The boys at OML are pretty much the ones who got this whole scene started, with NH7 in Pune (circa 2010). What started with a small indie line-up has since grown to include mega artistes from everyone like AR Rahman and Imogen Heap to The Vaccine and Megadeth. The festival has also grown into a multi-city phenomenon, with the team planting flags in Delhi, Bangalore and most recently in Shillong. This last one is the best excuse to make that Meghalaya trip you’ve been planning. While you’re there, get lost in the labyrinthine lanes of Iewduh, the largest market in the North East, with stalls selling live eels and catfish, palm-sized ginger, vegetables, fruits, roots, medicinal herbs, pickled bhut jolokias, second-hand jackets and electronic appliances. The artiste line-up in Shillong and Pune this year includes Divine, Swet Shop Boys, Prateek Kuhad, Kraken, Aqua Dominatrix, Polar Lights, Mosko and more.
When: Meghalaya (October 27–29, 2017), Pune (December 8–10, 2017). Tickets start at Rs. 2,000.
Set in the 17th Century Alsisar Mahal in Shekawati, Rajasthan, Magnetic Fields is a luxe music festival for grown ups who don’t want to grow up. There’s dancing all night, electronic DJs from all over the world, sparkly (but sophisticated) face paint and billowy white tents for only the hippest bedouins (that’s you). It’s a three-hour drive from Jaipur, where you can make a pit stop for cocktails at the stunning Bar Palladio and spend one night at 28 Kothi, the hotel that’s the backdrop for everyone’s Instagram lately. They’re holding this year’s line up close to their chests, but if you want a musical snap shot of what it’s going to be like, see past artists: Floating Points, Roman Flugel, Helena Hauff, The Wanton Bishops, Sandunes, Prateek Kuhad, BLOT. They’ve even had a Magnetic Words segment in the past where talks are given by award-winning authors, artists and comics, like William Dalyrymple, Shilo Shiv Suleman, Raghu Karnad and Radhika Vaz.
When: December 15-17, 2017. Ticket prices usually start at Rs 5,000.
Ziro Music Festival
Despite whisperings of bad organisation, this festival wins for its stunning location – Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh. Founded in 2012 by Bobby Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty, Ziro is also all about local food and drink. Festival goers in the past have drunk tons of rice beer, run through fields of wild flowers and watched artists like The Ska Vengers, guitarist-poet Jeet Thayil’s band Still Dirty, Indus Creed and Suman Sridhar.
When: September 28 – October 1, 2017. Tickets start at Rs 5,000.
Almost exclusively for millennials, this electronic music festival is a beautiful blur of colour, light and sound. Sunburn was founded by RJ and DJ Nikhil Chinappa along with Percept in 2007. After years of making Goa’s Vagator its base, the festival has now moved to Pune. It seems like a step down to us, but we suppose you can forgive the lack of beach for bitchin’ boys like David Guetta and Armin Van Buuren, who have played here in the past. Need recommendations in Pune? See our weekend getaway list here.
When: December 28 – 31, 2017. Tickets start at Rs. 2,000.
Music lover and entrepreneur Keith Menon launched Ragasthan in 2012. If you haven’t been to Ragasthan yet this is what you’ve missed so far: 4 stages, 23 art installations, 137 acts, 436 artists, 1 massive festival village with a 1 pitch-tent campsite, 1 nomad market, 2000 paper fans, camel rides, tractor rides, hot-air-balloon rides, hot barbecues, cold beverages, cinema under the stars and cars, free chai and water, sky gazing sessions… we’re sold.
Ragasthan let’s you set up home in the middle of the Khuri Dunes (again, we’re told by festival goers that they haven’t ironed out many logistical kinks, so you have be self sufficient), and listen to artistes play music ranging from jazz to rock and folk. The dunes are situated at the outskirts of Jaisalmer, which means you can get a grab-and-go cup at the city’s famous Bhang Shop and your car will magically turn into a camel.
When: Usually in February. (Dates to be confirmed). Tickets are usually priced at Rs. 5,000.
Dionysus and her crew are in full attendance at the Sula Fest, where cheeks are flushed and feet are dancing. Based in Nashik’s gorgeous Sula Vineyards, the festival, in addition to Indian music artistes, plucks art, fashion labels and restaurants from Mumbai to set up pop-up versions of themselves here. Also, you get to camp in a vineyard, which makes this music festival different from the others! When in Nashik, also tour other vineyards in the region and ride ATVs.
When: February 3–4, 2018. Tickets start at Rs. 2,200.
Enchanted Valley Carnival
Enchanted Valley Carnival promises a long and diverse line up of artists each year, which in the past have included Flo Rida, Arijit Singh, Farhan Akhtar, Badshah, Papon and Basterjaxx. Held at Aamby Valley City in Lonavala, EVC provides regular and luxury tents, plus a ground if you’d like to bring your own. When you’re done, peace out at Atmantan resort at Mulshi nearby. The festival is run by Universal Music and Twisted Entertainment, first came to be in 2013.
When: December 16-17, 2017. Tickets usually priced at Rs. 2,000.
The latest music (“genre defying” artists) and art festival on the India circuit is GOAT, a British import that got hampered by election dates and alcohol deadlines during its maiden voyage in Goa this year. The line up included a mix of local and international acts like Blot!, Kumail, Henry Wu and others, Gilles Peterson, Sandunes Next year, expect a bigger venue, better artists, and a show that doesn’t end at 10 pm by this London-based company born out of The Roundhouse, an iconic charity and state of the art performing arts venue in North London. For things to do and secret rendezvous in Goa, read our guide here.