Hear Danny Clinch talk about his experiences photographing artists from Johnny Cash to Tupac Shakur at the NGLive! Accomplished musician and photographer Ben Folds shares the stories behind his images with editorial photographer Mark Seliger at the NGLive!
Hear Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Neko Case shares her colorful perspective of the world. Hear Andy Summers speak about his impressive body of photographic work, documenting the world as few of us have seen it, at the NGLive!
Subscribe to National Geographic magazine and save. Print and digital editions available for as little as $12. After what feels like a very long winter, it’s finally that time again: summer festival season!
The list of music festivals seems to double each year, so we thought we’d save you some time by presenting our picks for must-attend sonic extravaganzas that also happen to reflect a deep sense of place. This mainstay was established in New Orleans in 1970 to celebrate the city’s multi-cultural heritage and its status as the birthplace of jazz. Over the years, this daytime festival, which takes place in the last two weekends in April in a racetrack not far from the city’s famous French Quarter, has grown to showcase much more than jazz. Located in Essaouira (pronounced “Essweera” in Arabic), a picturesque fortified city on the southern end of Morocco’s Atlantic coast, the Gnaoua Festival is as much a celebration of people and place as it is of music.
The Gnawa (also Gnaoua), people who originated from North and West Africa, have long performed their rhythmic trancelike music as an art form–and as a source of mystical healing. Despite being one of the largest music festivals in Europe, this well-organized event is a nonprofit enterprise that promotes music, culture, and humanism.
But that just means that the festival campground (access to which is included in the price of admission), located just south of Roskilde on the island of Zealand, has become a global melting pot. The Newport Folk Festival, perhaps best known for introducing the world to the likes of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, is one of the oldest music festivals in America. Newport, a classic New England seaside resort with rich colonial roots, is a tourist attraction in its own right. While emphasizing music and dance, the ten-day festival also provides a platform for colorful expressions of Celtic art, food and drink, theater, literature, and sport. The trumpet is a part of daily life in Serbia–present at births, celebrations, and burials. If you think a trumpet festival sounds like a one-note affair, you’d be wrong in this instance. I would probably nominate Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival in Puerto Galera in the Philippines. About Intelligent TravelNational Geographic believes that to know the world is to change it. Joseph Hudak has been a Nashville local since 2012, the cusp of Music City’s renaissance. When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is Peg Leg Porker for a pulled pork sandwich and a Yazoo beer.

September is the best time to visit my city because the weather is still warm and the Americana Music Festival is underway. You can see my city best from the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, driving from East Nashville into downtown.
Locals know to skip the two-plus hour wait at the Loveless Cafe (even though its biscuits are the stuff of legend) and enjoy the Southern family-style breakfast at Monell’s instead. My city’s best museum is the Country Music Hall of Fame because it’s full of distinctly American artifacts, personalities, and music. If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that it takes only 15 minutes to get anywhere. The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Shelby Bottoms Greenway in East Nashville. My city really knows how to celebrate the simple beauty of the tomato, as evidenced at East Nashville’s Tomato Arts Festival. You can tell if someone is from my city if they’re kind, friendly, and genuinely interested in you as a person. Just outside my city, you can visit the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. My city is known for being the home of country music, but it’s really a rock and roll town with an accent. To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the always sharp Nashville Scene.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I hit up Nashville’s exceptional food trucks, especially Sum Yum Yum for banh mi or Taqueria el Indio for tacos. If my city were a celebrity it’d be Marty Stuart, because it’s full of country music history and has a rhinestone sense of style. The Ryman Auditorium, onetime home of the Grand Ole Opry, is my favorite building in town because it is, hands down, the greatest brick-and-mortar structure in the entire United States.
Mercy Lounge on Cannery Row is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway.
In the spring you should enjoy the blooming flowers and trees, but take an allergy pill first.
In the fall you should drive out to Arrington Vineyards to enjoy the changing leaves with a glass of wine in your hand.
The best book about my city is the Food Lover’s Guide to Nashville, by Jennifer Justus because it points both the hungry and curious in the right direction. In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because it has become a true cultural hub of the South, welcoming all–even a Yankee like me. Time to break out the sunglasses, sandals, and portable fans in preparation for those carefree days of soaking in the sunshine and grooving to live music in the open air.
Headliners that inaugural year included famed gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and legendary pianist Duke Ellington, who kicked off the festival by leading a second-line parade through what is now Armstrong Park.
Attendees have long enjoyed indigenous acts alongside the latest hit-makers as well as booths and exhibits featuring Louisiana cuisine, arts, and crafts.

But when playing for the public, as they do at the Gnaoua festival, they are representing their culture and celebrating their heritage, along with the various other African and international musicians who come to play with them. But this ethnolinguistic group is more far-flung, with enduring roots in Brittany, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and the territories of Asturias and Galicia on the northwestern corner of the Iberian peninsula. Revelry highlights include the Grande Parade of the Celtic Nations, a cotriade, a traditional Breton seafood supper, piping competitions, and “Nuits Magiques,” evening spectaculars featuring piping, dancing, and fireworks. This might be one of the ultimate multicultural events of the summer. And the annual Guca Trumpet Festival has been going strong for more than 50 years to celebrate the instrument and its enduring cultural significance in the Balkans and beyond. We're on the front lines of travel that illuminates, celebrates, and preserves irreplaceable places—and we're taking you along for the ride. Prior to that, while based in Philadelphia, he logged five years as a freelance writer covering the country scene. President Andrew Jackson, conservationist Al Gore, and rock visionary Jack White have called my city home.
And, after the sun fades from view, the party spills out into the city, with a slew of live performances threaded around town.
But when there are legendary performers on stage, and lovely Danish landscapes to admire, what’s not to like? But through the years, Newport Folk has remained true to its roots while staying ahead of the curve. But the music and culture we found changed the whole scope of our project. What sorts of sounds did you encounter?
Ethnomusicologist Ivan Lantos, who traveled with us, said it was like finding a living example of an animal thought to be extinct. Traditional Gabonese singing is predominantly polyphonic and polyrhythmic, which means that they do autonomous melodies and rhythms at the same time. But they're in the forest, where you've got a billion insects, gorillas, and mandrills shouting at once.
There might be 50 women, each singing a different song, but the combined noise is audio perfection. Still we drove ten hours a day, danced every night, and recorded over a hundred hours of music and video.What was your wildest moment? On my last day in Ikobe, this exquisite village that's in the heart of Pygmy country, in the spiritual center of Gabon, some villagers rushed me into a smoky little temple and started singing, flicking my hands, and blowing on me. Of course, they have every right to improve their lives, to build schools and hospitals, but does development have to spell the death of traditional culture every time? I hope to show where Gabon is today, in a changing world, with this astonishing music at its heart.

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