I know why you’ve decided to take a gap year. They’re all noble reasons. You want to enrich yourself. Learn a language, snatch cute endangered animals from the jaws of extinction. Do something meaningful. You have no interest in engaging in a little debauchery while you’re abroad. You’ll probably go on a fast while you’re at it. I’m so proud of you, and I’m sure your mother is too.
But let’s not kid ourselves. People go on gap years because they want to see what else the world has to offer, yeah, and they want to have a good time while they’re at it. We say, there’s no better way to do that than to go to a music festival every now and then.
Music festivals are the modern day Shangri-La. To the guy engrossed in a tiring work schedule, they’re an escape from the hustle and bustle of their lives. But to you, the gap year backpacker, they’re more than that. They’re the ethos of an entire gap year compartmentalized into a weekend. A chance to see the world in one secluded showground and experience your host country in its best. And (not least of all) they’re fun as hell.
Each one brings a little something different to the table — a seasoning flavored by their audience, their location, and their mission. Taking a gap year will give you the opportunity to see dozens, but there are at least ten with a seasoning so delicious you should go out of your way to have a taste.
A music festival, as fun as it is, can leave you feeling drained. Dehydrated. And, depending on how you experience them, a little mortified. Like your cultural karma needs to be brought back into balance. For some, this means taking a break from festivals in general. For others, it means attending a festival that combines music and fun with making a difference in the world.
The Rainforest World Music Festival is rated as one of the best music festivals on the planet. But more than that, it’s rated by the UN as one of the organizations making a difference in saving our environment and culture. Taking place in in the Sarawak Cultural Village in the middle of the rainforest at the foot of Mount Santubong, it features plenty of modern music, yes, but the festival really emphasizes the traditional. Didgeridoos, drums, and lutes are dominant.
The audience is free to explore the village, and many daytime shows take place in the actual houses. More than just the rainforest, the festival is set on preserving forms of music, forms of life.
A lot of the festivals on this list are featured for the escape they provide from the world. The Rainforest World Music Festival does the opposite — it anchors you in the world and reminds you why you’re there in the first place. It reminds you about what’s important. It provides a cultural bridge. The future will always be there, but we can still lose our jungles and our traditional music. But not if we can help it!