Top 10 Indie Music Festivals For 2012

There is nothing we love more than summer music festivals. Knocking back a few cold ones in the sun with mates while watching your favourite bands is as close to heaven as you can get. But as much as we enjoy the Big Day Out, Laneway, Golden PlainsSplendour In The Grass and the like, it’s the overseas festivals that really offer something different.

Be it chilling in the Californian desert with 100,000 stoned hipsters at Coachella, or watching The Prodigy in the rain with thousands of Austrians at Frequency, overseas festivals are just that little bit more enticing. But with so many different festivals, it’s hard to know which are best, so Tobias Handke handpicked his Top 10 Indie Festivals For 2012.

An honourable mention goes to our very own Laneway Festival, which has fast become Australia’s best value for money festival.


Coachella Festival

Where: Indo, California, America

When: April 13-15 & April 20-11

Why: Situated on a polo field in the middle of the Californian desert, Coachella is America’s premier festival. Three days of camping and partying in the hot sun with hipsters, stoners, and celebrities alike is just part of what makes Coachella so amazing. And don’t get started on the line-up! This year’s event takes place over two separate weekends, both selling out in record time. If you were lucky enough to score a ticket, prepare yourself for a weekend of absolute mayhem that you won’t forget in a hurry.

2012 line-up: Radiohead, The Black Keys, Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg, At The Drive-In, The Shins, M83, Justice, Mazzy Star, Bon Iver, The Rapture, Miike Snow, DJ Shadow, Wild Flag, and more.

Coachella Official Site

Bonnaroo Festival

Where: Manchester, Tennessee, America

When: June 7-1

Why: The closest competition to Coachella, Bonnaroo has quickly established itself as the festival for cool kids. Situated on over 700 acres of land, the festival has come out guns blazing this year, with the headlined acts including Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the original line-up of The Beach Boys. If you missed out on Coachella, you’d be a fool to pass this one up.

2012 line-up: Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beach Boys, Alice Cooper, The Roots, Phish, The Avett Brothers, Mogwai, Bad Brains, Black Star, The Kooks, and more.

Bonnaroo Official Site                            

Roskilde Festival

Where: Roskilde, Denmark

When: July 5-8

Why: One of the oldest festivals, Roskilde first started way back in 1971 and is a non-profit organisation, relying on over 1,000 volunteers to keep it running smoothly every year (also a great way to score a free ticket!). Along with the big names, Roskilde is known for its support of smaller and lesser-known artists, with this year’s event featuring an Electronic lounge and an acoustic stage.

2012 line-up: Bruce Springsteen, The Cure, Bjork, Bon Iver, Refused, Tune-Yards, Wiz Khalifa, Yelawolf, Friendly Fires, Royce Da 5’9, Cerebral Ballzy, and more.

Roskilde Official Site

Exit Festival

Where: Novi Sad, Serbia

When: July 12-15

Why: Started by 3 university students in 2000 as a free cultural event to protest against the government of Slobodan Milosevic, Exit Festival has fast become a staple of festival goers, winning the award for best European festival in 2007. With the entertainment starting in the evening and going to the sun comes up, this is one for the night owls. Did we mention it takes place in a castle?

2012 line-up: New Order, Wolfmother, The Gossip, Ritchie Hawtin, and more to be announced.

Exit Official Site

Fuji Rock Festival

Where: Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata Japan

When: July 27-29

Why: Occurring the same time as our very own Splendour, Fuji Rock’s line-up is usually an indication of what we can expect, so let’s hope Radiohead and The Stone Roses are making the trip down under! Although only two acts have been announced so far, Fuji Rock always delivers the goods, with its scenic location amongst snow-topped mountains making it one of the most picturesque festivals going.

2012 line-up: Radiohead, The Stone Roses, and more to be announced.

Fuji Rock Official Site

Sziget Festival

Where: Obudai Island, Budapest, Hungry

When: 6-13 August

Why: Europe’s largest open-air festival takes place on a 266 acre island in the middle of Budapest. Yeah, that’s right, a freakin’ island – punters catch a water taxi to and from the festival! Szgiet goes for 8 days and claims to feature over 1000 different performances.

2012 line-up: The Stone Roses, Noah And The Whale, Placebo, Friendly Fires, Hurt, Crystal Fighters, The Horrors, Mando Diao, The Subways, and more to be announced.

Sziget Official Site

Pukkelpop Festival

Where: Hasselt, Belgium

When: 16-17 August

Why: Pukkelpop has been in the news for all the wrong reasons the last couple of years. After the death of The Call’s guitarist Michael Been in 2010, the suicide of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool’s frontman Charles Haddon in the same year, and the tragic death of 5 punters after a stage collapsed last year, the festival’s reputation has taken something of a battering. That should not, however, deter you from experiencing Belgium’s finest festival that always delivers not only a sensational line-up, but a great atmosphere to boot.

2012 line-up: To be announced.

Last year’s included: Foo Fighters, James Blake, Bloody Beetroots, Skrillex, Duck Sauce, Fleet foxes, and 95 more artists.

Pukkelpop Official Site

Leeds/Reading Festivals

Where: Leeds & Reading, England

When: 24-26 August

Why: With Glastonbury taking a break due to the Olympic Games, the Leeds and Reading festivals are the biggest music camping events in the UK. Occurring simultaneously over the same weekend in 2 different cities, this festival is an institution – much like our very own Big Day Out – that never fails to disappoint.

2012 line-up: To be announced.

Last year’s included: The National, The Chemical Brothers, Judas Priest, Pulp, Crystal Castles, The Strokes, Muse, My Chemical Romance, and Dizzee Rascal.

Leeds/Reading Official Site

Rock En Seine Festival

Where: Paris, France

When: 24-26

Why: Held at Domaine National de Saint-Cloud (a national park) on the outskirts of Paris, Rock En Seine is known as the festival that broke up OASIS. That aside, it is one of the most professional, clean and polite festivals in the calendar year, always attracting a wide range of artists, proving the French know their music, even if they don’t get overly involved.

2012 line-up: To be announced.

Last year’s included: Foo Fighters, The Kills, Arctic Monkeys, Wolfgang, Interpol, Deftones, Death From Above 1979, Smith Westerns, and CSS

Rock En Seine Official Site


Where: Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight, England

When: 6-9 September

Why: Created by BBC DJ and head of record label Sunday Best Rob da Bank, Bestival has grown from a small boutique festival to an award winning camping event that now attracts over 60,000 people a year. With a dress-up day, multiple vegetarian options and other unique areas, as well as supporting various political, social and environmental issues, Bestival has something for everyone. And if that isn’t enough for you, just check out the line-up.

2012 line-up: New Order, The xx, Sigur Ros, Friendly Fires, Hot Chip, Gallows, De La Soul, 2manydjs, The Horrors, Gary Numan, Warpaint, Justice, Two Door Cinema Club, and more.

Bestival Official Site

Words by Tobias Handke.


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