No matter what you like or where you live, this summer almost certainly has a festival for you. Below are the 30 American summer festivals we’re most excited about.
Where: Durham, North Carolina
Why Go: One of the most eclectic festivals in the country, MoogFest blends both mainstream and cutting-edge acts with panel discussions that explore progressive ideas. Some of this year’s speakers include Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Chuck Lightning from Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland camp, while Gary Numan, Laurie Anderson and GZA perform nighttime sets. With the recent statewide passage of controversial North Carolina state laws that discriminate against LGBT persons, MoogFest’s eclecticism is particularly relevant. “The liberation of LGBTQ+ is wired into the original components of electronic music culture,” the organizers wrote in a statement posted on the festival site. “We will use the podium, the stage and the dancefloor to manifest a world of inclusivity and compassion.”
Must-See Acts: Odesza, Grimes, Miike Snow, Gary Numan, GZA, Laurie Anderson, Explosions in the Sky, Blood Orange, SunnO))), Oneohtrix Point Never, the Orb, Actress, Daniel Lanois, DΔWN, Floating Points Ensemble, Kode 9, Tim Hecker, Tory Lanez
Official Site: moogfest.com
Hangout Music Festival
When: May 20th-May 22nd
Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama
Why Go: The white sands of Alabama’s Gulf Coast offer as gorgeous a party site as any shoreline in America. When the heat hits or you need a break from the star-packed lineup, sneak off to Hammock Beach, where you can wade in a saltwater lagoon, cool off in the shade, swing in a hammock or take in a panoramic view of the festival from the Sky-Bar Tower.
Must-See Acts: The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Florence + the Machine, Alabama Shakes, Ellie Goulding, Lenny Kravitz, Grimes, Haim, Fetty Wap, Courtney Barnett
Official Site: hangoutmusicfest.com
When: May 27th-May 30th
Where: Quincy, Washington
Why Go: About midway between Seattle and Spokane, the Gorge Amphitheater is among the most scenic concert venues in the world. Nestled in the foothills of the Cascades, on the lip of the Columbia Gorge, the mossy canyon that gives the amphitheater its name, you can gaze down on the majestic Columbia River during the festival. The view would almost be enough to upstage the festival itself if the Sasquatch! bookers didn’t gather such an incredible lineup.
Must-See Acts: The Cure, Sufjan Stevens, Digable Planets, M83, Grimes, Florence + the Machine, Caribou, Four Tet, Disclosure, Major Lazer, Jamie xx, Mac DeMarco
Official Site: sasquatchfestival.com
Movement Electronic Music Festival
When: May 28th-30th
Where: Detroit, Michigan
Why Go: Held in Detroit’s downtown area since 2000, Movement offers the EDM generation a chance to pay homage to the roots of electronic music culture. Techno and house OGs such as Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins and Carl Craig perform alongside contemporary heroes like Four Tet and Caribou, and the events range from three Memorial Day showcases in Hart Plaza to numerous pre-parties and after-parties. This year’s edition features the granddaddy of them all, Kraftwerk, who are slated to create an intriguing 3D set.
Must-See Acts: Kraftwerk, Caribou, Carl Craig, Dâm-Funk, Four Tet, Seth Troxler, Boys Noize, Big Freedia, John Digweed, Richie Hawtin, Danny Tenaglia
Official Site: movement.us
The Governors Ball Music Festival
When: June 3rd-5th
Where: New York, New York
Why Go: Here’s your chance to catch Kanye West’s only scheduled stateside headline slot this summer, in all its glorious unpredictability. There’s also powerhouses like the Strokes, the Killers, Beck, Miguel and Courtney Barnett. Bonus points for the food, curated by the tastemaking bloggers (and former music industry execs) at the Infatuation, taking festival grub to a new level with everything from Papaya King’s classic hot dogs to Momofuku Milk Bar’s decadent treats.
Must-See Acts: Kanye West, the Strokes, the Killers, Beck, Miguel, Courtney Barnett, Haim, Chvrches , Jamie XX, Eagles of Death Metal, Torres, Gary Clark Jr., M83, Miike Snow, Bully
Official Site: governorsballmusicfestival.com
The Roots Picnic
When: June 4th
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Why Go: Now in its ninth year, the Roots’ annual party on Penn’s Landing is a fantastic way to get a bead on what the hardest working band in hip-hop has been listening to in whatever downtime they have. Not only will the house band for The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon perform their own set, they’ll be backing pop powerhouse Usher, who’s been prepping the follow-up to 2012’s Looking 4 Myself. The Roots Picnic is one of those festivals where early arrival pays off, giving attendees a chance to get a first look at up-and-coming artists from Philly and beyond.
Must-See Acts: The Roots, Future, Usher with the Roots, Leon Bridges, Kehlani, Migos, Willow Smith
Official Site: rootspicnic.com
CMA Music Festival
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
Why Go: Like a country radio stream brought to life, the CMA Music Festival takes the guesswork out of the lineup: Has that artist or band had a Number One song this year? Then, yes, they’re probably here. However, CMA splice it with an eye for up-and-coming talent like Ryan Beaver and Margo Price, who all play for free across a Bud Light-soaked downtown Nashville. The crown jewel is the series of headline shows at Nissan Stadium: Catch everyone from Miranda Lambert to Eric Church to Chris Stapleton, with homecoming king Luke Bryan closing the whole thing out with a nasal holler and a nice hip shake.
Must-See Acts: Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark, Clint Black, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Carrie Underwood, Margo Price, Ryan Beaver, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Brothers Osborne, the Cadillac Three, Maddie & Tae, Aubrie Sellers, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini
Official Site: cmaworld.com/cma-music-festival/
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
When: June 9th-12th
Where: Manchester, Tennessee
Why Go: It’s hard to even say “summer music festival” and not immediately picture Bonnaroo, for better (a jam-packed lineup that ranges across genres) or worse (waking up in a hot tent). This year, nostalgia reigns at the 15-year-old mainstay: Dead & Company and LCD Soundsystem both headline alongside Pearl Jam, who return to the Farm for the first time since 2008. There’s simply an abundance to things to do: Diverse talent across eight stages, the signature Superjam, the Comedy Theater, the Cinema, the Splash-a-Roo water slide, the Silent Disco – all now with permanent toilets and showers!
Must See Acts: Pearl Jam, Dead & Company, LCD Soundsystem, Halsey, Haim, Miguel, Judd Apatow, Jason Isbell, John Moreland, J. Cole, the Record Company, Tame Impala, Leon Bridges, Waxahatchee
Official Site: bonnaroo.com
When: June 10th-13th
Where: Bethel Woods, New York
Why Go: Begun in the Netherlands during the early Nineties, the Mysteryland Festival claims to be the longest-running festival in its homeland. Two years ago it took root in upstate New York, set near the same grounds where, 45 years previous, the original Woodstock festival was staged. Naturally, peace, love and 21st century hippie vibes intermingle with the pulse of electronic music.
Must-See Acts: Skrillex, Bassnectar, Roman Flugel, Ryan Hemsworth, Hudson Mohawke, Derrick Carter, Moodymann, Omar-S, Jimmy Edgar
Official Site: mysteryland.us
Firefly Music Festival
When: June 16th-19th
Where: Dover, Delaware
Why Go: Firefly Music Festival is situated in the woods outside of Dover, and while campers will no doubt witness the flickering lights of the fireflies on the ground, there are plenty more luminaries onstage, be they in rock, folk, future R&B or electronic music. Now in its fifth year, the festival continues to strike a balance between massive headliners and heady smaller acts.
Must-See Acts: Kings of Leon, Florence + the Machine, Mumford & Sons, Deadmau5, Disclosure, Tame Impala, Major Lazer, the 1975, Earth Wind & Fire, Ludacris, Jai Wolf
Official Site: fireflyfestival.com
Electric Daisy Carnival
When: June 17th-19th
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Why Go: Every region of the country now has an EDM festival or two, but EDC is still the granddaddy – the Tiësto in a sea of Datsiks and Yellow Claws. And if you’re interested in raving to Tiësto, Datsik or Yellow Claw, this is likely the place. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but usually it’s easier to tally the DJs who aren’t playing than the ones who are. Alternatively, go because you were one the few people who saw We Are Your Friends in theaters, and you’ve since been dying to recreate the scene where Zac Efron and Emily Ratajkowski run through EDC’s swirling Lite-Brite of rides, music and people.
Must-See Acts: TBA
Official Site: electricdaisycarnival.com
When: June 23th-26th
Where: Rothbury, Michigan
Why Go: The Electric Forest’s concept is awesomely literal: EDM in the woods with lights on the trees. Pitch your tent or reserve your log cabin, then explore this post-hippie dreamworld while bass thumps in the background. As usual, much of the lineup is culled from the part of the Venn diagram where dance music and jam bands intersect. Bassnectar, who helped re-popularize this fusion, headlines alongside Major Lazer. The String Cheese Incident will perform on all three nights. And though they won’t have the benefit of surreal visuals, daytime artists like Raury, Egyptian Lover and Rusko are equally intriguing.
Must-See Acts: Bassnectar, Major Lazer, Fetty Wap, Baauer, Porter Robinson, Balkan Beat Box, Kamasi Washington
Official Site: electricforestfestival.com
When: June 29th-July 10th
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Why Go: While most big-name festivals court yuppies and young people, Summerfest attempts to get all of Milwaukee walking around with tie-dye and CamelBaks. No festival is more accessible – weekday admission is just 13 dollars – and few book nearly as broadly: Selena Gomez, the Roots, Willie Nelson, Martin Garrix, Joan Jett and Kirk Franklin are all among the 100-plus acts scheduled to perform. Stars like Paul McCartney and Luke Bryan will play separately ticketed events at the riverside Marcus Amphitheater. The rest of the city is yours for the taking.
Must-See Acts: Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Luke Bryan, Weezer, Chris Stapleton, Blake Shelton, Def Leppard, Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, Martin Garrix, Billy Idol, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Cheap Trick, Buckwheat Zydeco, Morris Day & the Time
Official Site: summerfest.com
When: June 30th-July 3rd
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
Why Go: This annual celebration of black culture in America features a stacked lineup – blistering MC Kendrick Lamar, super-diva Mariah Carey, storied songwriter-producer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and a reunion of Puff Daddy and the Family are just the tip of the iceberg. Maxwell will likely showcase music from his long-awaited BlackSUMMERS’night, which comes out on July 1st, the day he headlines the main stage. Speakers like supermodel-turned-entrepreneur Tyra Banks, life coach Iyanla Vanzant and the Reverend Al Sharpton will offer commentary, while seminars on starting a business and a bookstore spotlighting independent authors round out some of the non-musical attractions.
Must-See Acts: Kendrick Lamar, Mariah Carey, Maxwell, Puff Daddy and the Family, Charlie Wilson, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Robert Glasper Experiment, the Internet, Estelle, Jeremih, Tink, Tweet, Andra Day
Official Site: essence.com/festival
When: July 15th-17th
Where: Louisville, Kentucky
Why Go: With the Ohio River as its backdrop, this 14-year-old gathering in Louisville, Kentucky has become one of the more formidable fests in the Midwest. This year’s lineup is stacked with festival stalwarts like the spellbinding Alabama Shakes and axe-slinger Gary Clark Jr. Forecastle also serves as a way for music fans to learn more about Kentucky’s many offerings: The Bourbon Lodge showcases one of the Bluegrass State’s most storied exports, with offerings from large and small distilleries, while Kentucky Landing will give space to home-grown vendors of clothing, jewelry, art and food.
Must-See Acts: Alabama Shakes, Ryan Adams, Gary Clark Jr., the Avett Brothers, Sylvan Esso, Danny Brown, Blackberry Smoke
Official Site: forecastlefest.com
Pitchfork Music Festival
When: July 15th-17th
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Why Go: Expertly curated and extremely well run – not surprising, given that it comes from people who critique live shows for a living – this three-day festival at Chicago’s bucolic Union Park will include Carly Rae Jepsen’s acclaimed pop, Miguel’s exploratory R&B, Girl Band’s grinding-gear punk and Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds in its 50th anniversary year. The non-musical offerings are strong as well: Record labels and vinyl merchants will hawk wares, poster show Flatstock will offer music-related art from all over the globe and the food lineup ranges from vegan gyros to fully loaded hot dogs.
Must-See Acts: Brian Wilson, Carly Rae Jepsen, Miguel, Kamasi Washington, Girl Band, Beach House, Julia Holter, Savages, Oneohtrix Point Never, Sun Ra Arkestra
Official Site: pitchforkmusicfestival.com
Panorama Music Festival
When: July 22nd-24th
Where: New York, New York
Why Go: Coachella producer Goldenvoice launches its first New York fest with a lineup that includes sets from Kendrick Lamar, Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem. And would you like some technology with that? With an interactive “Future Lab” announced, the Randall’s Island event promises to blend music, science and good eats. Passes include a free ticket to the Ramones retrospective at the Queens Museum, home of the festival’s namesake, the 9,335 square foot model Panorama of the City of New York.
Must-See Acts: Kendrick Lamar, Arcade Fire, Alabama Shakes, LCD Soundsystem, Sia, FKA Twigs, Sufjan Stevens, Major Lazer, A$AP Rocky
Official Site: panorama.nyc
Newport Folk Festival
When: July 22nd-24th
Where: Newport, Rhode Island
Why Go: The Newport Jazz Festival’s rootsy little brother has been a festive meeting place for folk, blues, country, bluegrass, folk-rock (after Bob Dylan broke the electricity barrier in 1965) and all things Americana since 1959. Genre blurring is still the name of the game during this weekend when HBO folk parodists, middle-aged punk lifers, a folk supertrio, Mali garage rockers and mesmerizing acoustic singer-songwriters will bare their souls.
Must-See Acts: Flight of the Conchords, Ray Lamontagne, the Arcs, Freakwater, Violent Femmes, Case/Lang/Veirs, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Hayes Carll, John Moreland, Aoife O’Donovan, Songhoy Blues
Official Site: newportfolk.org
Lost Highway Motorcycle Show and Concert
When: July 23rd
Where: San Bernadino, California
Why Go: Two stages will showcase rockers and country acts – including the twangy but tough Brantley Gilbert, the brashly fabulous Eagles of Death Metal and punk lifers Social Distortion –while pro motorcycle riders pull off tricks and jumps. If the high-octane atmosphere inspires you to get your own hog, there’ll be motorcycles for sale on site, as well as an art show featuring helmet designs.
Must-See Acts: Brantley Gilbert, Justin Moore, Eagles Of Death Metal, Social Distortion, Paul Cauthen
Official Site: losthighwayfest.com
When: July 28th-31st
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Why Go: This year’s Lollapalooza headliners trace the musical evolution of many a millennial: The Red Hot Chili Peppers (middle school), Radiohead (high school) and LCD Soundsystem (college and the abyss thereafter) will all be coming to Grant Park, pushing the acts that usually headline these things off to the second stages. Meanwhile, the side stages could draw some of the biggest crowds of the weekend. Major Lazer and Disclosure are the biggest EDM names, J. Cole and Future are the biggest rappers and Lana Del Rey could possibly upstage everyone. Come early for newcomers like D.R.A.M. and Potty Mouth, but stock up on sunscreen at the Walgreens across the street.
Must-See Acts: Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey, Halsey, Jane’s Addiction, Haim, the 1975, Major Lazer, Chris Stapleton, Grimes, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
Official Site: lollapalooza.com
Newport Jazz Fest
When: July 29th-31st
Where: Newport, Rhode Island
Why Go: This three-stage daytime festival located in a seaside state park has hosted some of the jazz world’s most legendary performances since its establishment in 1954. Envy the free view enjoyed by local yachters as the cream of the international jazz scene’s soloists, combos and big bands celebrate jazz’s majestic past, present, and future. Savor the fact that liquor has only been served since 2007.
Must-See Acts: Chick Corea Trilogy, Norah Jones, Charles Lloyd New Quartet, Kamasi Washington, Steve Coleman and Five Elements, the Bad Plus, Gregory Porter, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Nels Cline, Mary Halvorson, Angélique Kidjo
Official Site: newportjazzfest.org
When: July 30th-31st
Where: Fontana, California
Why Go: Hard cordially invites you to a world where dubstep never died, trap’s still hot and “tropical house” is someplace where L.A.’s one-percent go to escape the stressful Beverly Hills lifestyle. On the last weekend of July, Angelenos can head east to rage and rave on the lawn of the Auto Club Speedway. Here, rap isn’t just source material for EDM to co-opt and repackage but a neighboring zone on a shared continuum. Ice Cube and Major Lazer headline a lineup that includes Travis Scott, Boys Noize, Dizzee Rascal, Felix Da Housecat, Kaytranada, Flosstradamus and DJ Khaled, whose Snapchat will likely provide the definitive festival commentary.
Must-See Acts: Ice Cube, Major Lazer, Pretty Lights, Dillon Francis, Dizzee Rascal, Lil Uzi Vert
Official Site: hardsummer.com
Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival
When: August 5th-7th
Where: San Francisco, California
Why Go: Outside Lands is set within San Francisco’s expansive and dusty Golden Gate bowl, encompassing three stages, a comedy tent, a DJ tent, and a stellar assembly of food booths and wine tastings. There are plenty of last-minute surprises, too: In 2015, Deltron 3030 reunited for an unannounced set, while Hot Chip knocked out a DJ set before their main stage performance. This year, Radiohead — who headlined the first Outside Lands in 2008 — returns for a Friday headlining performance, and even snarky techies will stick around to sing along with Lionel Richie during his Sunday closing set.
Must-See Acts: Radiohead, Lionel Richie, the Muppets’ Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem, Lana Del Rey, J Cole, Duran Duran, Zedd, Major Lazer, Air, Sufjan Stevens, Chance the Rapper, Anderson Paak
Official Site: sfoutsidelands.com
When: August 12th-August 13th
Where: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Why Go: Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon still lives and records in his western Wisconsin hometown, and last year he made an additional investment in his community, partnering with the National’s Aaron Dessner to bring a new art and music festival to a farm just outside of the city. This year’s Eaux Claires will be your only chance to catch a performance from Day of the Dead, Aaron and Bryce Dessner’s all-star Grateful Dead tribute project.
Must-See Acts: Day of the Dead, Bon Iver, James Blake, Shabazz Palaces, Erykah Badu, Beach House, Vince Staples, Melvins, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Mavis Staples, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers
Official Site: eauxclaires.com
When: August 25th-28th
Where: Arrington, Virginia
Why Go: Don’t come knockin’ when Lockn’ is rockin’. It’s all about the music at this no-frills affair on a bucolic farm nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lockn’s unique two side-by-side stage set-up ensure that the music never stops and you never need to make any tough scheduling decisions – the jamband-friendly event is noted for inventive act-to-act transitions. Expect late-night sets by Joe Russo’s Almost Dead to give headliners Phish and Ween a run for their nugs.
Must-See Acts: Phish, Ween, My Morning Jacket, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Umphrey’s McGee, White Denim, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Donna the Buffalo, Hard Working Americans, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Twiddle
Official Site: locknfestival.com
When: August 27th-28th
Where: Brooklyn, New York
Why Go: Afropunk began as a showcase for African-American punk rockers, often excluded from the predominantly white subculture. But over the years the festival, held in Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park, has expanded to take in a greater variety of black music, while still maintaining its original edge. Among this year’s highlights is a “Powerjam” featuring members of Eighties icons Bad Brains, Fishbone and Living Colour.
Must-See Acts: Ice Cube, Janelle Monáe, Tyler the Creator, TV on the Radio, Flying Lotus, the Internet, Cee Lo Green, George Clinton, Angel Haze, Kelela, Saul Williams, Skunk Anansie, Shabazz Palaces, Thundercat, Downtown Boys
Official Site: afropunkfest.com/brooklyn/
When: August 27th-28th
Where: Los Angeles, California
Why Go: Formerly known as Fuck Yeah Fest, this onetime showcase for the cream of the punk crop has evolved into a major stop for summer touring acts. King Kendrick headlines on Saturday, while a reunited LCD Soundsystem and legendary disco queen Grace Jones top the Sunday bill. Further down the lineup, check for sets by rising stars like Kamaiyah, Julia Holter, Bicep, Jagwar Ma and Kelela.
Must-See Acts: Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, Tame Impala, Grace Jones, Air, Beach House, Grimes, Rae Sremmurd, Young Thug, Moby
Official Site: fyffest.com
When: September 2nd-4th
Where: Seattle, Washington
Why Go: Long before music festivals became a regular summer ritual in the U.S., there was Bumbershoot. The Seattle Center, the sprawling public space located just north of downtown built for the 1962 World’s Fair, has hosted a music festival in some form or another for more than 40 years. Seattle has grown alongside Bumbershoot, allowing festivalgoers to enjoy an eclectic and star-packed array of performers in the shadow of the Space Needle.
Must-See Acts: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Death Cab for Cutie, Kygo, Tame Impala, Halsey, DJ Snake, Bryson Tiller, Fetty Wap, Kamasi Washington, Margo Price, Explosions in the Sky
Official Site: bumbershoot.com
Made in America Festival
When: September 3rd-4th
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsyvania
Why Go: Jay Z’s annual Labor Day party on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway has yet to announce its lineup, but given that his streaming-music service Tidal is among its official partners, don’t be surprised if artists who recently launched their albums there are among the headliners. (Kanye? Rihanna? Beyoncé? Speculation is fun!) Food trucks and beer gardens will satisfy any end-of-summer culinary cravings.
Must-See Acts: TBA
Official Site: madeinamericafest.com
Hopscotch Music Festival
When: September 8th-10th
Where: Raleigh, North Carolina
Why Go: Their 2016 line-up hasn’t been announced yet, but while other music fests depend on stadium-filling acts and a forced mashing of eclectic styles, Hopscotch continues to provide bills that are a refreshing change during festival season. Who else could boast a group of headliners that ranged from the anarchic noise of Godspeed You! Black Emperor to country iconoclast Dwight Yoakum to classic punks X?
Must-See Acts: TBA
Official Site: hopscotchmusicfest.com