Summer Music Guide: 20 Lesser Known but Totally Cool Festivals Across the Country

(Courtesy of Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival)

Summer Music Guide: 20 Lesser Known but Totally Cool Festivals Across the Country


Nothing says summertime like donning your cutoffs and boots for a weekend of sunshine, selfies, beer, and music.

With spring around the corner, it's time to start making plans for summer's music festivals. This year, why not skip the more obvious and played out (ahem, Coachella) and hit up a slightly more under-the-radar fest instead? Here's our list of the best of the season. Get your tickets soon—they're likely to sell out.

Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival

(Courtesy of Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival)

What: A healing, arts, spiritual fest, think of this as a Burning Man-esque experience where you'll be immersed in numerous art installations including flaming art cars, various workshops like sound baths, and tons of talented performers. A chill, beachside vibe permeates the space at Sunshine Grove where you'll be met with endless things to do in addition to taking in the solid lineup of artists.

Where: Dover, DE

When: March 1-4, 2018

Headliners: Arcade Fire, Bassnectar, Halsey, Travis Scott, Powow! feat. Snoop Dogg, Khalid, Foster the People, Leon Bridges, and The Flaming Lips

More info:

Fortress Festival

(Courtesy of James Coreas via D Magazine)

What: Head to the cultural district of Fort Worth to sing, dance and be merry with over 9,000 people for the second edition of Fortress. Over 20 bands will take two outdoor stages (last year's lineup included Run the Jewels, Purity Ring, Flying Lotus, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Slowdive and more) for the partnership event with Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Where: Fort Worth, Texas

When: April 28-29, 2018

Headliners: Father John Misty, Courtney Barnett, Tune-Yards, Chicano Batman, and De La Soul



(Courtesy of

What: Held at the beautiful Gorge Amphitheater, Sasquatch offers epic views along with the tunes. It's in a remote area, so plan to camp out—you won't want to miss the experience of this festival in nature.

Where: George, Washington

When: May 25-27, 2017

Headliners: Bon Iver, The National, Modest Mouse, David Byrne, Tyler the Creator


Hangout Music Fest

(Courtesy of

What: Hangout is a music festival and beach vacation in one. Practice your best barn dance, play sand volleyball court, relax in one of many hammocks on the beach, and enjoy the fresh seafood all weekend long.

Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama

When: May 18-20, 2018

Headliners: Kendrick Lamar, the Chainsmokers, the Killers, Halsey, and Odezsa



(Courtesy of BottleRock)

What: Ok, ok. If you're a local, then Bottlerock is perfectly well known to you. But the small festival best known to bring wine galore, top-notch restaurants (think Morimoto and Bouchon Bakery) and culinary acts (hello, Martha Stewart!), is at last hitting its groove where the music is concerned. Bottlerock sold out with a quickness this year. For a chance at tickets, click over to

Where: Napa, CA

When: May 25-27, 2018

Headliners: Bruno Mars, The Killers, Billy Idol, Thievery Corporation, Muse


Boston Calling

(Courtesy of

What: At Harvard's outdoor Athletic Complex, Boston Calling is great way to enjoy the warm spring weather in a city that's often covered in snow. In addition to music, this year's festival will include a film experience curated by Natalie Portman.

Where: Allston, Massachusetts

When: May 25-27, 2018

Headliners: Eminem, the Killers, Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, St. Vincent, and Portugal the Man.


Firefly Music Festival

(Courtesy of Firefly Music Festival)

What: You'll get a new-meets-old school mix of music here in a solid lineup including Lil' Wayne, Alt-J, Foster the People, MGMT, Chromeo, Warren G, and Odezsa. Hang in the trees, chill in one of the many hammocks, join a silent disco, or dance the night away in a festival that lounges as hard as it parties.

Where: Dover, DE

When: June 14-17, 2018

Headliners: Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys, and the Killers

More info:

FYF Fest

(Courtesy of

What: Hosted in LA's Exposition Park, FYF Fest is a great option for folks who want to skip out on Coachella and hang in the city instead. FYF even has its own night market where you can buy food while watching the shows. The lineup hasn't been announced yet, but you can expect it in mid-March. Last year's headliners were Frank Ocean, Missy Elliot, Björk, Nine Inch Nails, a Tribe Called Quest, and Erykah Badu.

Where: Los Angeles, California

When: July 21-23, 2018



(Courtesy of Windup Magazine)

What: Since 1973, Bumbershoot has brought people to Seattle from all over the country. Not just for music, the festival also highlights comedy, theater, film, visual arts, and dance—perfect for a weekend getaway not too far from home. The lineup has not been announced yet, but last year's headliners included Solange, Lorde, the Roots, Odezsa, Spoon, Margaret Cho, and Chicano Batman.

Where: Seattle, Washington

When: August 31-September 2, 2018



(Courtesy of

What: At the same location as Governors Ball, this New York music festival is an easy trip from Manhattan. Panorama is known for it's spectacular panoramic stage, with its 30-foot-tall, ultra-high-definition video screen wrapping 170 feet around the stage for an entirely immersive audio/video experience.

Where: Randall's Island, New York

When: July 27-29, 2018

Headliners: Cardi B, War on Drugs, Janet Jackson, David Byrne, Chicano Batman, and Fleet Foxes


Essence Music Festival

(Courtesy of

What: Essence Music Festival began as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence Magazine back in 1994. Then the thing took off. Today, the festival is the largest celebration of African-American culture and music in the United States. Plus, it's a great excuse to get your Nola fix.

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana

When: July 5-8, 2018

Headliners: Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and Snoop Dogg


Austin City Limits

(Courtesy of

What: Music and food—that's what Austin does best. Get the flavor of both at Austin City Limits, one of the larger festivals on this list but a perennial favorite with eight stages, more than 110 bands, and two whole weekends of jams. The ACL Eats Food Court offers eats, drinks, and sweets from some of Austin's most renowned restaurants. If you've been waiting to check out this budding city, now's the time. The lineup has not been announced yet, but you can have high expectations after last year's headliners of Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, the Killers, and Gorillaz.

Where: Austin, Texas

When: October 5-7 and 12-14, 2018


Newport Folk Festival

(Courtesy of

What: At scenic Fort Adams State Park overlooking Newport Harbor, this festival has been the stomping grounds for legends including Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan since 1959. Through the years, the festival has maintained a focus on folk, blues, country, bluegrass and folk rock—it's definitely the go-to event for a folksy vibe.

Where: Newport, Rhode Island

When: July 27-28, 2018

Headliners: Fantastic Negrito, Bedouine, Gary Clark Jr., Courtney Barnett, and the Weather Station.

More info:

Pitchfork Music Festival

(Courtesy of

What: For the past 12 years,Pitchfork has consistently served up solid alternative-rock, hip hop, and electronica-focused lineups. In addition to the music you'll hear onstage, festivalgoers will also love shopping the collection at Pitchfork's record fair. The lineup has not been announced yet but last year's headliners included LCD Soundsystem, A Tribe Called Quest, Solange, PJ Harvey, Dirty Projectors, Nicolas Jaar, Angel Olsen, and the Avalanches.

Where: Chicago, Illinois

When: July 20-28, 2018


Eaux Claires

(Courtesy of

What: Eaux Claires was founded in 2015 by Eau Claire native and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner of The National. The lineup has not yet been announced, but the festival is usually full of musical surprises: Last year, Mikael Jorgenson debuted a new project Quindar, "named for space 'quindar' sounds taken from NASA archives, electronically re-mixed for an intergalactic feel." Other major acts included Wilco, Chance the Rapper, Feist, Sylvan Esso, and Collections Of Colonies Of Bees.

Where: Eau Claire, Wisconsin

When: July 6-7, 2018

More info:

Mountain Jam

(Courtesy of

What: For 14 years, eco-savvy music lovers have been making the trek to the Catskills for Mountain Jam, held in a natural amphitheater where a chairlift runs throughout the festival as an added bonus. Don't miss the Awareness Village, which hosts exhibits from nonprofit organizations and environmental groups.

Where: Hunter Mountain, New York

When: June 15-17, 2018

Headliners: Jack Johnson, Alt-J, Father John Misty, Portugal the Man, and the War on Drugs


Neon Desert

(Courtesy of Neon Desert)

What: For a taste of the Southwest, Neon Desert promises community up-and-comers and local and regional art in addition to bigger international names. The lineup has not been announced yet but you can expect and eclectic range from EDM to reggaetón, indie to mainstream artists, like last year's headliners of Foster the People, J Balvin, Alesso, and Nelly.

Where: El Paso, Texas

When: May 26-27, 2018



(Courtesy of Hinterlands)

What: Looking for some rural relaxation in America's heartland? Camp out at Hinterlands, just outside Des Moines, and enjoy the countryside and after-hours campfire stage.

Where: St. Charles, Iowa

When: August 3-4, 2018

Headliners: Sturgill Simpson, Band of Horses, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, and Chvrches.

More info:

Lockn’ Festival

(Courtesy of Lockn' Festival)

What: Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lockn' Festival focuses on jam bands—past performers have included The Allman Brothers Band, Phish, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, and My Morning Jacket. You can expect to hear some face-melting jams and improvised solos.

Where: Arrington, Virginia

When: August 23-26, 2018

Headliners: Dead & Co, Toots and the Maytals, Sheryl Crow, and Tedeschi Trucks Band


Shaky Knees

(Courtesy of Shaky Knees Music Festival)

What: Held at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Shaky Knees celebrates its sixth anniversary this year with its best lineup yet, featuring more than 60 musical acts. Shaky Knees is also known for its food—can you say southern barbecue?

Where: Atlanta, Georgia

When: May 4-6, 2018

Headliners: Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, the National

More info:

*This article has been updated since it was originally published on Apr 28, 2017.

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