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Give back AND party at these 15 green music festivals

A crowd of people at a green music festival.

Just like travel, attending a music festival can be the highlight of your year. The one thing that can suck about festivals though (besides the toilets), is that they’re not always eco-friendly. Anyone who has ever seen the aftermath of a festival can’t help but be horrified at the sea of plastic left behind.

But not all festivals were created equal! Some are far better at being kind to the environment and are making strides in giving back to the planet and community. Here are some green music festivals that belong on your bucket list…

Coachella, California, USA

The iconic festival loved by celebs and #regularfolk is held over two big weekends and that means a big footprint. Or does it? The festival has a lot of eco-solutions including The Recycling Store and 10 for 1 Bottle Exchange, at various points around the festival site and campgrounds, stopping millions of plastic bottles ending up in landfill. They’re also committed to finding better energy solutions, such as allowing festival goers to charge their phone by playing on a see-saw and wooden signage printed using energy from solar panels.

They’re also passionate about charities and donate ticket proceeds to California Care Force, The Coachella Valley Community Trust, The Indio Teen Center, The Indio Senior Center, Silverlake Conservatory of Music, The Painted Turtle, Dessert SOS, and Global Inheritance.

Northside Festival, Aarhus, Denmark

Since this festival’s inception in 2010, they’ve been committed to creating a green and sustainable festival culture. The majority of the stages and festival buildings are built from wood, there’s no parking for cars so attendees are forced to walk, cycle or get public transport AND all food and drink is locally sourced and organic. In fact, they’re officially a 100% organic festival and have a mission to become a 100% waste-free festival in the future.

Lollapalooza, Chicago, USA

This city festival is held in Grant Park and their focus on keeping the park and the surrounding area clean is obvious in everything they do. The have a dedicated green section called ‘Green Street’ that encourages eco-friendly shopping, workshops and volunteering. They also partner with organisations like Rock & Recycle, Green Mountain Energy, and Compass Green and ticket proceeds are donated to charities like Food Policy Action, Oxfam, and rare blood disorder LCH research charity Syd Rocks.

A woman at a green music festival carrying a bag of trash.

Holy Ship!, Port Canaveral, USA

A giant cruise ship is hard to reduce a carbon footprint on, but Holy Ship! are always looking for ways to give back. They host charity auctions on board and donation drives to promote humane and environmental causes that need help. They also give festival attendees the chance to offset their carbon footprint by donating to Trees, Water & People. They are proud supporters of the rural communities they visit and their donations supply cleaner water, more efficient cook-stoves and fund tree nurseries to produce trees for firewood, fruit production, sequestering carbon, and creating healthy soils and watersheds.

Austin City Limits, Austin, USA

On site Austin City Limits (ACL) are BIG on recycling, have water refilling stations and get the community involved by asking them to design and decorate their flashy Don’t Mess With Texas trashcans. This helps to get people to recognise the impact waste has on their own community. ACL also partners with charities and non-profits like The Nature Conservancy, and the mental health and addiction recovery service provider the SIMS foundation.

Shambala, North Hampshire, UK

This family friendly festival is like something out of a fairy tale. They often win a Greener Festival Award thanks to their innovative solutions to festival waste. Partnering with Oxfam and Wormfood, Shambala is “committed to being as environmentally sustainable as possible”. Since their debut they’ve reduced the carbon footprint of their attendees by 80%, run off 100% renewable power, are meat and fish free AND said bye bye to disposable plastics with their plastic free initiatives and ‘Bring a Cup’ scheme.

A group of people attending a green music festival in front of a building that says recycling exchange.

Bonnaroo, Manchester, USA

This music festival is proudly green and uses solar energy and water-filtration systems on site to reduce carbon emissions. They’ve even established their own not-for-profit, the Bonnaroo Works Fund that aims to make local communities better off in areas of the arts, education, and environmental sustainability.

Blenheim Festival, Adelaide, Australia

This volunteer-run and completely not-for-profit festival is all about giving back to their local community and supporting charity. Their ethos is that “Blenheim gives back as much as it takes in”. Most of their profits go to New Hope Cambodia, a service providing food, education, health and social care to the people of Mondul Bai and to date they’ve donated $76,000.

Secret Solstice, Reykjavík, Iceland

Iceland has a knack for sustainability alright, and that extends to their festivals. As it’s held at the time of year when the sun rarely sets, they get 72 hours of sunlight and that reduces the need for electric lighting. For anything that does need power they use the geothermal resource from underground volcanoes. Very natural! They’re one of few festivals that are a certified CarbonNeutral® event.


A group of people posing for a photo at a green music festival.

Lightning In A Bottle, California, USA

Boasting the title of “greenest festival in the US” is no mean feat but Lightning In A Bottle has earned it. Their stages are built from recycled materials and lights are solar and LED. Festival goers are educated on the importance of the three R’s (reducing reusing and recycling) at every turn and you’ll see a lot of environmental activism and nature loving on site.

Boom Festival, Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal

Boom Festival organisers say their festival “must provide the tools for change”. They’ve really committed to it too over the 20 years they’ve been running. Numerous sustainability projects (like recycling etc.), energy solutions, reduced carbon footprint (they encourage people to cycle to the festival from all over Europe!) and water treatment plants, their goal is to become off the grid. They’re also big on promoting regenerating habitats, bio-construction and permaculture projects. It’s little wonder they have time to play music!

Glastonbury, Somerset, UK

Those familiar with Glastonbury know how much they love their location on Worthy Farm. To ensure the environment remains stable they have a fallow year every fifth year. They also heavily encourage people to leave cars at home and travel by coach and train (and aim for 40,000 people to arrive this way by 2019) .

They’re one of the first festivals to offer “alternative” solutions to environmental concerns and are totally committed to reducing carbon emissions. They even have a Green Traveller package, which is an extra incentive for attendees to “go Green”. Oh, and if that’s not enough they partner with and donate to charities including Oxfam, Greenpeace and WaterAid.

A group of people standing in front of green teepees at a music festival.

Fuji Rock Festival, Naeba Ski Resort, Japan

Besides being one of Asia’s biggest (and most epic) festivals’, Fuji Rock also supports a green lifestyle. Set in an incredible location, they’ve reduced the impact on the environment as much as possible, meaning there are no shuttles at the festival; plenty of recycling points and all utensils and materials used for food are environmentally friendly.

Splendour in the Grass, Byron Bay, Australia

Byron Bay is a beautiful place and Splendour aims to keep it that way. They’re one of the first festivals to create an eco-friendly policy and give attendees the chance to reduce their carbon emissions before even visiting the festival, paying extra on their ticket price to plant a tree at the festival. They also partner with organisations and charities that are all about keeping our planet in working order like Be An Unf*cker, Positive Change for Marine Life, Parklands and Boomerang Bags.

Three people posing for a photo at a music festival.

We Love Green Festival, Paris, France

This festival is touted as one the greenest festivals in all of Europe and it’s super central, being held in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. We Love Green has it’s own eco-charter that underpins all they do at the festival. It includes partnering with Ecosia to plant 80,000 trees, a commitment to using 100% renewable energy and a ‘drastic on plastic’ policy that means BYO drink bottles are a must and there are refill stations everywhere. Besides being green, the festival has musicians, DJ sets, think tanks, art installations and a bunch of other inspiring moments and activations.