With hundreds of options for live music year-round, it gets hard to decipher the good music festivals from the best. Here are some festival options that you do know and should know:
You do know:
Coachella- Usually the second and third weekend in April.
Location: Indio, California
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is notoriously the hipster festival where the goal of each weekend is to look like you belong in an Urban Outfitters catalog. The festival takes place in the middle of the desert in California and, for the first time this year, featured the same acts two weekends in a row in order to accommodate the festivals overwhelming ticket sales. This year’s lineup included Bon Iver, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg (with a visit from holographic Tupac), Girl Talk, Gotye and Radiohead.
Bonnaroo- The beginning of June.
Location: Manchester, Tennessee
Located on a farm in rural Tennesee, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival draws quite a crowd. If you are into camping and are okay with being grungy 24/7, this festival is for you. The jam band atmosphere is especially conducive to hippies and fairies and the surprise “Super Jam” where unexpected artists play together as an exciting highlight. This year’s lineup included Phish, The Shins, Phantogram, Kendrick Lamar and The Punch Brothers.
Hangout- The last weekend in May.
Location: Gulf Shores, Alabama
You would think that a music festival in the sand would be fairly complicated and messy, however Hangout Music Fest is a beautifully done, enormous party. The festival is on the gorgeous white beaches of Gulf Shores and features delicious seafood from local vendors. I have never been to a festival that is more like a giant fraternity party, but the “bro” presence was definitely felt. This year’s lineup included Jack White, The Alabama Shakes, Umphrey’s McGee, Rebelution and two sets by The String Cheese Incident.
You should know:
Jazzfest- The last two weekends in April.
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
One of the few festivals simultaneously catering to the collegiate and 50+ crowd, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival defies traditional music festival norms because of its diverse crowd, lineup and festival eats. Located within the New Orleans fair grounds, Jazzfest is where local acts like Trombone Shorty are more popular than big name bands, Mardi Gras-esque parades come through the crowd each hour, and you can get Jumbalaya from festival vendors. The festival spans two weekends, each with unique artists. This year’s lineup included Al Green, Bon Iver, Bruce Springsteen, The Beach Boys and Iron and Wine.
Counter.point- September 27-29, 2012
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
At first glance Counter.point looks like a dubstep-heavy festival, but at a closer look it is actually an indie music lover’s heaven. Located just outside of downtown Atlanta, Counter.point features camping, extreme sports and lots of bass. The venue is located along on 8,000 acres along the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. This is the inaugural year of the festival and the lineup includes M83, Crystal Castles, Bassnectar, Conspirator and Theophilus London.
Location: Vermont (June 21-24), Colorado (July 5-8) and California (July 26-29)
Centered on creating awareness and showcasing art, Wanderlust combines healthy eating, yoga, sustainability and music in beautiful locations around the United States. A traveling festival, each new location has hikes, scenery and opportunities to get outside. Wanderlust is a festival for the health enthusiast and music lover combined. This year’s lineup varied for each location but included Ani Difranco, Bonobo, Krishna Das, Shpongle and Ziggy Marley.