World Party

Music will carry you away—literally—to these far-flung festivals

FALL) WOMAD SRI LANKA FESTIVAL OF DRUMS. Colombo, Kandy, and Negombo, Sri Lanka. SEPTEMBER 21–25, 2005 Get your groove on with ground-shaking rhythms outside the capital of Sri Lanka's last independent kingdom. WOMAD (World of Music, Arts, and Dance), a UK-based charitable organization inspired by acclaimed musician Peter Gabriel, celebrates the diverse cultural expression of artists around the world with a year-round lineup of music festivals across the planet. On stage: beat-breaking shows by Cuba's soulful Asere, Africa's Drummers of Burundi, and more.

WINTER) FESTIVAL IN THE DESERT. Essakane, Mali. January 13–15, 2006 The Saharan oasis of Essakane (pop. 200), in central Mali, is a duneside watering hole for Tuareg nomads and their parched camels. But for three days each winter it becomes a West African Woodstock—a global stage shared by Senegalese griots, Mauritanian choral singers, and the occasional Navajo punk band. After a punishing three-hour drive from Timbuktu, plunk down in a soft patch of sand with a plate of chicken yassa and listen up.

SPRING) COACHELLA MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL. Indio, California. LATE APRIL 2006 Pierced goths, Hacky-Sacking hippies, and plain old music fans commingle at Coachella, an epic 48-hour, five-stage, 110-act musical menagerie every spring. Where the quartz sands of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts merge, bands like Coldplay, Radiohead, Wilco, and Nine Inch Nails compete for sonic dominance. As the volume rises, so do the temps, with highs around 100 degrees. When the desert heat fades, groupies crash in their cars—or head for the boulder-strewn campsites at nearby Joshua Tree National Park.

SUMMER) HEBRIDEAN CELTIC FESTIVAL. Stornoway, Scotland. July 12–15, 2006 If the wheezy skirl of Highland pipes and the high-pitch squeal of fiddles set your kilt a-twirl, join 17,000 clansmen on the Outer Hebrides isle of Lewis next summer. For ten years, Celtic-music lovers have come to this craggy outpost off the northwest coast of Scotland to jig to the likes of Van Morrison, the Waterboys, the Saw Doctors, and Shooglenifty, a popular "neotrad" band. The action kicks off on the majestic Lews Castle grounds.

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