So you want to roam among the wild things this festival season–EW has you covered. Below you’ll find a continually updated list of must-see lineups, unique programming twists, and a few tricks of the camping-in-the-woods, showering-in-a-stream, and dancing-until-dawn trade.
Luke Bryan’s Crash My Playa—Riviera Maya, Mexico
Billed as a “four-night, tropical and intimate country concert experience,” the event features Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell, and a few others joining Luke Bryan at The Barceló Riviera Maya for a slew of performances each night, just feet from the Caribbean Sea.
Noise Pop Festival—San Francisco, California
Noise Pop Festival—a purveyor of indie music and movie screenings—takes over a city in interesting way: booking shows at a variety of venues across the Bay Area over the course of 10 days, starting Friday, February 20. Check out LA-based duo Best Coast playing in a intimate venue, Aussie-electronic team Flight Facilities throwing a dance party, or Foxes in Fiction curating an Orchid Tapes label showcase. Other noteworthy names include Kindness, Caribou, Les Sins, the New Pornographers, and more.
Savannah Stopover Music Festival—Savannah, Georgia
SXSW’s grungy little sister is back this year and a weekend earlier than usual. Headliners include Generationals, San Fermin, and Diarrhea Planet with other notables like ASTR, Matthew E. White, as well as Christopher Paul Stelling.
Country to Country—Oslo & Stockholm, London & Dublin
Oslo and Stockholm and a week later London and Dublin will be taken over by some of Nashville’s biggest ambassadors: Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Ann Womack and more.
BUKU Music + Arts Festival—New Orleans, Louisiana
The first of NOLA’s many festivals (it also hosts to Essence Festival, Jazz Fest, and Voodoo Music + Art Project) kicks off in a big way: Bassnectar, A$AP Rocky, Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun, TV on the Radio, G-Eazy, Run the Jewels, and Boosie Badazz all stop by one of the heaviest rap-billed weekends of the season.
Marfa Myths Festival—Marfa, Texas
Just a few days before South by Southwest Festival kicks off, Mexican Summer and Ballroom Marfa will present a program featuring artists from the rosters of MS, Daniel Lopatin’s Software Recording Co., and more. Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes and Connan Mockasin are billed for a recording residency, along with sets from Steve Gunn, Tamaryn, Suicideyear, Grouper, and more.
Lollapalooza South America:
Santiago, Chile, March 14-15 | Website | Full Lineup | Twitter | Facebook Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 21-22 | Website | Full Lineup | Twitter | Facebook Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 28-29 | Website | Full Lineup | Twitter | Facebook
Jack White, Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Foster The People are all headed to South America, stopping in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil in March. Each lineup varies with the likes of Interpol, alt-J, St. Vincent, and Bastille, as well as a few others.
South by Southwest Music—Austin, Texas
In the more than two decades since it launched SXSW has evolved from an industry showcase for unsigned acts into a bonanza of corporate-sponsored shows and big-name surprise guests playing for mobs of Texan college students on spring break (not to mention spawning film and tech festivals alongside the music). Still, it’s worth battling the throngs on Sixth Street to catch big stars playing in unexpected venues–like Jay-Z and Kanye’s 2011 show at a power plant–among the up and coming acts looking for a break. This year’s billings includes Bleachers, AWOLNATION, Milo Greene, Sam Hunt, Angel Haze and (trust us) many more.
Runaway County Music Fest—Melbourne, Florida
Blake Shelton is 2015’s country festival king (you’ll also find him in Stagecoach, Shaky Boots, Country Thunder, Tree Town, Bayou Country Superfest, and Big Barrel primetime slots), and he’s kicking off country festival season along with co-headliners Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice and others like Thomas Rhett and Easton Corbin this spring at the Wickham Park festival grounds.
Ultra Music Festival—Miami, Florida
Each year Ultra draws EDM’s biggest names to south Florida but this year just might be its best yet (a good distraction from last year’s controversy): Axwell^Ingrosso make their U.S. debut and are joined by DJ headliners Alesso, Armin van Buuren, Eric Prydz, David Guetta, Avicii—who cancelled 2014 his appearance due to health concerns—and Tiesto. Live performers include Bassnectar, Kiesza, Clean Bandit, Royksopp and more.
Big Ears Festival—Knoxville, Tennessee
Rolling Stone calls it “the most ambitious and avant-garde music festival to emerge in America in more than a decade,” and The New York Times says, “It gives concertgoers—in comfortable theaters, in a comfortable town without a lot of other distractions—as much power as a composer or performer in determining what music means…” Big Ears, the product of one of the Bonnaroo founders, aims to include as many generations and genres on the bill as possible: Headliners are Terry Riley and Laurie Anderson, and top billings go to tUnE-yArDs, Swans, Jamie xx, and Perfume Genius along with the Kronos Quartet as this year’s Artists-in-Residence.
Country Thunder—Florence, Arizona
Country Thunder kicks off its two-part series (the second taking place in Wisconsin later this summer) with a stacked lineup: headliner Blake Shelton is joined by Luke Bryan, Big & Rich, Brett Eldredge, Dustin Lynch and more for the four-day fest.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival—Palm Springs, California
The place to be seen as much as see big names—on the stage as well as in the crowd—has bragging rights over the Drive Like Jehu reunion and the (presumably) last chance to see AC/DC live this year. Other headliners include Jack White and Drake (also headlining Governors Ball in June) who will be joined by a lineup stacked with the industry’s most prominent women over the course of the two weekends: St. Vincent, Florence and the Machine, Azealia Banks, Kiesza, and FKA Twigs.
Tortuga Music Festival—Fort Lauderdale, Florida
If you believe in the gospel according to flip-flops, cutoffs, and margaritas, this is the fest for you (also, if, you’re a supporter of ocean conservation). Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band lead this lineup of country-music mainstays and summer bros—they’re joined by Jake Owen, Little Big Town, Trace Adkins, newcomer Sam Hunt, and more.
Stagecoach—Palm Springs, California
If ‘murica came music-festival form, it would sound and look a lot like Stagecoach. Headliners playing amongst the hay bales and saloon-style food stands this April are Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, and Blake Shelton. Also on the bill: Merle Haggard, Jake Owen, Dierks Bentley, ZZ Top, The Band Perry, and Maddie & Tae.
New Orleans Jazz Fest—New Orleans, Louisiana
While headliners have tended toward mainstream jam bands paired with an onslaught of legit jazz acts and local bands, missing from the festival circuit, 2015’s Jazz Fest lineup is arguably its most top-heavy ever. Elton John makes his second American festival appearance—the first was last year’s Sunday night headlining set at Bonnaroo—and is joined by co-headliners The Who, No Doubt, and Tony Bennett paired with Lady Gaga. Over the course of two weekends they’ll be joined by Ryan Adams, Hozier, Kacey Musgraves, Wilco, John Legend, Pitbull, Keith Urban, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Buddy Guy, Jerry Lee Lewis, Widespread Panic, and hundreds of others.
Big Guava Music Festival—Tampa, Florida
While heavy rain marred the 2014 event, Big Guava returns with one less day but a bigger lineup. The Strokes will headline with other top spots going to Pixies, Hozier, Passion Pit, Ryan Adams, and TV on the Radio.
Rock in Rio USA—Las Vegas, Nevada
Celebrating its 30th anniversary worldwide, Rock in Rio is launching its first U.S. festival this year. Over the course of two weekends they are bringing some big names–ones you (so far) won’t find elsewhere on this year’s festival circuit–to the Las Vegas Strip. The first weekend is rock heavy with No Doubt and Metallica headlining and Linkin Park and The Pretty Reckless with top billings. The second is more pop: Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, and Sam Smith lead the lineup. Tickets are on sale January 20th.
Hangout Music Fest—Gulf Shores, Alabama
Organizers increased capacity from 35,000 to 40,000 for last year’s Hangout Fest—which the Black Keys, Outkast, Jack Johnson, and the Killers headlined—and it sold out quickly, and history will probably repeat this year. The festival partnered with Goldenvoice (the promoter behind Coachella) for a multi-genre lineup: Foo Fighters, Beck, Zac Brown Band, and Skrillex will headline, with other notables like My Morning Jacket, Major Lazer, TV on the Radio, and Future Islands joining the beach party.
Rock on the Range—Columbus, Ohio
One of the few events each year dominated by rock and metal, Rock on the Range this year features Slipknot, Judas Priest, and Linkin Park. Bring your air guitar and get ready for some head-banging.
Sasquatch! Music Festival—Columbia River Gorge in Quincy, Washington
The gorgeousness of the Gorge has not been exaggerated, and with solid lineups every year, Sasquatch! remains one of the circuit’s heavy-hitters. This year’s roster includes Sleater-Kinney, Modest Mouse, Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters and Kendrick Lamar as headliners, with plenty of other notable acts like Lana Del Rey, Of Monsters and Men, St. Vincent and Ryan Adams also on the bill.
Mysteryland Electronic Music, Culture, and Arts Festival—Bethel Woods, New York
If dancing on Woodstock’s hallowed grounds to EDM’s heaviest hitters sounds like your cup of crazy, Bethel Woods is the place for you come May. The full lineup is out and it’s some of the biggest drawing names in the field: Dillon Francis, Diplo, Kygo, and Madeon will be joined by A-trak, Porter Robinson, and more.
CounterPoint Music and Arts Festival—Kingston Downs, Georgia
Georgia’s own Widespread Panic will headline a lineup that swings heavy towards electronic at this year’s festival. They’ll be joined by Zedd, The Roots, and Kygo for fellow headlining spots with notable spots going to Dillon Francis, Zeds Dead, Thomas Jack, and RL Grime.
So you wanna rock? Head to Oklahoma this Memorial Day weekend for three days of guitar shredding, head banging, and a whole lot of loud. The festival’s ninth installment is headlined by Linkin Park, Tesla, Godsmack, and Slayer with sets from Papa Roach, Halestorm, and Anthrax.
Bottlerock—Napa Valley, California
Wine, cheese, and the best of the ’90s (No Doubt, Public Enemy, Snoop Dogg) are billed for this year’s festival weekend. Other headliners include Robert Plant and Imagine Dragons; festival darlings Portugal. The Man, Cage the Elephant, and Young the Giant round out the lineup.
sweetlife festival—Columbia, MD
sweetgreen’s music, food, and community—proceeds benefit “sweetgreen in schools,” an educational program created to introduce kids to the benefits of healthy eating and nutrition—festival expands to two day this summer with a killer lineup: Kendrick Lamar, Calvin Harris, The Weeknd, Pixies, Charli XCX, Billy Idol (do I have to keep going?) are billed across the weekend.
Governors Ball—Randall’s Island Park, New York
Björk is back. When the lineup was released, suspicions arose she’d have new music to promote—and what do you know, her new album drops in March. Other billed artists Florence and the Machine, Tame Impala (both making the festival rounds this year), Lana Del Rey, and Hot Chip have all reportedly been working on new music, and chances are those projects will be ready to drop come summer. Headliners Drake, The Black Keys, and Deadmau5 don’t necessarily kick off the strongest billing Randall’s Island has ever seen, but the scenic ferry ride there and potential for new music are reasons enough to head this way.
The happiest farm on Earth wins with its remote location (no curfew means all-night sets and tons of sunrise surprises), high-profile lineups, a penchant for debauchery, and exceptionally friendly staff. This year the bill includes headliners Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons, Deadmau5, and Kendrick Lamar, plus biggies like Florence and the Machine, D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Kacey Musgraves, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, and My Morning Jacket. Hozier, Bassnectar, Flying Lotus, Earth Wind & Fire, Tove Lo, Glass Animals, Run the Jewels, Mø, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, and many more also join.
CMA Music Festival—Nashville, Tennessee
Top-tier country talent heads to Nashville (or, more likely, just stays in Nashville for a weekend) each June for this four-day festival. Starting in 1972 as Fan Fair, the CMA Music Festival combines performances with autograph sessions and fan meet-and-greets. Bonus: If you can’t make it, ABC films it for a TV special. (Little Big Town has hosted the broadcast the past two years.)
Bestival Toronto—Toronto, Canada
UK’s own Bestival is coming across the pond in 2015 with the inaugural Besitval Toronto. While two days instead of it’s namesake’s four, the lineup is stacked: Florence + the Machine and Nas are headlining with supporting sets by Caribou, Flume, Jamie XX, Cashmere Cat, and Flosstradamus.
The Canadian answer to South by Southwest may be smaller than the original, but the focus on music over hype makes for a far different experience, with the focus less on the superstars that have taken over SXSW than a diverse lineup of up and comers like Action Bronson, Vince Staples, Tink, and White Lung.
Vans Warped Tour—National
Celebrating its 20th year in 2015, this traveling circus of mainly (but not exclusively) punk is the largest traveling music festival in the United States. Organizers announce new bands every Wednesday afternoon—though the lineup varies a bit by location—and so far Alive Like Me, Rotting Out, the Wonder Years, Neck Deep, Hundreth, and more have been revealed. Tickets are already on sale.
Firefly Music Festival—Dover, Delaware
Want to feel like a Wild Thing? Head to Firefly, run through the woods, sleep in a field, visit the treehouse, and, get to hear from the legend himself, Paul McCartney. The festival has finally released a full lineup: Kings of Leon, The Killers, Morrissey, and Foster the People are also headlining the alt-rock heavy lineup this year which also features Snoop Dogg, Run the Jewels, Zedd, Modest Mouse, and Cold War Kids.
Electric Daisy Carnival—Las Vegas, Nevada
EDM’s biggest names and 400,000 partygoers head to the world’s premier playground, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, for three days of dancing and Sin City debauchery. Biggest names this year include genre powerhouses Calvin Harris, Avicii, and Tiesto. The lineup also includes billings for Alesso, Bassnectar, Duke Dumont, Flume, Disclosure and (seriously) so many more.
The world’s largest music festival—or so it claims—takes place mid-summer over the course of 11 days and 11 stages. Last year, more 800 acts played—including New Order, Rise Against, Nas, Bonnie Raitt, Tegan and Sara, many more—so expect a similarly wide-ranging lineup this year.
New York is going country—at least for one weekend this June, for the inaugural FarmBorough festival. Country heavyweights Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, and Brad Paisley are leading the weekend with other lineup real estate going to Kip Moore, Randy Houser, Maddie & Tae, and Sturgill Simpson.
Essence Festival—New Orleans, Louisiana
Committed to learning as much as to lineup, Essence Festival mixes high-cachet artists (Prince who headlined 2014) with its Empower U programming, where Essence editors host workshops on everything from health and wellness to money and power.
Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival—Eau Claire, WI
The National’s Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon are curating this inaugural event—and finally giving people a reason to plot a trip to Eau Claire (pronounced “o’clare”)—and the lineup spans the genre spectrum: Boys Noize, Spoon, The Tallest Man on Earth, and Doomtree all have top billings along with Bon Iver‘s first performance in nearly three years as well as The National. Grammy-award winning gospel group Blind Boys of Alabama and country artist Sturgill Simpson are also scheduled deep in the roster that is purportedly going to emphasize a wealth of artistic collaboration. (Here’s hoping the remote locations will allow for guest spots and appearances the way The Farm does for Bonnaroo.)
Pitchfork Music Festival—Chicago, Illinois
The venerable taste-making website organizes one of the most forward-looking and enjoyable festivals around. The lineups are always good—this year is led by Wilco, Chance the Rapper, and Sleater Kinney, with dance machines Future Islands and Chvrches along with ILoveMakonnen and Kurt Vile with prime billings—and the fest is kept to a manageable, comfortable size. Just be prepared to see a lot of people dress ironically.
Along the Ohio River in Louisville’s Waterfront Park, Forecastle tends to draw festival-circuit regulars. This year’s lineup holds true—My Morning Jacket, Sam Smith, Widespread Panic, and Modest Mouse are headlining with supporting sets from Cage the Elephant (who will be hard to miss this summer), First Aid Kit, and Tallest Man on Earth.
Country Thunder—Twin Lakes, Wisconsin
The summer of Blake Shelton continues at the second Country Thunder stop as he is joined by one of the strongest country festival lineups this year: Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Tyler Farr, Dustin Lynch, and Maddie & Tae.
It’s the largest annual electronic music festival in the world and has made of trippy rainbows, mushroom towers, and colorful castles. It’s like an amusement park, but with bass drops.
The former traveling festival that personified alternative generation in the ’90s has been comfortably settled in Chicago since 2005, where it swallows the city’s beautiful Grant Park for a few days every year. Organized by C3 (which also does Austin City Limits), it’s a massive event, with a good mile separating the festival’s two biggest stages. This year Lolla recruited some of the festival circuit’s heaviest hitters—Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence and the Machine, and Sam Smith top the bill—along with a huge undercard that includes A$AP Rocky, Tame Impala, Gary Clark Jr., Sturgill Simpson, and Charli XCX. And don’t rule out surprises—Lady Gaga famously performed on a Lollapalooza side stage in 2007.
Osheaga—Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Since it debuted in 2006, Osheaga has steadily grown in size and reputation. Last year featured headlining sets from the ubiquitous Outkast, Jack White, Skrillex, and Artic Monkeys, but also gave prime billings to indie performers like Kodaline, Local Natives, Band of Horses, and Joey Bada$$.
Outside Lands—San Francisco, California
In addition to its beautiful Golden Gate Park location and stellar lineup (Elton John, Mumford & Sons, The Black Keys, Sam Smith, and Kendrick Lamar will headline this year), Outside Lands also brings together the Bay Area’s best restaurants, food trucks, and wineries. What other festival offers DJ Mustard and artisanal cheese? This year’s bill includes tested vets (Wilco, D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals), indie favorites (St. Vincent, Tame Impala, Dan Deacon), and a healthy dose of emerging stars (Benjamin Booker, James Bay, Leon Bridges).
Imagine Festival—Atlanta, Georgia
This two-day dance festival combines three venues in Atlanta. Last year Rusko, Infected Mushroom, and Seven Lions were just a small part of the party.
Electric Zoo: Transformed—Randall’s Island, New York
Electric Zoo has, to put it lightly, had a rough couple of years: cancellations for severe weather in 2014, city officials in demanding it be shut down in 2013 after two concertgoers overdosed (four more were hospitalized, 31 were arrested). The event returns in 2015 as Electric Zoo: Transformed, partnering with ID&T—the team behind Tomorrowland, Mysteryland, and TomorrowWorld—to bring a hopefully controversy-free weekend of dance music. Headliners for the new-and-improved fest include The Chemical Brothers, Above & Beyond, and Alesso, with Deorro, Cashmere Cat, Adventure Club, Galantis, The Glitch Mob, 3LAU and Excision also amongst the sizable lineup.
Made in America—Los Angeles, California & Philadelphia, Pennslyvania
Jay Z and Budweiser’s festival expanded to two cities last year, playing the downtowns of Los Angeles and Philadelphia simultaneously over Labor Day weekend. (Kanye was the only headliner to play in both cities.) Other performers included Steve Aoki, Rise Against, Tiësto, and many more.
Lock’n Festival—Arrington, Virginia
Aside from Jazz Fest, you’ll be hard-pressed to find as many improvisational and jam bands anywhere else this year: Keller William’s Grateful Gospel is joined by Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Doobie Incident, and the String Cheese Incident this summer at Oak Ridge Farm. Bands are continually announced as they’re booked, so check the festival’s website periodically for updates.
Life is Beautiful Festival—Las Vegas, Nevada
Spread over 15 city blocks and populated by music stages, a culinary village, and an alchemy garden, Life is Beautiful seems to have finally figured itself out—and this year’s headliners Stevie Wonder, Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar prove that. If those aren’t enough to convince you, the rest of the dynamic lineup, including Hozier, Duran Duran, Brandon Flowers, Kid Cudi, Walk the Moon, Weezer, Major Lazer and Death Cab for Cutie, just might.
TomorrowWorld—Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia
TomorrowWorld returns for its third edition this fall, bringing dance fans from all over down to Georgia. Lineups haven’t been released, but if it’s anything akin to last year—where tropical house DJ Kygo burst onto the scene and veterans like Jody Wisternoff, Tiësto, and Zedd ruled the stages—you can expect a happy mix of dance music floating through the hills.
Austin City Limits—Austin, Texas
Is this the most family-friendly festival out there? Chances are, yes. Kids come in playpens and grandma and grandpa pack their lawn chairs as one of the longest-running concert series (the first ever took place in 1976) sets up in Austin each fall with its genre-defying lineups: This year will mix Foo Fighters, Drake, Florence and the Machine, The Strokes, Deadmau5, and The Weeknd as headliners.
Treasure Island Festival—San Francisco, California
This two-day festival on Treasure Island, California, organizes according to genre: Day one is electronica and hip-hop; day two is rock and indie rock. As is the case with Governors Ball on Randall’s Island in New York, the blessing and the burden of a festival like Treasure Island is being trapped on a small island over the course of multiple days with more than a few thousand festival-goers. (Pro: cool views! Con: How do I get out of here?)
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience—New Orleans, Louisiana
Something about New Orleans, Halloween, and “voodoo” go so well together. Voodoo remains one of NOLA’s best and most diverse musical traditions: Last year boasted 30 Seconds to Mars, Slayer, Pretty Lights, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and John Butler Trio along with Skrillex, Foo Fighters, and Artic Monkeys.
FunFunFun Fest—Austin, Texas
The darling of indie-music festivals is back for its 10th year. Combining action sports, food, comedy, and lineups that boast the likes of SOHN, Judas Priest, SZA, Cashmere Cat, alt-J, and Sun Kil Moon, it’s one of the best festivals of the whole season.