There’s a vision of the dream tropical vacation that we all know. It involves long days filled with endless sunshine, warm turquoise waters lapping up on white-sand beaches, lush landscapes, and gentle breezes. It’s all swimming, hiking, and baking in the sun with a cocktail and a lover. In short — bliss.
But tropical travel doesn’t all have to be all about sleepy island experiences, there are some truly legit parties cracking near the equator. And with just about everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere looking lovely in August, many warm-weather destinations don’t fully switch into party mode until the weather turns in North America and Europe. Meaning this is the right season to start thinking of an escape.
So where should you go when the fall chill seeps into your bones? Music festivals are an obvious choice. After all, who doesn’t love days of live music punctuated by nights of endless dancing? But there are also cultural events, legendary bacchanals, cruises, and sexy beaches to savor in the autumn. Surely something on this list will capture your imagination and inspire you to look out for a cheap flight as shoulder season travel deals begin popping up.
Lake of Stars — Malawi
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Tbt to Lake of Stars Festival 2016 and a fantastic headline slot from @freshlygroundsa! We’re looking forward to heading back later this year for more brilliant music on the stunning shores of Lake Malawi . . . . #tbt #LOS2018 #LakeOfStars #anniversary #15years #festival #LakeOfStarsFestival #africanmusic #livemusic #malawi #MalawiMusic #southafricanartist #party #beach #lakemalawi
Dates: September 27–29, 2019
This three-day festival was founded by a British tourist who visited the country of Malawi in college and longed to go back and effect positive change. Given that the country was recently voted sixth poorest in the entire world by USA Today, that’s not a bad goal. Lake of Stars brings over a million dollars to an economy desperately in need of a cash infusion and manages to be one of the most important music festivals on the continent. Plus, it’s set on the grounds of Kachere Kastle on the palm-fringed shores of the third largest lake in Africa. It would be difficult to find a more beautiful location to enjoy camping as well as a diverse range of concertgoers and performers.
This year the festival organizers are putting together a smaller, boutique offering called Lake of Stars Discovery with music, poetry, talks, art, theater, film, and wellness concepts from Malawi and across the globe. That means the energy will be a bit different than the traditional fest, though camping on-site guarantees you a ticket to a diverse party with adventuresome travelers from all over the globe. We’re talking bucket-list material.
Wonderfruit — Thailand
Dates: December 12–16, 2019
If there were some party family tree, Wonderfruit would be on a branch not far from Burning Man or Coachella — as it manages to be the tropical cousin of each, sharing their distinct vibes. Located in the seaside city of Patttaya, this high-concept festival focuses on art, music, food, and ideas to place a spotlight on sustainability. Though environmentally friendly living is celebrated throughout the fest, as an attendee, you will likely be spending most of your time soaking up an eclectic international music lineup that ranges from Mongolian throat-singers to Goldie.
As most people camp on site, there are multiple chances to enjoy immersive light installations on trees, in secret valleys, and on stages. All the while, you’ll be making new friends and keeping things going day and night.
Attendees should download the Wonderfruit app to access everything that’s planned. You wouldn’t want to miss a set in Forbidden Fruit — the bamboo boudoir that invites you to give in to hedonism or a morning yoga class. Nothing like spending all night raging to make you appreciate a good stretch.
Magnetic Fields Festival — India
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What an action packed day 2 we've had at Mag Fields 2018. Relive the key moments above. 📷 @itsgltch @polka.photos @rebeccajconway @iamasp_official @instajhamb @aviratsundra @amansridhar @solitadeb #magfields2018 #magneticfieldsfestival #musicfestival #boutiquefestival #alsisar #rajasthan #palace #heritage #desert #sand #electronicmusic #house #techno #bass #reggae #hiphop #folkmusic #camping #delhi #mumbai #bangalore #pune #kolkata #hyderabad
Dates: December 13–15, 2019
The rave scene in India has developed considerably over the past decade, and perhaps no event better exemplifies this than Magnetic Fields — a dizzying affair that invites attendees to gather in the middle of the desert and dance around-the-clock. Set against the 17th century Alsisar Mahal, a palace with ornate gardens in the remote Rajasthani desert, this fest is all about the juxtaposition of opposites. It’s where the boundaries between day and night, sober and trashed, and sleep and waking are blurred until everything just becomes one big source of non-stop fun. There are literally after parties each night that keep people with excellent stamina dancing at the palace poolside until 8 a.m.. It’s… a scene.
While you’re there, make time to visit the Magnetic Sanctuary where knowledgeable practitioners focus the ancient Rajasthani understanding of wellness. It’s genuinely interesting to learn more about keeping your body healthy, especially when you are primarily keeping it sleepless and bombed while you’re at the fest.
Curaçao Pride — Curaçao
Dates: September 25-29, 2019
If you live in the United States, gay pride celebrations feel like a part of the cultural fabric. We enjoy them and we look forward to them each year. In the Caribbean, that’s not quite the case. They’re all too rare, unfortunately, which is why the five-day bacchanal on the Dutch island of Curaçao is so noteworthy. Well… that and the nightly free parties.
Unlike a music festival that will keep you busy with performances all day, and partying all night, the events at Curaçao Pride mostly take place at night without much of a daily component. This means you can crash all day if you want to and go fully nocturnal like a party vampire. Or you can use the daylight hours to bounce back from a night of partying before you hit the streets and explore this little corner of paradise.
There are two events that do come with a price tag: the White Party and the Navigaytion Sea Parade. Both are worth it, as the former is a swanky poolside shindig with a particular dress code and the other is a short cruise with a DJ and a whole lot of drinks.
Loi Krathong Lantern Festival — Thailand
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😍 Floating Lanterns in Thailand : Reflection >> Yi Peng (Thai: khom loi) in Loi Krathong Festival many floating lanterns in north of Thailand Chiang Mai province.🙏ถึงวันลอยกระทงทีไร นึกถึงมุมในตำนานมุมนี้ทุกที โคมลอยยี่เป็งที่ธุดงคสถานล้านนา จังหวัดเชียงใหม่ครับ ภาพนี้ถ่ายไว้ 3-4 ปีแล้ว ยังคงนึกถึงวินาทีโคมลอยขึ้นพร้อมๆกันอยู่เลย สวยงามจริงๆ 😍🙏🙏👌
Dates: November 11-13, 2019
If you follow Instagram travel accounts, you’ve seen photos from the Loi Krathong celebrations in Chiang Mai. The images largely feature hundreds of floating fire lanterns making their way into the sky together, though there are also many pics of banana leaf boats baring incense and candles as well.
This is a fest with a spiritual component, not a true rager, but it’s definitely a celebration that brings thousands of people together to create unique memories and photos. Plus, as Loi Krathong has become such a tourist draw, you’re sure to see scores of special events and activities in addition to the lanterns. When it is lantern time, one idea worth considering is holing up at a rooftop bar to watch the glowing lights slowly make their way higher and higher.
There is a meditation center in a suburb called Mae Joe where tons of lanterns are released together. Pictures from this event are likely the ones you have seen, as they took the internet by storm a few years back. Though the event used to be free, there are now a limited number of tickets with a starting price of 100 dollars. If your ‘Gram absolutely needs a travel shot from that particular site, prepare to pay for it.
Djakarta Warehouse Project — Bali
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Thanks #2017 . . @invinict.art . . . #dwp #dwp17 #dwp2017 #djakartawarehouseproject #djakartawarehouseproject2017 #night #nightlife #dance #rave #raveparty #jakartanightlife #dj #indoclubbing #javaparty #chivas #chivasid #hdr #photography #acarajakarta #photography #canon #invinictart #agameoftones #Jakarta #vsco #vscocam #Indonesia
Dates: December 13-15, 2019
It may be called the Djakarta Warehouse Project, but this huge EDM event has moved to a cultural park in Bali where three massive, gorgeous stages play host to an impressive line-up of dance music acts. And the move has in no way compromised the event’s position as one of the biggest (if not the biggest) EDM events on the entire continent. That’s pretty impressive for a festival that started as a straight nightclub event with an audience of just over 5,000 revelers. Plus, given the number of people who urge the Jakarta government to close the whole thing down because it promotes indecent behavior, the fact that it keeps growing is a testament to how freaking rad it is.
The fact that this is a fairly affordable festival doesn’t hurt it’s success — making it a great party for travelers looking to enjoy both a trip, a non-stop party, and a line-up of stellar artists. People looking to spend all day and night moving their bodies to trance, techno, and house acts will be pleased by superstars like Steve Aoki, Marshmello, Tiesto, Loco Dice, and David Guetta (who have all played the fest). But there are also a lot of regional acts that many Americans won’t have heard of, and these are often the ones that blow minds.
Naughty Beach — Mexico
Dates: November 9-16, 2019
There are plenty of adults-only and couples-only resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean that are popular with people looking to mix their exploration of a foreign country with the exploration of a fellow traveler’s body. This is where the people behind Naughty Events come in. They organize and operate a naughty island, some naughty resorts, naughty cruises, and a naughty New Orleans bacchanal.
What makes this particular naughty series stand out is that their events are accompanied by a website with photos and profiles of every other person attending, so you can connect and set up dates before you arrive. The Naughty Beach event, in particular, is a weeklong party that takes place on a remote clothing-optional beach. This isn’t a busy tourist area full of souvenir shops and cheesy chain restaurants. Nope. This is paradise.
Obviously, the naughty aspects of the party are what drive these events, but this one will also include fire dancers, bands, DJs, acrobats, bonfires with burning sculptures, and a Temazcal (a sauna used in ceremonial cleansings in Mexico). It’s like someone took the orgy dome out of Burning Man and ran with that idea.
Rock in Rio — Brazil
Dates: September 27-29 and October 3-6, 2019
There are music festivals and then there is Rock in Rio, one of the largest in the entire world. Seriously, well over a million people attend this thing. That makes total sense when you get a look at the headliners, which range vastly in style. People who enjoy some old school metal can thrash to bands like Iron Maiden, Scorpions, and Sepultura, while those repping for contemporary pop have options like Drake and Ellie Goulding to look forward to. The entire event turns the city into a 24-hour party, but you don’t necessarily have to go walk the streets to find it. Previous shows have had stages hosting parties, gourmet food stalls, art exhibitions, an amusement park, a circus, and ziplines to ride. When you do venture out, prepare for the streets around the venue to be closed to traffic and full of people having a wild time. It’s a lot like Carnival.
The cost of accommodations will be higher during this event because so many people come from around the world to attend. It’s important that you be prepared to pay three times what you might otherwise for a hotel room because that’s the reality. However, should you travel with multiple people and grab an Airbnb, you might be able to mitigate the price a little.
Full Moon Party — Thailand
Dates: October 14, November 11, and December 11, 2019
The Thai Full Moon Party is the stuff of legend, and why wouldn’t it be? Don’t most people are naturally gonna dig on the idea of a wild party fueled by drugs and alcohol and attended by people from around the globe who just want to dance until the sun comes up. Getting a ticket to something like that is definite wish-fulfillment of the highest level.
These parties, which date back to the 1980s, have only grown in popularity, weathering the influx of the rave scene in the 1990s and the tourism boost that resulted from The Beach in the 2000s. Now, every month offers visitors the chance to get in on a festival afterparty without the festival. It’s a ton of drinking, dancing, drugs, and sex along a beach lined with bars, fire dancers, alcohol sales, and people offering glow in the dark face and body painting. By the end of the night, you should expect to see folks passed out cold, an occasional amorous pair getting it on, and a million abandoned flip flops missing their barefooted owners. If that doesn’t sell you, we don’t know what else to say.
It’s worth noting drugs are illegal in Thailand, and you do not want to end up in one of their prisons. Beware undercover officers trying to sell you drugs in order to bust you and seek out a bribe. Doing drugs in the open is another no-no. We aren’t saying you have to avoid it, but you should be very, very cautious about getting high.
It’s the Ship — Singapore
Dates: November 13-`15, 2019
Music festival cruises aren’t as popular as they should be. We don’t get it. It’s completely addicting to spend three days and two nights on a luxury ship with world-class DJs. Sure, camping at a festival is fun but there’s nothing like taking a break from non-stop music and pop-up parties to lie on a comfortable bed in a temperature-controlled room. And we haven’t been to every festival on Earth yet, but we are pretty sure most of them don’t come with 35 restaurant and bar concepts, mini-golf, a casino, a movie theater, a waterslide park, spas, a rope course, a rock-climbing wall, a bowling alley, and a luxury shopping mall.
Seriously, It’s the Ship has a lot to offer your ADD, experience-loving self. But honestly, you likely won’t get to explore most of the amenities and activities because you will be busy attending shows and theme parties.
Since you’re on the ship with the musicians performing, you will see a lot of them. That’s a fun bonus. You can hope to run into them at the pool or on the dance floor, but your best bet is to get in on the planned side activities like yoga or a whiskey and cigar session with your fave EDM artist.