, crafts and cuisine are also features of this hybrid fair combining the Mardi Gras spirit and summer jazz fests around the world. Single day tickets are priced at $45.
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11th Bonnaroo Festival

June 7-10
Manchester, Tennessee, US

The four-day Bonnaroo Festival, now in its 11th year, brings nearly 90,000 people to Great Stage Park, a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee. It is the top-grossing festival in North America, and Rolling Stone named it as one of the 50 moments that changed the history of rock and roll. Tickets go on sale November 28, 2011. The lineup is yet not announced but 2011 featured Lil Wayne, Florence + the Machine, and Arcade Fire. Presale admission tickets go on sale November 28th at 12pm EST for $224.50 plus service fees.


38th Rock Werchter
June 28 - July 1
Werchter, Belgium

Rock Werchter is another of Europe's biggest festivals, this one attracting more than 110,000 visitors a year (of which 80,000 stay for all three days). While there is no word on the 2012 lineup, 2011 featured Coldplay, Iron Maiden, Kings of Leon, and Chemical Brothers. In 2011, four-day passes were priced at €195; one-day passes, €76. A campsite ticket was an additional €18; €25 for an extra-large site.


42nd Roskilde Festival
July 5-8
Roskilde, Denmark

Among the largest European music festivals, Roskilde attracts more than 80,000 concertgoers and more than 180 performing bands. The 2012 festival will take place from July 5-8, with the campground opening for warm-up events that run from July 1 until the start of the festival. Tickets go on sale December 1. A DKK 1,725 (€ 232) ticket includes camping and access to events for the entire week. A one-day pass is DKK 875 (approx. € 117).


92nd Salzburg Festival

July 20 - September 2
Salzburg, Austria

The oldest and one of the most prestigious festivals in Europe will feature hundreds of performances at multiple venues in the three performing arts genres: opera, concerts, and drama. Operatic productions will include premieres, new productions, and re-stagings of baroque classics. For 2012, the focus is on composers Bernd Alois Zimmermann, represented by his opera Die Soldaten; Heinz Holliger, who is writing two commissioned works for this summer; and Witold Lutosławski, whose works will be performed by the Berlin Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, among others. For tickets and subscription prices, check the website.


15th Fuji Rock Festival
July 27-29
Niigata Prefecture, Japan

One of the longest-running music festivals in Japan opens over the last weekend in July. Again this year the Fuji Rock Festival is expected to return its old stomping ground at the Naeba Ski Resort, with 100,000 music-lovers likely heading to the event this year. So far, headliners The Stone Roses have been announced. 2011 headliners included Arctic Monkeys, The Chemical Brothers, and Coldplay. 2011 tickets were priced at 39,800 JPY (around €341) for a three-day ticket.


34rd Reading Festival and 13th Leeds Festival

August 24-26
Reading and Leeds, England

With the Glastonbury Festival out of the picture this year, the Reading and Leeds festivals offer another great UK option, attracting many big-name bands. The two festivals take place simultaneously and have the same lineup, with capacities of about 80,000 at the Reading site at about 70,000 in Leeds. 2011 headliners included My Chemical Romance, Muse, The Strokes, Beady Eye, and Jane's Addiction. Both festivals offer plenty of onsite camping options. A limited number of presale tickets priced at £82.50 (about €94) will be available beginning December 2 (Vodofone customers can buy tickets 48 hours in advance of this date).
Reading Festival: Facebook
Leeds Festival: Facebook




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