During the summer and fall seasons in Taiwan, not a month goes by without at least one music festival popping up on the event calendar. Here are a few highlights up and down Taipei, the island’s capital city, from July to October:
Wake Up Festival
For most of the year, Chiayi, a small countryside city of around 270,000 people in central Taiwan, stays relatively quiet. But for the past 10 years, that sense of calm and serenity has been taken over in part by Wake Up Festival, a three-day celebration of indie rock, folk, punk, metal and electronic music. Britpop/grunge rock band Trash, who have built a broad regional fanbase over years of heavy touring, are one local act to look forward to on this year’s bill, and Japan’s Sex Machineguns, with their raucous live shows, are worth the price of admission alone. This year, the fest runs from July 5 to 7 at Gangping Sports Park/Chiayi City Sports Park.
320 Datong Rd, West District, Chiayi City; wakeupfestival.com.tw
Hohaiyan Rock Festival
The Hohaiyan Rock Festival regularly draws crowds well into the hundreds of thousands. They flock toward the sun and sand at Fulong Beach, in the northeastern corner of Taiwan, for a line-up of big-name pop and rock acts. In years past, this roster has included local favorites such as 2018 Golden Melody Award winners for Best Band, The Chairman, and international acts such as The City and Us, fronted by Irish actress Elva Trill of Line of Duty fame. Organized by the New Taipei City Government, the event is free and held around late July. Fulong Beach is located just across the Shuang River from Fulong Station.
2 Fulong St, Gongliao District, New Taipei City; hohaiyan.ntpc.gov.tw
Beastie Rock operates on a shoestring budget, utilizing improvised stages set up throughout Tamsui Cultural Park in New Taipei City. Though at times it has been short on organizational prowess, one thing it has never lacked is passion.
The festival is overtly political — its eccentric founder and activist, a man who goes by the name of Indie DaaDee, brings together more than 100 bands from Taiwan and around Asia, each with their own message of uprising and upheaval, making for a loud yet festive weekend of eclectic and conscious music each fall. Follow Beastie Rock on Facebook for up-to-date info on the festival schedule and line-up for 2019.
Tamsui Cultural Park, 22 Bitou St, Tamsui District, New Taipei City; fb.com/beastierock
Unlimited Freedom Festival
Spring already sees Taichung play host to Heartown Rockfest, but in the fall (usually October) there’s the Unlimited Freedom Festival, a three-day multi-genre extravaganza that takes place at a recreational farm in Taichung’s rural outer enclave of Waipu. This festival is heavy on local favorites, such as Golden Indie Music Award winners My Skin Against Your Skin, but it does also draw from the regional touring circuit, attracting road-dog bands (mostly from Japan, Korea and Hong Kong) like Japanese punk/pop-punk act Hawaiian6, who blew away the crowd a few years back with a high-octane set. There’s even an Open Stage for first-time performers.
Nonghui Leisure Farm, 700 Erkan Rd, Waipu District, Taichung City; fb.com/unlimitedfreedomfestival
How to get there
Fulong Beach. Heading north to Fulong from Taipei Railway Station, visitors can take a train (including the 4128, 4138 and 4148), which brings you to seaside Fulong Station in about 90 minutes. One-way tickets typically cost NT$83 (about ₱140).
Taichung and Chiayi. For all points south, there’s the trusty Taiwan High Speed Rail, which can get you to either Taichung or Chiayi inside of two hours. One-way tickets for trips from Taipei cost around NT$700 (about ₱1,180) to Taichung and NT$1,080 (about ₱1,825) to Chiayi.
This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Smile magazine.