Our essential guide to summer music festivals


As June slides languidly into July, it’s time to take a look at that golden yearly ritual, the summer music festival. Whether you’re looking for a civilized, time-honored jazz gathering on the shores of Lake Geneva, or a down-and-dirty L.A. dance fest with a name so obscene we can only print the acronym, our essential guide to summer music festivals—with helpful hotel suggestions plucked from the curated global collection of Design Hotels properties—has a little something for everyone. So get to planning, and don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes!

Montreux Jazz Festival

Switzerland, July 7-9


Begun in 1967 at Lake Geneva’s Montreux Casino as a strictly jazz affair curated by a small group of musicians, enthusiasts, and Atlantic Records execs, the storied Montreux Jazz Festival in its early years welcomed such luminaries as Miles Davis, Nina Simone, and Ella Fitzgerald. These days it’s opened up considerably, and the 2017 edition features big names like Lauryn Hill, Usher & The Roots, Gucci Mane, Phoenix, Solange, and Erykah Badu at the Montreux Musique & Convention Centre on the Lake Geneva shoreline (the original venue burned down in December 1971 during Frank Zappa’s performance, as referenced in the song “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple). If you make the trip, we suggest staying an hour away at the phenomenal new Huus Gstaad, a 131-room reimagined Swiss chalet in a glorious Alpine setting with fine restaurants, a stunning wellness and spa area, and interiors that were carefully crafted by award-winning Swedish design firm Stylt Trampoli.

Nos Alive

Lisbon, July 6-8

Originally dubbed Optimus Live, this music and arts festival now in its tenth year takes place along the Alges riverside in Oeiras, just outside the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. Despite its relatively recent origins, Nos Alive has achieved considerable popularity in Portugal and beyond, with British magazine NME naming it one of the top 12 European festivals of 2009. This year’s stellar lineup boasts Depeche Mode, the Weekend, Imagine Dragons, and the xx, among other heavy hitters. When it comes to accommodation, the seaside Altis Belem or gorgeous Rodrigo Machaz properties Memmo Príncipe Real (pictured) and Memmo Alfama are all excellent options.


London, July 14-15

Founded in 2002 by the electronic duo Groove Armada, Lovebox is a two-day music fest held in Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, London. Despite starting out predominantly oriented toward dance music, Lovebox has since expanded to include a wide variety of genres including hip hop, indie, grime, world, and pop, as well as circus performers, cabaret, and fringe acts. But it’s still the prime happening for London cool kids, ravers, and party monsters. The 2017 edition features Frank Ocean, Ricardo Villalobos, Chase & Status, Solange, Rag ’n’ Bone Man, and Mac Miller, among others. Design Hotels boasts a whole heapful of fantastic London properties, from Kit Kemp’s Firmdale collection, to hip East London boltholes Town Hall and Boundary (pictured).


Los Angeles, July 21-23

Due at least in part to its location in the Echo Park area of east L.A., FYF (the second and third letters stand for “yeah” and “fest,” the third we’ll leave to your imagination) consistently boasts a monster lineup. This year’s edition counts Kendrick Lamar, Björk, Missy Elliott, Slowdive, Iggy Pop, Nine Inch Nails, Perfume Genius, and A Tribe Called Quest among its many show-stopping headliners slated to play the Los Angeles Sports Arena & Exposition Park this July. For the perfect glam escape from the festival action, book a room at the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, a classic boutique property beloved by Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball that centers on a fabulous boomerang-shaped outdoor pool.


Chicago, August 3-6

A cross-generational classic, Lollapalooza was launched in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band. Once a touring fest, it ran annually until 1997, and was revived in 2003. Today Lollapalooza has settled into its recent incarnation as a weekend destination festival in Grant Park, Chicago. Though it was widely known as an alternative festival, Lollapalooza’s inaugural lineup ran the gamut from post-punk (Siouxsie and the Banshees) to industrial (Nine Inch Nails) to rap (Ice-T). This year’s lineup is equally varied, including Chance the Rapper, Lorde, Arcade Fire, and Blink-182. The Robey, Chicago’s first Design Hotels property, which opened earlier this year in a historic Art Deco tower soaring over the Wicker Park neighborhood, is a fantastic option for Lollapalooza lovers. The stylish hideaway includes a French-American café on the second floor, a rooftop cocktail bar, and a Cabana Club with a terrace pool.

Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival

South Korea, August 11-13

One of Asia’s biggest music fests, Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival takes place annually in Incheon, South Korea for three days at the end of July. The focus is rock and electronic, though other genres also figure, and the name comes from the five main themes of the festival: music, passion, environmentally friendly, DIY, and friendship. This year’s fest features Charli XCX, Bastille, and 5 Seconds of Summer, as well as a slew of South Korean draws like rock bands Guckkasten and Asian Chairshot. Where to stay? We heartily recommend Nest Hotel, a 370-room cubist-meets-modernist retreat that was cleverly designed to afford guests maximum views of pine trees, reed fields, and the calming Yellow Sea.

Sziget Festival

Budapest, August 9-16

Born in 1993 as a relatively low-profile student gathering to replace the formerly lively summer festival scene in the Communist era, Sziget Festival has grown to be one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. It is held every August in northern Budapest, Hungary, on Óbudai-sziget (Old Buda Island), a leafy 108-hectare island on the Danube and includes more than 1,000 performances. This year’s lineup features PJ Harvey, Kasabian, Major Lazer, Wiz Khalifa, and the Chainsmokers, among others. And when it comes to accommodation, we’ve got you covered: situated on the Danube riverbank at the foot of the Buda Royal Castle just a few minutes walk from the city center, Lanchid 19 is a beacon of comfort and innovation behind a stunning moving glass facade.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017