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25 bucket list-worthy music festivals in the U.S.

The crowd cheers, music starts to play, and there is a feeling like no other when you attend a live music event. Music festivals are back for the New Year, and you should know which ones to go to. We have compiled a list of 25 music festivals in The United States that you should add to your wish list. This article talks about when they started, what type of music they play, where the festival is located, and so much more. These music festivals are scattered all around The United States, so one should be close to you. If there aren't any near you, these music festivals are definitely worth the trip!

  1. Summerfest
    The crowd gathers below, under the neon light explosion of fireworks and the light of the city at night.
    Overview: This festival started in 1968 and exists because the Mayor thought the community needed a large party. Flash forward to today, Summerfest has become one of the largest music festivals in The United States and a serious fan favorite. People love this festival so much because it plays a wide variety of music, including Alternative, Folk, Pop, R&B, Rock, and Metal; it's a little something for everyone. Some famous acts played at this festival include Wiz Khalifa, Imagine Dragons, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, and the Rolling Stones.

    Time Period: September- 11-days, 3 consecutive weekends 
    Location: Henry Maier Festival Park-Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Capacity: Over 718,000 people in 2019
  2. Coachella
    As the sun pierces down upon the people gathered below, as the music begins to play.
    Overview: In 1999, Coachella started as a music festival and was profitable in the first year. This music festival gathers music stars from many genres, including rock, pop, indie, hip hop, and electronic dance music. Some famous performers have entered Coachella stages, such as Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, Lana Del Ray, Calvin Harris, Disclosure, and Thee Stallion.

    Time Period: April- 3-days, 2 consecutive weekends
    Location: Empire Polo Club- Indio, California
    Capacity: Around 100,000 each day
  3. Essence Music Festival
    As the massive audience enjoys the performer on stage, a purple light glistens on the front of the crowd.
    Overview:  Essence Music Festival was supposed to be a one-time event back in 1995, but since then has been a staple for the music goers community. This festival's stage has brought out many stars, including Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Ne-Yo, Busta Rhymes, Destiny's Child, and Janet Jackson. Essence provides a broad mix of music to appeal to music lovers across a wide array of genres. This festival is known for playing rap, hip-hop, R&B, gospel, jazz, and even the blues.

    Time Period: June/July- 3 days
    Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome- New Orleans, Lousiana
    Capacity: In 2018, held more than 500,000 attendees.
  4. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
    With the performer raising his instruments, the crowd cheers for a successful performance.
    Overview: Founded in 1970, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival had their first admission tickets set as low as $3. Today $3 is around the average price of a box of cereal. This festival has had performers such as the Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, Lizzo. This festival focuses primarily on jazz; sometimes, they play anything from R&B to rock. One exciting thing about The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is that they have a strict "no carnival food" policy. This policy allows people to experience Louisiana-inspired culinary items such as boiled crawfish and alligator sausage po'boy.

    Time Period: April/May- 8 days on two consecutive weekends
    Location: Fair Grounds Race Course- New Orleans, Louisiana
    Capacity: In past years it was around 500,000
  5. Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC)
    The crowd cheers as the lit formation of an owl shaped mask appears above the fountains of light.
    Overview: EDC! This is the shortened acronym for the Electric Daisy Carnival, one of the largest electronic dance music festivals. This festival started in 2011 and features mostly techno, dubstep, and drum and bass. Some famous performers that have played at EDC have been The Chainsmokers, Zedd, Alison Wonderland, deadmau5, and Excision. Performers aren't the only thing on fire at this concert because The Electric Daisy Carnival also has around 10,000 fireworks set off over the festival's three nights. One interesting fact about EDC is that they have had 225 legal weddings performed at the EDC Las Vegas festival. 

    Time Period: May- 3 days
    Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway- Las Vegas, Nevada
    Capacity: In 2021, EDC brought in around 400,000 people
  6. Lollapalooza
    A singer walks down the runway towards the skyline of Chicago amid the cheering crowd surrounding him on either side.
    Overview: This festival is known all over The United States but started planting its roots back in 1991. This festival books an array of hip-hop, techno, and alternative rock and is known globally for its legendary lineups. Lollapalooza has had stars such as Megan the Stallion, Journey, Post Malone, Lady Gaga, and The Foo Fighters. It's hard to find someone who hasn't heard of Lollapalooza since it's featured shows and movies, even appearing in The Simpsons.

    Time Period: July-August- 4 days
    Location: Grant Park- Chicago, Illinois
    Capacity: Hosts around 400,000 people
  7. Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival
    The sea of people flows towards the stage awaiting the performers arrival.Overview: Flashback to 2008, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, had 60 musical acts. Since then, this music festival has only grown. This festival offers a wide variety of music for all music lovers. Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival has had performances from Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hall & Oats, Pretty Lights, Lil Wayne, Blink 182, and Vampire Weekend. One unique thing about this festival is that they have "150 wines from more than 20 producers".

    Time Period: October- 3-days
    Location: Golden Gate Park- San Francisco, California
    Capacity: In 2019, Outside Lands held over 200,000 attendees
  8. Ultra Music Festival
    The crowd cheers with anticipation, as flames ignite above the blue stage.Overview: For all the electronic dance music fans, this festival is for you. Ultra Music Festival has seen stars like Afrojack, Seven Lions, Knife Party, Adam Beyer, and Jauz b2b NGHTMRE. This festival has won six consecutive years of "Best Music Event" by The International Dance Music Awards in the more than 20 years of its extraordinary existence.

    Time Period: March- 3 days
    Location: Bayfront Park Amphitheater- Miami, Florida
    Capacity: Around 55,000 people per day, in 2020
  9. South By Southwest (SXSW)
    The stage, lit up as bright as the city skyline, holds the performance of a lifetime for the crowd below.Overview: SXSW, also known as South by Southwest, is ready to join the crowd. South by Southwest has had Maxo Kream, Aeon Station, Delta Spirit, A Giant Dog, and Horse Girl. This famous festival started back in 1987 and continues to be a prominent festival for Austin. This festival plays primarily alt-country and Americana. One unique fact is that South by Southwest was the location for the debut of the Game of Thrones beer.

    Time Period: March- 7 days
    Location: Austin, Texas
    Capacity: In 2019, they hosted a festival for around 280,000 attendees.
  10. The National Folk Festival
    People sit and stand on the grassy area at the National Folk Festival.Overview: The National Folk Festival was started back in 1967 and, in its early years, was championed by Eleanor Roosevelt herself. The National Folk Festival primarily focuses on playing folk music. This festival has had famous musicians such as Albert Lee, Andes Manta, Aurelio, Bill Kirchen, and even more. The goal of The National Folk Festival is to celebrate its roots in American culture.

    Time Period: September- 3 days
    Location: Salisbury, Maryland
    Capacity: Saw over 150,000 people at the 2019 festival.
  11. The Governors Ball Music Festival
    A musician on the small stage narrowing into the massive audience.Overview: Making its debut in 2011, The Governors Ball Music Festival has become a festival with an audience you really want to be a part of. This festival has brought names like Billie Eilish, A$AP Rocky, Post Malone, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ellie Goulding, and Young Thug to their stage. The Governors Music Festival plays a wide variety of music such as rock, electronic, hip-hop, indie, Americana, pop, folk, and more. This festival offers a Governors Ball's After Dark program where artists perform intimate shows at smaller venues throughout the city.

    Time Period: June- 3 days
    Location: Citi Field- Queens, New York
    Capacity: The 2021 show brought in more than 150,000 attendees.
  12. Country Music Association (CMA) Festival
    A massive audience at this nighttime CMA Festival.Overview: The CMA Festival is one known to nearly every country music lover. CMA stands for Country Music Association and has been around since 1972. The Country Music Association Festival plays primarily country music. This festival has more than 300 performers on 11 different official stages. Some famous country icons that have played here are Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, Luke Combs, and Miranda Lambert. One unique thing that the CMA is that they try to help benefit music education in their communities.

    Time Period: June- 4 days
    Location: Music City Center- Nashville, Tennesse
    Capacity: 50,000 fans have reserved seats, but can hold 80,000 music lovers.
  13. Bonnaroo
    Looking downwards towards a large group of people weaving in and out of tents.Overview: Bonnaroo first came to the scene in 2002. This festival has had artists such as Lil Baby, G-Eazy, Jack Harlow, Foo Fighters, and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit grace their stages. Bonnaroo plays various music types, including pop, alternative rock, indie rock, hip-hop, R&B, electronic, country, and reggae. One unique feature of this festival is that they have one of the largest beer festivals in the South. This festival also has The Bonnaroo Fountain painted by a new artist every year, so you really want to be there every single year.

    Time Period: June- 4 days
    Location: Great Stage Park- Manchester, Tennesse
    Capacity: In 2019, Bonnaroo sold out with more than 80,000 attendees.
  14. Afropunk
    A crowded audience celebrates the musicians on the stage with cheers.Overview: Afropunk was born out of the African spirit and heritage back in 2005. This festival continues to thrive and has had performances from Jill Scott, D'Angelo, Solange, Batekoo, Zara Julius, and Fif_Laaa. This festival plays alternative, blues, R&B, hip-hop, electronic, and rock music. In one article, it talks about how the name with "Afro" showcases "...born of African spirit and heritage" and "Punk" referring to "...rebel, opposing the simple route...rawness and open curiosity...”. This festival supports all and is shown through its diversity.

    Time Period: September- 2 days
    Location: Commodore Barry Park- Brooklyn, New York
    Capacity: Celebrates with more than 70,000 attendees.
  15. Pitchfork Music Festival

    People sit on the lawn chatting among themselves at Pitchfork.Overview: Pitchfork Music Festival started back in 2006 in The Windy City. This festival play primarily alternative rock, electro-pop, and hip-hop styles of music. If you're wondering just who would perform on The Pitchfork Music Festival's stage, some big names would be Phoebe Bridgers, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Cat power, Angel Olsen, and Big Thief.

    Time Period: September- 3 days
    Location: Union Park- Chicago, Illinois
    Capacity: In 2021, Pitchfork hosted around 60,000 attendees.
  16. Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival
    A birds eye view of the city of Austin with thousands of people below.Overview: Austin City Limits is rocking with fantastic weather and has been around for 20 years, with their start being back in 2002. This festival plays an array of rock, indie, country, electronic, and hip-hop. Austin City Limit has welcomed George Strait, Billie Eilish, Miley Cyrus, DaBaby, Arctic Monkeys, Stevie Nicks, and Metallica to their stages and cheering crowds. One thing that Austin City Limits prides itself on is that they are very welcoming to children. This festival offers that children under the age of 10 even get in for free.

    Time Period: October- 2 weekends- 6 days
    Location: Zilker Park- Austin, Texas
    Capacity: In one weekend, ACL welcomes more than 75,000 attendees.
  17. Boston Calling Music Festival
    A behind the scenes picture of a musical group playing for a packed audience all on their feet with excitment.Overview: Boston Calling Music Festival is one of the newer music festivals, which started its festival journey in 2013. Although Boston Calling Music Festival is somewhat more recent on the festival scene, they have had some big names on their stages, such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Run the Jewels, and Black Pumas. This festival plays a mix of rock, hip-hop, indie, and more. Join their crowd to see just how great the performers can be.

    Time Period: May- 3 days
    Location: Harvard Stadium- Boston, Massachusetts
    Capacity: They had around 40,000 attendees in 2017, and have only gotten larger.
  18. Day N Vegas
    A musician with a microphone gestures at the massive audience in front of him.Overview:Day N Vegas plays a variety of music from rap and R&B and bending genre strains of these two. Some of the Day N Vegas Festival stars are Ari Lennox, Babyface Ray, Early Sweatshirt, Doja Cat, and Baby Keem.

    Time Period: November- 3 days
    Location: The Las Vegas Festival Grounds- Las Vegas, Nevada
    Capacity: Holding about 85,000 music lovers on the grounds.
  19. III points
    A disco ball hangs above a large audience facing a purple lit stage.Overview: 2013 brought the world III points, and it really made a name for itself. This festival plays a variety of hip-hop, pop, mainstream/rock, and dance music. Some famous names that have been on the stage of III points are GZA, U-God, Masta Killah, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Inspectah Deck.

    Time Period: October- 2 days
    Location: Mana Wynwood Convention Center- Miami, Florida
    Capacity: In 2017, III point hosted more than 40,000 attendees.
  20. Stagecoach
    A country singer holding a guitar points out at a packed audience below.Overview: The first Stagecoach festival started in 1858. This festival plays country music. Stagecoach has welcomed some of the biggest names to country music, such as Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, Smokey Robinson, Kenney Chesney, Rascal Flatts, and Josh Turner. One interesting fact about Stagecoach's venue is that it takes place on the same grounds as Coachella, which offers a very different type of music. One interesting point about Stagecoach was that it was brought up in the show Bachelor in Paradise and was a location that brought people together and stirred up drama for the season.

    Time Period: April-3 days
    Location: The Empire Polo Club-  Indio, California
    Capacity: In 2021, it was estimated to have 90,000 attendees.
  21. Firefly Music FestivalA packed audience faces a large stage at The Firefly Music Festival.Overview: Firefly Music Festival started back in 2012 and brought in any outsiders to its venue. This festival primarily plays indie-pop music. Some stars on Firefly Music Festival's stage have been ASAP Rocky, AMFMS, Atlas Genius, Blink-182, Boy & Bear, The Killers, and Billie Eilish.

    Time Period: September- 4 days
    Location: The Woodlands of Dover Motor Speedway- Dover, Delaware
    Capacity: Around 50,000 patrons attend the Firefly Music Festival.
  22. Electric ForestLights shine from every opening in the wooden forest festival.Overview: Electric Forest Music Festival started in 2011; even though it is somewhat newer, it has become a new destination spot for music lovers. This festival primarily plays jam bands and electronic music. Some of the musicians that have played here have been Grateful Dead, Disclosure, The Disco Biscuits, SLANDER, and Big Gigantic.

    Time Period: June-4 days
    Location: The Double JJ Resort- Rothbury, Michigan
    Capacity: It is estimated to host around 40,000 people for their 2022 festival.
  23. Hangout FestivalThe concert-goers enjoy dancing on the sand at this outdoor beach festival.Overview: Starting in 2010, Hangout Festival is an excellent place for music with your feet in the sand. This festival plays a wide array of music, including rock, alternative, electronic dance music, indie, hip-hop, jam bands, and reggae. This festival has had many legends, such as Zedd, T-Pain, Fall Out Boy, Kane Brown, Doja Cat, Illenium, and Post Malone. Around the festival area, they offer fun beach and water activities. One unique aspect is that Hangout Festival host a Thursday kick-off party to get attendees ready for the festival.

    Time Period: May-3 days
    Location: Gulf Shores, Alabama
    Capacity: This festival attracts more than 40,000 fans daily.
  24. Lightning in a Bottle
    The waves of the overhead umbrellas flutter with the intensity blasting from the outdoor music festival.Overview: Starting in 2004, Lightning in a Bottle has been a night of lights, sounds, and imagination. This festival mixes electronic dance music, experimental music, folk music, and devotional music. Some familiar faces have performed here, such as Disclosure, Gig Gigantic, Flying Lotus, The Glitch Mob, and Beats Antique. One unique thing that Lightning in a Bottle does is that they all start howling in unison towards the moon at sunset.

    Time Period: May- 6 days
    Location: Buena Vista Lake- Buena Vista Valley, California
    Capacity: Back in 2019 this festival had around 18,000 attendees.
  25. Burning Man
    A birds eye view of a desert festival filled with people and fire with a burning wood man-like figure in the middle.Overview: Burning Man is a fan-favorite dating back to their first show in 1986, where there were less than three dozen people in attendance. Over the years, Burning Man has become an icon and has had performers such as DJ Hill, Callback Funk, Seven Lions, Dancetronauts, Skrillex, Left/Right, and Wes Smith. The type of music played at Burning Man is called tech-house, which is also referred to as "Playa Tech." An interesting fact is that this festival is actually called The Burning Man Project because it is organized by a non-profit organization. This festival also has a ceremonial fire activity carried out by Fire Conclave. The people who attend Burning Man also refer to themselves as "Burners, " making this festival a community for music fans.

    Time Period: August- September 9 days
    Location: Black Rock City- Black Rock Desert, Nevada
    Capacity: Brings in around 80,000 people.

Conclusion

We hope you found a music festival or five to put on your bucket list. Of course, there are other music festivals in The United States, but these 25 should be ones you look into. We hope to see you all there because the trip will be so worth it.

Abby Spanbauer
Abby Spanbauer
Abby is an Integrated Marketing Communication major at Illinois State University. She loves country music and was in choir for several years. She enjoys being able to bring her passion for music into her writing.

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