23 Best Music Festivals In The USA

Few things are more exhilarating than stepping foot into a music festival prepared for three-plus days of dancing, local food vendors, and memories that will last through the next year. Modern-day music festivals have been gaining popularity in the U.S. ever since the 1960s with the massive Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Since then, they have grown into something bigger than the original festival-goers 50 years could've ever imagined. Music festivals have slowly but surely become a full-blown tradition across the country. 

Today, there are over 800 different music festivals across the United States that can appeal to any and all musical preferences. These events specialize in everything from EDM and pop to hip-hop and country music. Plus, there is more to America's festivals than just intoxicating live music from some of your favorite performers. You can find unique attractions, lots of shopping, and incredible culinary gems at most American music festivals, too. 

Do you remember that bubbling sense of excitement and wonder kids feel when they go to Disneyland? Music festivals have the power to rekindle that type of euphoria. Be one of the millions of people who are privy to this magical experience by grabbing tickets to one of the best music festivals in the U.S.

Lollapalooza (Chicago, IL)

Every August the city of Chicago fills with the sweet sounds of music emanating from the Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park.  While this year's event is sure to be iconic, it's far from the first time they're putting together an affair like this. The idea for Lollapalooza was concocted by Perry Farrell, frontman of Jane's Addiction, and has become a time-honored tradition in Chicago since it was officially inaugurated in 2005. These days, around 400,000 attendees flood the park every year to see the top names on the charts all perform in one convenient location. 

Lollapalooza doesn't strictly stick to one genre and you'll likely hear a range of musical styles across its extensive lineup. So, this is the perfect fest to attend if you and your friends share slightly different music tastes. In total, Lollapalooza hosts over 170 artists hailing from every corner of the world who will play on nine unique stages.

Governors Ball Music Festival (Queens, NY)

New York is truly a haven for music at all times of the year, but that energy is even more palpable during the summer months when the Governors Ball Music Festival goes down. Even though it's only been running since 2011, Gov Ball has already made a name for itself. Hundreds of thousands of people ran to its new venue of Flushing Meadows Corona Park last year, and revellers can expect much of the same in 2024. 

The list of artists that will gather in New York from June 7 to 9 for Gov Ball 2024 is nothing short of amazing. World-renowned performers like Post Malone, The Killers, 21 Savage and many more are slated to appear. In total, more than 60 different artists from various genres, like rap, indie, and dance, will wow the masses over the weekend.

Thanks to its prime location in New York City, Governor's Ball also provides some of the most mouth-watering festival foods you can find. You can get a taste of some of NYC's most iconic restaurants and treats at Gov Ball. The vendors in 2024 include offerings from Destination Dumplings, Mao's Bao, Big Mozz, and Doughnuttery. 

Coachella (Indio, CA)

Coachella is one of the most notorious festivals in the country, and there is a good reason why it has become so well-known. Though it's sometimes criticized for becoming too commercial, Coachella does provide something totally different than other events. It is a one-of-a-kind, luxurious music festival experience held at the Empire Polo Club. However, it does require quite a bit of dough to partake.

Coachella went from being just a one-day event to a crazy two-weekend bonanza spread throughout April. The California festival has provided attendees with an increasingly upscale, indulgent extravaganza that attracts some of the most successful names in music. The fest even garners the attention of influencers and celebrities, whose presence and outfit choices are just as highly anticipated as the live music.

Ultimately, your excitement levels for Coachella will depend on your mileage for trends, selfies, and influencers, but its presence on the U.S. festival landscape is undeniable. What started as an anti-Woodstock celebration of artistry, partially influenced by a Pearl Jam protest concert against Ticketmaster, has become one of the most corporate festivals in the game. The irony is delicious.

Ultra Music Festival (Miami, FL)

If you're looking for a place to dance to electronic dance music for days on end, you might be on the hunt for Ultra Music Festival. The Ultra Music Festival was born in 1999 and quickly gave rise to a wave of similar functions around the globe. Today, there are iterations of Ultra across countries in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Taking its name from a Depeche Mode album, a one-day event on Miami Beach (one that was a financial failure, no less) has become a real international phenomenon. 

In the United States and around the globe, the most well-known version of Ultra is the origin point for the festival — Miami. The event takes place in late March every year, and the groundbreaking set-up guarantees plenty of buzz and unbeatable dance nights. This electronic music festival is particularly known for its huge, out-of-this-world stages and stellar visuals during the shows. The festival also features a wild variety of art installations and even a cool sustainability program, so there is much more to do at Ultra than just dance. Needless to say, there is a whole lot of dancing going on.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (Manchester, TN)

In the small city of Manchester, Tennessee, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (held in mid-June) is a very big deal indeed. The music festival was inaugurated in 2002 and has been getting better ever since. Originally conceived as a stage for jam bands, it has since blossomed to set the stage for some of the biggest names in music across multiple genres. 

Past headliners include such luminaries as Tool, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Lionel Richie, Eminem, and many more. It's a camping festival with a variety of accommodation ticket options that range from $50 for a nightly primitive camping pass to $3,000 to rent a luxury glamping wooden frame safari tent. Whether you're hoping for an affordable festival weekend or an opportunity to splurge, Bonnaroo can surely provide it. 

Besides all the music, Bonnaroo features plenty of activities to keep you occupied throughout the weekend. Some of the activity highlights of the festival include lively parades, free yoga classes, the Roo Run 5K, SoberRoo hangouts, and even a Ferris wheel. There is also a huge list of interesting markets and food vendors at the festival, for a bite between bands. 

Rolling Loud (Multiple Locations)

Rolling Loud is one of the world's top rap and hip-hop festivals, and the lineup never misses. Widely considered the world's largest hip-hop extravaganza, Rolling Loud has become so popular that it's held in multiple locations around the world, including Miami, California, Canada, Australia, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, and Thailand. Most adaptations of Rolling Loud take place in the summer, when the weather is good and the vibes are immaculate. The festival also has an extensive history of philanthropic actions, raising money for everything from earthquake victims in Haiti to basketball clinics in the local area.

The very first Rolling Loud took place in Miami in 2015, and it has become a summertime staple in the Magic City. Despite the unforgiving Florida summer heat (the first Rolling Loud dealt with flooding, believe it or not), over 200,000 festival-goers annually head out to Hard Rock Stadium for Rolling Loud, with past headliners including Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky, and many more.

Life Is Beautiful Festival (Las Vegas, NV)

This Las Vegas music festival might have the brightest, happiest name of them all: Life Is Beautiful. It's a simple but effective moniker for a dynamic music festival. Life Is Beautiful really puts in the effort to make that title come to life for three days in late September. Covering everything from hip-hop to alternative rock and pop, past headliners include Outkast, Muse, Billie Eilish, and Green Day.

There are four main stages at Life Is Beautiful spread across a huge portion of the city. The event is so enormous that it actually takes over 18 fully decorated blocks of Las Vegas. That's a lot of stuff to travelerblog between sets, meaning visitors are never short of an experience or two, with culinary, art, and educational schedules alongside the loud stuff.

In addition to all the musical performances, some of the most popular acts on the Vegas strip tend to make appearances at this fest, like Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group. The other amazing thing about attending Life Is Beautiful is all the delicious eats. It's basically like a music and food festival in one, showing that life really is beautiful.

Stagecoach Festival (Indio, CA)

Country lovers might feel left out when they read about all the pop and EDM events out there, but there is an incredible, well-crafted festival in the U.S. for them, too. Located in California, we're talking about Stagecoach. This country music bonanza takes place at the end of April, and it's the perfect way to welcome in springtime if you're in the mood for some country tunes. 

This music festival is actually held in the exact same location as Coachella (the Empire Polo Club), but the vibes are completely different. Stagecoach usually manages to snag the most popular country artists of the year to play, plus some additional musicians from other genres. 

The list of past performers at Stagecoach reads like a who's who of country legends, from Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith to Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, and Shania Twain. Taylor Swift has even graced the Stagecoach stage, performing on the undercard when she was an up-and-coming star in 2008. Stagecoach also has fun attractions across the grounds, like a massive Ferris wheel to get a bird's eye view over the happenings and Guy Fieri's Stagecoach Smokehouse.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (New Orleans, LA)

New Orleans is one of the most musical cities in the U.S., so it's not surprising that the area throws a fabulous annual music bash called the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Taking place over the end of April and beginning of May, this lengthy festival packs a punch with two weekends of jazz and more. Despite the festival's name, its talent list is actually very eclectic, and it doesn't solely host jazz shows, with megastars like Tina Turner, Christina Aguilera, and the Foo Fighters among past headliners. However, jazz is at the heart of it all, and no trip to the festival is complete without catching the traditional performances by The Radiators and other icons.

While most people don't think of music festivals as family-friendly activities, that couldn't be farther from the truth at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. It's a surprisingly terrific music festival option for families with kids. There is a kid's tent stage, parades, and craft activities that will keep busy children busy for the entire weekend while adults get to enjoy the surrounding tunes. 

Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, NV)

Burning Man is one of the more out-there music and arts festivals in the U.S., but it's also one of the most famous in the festival scene. Inaugurated in 1986, it takes place in the middle of the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, so it definitely provides an intense setting. However, this harsh climate and long run time mean that this music festival requires much more planning than other ones. 

Technically, Burning Man identifies itself as a global movement and it's more like its own world or community built from the ground up than just a simple festival. The festival lasts over a week in this treacherous terrain and doesn't provide the traditional set you'll find at most popular festivals. There isn't a lineup like traditional music festivals, rather everything comes as a bit of a surprise and it is all created by the community, including you!

The whole thing is really shrouded in a layer of mystery from the outside besides the finale of the event — literally burning a huge wooden statue of a man. Unfortunately, 2023 was a disaster for the event, as heavy rains at the climax led to serious flooding in which one visitor died. The festival remains wildly popular, so if you plan on taking the plunge for the first time, make sure you abide by all of the festival's recommendations for safety and remember that you are in an unpredictable desert.

CMA Fest (Nashville, TN)

CMA Fest isn't just the most legendary country music event in America; it's also one of the oldest music festivals in the country, period. It was established back in 1972, over 50 years ago, and it has been a favorite event in music-loving Nashville ever since. The first year, just 5,000 people made it out to the festival. Today, 90,000 attend every year. That's a big jump! 

CMA Fest happens in mid-June every year and lasts four days. The festival also has six other stages in addition to the main stage, where you can catch sets from dozens of other artists, everything from established stars to the next generation of icons. Altogether, there are over 260 performances throughout the days of CMA Fest. 

CMA makes it really easy for first-time visitors to get the hang of the music festival experience. They even put out an app every year called CMA Connect to help you get through the endeavor. You can use the app to see maps of the festival, check out the lineup schedule, and even win prizes. 

Shaky Knees Music Festival (Atlanta, GA)

Shaky Knees is an Atlanta festival in May that's perfect for all the indie folks and rockers. The music festival celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2023, and it was treated like a huge deal. Over 60 different bands performed to commemorate the milestone of the festival, and they put on an exceptionally memorable performance, setting the bar high for years to come.

The thing that's cool about Shaky Knees is that they have the big headliners (The Killers, Muse, and the Lumineers in 2023, Arcade Fire, Weezer, and Queens of the Stone Age in 2024) and artists just starting out on their paths. It's also a great choice if you enjoy eating just as much as dancing at a festival. Shaky Knees features an array of diverse food offerings that can cater to most dietary restrictions. The festival provides a very comfortable space with plenty of amenities like photo booths, phone charging stations, and more VIP experiences available. 

Made In America Festival (Philadelphia, PA)

The Made In America Festival was developed by the ultra-famous musician and businessman Jay-Z over a decade ago, and it didn't take long for the event to become a staple on the U.S. festival calendar. The Made In America Fest typically happens on Labor Day weekend on Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 

Over the last decade-plus, the festival's lineup has consistently featured some of the biggest names on Planet Music. Past headliners include Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, King of Leon, and, of course, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The big names are supported by a thrilling range of acts throughout the day, guaranteeing quality from open to close. You'll want to get there early and stay all the way through to the last set. Between all the shows, there will be quite a few meaningful art installations at Cause Village to check out and plenty of delicious food (including some of the best Philly cheesesteaks) to munch on. 

Electric Forest (Rothbury, MI)

Electric Forest is the type of festival that feels like wandering into a fantastical dream. It's more than just a music festival; it's an immersive experience complete with a magical forest waiting for visitors to travelerblog every inch. Located in Rothbury, Michigan, Electric Forest kicked off back in 2011 as a more mystical alternative to other festival options on the market at the time. 

Since its inception, the fest has grown into such a popular event that it sells out in the blink of an eye. Thankfully, there is an official wristband exchange where you can grab certified tickets after the first batch goes. This is a seriously coveted ticket, so leave nothing to chance. 

This four-day camping festival goes all night long with activities, shows, and so many out-of-the-box performances that you won't be able to look away from. While you shouldn't expect the nights at Electric Forest to be quiet, they will be filled with lots of welcome surprises. Electric Forest might not seem like it'd be a family-friendly spot, but it is actually an all-ages festival, and you'll definitely see kiddos running around. If you do plan on hitting Electric Forest family-style, make sure you bring along the proper festival gear, like protective headphones, extra sunscreen,  and plenty of water. 

Electric Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas, NV)

The name of the game when it comes to electronic music festivals is Electric Daisy Carnival, also known as EDC. The title of this camping festival says it all — this one is 100% about the electronic music scene, although it is surprisingly low on daisies. Held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, EDC is one of the classic festivals that's been around since the heady days of the '90s rave scene and it's stuck for 30 years now. It's also one of those extravaganzas with variations around the world, including incarnations in Mexico, Portugal, South Korea, and China. Every year, the lineup is stacked with more than 200 artists, and over half a million attendees descend on the speedway to partake in all the fun. 

Electric Daisy Carnival is particularly renowned in the festival community for the aesthetics of its stages and art. A huge amount of effort goes into making every annual EDC a brand-new experience for every attendee, from the newbies to the veterans. You'll want to take a good look around when you travelerblog this festival and really digest all the work that goes into creating the EDC world.

South by Southwest (Austin, TX)

What started as a local music festival in 1987 has grown into the largest festival of its kind on the planet, covering everything from live music to film, interactive media, engaging conferences, and much more. From the very beginning, Austin's South by Southwest overachieved — the organizers expected 150 attendees in '87, but over 700 turned up — and the creativity conglomerate is an integral part of Bat City's reputation as a must-visit destination for music lovers.

Traditionally held over a week in March, many of the best music venues in Austin get in on the action, hosting stars of the past, present, and future. Ellie Goulding, HAIM, John Mayer, and Grimes are among the many who saw their reputations explode after performing at SXSW, and only a fool would bet against more joining them in the future.

Of course, with mass popularity comes an inevitable backlash, and South by Southwest has not been immune from this phenomenon. Some claim that the festival has lost its soul and charm, with one NPR writer referring to it as a "big ol' Times Square billboard-sized commercial" in 2013. The festival has also been plagued with crowd control issues and alcohol-fuelled violence. SXSW divides opinion today, but its place at the top table of music festivals isn't up for debate. Its economic impact is akin to the Superbowl, after all.

Austin City Limits Music Festival (Austin, TX)

At the Austin City Limits Music Festival, you can spend two separate weekends in October catching more than 100 high-energy sets. Every year, this Austin fall essential organizes nine different stages to accommodate the onslaught of talent. While most music festivals in America adhere to one general genre, Austin City Limits breaks the mold with its lineup, and it entices an eclectic mix of guests to the party. 

All different types of performers make an appearance at this famous festival in Bat City. Where to start with the list of past acts? Björk, Muse, The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, and Jay-Z are just the tip of the iceberg. Austin is one of the best music destinations on the planet, and planning your visit for these October extravaganzas is a great way to embrace the true spirit of the city. Keep an eye out for the Austin Eats food court, which hosts many of the city's finest eateries.

Outside Lands (San Francisco, CA)

Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park has earned its spot as a major San Francisco tradition. 2023 was a special one, as the festival the 15th anniversary of its inception with big names like Zedd, Janelle Monáe, Lana Del Rey, Fisher, Megan Thee Stallion, Willow, and even drag queen Trixie Mattel and Shaquille O'Neal DJing as Diesel. 

To accompany the music, Outside Lands provides food, wine, cocktails, and beer from some of the best local Bay Area establishments. Make sure you stop by the Outside Lands Marketplace to discover all different types of unique souvenirs, from handmade jewelry and clothing to stickers and home decor. If you really want to treat yourself to an elevated experience at Outside Lands, there are also premium passes available that come with things like access to exclusive lounges, private restrooms, and prime viewing spots for shows. This is the largest independently-owned festival in the United States, which is reason enough to circle it on the calendar.

Pitchfork Music Festival (Chicago, IL)

Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival at the end of July focuses on showcasing rock and alternative music. Established in 2006, Pitchfork is somewhere between one of the OG festivals and one of the more modern events to hit the scene. It has a lot of quirky little features that make it stand out among the crowd of music festivals.

As you might expect from any event carrying the Pitchfork name, the lineup almost always showcases the effortlessly cool, and the vibes can't be touched. Past performers include The National, St. Vincent, Neutral Milk Hotel, and post-rock icons Godspeed You! Black Emperor. 

While there is always an awesome lineup at Pitchfork, there is much more to do at this music festival than just nod along to the music. Many of the top eateries in Chicago scramble for a chance to set up shop at Pitchfork. There is a craft fair and live artist interviews. Plus, the fest has some of the coolest shopping opportunities on this list, like an on-site vinyl fair where you can shop for records and a poster fair where you can buy artist prints. 

Big Ears (Knoxville, TN)

The best weird music festival in North America? Knoxville's Big Ears Festival might just win that award. Attendees can enjoy everything from contemporary classical music to jazz metal, although some may well argue that those two genres aren't too dissimilar. Indie rock, electronica, minimalism, it's all here, enjoyed by the masses over four days at the end of March.

Praise for Big Ears Festival is seemingly universal. The New York Times has called it "a music festival with a rare vision," while Rolling Stone named it the "classiest, most diverse festival in the country." No small praise, considering the range of festivals that take place across the many magnificent music cities in the U.S.

The stated mission of Big Ears is to "create joyful, meaningful, and transcendent cultural experiences that defy boundaries, fuel curiosity, ignite the spirt, and nourish the soul." This is the sort of festival that puts Kamasi Washington, Yo La Tengo, and Sunn O))) on the same bill, so we're happy to say they have achieved their mission.

Hangout Music Festival (Gulf Shores, AL)

Hangout Music Festival in Alabama is easily one of the biggest live music events in the South all year. The thing that gives Hangout a completely different vibe than other festivals is its idyllic location right on the beaches of Gulf Shores. So, it's a fantastic music festival to welcome in the summer at the end of May. What's not to love about a fabulous festival with views of the ocean?

The lineup features a broad range of genres from rock to reggae via hip-hop, dance, and even the occasional jam band. Hangout alums include Primus, Cardi B, Stevie Wonder, Travis Scott, and Lana Del Rey, which should give you a good idea of how eclectic this party can be. 

There are also a lot of cute, borderline wacky activities to partake in at Hangout. You'll come across things like a roller-skating Disco, a hammock beach, and a psychedelic bus throughout the music festival. There is even a wedding chapel at Hangout in case you want to make it official with your partner at the fest.

Riot Fest (Chicago, IL)

Riot Fest is the ultimate punk rock festival in the United States. It's held at Douglass Park in Chicago every September, which makes for a pretty amazing venue in the heart of the busy city. For one glorious weekend, all the long-time favorites and up-and-coming artists from the punk rock scene will perform at Riot Fest. 

Riot Fest's punk credentials are impeccable, with Dead Kennedys, The Misfits, and The Bouncing Souls among the many alums. Punk is about more than a sound, of course, so expect plenty of different styles united by a fierce independence and rebel spirit. Plus, there are always more shows during the day leading up to the main events, a smorgasbord of excellent food for guests (no matter their dietary restrictions), as well as carnival rides and other types of interesting vendors. 

If you can't afford a music festival ticket this summer, no worries, because Riot Fest has you covered. Just sign up to participate in the "Do Your Part" initiative, where you can help clean up the park and earn tickets to Riot Fest in exchange for your assistance. There are clean-up events until right before the festival, but spots fill up fast so try to sign up as soon as possible. 

Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI)

Summerfest in Milwaukee often dubs itself "The World's Largest Music Festival," attracting around 600,000 revelers this year (the number was around 800,000 prior to the pandemic). It is thought to have lost its crown to Donauinselfest in Vienna, but one thing is for sure — Summerfest is definitely one of the longest festivals in the United States circuit. It lasts for three whole weekends, nearly a month of live music. Lucky Milwaukee.

There has been a diverse range of musicians performing at the festival since its inception in 1968, with everyone from Paul McCartney to Whitney Houston having strutted their stuff on the stage. The long list of talent plays across 12 stages, so there is always a set to watch at this music festival. Summerfest keeps you properly entertained while you're waiting for particular performances, too. There are several food and bar areas around the festival and an activity zone with virtual reality experiences and more available.