ROCK MUSIC MENU: The best festival might be Secret Solstice

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There’s a ton of destination music festivals in the summertime that have popped up in recent years. So many in fact, it’s nearly impossible to choose just one to go to.
In the States, it used to be easy to pick between the big three: Coachella, Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza. But as at least two of them have turned into a hipster paradise more about catching a tabloid celebrity in the flesh than the music, audiences have been desperate to find something new and fresh.
Look no further than the Secret Solstice Festival, which takes place in Reykjavik, Iceland. Rock Music Menu has been hitting up the early-November Iceland Airwaves festival for a few years running at this point, but this is an altogether different beast.
Secret Solstice is held in June during — what else — the summer solstice. But in Iceland, that means something quite different than it does here, where the sun is out for the longest period of the year. During the three-day Secret Solstice, which runs June 19-21, the sun doesn’t set at all.
Festival organizers are calling it “the most unique event on Planet Earth,” a boast that might not be too far off the mark. Atmospherically, and with temperatures in the mid-50s, there isn’t a much more interesting setting for a music festival. And it’s pretty much guaranteed that no other music festival will have an on-site geothermal heated pool.

Sure, there’s something to be said for seeing an artist take the stage as the sun begins to set, or a light show provided by some flavor of the month EDM act under the moonlight, but that’s the description of nearly every other festival in the world.
But what about the music?
This year, the Secret Solstice will play host to genres spanning alternative, hip-hop, electronic and rock and funk. Wu-Tang Clan is the 2015 headliners on a bill that features reggae legends The Wailers, hip-hop diva Kelis, Australian electronic duo Flight Facilities, soul legend Charles Bradley and U.K. DJ Nightmares on Wax — and that’s just a few of the 100-plus artists scheduled to perform, many of which are from Iceland.
Entering just its second year, the Secret Solstice is still relatively, well, “secret.” It’s not going to be overrun with a bunch of clueless clowns looking to be seen. Instead, the music is brought to the forefront, which just happens to be in one of nature’s most phenomenal settings.
There is that little matter of getting there, but while so many people — especially here in the States — think of Iceland as some Viking-run country that is probably no closer than the moon in terms of distance, it’s actually incredibly simple to get there.
The capital city, Reykjavik, has become quite the popular stopover for many on their way to larger European cities like London. It’s not as out of the way as you might think. Recent years have seen the emergence of low-cost airline WOW Air, which runs super-cheap flights direct to Iceland. Unfortunately, the airline has yet to launch a hub in Philadelphia, but just last week, it began its inaugural flights just down I-95, from BWI direct to Iceland.
The cost of WOW Air’s flights have been just $99 each way, which is much cheaper than flying out to California to suffer in the oppressive desert heat at Coachella, sweltering under a hot sun with no shade to hide under.
Tickets for this year’s Secret Solstice run just $150, with on-site camping available for $68. There’s also a VIP package that costs $226, and an “Odinn” package that includes drinks, food, luxury VIP experiences, access to special events, private staff and artist after-parties, Icelandic nature tours, Blue Lagoon transfers, artist meet-and-greet sessions and exclusive viewing areas for a bit north of $675.
For more information on Secret Solstice, go to www.secretsolstice.is, and for flights, visit WOW Air at www.wowair.com

To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to rockmusicmenu@hotmail.com. Also check out his blog at  oour sister publication www.delcotimes.com

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