The best festivals in the world for 2020

The best festivals in the world for 2020

There are enough festivals around the world to keep us happy all year round, from literary highs to euphoric trance. So, pack your wings and stilts, take off your clothes and paint your bottoms blue, try out street food and unrecognizable circus skills, surf forward and launch yourself into space with a giant catapult. And lost it, only for a few days. Will this be the year you finally make it to Burning Man and turn into a silver fish? Here we round up the best festivals in the world for 2020 according to


Forty concerts in a stunning colonial walled city that is a UNESCO World Heritage site – as classical music festivals go, it’s hard to beat Cartagena. For nine days, city squares, churches, and barrios are open to the public for performances, with musicians coming from all over the world. Each year also has a theme (2019 took a starry perspective with ‘Celestial Harmony’; 2020 focused on the elegant aesthetic transition of the Classical era to the stormy early Romantic period with ‘The Beautiful and the Sublime’), complemented by talks, exhibitions and virtual reality installation.


An adventurous international festival for electronic, digital and experimental musicians, full of nightclubs, concerts, film screenings and exhibitions, takes place in winter Berlin for ten days and nights. The program spread across the city, taking over venues such as the exclusive Berghain nightclub, the Hebbel am Ufer theater, and the once-squatter Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien gallery. The latest line-up includes Sunn O))), Holly Herndon, James Holden and Jenny Hval.


Wales’ pioneering literary festival now has locations in Mexico , Croatia , Peru and Spain , but Hay Weekend in sunny Colombia excels in terms of weather (here it reaches 20 degrees centigrade in January). The line-up includes global stars like Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, South American writers Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Laura Restrepo and a wealth of compelling music, visual art and activism.


Witness the second largest carnival in the world after Rio (a law was passed in 2007 to allow environmental noise levels to be ignored for two weeks). Enjoy fabulous costumes tailored to the themes (examples from the past decade include: horror, deep sea and Bollywood films; this year’s motif is ‘The Coquette 1950s’), a satirical Spanish street performance ‘murga’, and the closing ceremony ritual, ‘The Burning Sardines’, where thousands of people dress like mourners and carry huge fish heads – no, really.


Four days beside the Pacific Ocean and the Costa Rican jungle, listening to 24-hour music through a Funktion-One: Envision sound system is the last word in a remote hedonistic wonderland. The setting is the main attraction, near stunning Playa Hermosa, a tranquil cove filled with palm and fig trees, and electronic artists like GRiZ and Tycho providing the beats. Environmental and community initiatives underscore its commitment to being a sustainable festival.

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