The number of music festivals in India has increased exponentially in recent years, especially those that cater to independent music. There are a handful of college festivals programming indie rock music.
Bacardi NH7 Weekender – The inaugural edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender was held in Pune in 2010, as a primarily multi-genre, indie music festival. It has become an annual festival and it has been held in Pune, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Shillong over the past few years. In 2016, it took place in Shillong, Hyderabad and Pune. The festival also travelled to five more cities as one-day “Express” editions in Jaipur, Nagpur, Mysore, Puducherry and Kolkata. The festival has multiple stages, depending roughly on genre. While the line-up continues to consist primarily of independent musicians from India and around the world, some hugely popular acts have played at previous editions of the festival as well.
Ziro Festival – Held annually in Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro Valley since 2012, Ziro Festival has, in two years, become one of the country’s favourite destination/camping festivals. While primarily a multi-genre festival, the line-up mostly comprises bands/artists of the pop/rock variety.
Echoes Of Earth – Echoes of Earth is India’s 1st ecologically-crafted music festival. The festival is a hub for music lovers and those who care about sustenance and preservation of the Earth. The first edition of Echoes of Earth end of 2016 saw an artistic convergence of over 40+ Indian and International musicians and artists who came together in the lap of pristine nature to do what they do best.
Never before had the country witnessed a culmination of communes and concerts – all to encourage and support ecological lifestyles.
Nariyal Paani – In a secluded little coconut wadi on the seashores of Alibaug, one hour by boat from Mumbai, Nariyal Paani plays home to a chilled out and eco-friendly 2-days music festival since 2015, with a line-up of 10 to 15 Indian and international bands, from indie pop / rock, funk, ska, reggae, beatbox, hip-hop to singer-songwriters.
Indie March – With the agenda of pushing all things indie, Indie March was born to celebrate the newer breed of musicians and artistes from across the country and abroad. Organised by CounterCulture, the festival had 4 successful editions since 2013 (with 5 stages and over 30 indie acts from all over the world in 2016), but didn’t happen in 2017. We hope it comes back!
Control ALT Delete – Control ALT Delete aims to bring back the live movement to where it belongs – to the artist and the fan.
Control ALT Delete is a crowd-funded movement that involves the whole ecosystem of the independent music scenario in the country to deliver a gig utilizing everyone’s strengths and contributions. It aims to make everyone right from the fan to the artist to the merch retailer, a stakeholder in the gig. The “pay what you want” initiative started in 2012 and presented its 10th edition in February 2017 in Mumbai with 35 live acts over 2 days across 5 stages.
Into The Void – Into The Void is Gujarat’s largest, first of its kind 3-day music festival. To be hosted annually at different locations and absolutely free! Its first edition happened in the desert of Gujarat in February 2017.
India Bike Week – The first edition of India Bike Week was held in Goa in 2013, and the second earlier this year. The festival caters primarily to bikers and biking enthusiasts, but also includes two stages for music. The line-up is largely multi-genre.
Escape Festival – Held annually in the picturesque hill station of Naukuchiatal, Escape Festival is a multi-genre music and art festival, and is widely considered one of India’s foremost camping festivals.
Sulafest – Held in Sula vineyards in Nasik, Sulafest is one of the biggest live music festivals in India, hosting bands of all music genres and from all over the world. It now also has an electronica music stage.
Ragasthan – The first ever edition of Ragasthan, a three-day camping music festival in Rajasthan desert, was held in Jaisalmer in 2012. The second edition happened early 2014. The next edition is under discussion.
Storm Festival – Started as a camping music festival in 2012, Storm Festival – held in Coorg for the first two editions and Bangalore for the third – is a two-day event that has multiple stages, presenting mostly rock and pop music and DJs.
Mood Indigo (IIT Mumbai) – Mood Indigo is the annual cultural festival of IIT Bombay, and has been held almost every year since its inauguration in 1971. Over the years, a number of well-known musicians have played at Mood Indigo, with line-ups including Indian independent bands, Hindi pop artists and a few international artists.
Great Indian Rock – Popularly known as GIR, this has been one of the longest running festivals (its first edition happened in 1997) and has played a pioneering role to promote independent music in India. The producers – RSJ ‘Rock Street Journal’– and its Norwegian partners helped create a productive tie-up with metal festival INFERNO in Oslo with artist exchange programs and other opportunities of performances and raising skills within the music scene in India.
Mahindra Blues Festival – A two-day festival held in Mumbai every year, the Mahindra Blues Festivals has come to be regarded as among Asia’s biggest blues festivals. The line-up features blues and jazz musicians from India and around the world.
Kasauli Rhythm and Blues Festival – The Kasauli Rhythm and Blues Festival, started in 2012, is an annual fund-raiser organised by Genesis Foundation. The line-up primarily features folk, jazz and blues musicians.
The Jazz Fest in Kolkata – Held annually in Kolkata and previously known as the Congo Square Jazz Festival – that initially started in 1978, run for 5 editions and revived in 2003 – programs jazz acts from India and from abroad.
Delhi International Jazz Festival – The Delhi International Jazz Festival is organised by ICCR, Indian Council for Cultural Relations. It started in 2011 and is taking place at Nehru Park in New Delhi. The festival features jazz acts from India and around the world.
Goa International Jazz Live Festival – The first edition of the Goa International Jazz Live Festival was held in November 2013. It features contemporary and cutting-edge jazz musicians from India and from abroad.
Jazz Utsav – The first edition of Jazz Utsav was held in Delhi in 1984 and was called Jazz Yatra. For the last few years, the festival has been held annually, and rechristened Jazz Utsav. In 2012, the festival was also held in Mumbai and Pune, aside from Delhi. It is now organised by the event management company Teamwork and is taking place in Delhi as a one-day event.
Shisha Jazz Café Festival – Shisha Jazz Café, the jazz hub in Pune, also hosts its own jazz festival every year.
Sunburn – Sunburn is a commercial EDM Festival that has been held in Goa from 2007 till 2015 and it is now held in the hills of Kesnand, near Pune. Sunburn has become Asia’s largest music festival and has, over the years, featured some of the most popular DJs from around the world.
Enchanted Valley Carnival – Enchanted Valley Carnival, held in Aamby Valley, started in 2013 and has become hugely popular. While the line-up focussed primarily on EDM/electronic music, Bollywood, it also featured some folk, pop/rock bands.
Bass Camp Festival – The first edition of Bass Camp Festival was held in 2010, and it has since established itself as the country’s premier bass heavy electronic music festival. In the years since, it has been held in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Goa and Kolkata.
VH1 Supersonic – VH1 Supersonic started in 2013, as a five day-long electronic music festival held in Goa. Some of the most popular DJs and producers from India and around the world featured on the line-up for the festival. It is now been held in Pune.
Magnetic Fields – Set within the historical & decadent Alsisar Mahal in Rajasthan, Magnetic Fields has become a fairly successful and well-reputed alternative electronica festival in the span of a few years.
Hill Top Festival – 3 stages with a selection of artists from abroad and from India. Each day presents DJ/Producers, mostly psychedelic, trance and techno.
CTRL ALT DANCE – CTRL ALT DANCE is an annual event presented and curated by AFE (Ankytrixx & Friends Entertainment).
GOAT – An immersive music and arts experience set on the sultry Goan beach of Ashvem. Launched in 2017, GOAT Festival has become one of the country’s most looked after music festival, presenting alternative live and electronica music.
Bangalore Open Air – Established in 2012, Bangalore Open Air has been held annually since, and has come to be recognised as India’s foremost heavy metal music festival.
Inferno Metal Festival – The first edition of the iconic Norwegian metal festival, Inferno Metal Festival, was held in India in 2014. This also marked the first time the festival was held in Asia.
Entombed Metal Festival – The first edition of Entombed Metal Fest was held in Pune in August 2012, followed by a second edition also in Pune, and the subsequent two in Mumbai. The festival primarily serves as a platform for young metal bands in the country.
Over the last few years, there has been a number of smaller metal festivals around the country, most of which feature metal bands from India only: Domination:
Domination: The Deathfest
Doom Over Bangalore
Channel V India Fest – The V India Fest is held annually, with a focus on showcasing as well as finding new talent. The events conducted are over a variety of categories, including music, theatre, fashion, sports and more.
A number of college festivals are held across the country, with the biggest being at IIT in Mumbai and Delhi, and IIM in Ahmedabad.
Many college festvals program Bollywood acts. The biggest ones are:
Traditional folk/world music/regional
Hornbill Festival – Hornbill Festival, held in Nagaland every year in December, is the most popular festival in the area. It hosts the hugely popular Hornbill Rock Contest, as well as a music festival featuring bands/musicians from around the country, and a number of traditional musicians from the area as well.
Jaipur Literature Festival – The Jaipur Literature Festival is held in January every year, and has grown into the largest literary festival in Asia. Aside from featuring speakers from around the world, the festival also has a music stage, which primarily plays host to folk, pop and classical musicians.
Jodhpur RIFF – Jodhpur RIFF is the Rajasthan International Folk Festival and is held annually in and around the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. The line-up primarily features a variety of Rajasthani musicians and dancers, among other aritsts.
Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival –This festival was established in 1992 by Dr. L. Subramaniam. It showcases talent from around the world and provides a platform for different styles of music from around the globe. Till date, the festival has been held in 55 cities across 22 countries and has received tremendous support from the press and public alike, hosting audiences of up to 200,000 people at a single event.
Kolkata International Music Festival – Organised by “Song of Soul”, the Kolkata International Music Festival saw its 5th edition in 2012, featuring primarily traditional and folk musicians.
World Sufi Spirit Festival – The World Sufi Spirit Festival, better known as the World Sacred Spirit Festival is held in the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur and the Ahhichatragarh Fort in Nagaur. The line-up features sufi, folk and traditional musicians from around the world.
Kenduli Mela – The Kenduli Mela is held every January in the district of Birbhum in West Bengal. Jaydev Kenduli, believed to be the birthplace of the poet Jaydev, is the location for the fair, which celebrates the music of the natives of that area – the Bauls.
Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival – The Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival is held every January in the town of Thiruvaiyaru in Tamil Nadu. The 171st edition of the festival will happen on January 6th 2018.
Blue Lotus Festival – The second edition of the Blue Lotus Festival will be held in Rajasthan in October 2014. The festival focuses on Indian sufi, folk, traditional, gypsy, tribal, devotional and spiritual music.
Udaipur World Music Festival – This 3-days free access festival takes place at two different venues in the city. More than 150 musicians from all over the world are invited to twinkle on the stage of Udaipur World Music Festival.
Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan – Shree Baba Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan is believed to be the oldest Indian classical music festival in the world – it has completed 141 years on December 28th 2016. It is held every year at Devi Talab in Jalandhar, near the Samadhi of Saint Harballabh.
Madras Music Season – Madras Music Season is a six week-long festival held in Chennai from December to January. When it first began, the festival was about Carnatic music only, but over the years has expanded to include other forms of music as well as dance and drama.
Saptak Festival – The Saptak Sangeet Samaroh or Saptak Music Festival is held annually in Ahmedabad in January. The focus of this festival is solely on Indian classical music.
Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav – The Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav is an Indian classical music festival, organised by Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal every year in Pune since 1953.
The Dover Lane Music Conference – The Dover Lane Music Conference is an annual Indian classical music festival held in Kolkata.