Top 16 Events Happening Around the World in 2013

We may have our Formula 1 Grand Prix, ZoukOut, World Gourmet Summit and Timbre Rock & Roots, but ardent lovers of music festivals and live sports may want to look further afield this summer to get their fix. The typical Southeast Asian backpack tracks have been written about, read and tread countless times, so this time we’re looking at this side of the globe’s most interesting events to give you an excuse to jump on that plane. Whether your choice travel souvenir is swords, snowboards, signed CDs, soju or sauvignon blanc, there’s a little something here for everyone.


Through May 6
Iga Ueno Ninja Festival

Ninety minutes east of Osaka sits Iga, a city that pays tribute each year to the legendary covert mercenaries by hosting ninja performances, competitions and instruction sessions. All of the citizens get involved, train passengers dressed like ninjas get free rides, and the city council hosts a dress-up session called Ninja Congress. Free.

May 12-26 (Tokyo); July 7-21 (Nagoya)
Sumo Wrestling: Grand Tournament

As unique as it is unforgettable, witnessing supersized sumo wrestlers duke it out live should be on every sports fan’s bucket list. Stables of wrestlers only hit the elevated ring for six tournaments a year, but each event lasts 15 days and the steep admission price seems all the more reasonable when you realize that dozens of fights occur before a yokozuna (grand champion) emerges for the day’s final bout. We recommend showing up first thing in the morning; it’s entirely acceptable to squat terrifyingly close to the action in front-row boxes, as their wealthy owners seldom show up before mid-afternoon when the best fighters toss chalk and take center stage.

Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, Naniwa Ward, Nanbanaka, +81 6 6631-0121, JPY2,000-14,300 ($26-187) from

July 26-29
Fuji Rock Festival

In truth, the event was only held on Mount Fuji once, and those who witnessed the legendary show have contributed to the lore that has turned Fuji Rock into Japan’s largest outdoor music festival (the story involves a typhoon, hypothermia and the Red Hot Chili Peppers). The annual event now boasts over 200 acts across seven stages, and in the past two years the crowds have swelled over the 100,000 mark to see sets from Coldplay, Radiohead, Jack White, Elvis Costello, the Stone Roses and Noel Gallagher. The line-up for 2013 rolls out over the next few months, but they’ve already announced that Nine Inch Nails and Bjork will be headliners and that acts like Of Monsters and Men, FUN and The xx will appear. It’s worth the trip north.

Various venues, JPY17,800-42,800 ($232-560) from

August 10-11
Summer Sonic 2013

This two-day fest takes place in Tokyo and Osaka simultaneously, and this year’s line-up is absolutely crazy: Metallica, Linkin Park, Muse, The Smashing Pumpkins, M.I.A., Cyndi Lauper and John Legend.

QVC Marine Field and Makuhari Messe, Nakase, Mihama-ku, Chiba City, JPY15,500-28,000 ($202-366) for Tokyo and JPY13,000-23,000 ($174-308) for Osaka from

Getting There

Fly direct between Singapore and Tokyo with Japan Airlines for $969 return, Singapore Airlines for $1,192 return or All Nippon Airways for $977 return.
For the Singapore-Osaka route, Cathay Pacific fares are $772 return, Thai Airways fares are $763 return and China Eastern Airlines fares are $674 return.


July 26-28
Splendour in the Grass

Wellingtons, hipsters, sunnies, art installations and crazy outfits: it must be a live music festival out in a big open space. One of the country’s most popular music events of the year, Splendour in the Grass keeps its visitors happily hippie-fied with open-air yoga sessions, market stalls and performance artists. Sandwiched between the two massive summer music festivals in Japan, Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass organizers have said that they work closely together to bring the best acts to the New South Wales location. Rumors are that Bob Dylan, Polyphonic Spree, OutKast rapper Big Boi, Deap Vally and Wavves will take the stage at the Aussie three-day festival—which is similar to the UK’s Glastonbury and America’s Coachella. There’s an option to camp out at this year’s new location of North Byron Parklands, but if you’re not the sleeping bag type, be sure to book early enough so you can get comfortable accommodation nearby.

North Byron Parklands, New South Wales, AU$135-350 ($175-455) from

November 5
Melbourne Cup Carnival

Australia’s ultimate racing event at Flemington, now in its 153rd year, is a time for fascinators, Champagne, the British royal family, Aussies dressed to the nines falling drunkenly all over the place and, oh yes, horses. Celebrities Rose Bryne, Delta Goodrem, Ronan Keating and cricketer Shane Warne were all in attendance last year.

Flemington The Event Centre, 548 Racecourse Rd., Flemington, Victoria, +61 3 8378-0747, AU$55-489 ($71-635) from

November 22-24
Margaret River Gourmet Escape

A perfect way to de-stress from our hectic lifestyle is to relax in nature, breathe unpolluted air, taste dishes made by world-class chefs and sip wine from Margaret River—the country’s famous wine region in Western Australia. The destination is holding their second annual Gourmet Escape with tastings from the area’s wineries (there’s close to 100), top-notch cuisine, cooking classes by celebrity chefs, live music playing around the vineyards, and street parties. It’s just over a three-hour drive south of Perth so even if you’re not in town for the event, it’s still worth a trip to visit their cellars—a monthly farmers’ market, surf beaches and exhibitions from regional artists.

Margaret River, Western Australia, +61 2 9332-9000, AU$37-150 ($48-195) from

Getting There

Qantas flies direct to Sydney for $907 return, Singapore Airlines flies there for $1,200 return and British Airways flies there for $819 return, while Scoot flies there $464 return. Singapore-Melbourne flights go from $903 return with Emirates, $1,216 return with Qantas, $1,353 return with Singapore Airlines and $883 return with Jetstar. For Singapore-Perth services, Jetstar fares are $634 return, Qantas fares are $710 return, British Airways fares are $824 return and Singapore Airlines fares are $902.


June 21-30
Queenstown Winter Festival

The beginning of the winter season in Queenstown draws in more than a few snowboarders and skiers to the slopes at the lake and alpine resort area. Every year New Zealand’s adventure capital turns into a 10-day party with fireworks, street parades, food and wine events, live music, mountain races, comedy and a whole mess of winter activities to get involved in. There’s no room for hesitation in this extreme sport-crazy place, so when you’re not enjoying the festivities, take advantage of the regular offerings around the area such as bungee jumping and skydiving.

Various venues, Tickets go on sale on May 2.

August 9-25
Wellington on a Plate

This culinary festival has a little something for everyone. From a craft beer celebration called Beervana to the New Zealand Chocolate Festival to the popular Battle of the Burger, the country’s largest food event in Wellington is sure to be a button-bursting good time. Dine Wellington—the main event during the festivities—sees over a hundred of the region’s restaurants offer up special set lunch menus and dinner deals for two weeks.

Various venues, +64 4473-8044, Free-NZ$190 ($196) from


May 21
Sigur Rós Live in Hong Kong 2013

If you missed their previous gig here, Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós will be performing live in concert at Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld-Expo. Established in 1994, the post-classical, post-punk maestros have a dedicated fan base and are known for crafting dreamy, epic soundscapes and performing in a highly evocative (though totally made-up) language.
Hall 8, Asia World-Expo, Chek Lap Kok, HK$750 ($121) from

May 23–26
Art Basel

This art show—which already has editions in Basel and Miami Beach—debuts in Hong Kong with top 20th and 21st century paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs and video works by more than 2,000 artists. The exhibition is split into four sectors: Insights (focusing on Asian works), Discoveries (for international artists), Encounters (large scale sculptures and installations) and Magazines (with presentations by guest speakers).

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), 1 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai, HK$250-750 ($40-121) from

Getting here

Cathay Pacific flies to Hong Kong for $529 return, Singapore Airlines flies the route for $548 return and Jetstar Asia flies there for $365 return.


June 28-30
Rainforest World Music Festival

Poker-faced, bearded hipsters playing on triangles don’t do it for you? Give those indie festivals a miss and try this one for size. Your ears are in for a treat at this global gathering of world musicians and ethnic music lovers, where daily workshops and jamming sessions culminate in a smorgasbord of live music each nightfall. It’s a rare chance to catch acclaimed international veterans like Louisiana’s Cajun-Creole band the Pine Leaf Boys, Irish folk music group Kila and South African neo-traditional master Dizu Plaatjies sharing the stage with indigenous musicians from the heart of Borneo.

Sarawak Cultural Village, Kuching, +60 8242-3600, RM120-330 ($48-132) from

Getting there

Malaysia Airlines flies to Kuching for $215 return and Singapore Airlines flies there for $276 return.


October 11-15
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

Calling all bookworms and suffragettes. You’ll want to head on down to Ubud for the super-sized 10th edition of Southeast Asia’s most well-known literary event. This year’s festival pays homage to Indonesian women’s rights pioneer R.A. Kartini with a special focus on issues, inspiration and stories by and for modern-day women.

Various venues in Ubud, Bali, +62 361-7808932, Price TBA.

November 16-January 6, 2014
Biennale Jogja XII

Art junkies, get your fix at this multicultural art show organized by the Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation (which promotes equal representation in the international art scene). This year’s project sees Indonesia partnering with Arab countries, encouraging an eye-opening dialogue with the contemporary Arab art world.

Yogyakarta, +62 (0) 274-587712, Price TBA.

Getting There

Garuda Indonesia flies to Denpasar, Bali for $363 return, Singapore Airlines flies there for $568 return and Jetstar flies there for $209 return.
AirAsia flies direct to Yogyakarta for $266 return and Garuda Indonesia flies there (via Jakarta) for $363 return.


July 13-23
Boryeong Mud Festival

The Korean government likes to credit this festival’s growth to the restorative properties of Boryeong’s mud flats and the natural beauty of this small town, located a couple hours south of Seoul. Well, we’ve been to the event and let’s just say that it isn’t quiet mud baths that have made this the peninsula’s most popular draw for expats and tourists alike. Convenience stores effortlessly fulfil their beer-selling quotas as the packed beach plays host to mud wrestling, mud sliding, mud swimming and even a mud marathon. For the mud lazy or mud drunk, a main stage hosts live bands all day and fireworks after dark.

Daecheon Beach, Sinheuk-dong, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do, Free.

July 26-28
Ansan Valley Rock Festival

It’s growing. The rock-a-palooza formerly known as the Jisan Valley Rock Festival had their main stage rocked by headliners Radiohead and James Blake last summer, and while the line-up for this year’s event is still pending; expect similar caliber acts as the venue (or valley, rather) has been upgraded to accommodate more tents and concertgoers. Price TBA.

Getting There

Asiana Airlines flies a Singapore-Seoul service for $961 return, Korean Air flies the route for $947 return, Singapore Airlines flies there for $1,191 return and Scoot will fly there from $516 return from June 12.