In the new issue of Songlines (August/September #140), I highlighted some forthcoming international festivals. Download a pdf here.
Ulsan World Music Festival
August 31-September 2
Ulsan, South Korea
A musical celebration of South Korea and beyond
An hour journey from Busan, the unassuming city of Ulsan often doesn’t even get a mention in many travel guidebooks; it’s rarely a destination city for those visiting South Korea. But this old whaling town is home to the annual Ulsan World Music Festival. Formerly known as the Cheoyong World Music Festival, it’s a celebration of both the music of South Korea and further abroad. The line-up has not yet been released at the time of going to print, but you can expect a healthy dose of music from every corner of the globe as well as homegrown talent showcased at the music conference, APAMM, that runs alongside the festival.
World Music Festival Chicago
Various venues, Chicago, Illinois, US
Windy City festival celebrates an impressive 20 years
This free festival hosted across Chicago is celebrating its 20th edition this year with a killer line-up. There will be plenty of time for dancing with Congolese band Jupiter & Okwess; the unique fusion of hip-hop, cumbia, dancehall and reggae from La Dame Blanche or the patchwork samples from Argentinian Juana Molina. Also on the bill are Gambian kora player Sona Jobarteh, Spiro, and Indian slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya.
World Music Festival Bratislava
The world comes to Slovakia
This four-day celebration of music in the capital of Slovakia boasts a varied programme. As well as concerts, there are dance workshops, street shows, children’s events and a conference on world music. The festival is set on the banks of the Danube River, and this year’s line-up is due to include King Ayisoba, Marko Marković Brass Band, and Greek lyra players Ross Daly and Kelly Thoma as well as an abundance of local Slovak talent.
I came, I Warsaw, I cross-cultured
The world descends on Warsaw for this staple in the Polish festival calendar. The festival takes place at the Palace of Culture and Science, a socialist skyscraper that is Warsaw’s most recognisable landmark. And for the 14th edition there are sure to be knockout performances from Malian star Rokia Traoré; the godfather of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astatke; and Nigerian singer-songwriter Nneka.
Lotus World Music Festival
Bloomington, Indiana, US
Blooming good music
The Lotus World Music Festival blooms like its namesake in this oasis of a town in the cornfield-heavy state of Indiana in Midwest America. This year the festival will celebrate an impressive 25 years of excellent music and it’s going to be another strong year by the looks of the recently released line-up. Expect to see some minimalist folk from the quartet Spiro; take a trip to South America with the Colombian-Ecuadorian group Rio Mira; bask in the polyphony of Lo Còr de la Plana; and dance the night away with the ever-excellent Jupiter & Okwess from Kinshasa.
Jeonju International Sori Festival
Jeonju, South Korea
The pansori heartland
Get the full Korean cultural experience at this yearly festival in Jeonju in western South Korea. The main style on display here is pansori, a traditional Korean style of musical storytelling. While the lineup has not been released yet, expect a fully immersive experience into the tradition; with readily available translations, it’s easy to dive in head first. There’s also a strong vein of collaboration over the five days. And better still, Jeonju is listed as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy… yum!
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada
Show your colours
Held on the Canadian island of Cape Breton, this festival is a celebration of all things Celtic in honour of the Celtic influence that filtered through the island some two centuries ago. The line-up features oodles of homegrown talent as well as artists from across the pond, including Karen Matheson, RURA and The Young’uns. Don’t forget, Cape Breton is famous for its stunning beauty in the autumn – the vibrancy of its foliage is unreal. What better way to experience the various shades of the Celtic tradition than surrounded by vivid autumnal colours?
Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India
Under the harvest moon
Simply put, there’s just nothing quite like this festival. Held in the stunning 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort, here you can soak up the lush traditional music of Rajasthan. The festival is scheduled to coincide with Sharad Purnima, the harvest moon festival of the Hindu calendar, and as there are concerts from dawn until dawn, you’ll have time to soak up the view of the year’s brightest full moon. The line-up will be released soon, but expect a feast of Rajasthani music in a mix of free and ticketed concerts. But that’s not all on offer – they regularly programme unique collaborations, so you’ll be sure to hear something brand new.