Art & Culture

Laneway and more: the Asian indie festivals not to miss

Wonderfruit Festival

The St. Jerome's Laneway Festival is on in Singapore this weekend, kicking off what promises to be an action-packed year for Asia's indie music fans.

Already home to some of the world's largest electronic parties, Asia's lesser-known independent music scene has grown rapidly. And with revenue streams ranging from ticket sales to merchandise, indie festivals are becoming big business that promise to breathe new life into any city's tourism market.

With more boutique festivals popping up, competition has risen over the past two years as promoters race to book both established and fresh-faced talent, leaving fans spoilt for choice.

Here are a few of the largest Asian festivals that you won't want to miss.

St. Jerome's Laneway Festival - Singapore, Australia, New Zealand

Laneway Singapore


Launched in 2004 as series of weekly shows at a Melbourne speakeasy, the Laneway festival expanded to Singapore—its only stop in Asia—in 2011.

"When we first started in Singapore, people thought indie music wasn't going to work but there's so much demand," Matthew Lazarus Hall, Laneway's co-promoter, told CNBC.

"We're always identifying artists we want to help grow. Part of our programming expertise is to make a festival where there are definite ticket sellers, but while you book for that reason, you're also bound to find undiscovered talents."

Strawberry Music Festival - China

ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images


Formerly known as the Modern Sky Festival, Strawberry has expanded from Beijing to a dozen Chinese cities. Founded by record label Modern Sky Entertainment, it's become the go-to event for Chinese hungry for music outside of government-controlled media networks.

Last year was a tough one, however, with venue issues plaguing its Beijing event and a permits problem nearly leading to the cancellation of its show in Shanghai, where authorities cracked down on large gatherings after a fatal stampede in the city center on New Year's Day.

Wanderland Festival - Philippines

Magic Liwanag | Wanderland Festival


Now in its third year, Wanderland prides itself on blending international indie bands with homegrown acts on the same stage. Bringing a carnival-like atmosphere to Manila with cotton candy and merry-go-rounds, the festival has become the Philippines' premier music event.

Fuji Rock Festival - Japan

Kiyoshi Ota - Getty Images


As one of the largest music events in the world, Fuji Rock may not seem like the typical indie lover's choice but its wide array of performers caters to every kind of music fan. Held in the hills of Niigata, it has a special stage reserved for indie talent, which has hosted Taiwan's Manic Sheep and Iceland's Of Monsters and Men in recent years.

Rainforest Music Festival - Malaysia

Rainforest Music Festival


Set in a rainforest in Malaysian Borneo, the three-day event is a celebration of world music. Last year's performers came from as far as Morocco and Poland for a range of public talks, ethno-musical lectures and jamming sessions.

Pentaport Rock Festival - South Korea

ED JONES| AFP | Getty Images


Easily one of South Korea's biggest live music events, Pentaport takes place just outside of central Seoul.

The festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, says it derives its name from five themes: music, passion, a friendly environment, a DIY (do-it-yourself) attitude and friendship.

Clockenflap - Hong Kong



As Hong Kong's largest and longest-running outdoor music and arts festival, Clockenflap is known for its all-star line-ups, which last year included British veterans New Order as well as newer stars The Libertines.

Neon Lights - Singapore

Neon Lights


Making its debut in 2015, Neon Lights is a sister festival to Clockenflap and shares many of the same artists.

As Singapore's newest live music event, it joins Laneway and dance fete Zouk Out in boosting the city's outdoor festival culture. Visitors were treated to six stages of music and art, showcasing works by visual projectionists as well as comedy performances.

Wonderfruit - Thailand

Wonderfruit Festival


Billing itself as "a transformational festival creating a movement in Asia for social and environmental change," Wonderfruit launched in 2014, catering to music aficionados, environmentalists and epicureans. Set in the fields of Pattaya, the festival boasts a fully-functioning farm, crafts markets, workshops and art installations.

"The festival is built around the ethos of healthy living, social consciousness and sustainability, with a goal to leave no trace and improve the environment by recycling, composting, and using local, natural and reclaimed materials for stages and structures," says its website.

Big Mountain Music Festival - Thailand

Big Mountain Music Festival


The year will mark the eighth installment of Thailand's biggest festival, described as the Siamese equivalent of Glastonbury and Woodstock with an emphasis on Thai acts.

Usually held at the Khao Yai Bonanza Racetrack two hours away from Bangkok, 2015 saw the festival change locations to the former Kaeng Krachan Country Club in Phetchaburi province.