The 13 Music Festivals You Have to Go to This Summer

It's almost summer, so it's time for music lovers to untangle their flower crowns and fringed getups and try not to freak out about music festival season. As always, these events have packed cross-category rosters; for every major crowd-pleaser, there are dozens of emerging, experimental performers. Here are the multi-day, multi-stage, soul-freeing, body-rocking, roof-raising (except, nevermind -- they're all outdoors) music fests that have us ready to strap on a fanny pack (no shame -- they're a necessity) and slap on a neon wristband.

1. Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama: May 20-22

Flickr: Bandit Lites

Flickr: Bandit Lites

  • The vibe: EDM DJs, blues-rock outfits, indie pop stars, and rock icons hit the sandy beach of Gulf Shores.
  • Go for: The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Florence + the Machine
  • But do not miss: Alabama Shakes, The Neighbourhood, Lenny Kravitz
  • Take a breather: By napping in a beachside hammock or flying down the slip 'n' slide

Hotel Pick: You'll have to trek to nearby Mobile (about an hour's drive away), but the downtown Hampton Inn has rooms available for around $135/night for the festival.

2. Governors Ball in New York City: June 3-5

Forest Woodward

Forest Woodward

  • The vibe: The indie- and mainstream-music scenes take over Randall's Island, an interborough East River public park otherwise largely ignored by New Yorkers.
  • Go for: The Strokes, The Killers, Kanye West
  • But do not miss: Bloc Party, Against Me!, Courtney Barnett
  • Cool down: In the air-conditioned Airstream lounge

Hotel Pick: Part hotel, part hostel, Pod 51 has mostly a young, fun clientele, and rooms starting at around $170/ (and a Midtown East location that's reasonably convenient, for once).

3. Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee: June 9-12

Tumblr: Bonnaroo

Tumblr: Bonnaroo

  • The vibe: Hundreds of performers -- from headlining arena-fillers to on-the-rise rockers -- and about 85,000 happy campers meet on 700 acres of Tennessee backcountry for this classic music and comedy megafest.
  • Go for: LCD Soundsystem, Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie
  • But do not miss: Flosstradamus, Big Grams, Two Door Cinema Club
  • Oh yeah, and: Get your noiseless groove on at the Silent Disco

Hotel Pick: If you're not feeling the camping thing and don't mind the hour-long drive, this Music Row chain hotel has rooms for around $350/night (hey, no one ever said music festivals weren't massive moneymakers).

4. Summerfest in Milwaukee: June 29-July 3 and July 5-10

Instagram: Summerfest

Instagram: Summerfest

  • The vibe: Country, zydeco, jazz, funk, and pop-punk are just a few of the music styles to roll through Henry Maier Festival Park, a 75-acre setting on Lake Michigan. The 11-day, 11-stage spectacle features more than 1,000 performances. 
  • Go for: Selena Gomez, Blake Shelton, Paul McCartney
  • But do not miss:  Willie Nelson, The Roots, Garbage
  • Chill out: In one of the many, many beer tents, where you can sample local brews

Hotel Pick: Keep an eye out for availability in this century-old factory with industrial, loft-like rooms; nightly rates are generally $320ish.

5. Festival d’ete de Quebec in Quebec City: July 7-17

Instagram: Festival d'ete de Quebec

Instagram: Festival d'ete de Quebec

  • The vibe: Over a million festival-goers attended Quebec City's annual music blowout in 2015. This year, the 11-day event has around 300 shows at 10 total venues throughout the historic city -- including the Plains of Abraham, a large, lush park with panoramic views.
  • Go for: The Lumineers, Kaskade, Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • But do not miss:  City and Colour, Lord Huron, Mac Miller
  • While you're there: Go full spectator and check out the parade of street performers on Avenue Cartier and Rue Saint-Jean 

Hotel Pick: Hole up in this famous beacon stretching up above the Quebec City skyline, with rooms in the neighborhood of $190/night.

6. Ottawa Bluesfest in Ontario: July 7-17

Instagram: Ottawa Bluesfest

Instagram: Ottawa Bluesfest

  • The vibe: Despite the label, this massive festival has a bill that spans just about every contemporary music genre: rap (Future, Nelly), country (Brad Paisley, Sam Hunt), indie pop (Peter Bjorn and John), and electronic everything, like dance music (Cashmere Cat), rock (Awolnation), and even violin (Lindsey Stirling). And bluegrass galore, of course.
  • Go for: Duran Duran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, City and Colour
  • But do not miss: Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, The Lumineers, The Monkees, and the aforementioned dubstep violinist

Hotel Pick: Try this centrally located crash pad for around $125/night.

7. Pemberton Music Festival in Pemberton, British Columbia: July 14-17

Instagram: Pemberton Music Festival

Instagram: Pemberton Music Festival

  • The vibe: There will be crazy aeriel laser light displays and video projections, yes, but the stunning Mount Currie and the surrounding wilderness are the real backdrops for this four-day fest in Pemberton, about 40 minutes north of Whistler. Expect bona fide '90s anthems and pure dance-club sounds alike. 
  • Go for: Pearl Jam, The Killers, J. Cole
  • But do not miss: Wiz Khalifa, Purity Ring, Tyler, The Creator
  • Mix it up: At one of the nearly 20 comedy acts on tap

Hotel Pick: So you may not be camping out like some of your fellow festheads, but you can keep the rustic vibe alive at this lodge-like hotel for around $225 a night.

8. Panorama Festival in New York City: July 22-24

Instagram: Panorama

Instagram: Panorama

  • The vibe: The organizers behind Coachella are launching a brand-new, East Coast festival celebrating music, art, technology, and food. On the decks, of course, are certifiable superstars with mass appeal, but also lesser-known projects working in hip hop, neo-psychedelia, instrumental rock, and more.
  • Go for: Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem
  • But do not miss: Sia, Silversun Pickups, Run the Jewels

Hotel Pick: Party on at this cool downtown hotel, where luxe rooms cost around $300.

9. Lollapalooza in Chicago: July 28-31

Instagram: lollapalooza

Instagram: lollapalooza

  • The vibe: The music festival that launched a thousand punny "apalooza" variations. Chicago's epic punk and alt-rock extravaganza celebrates its 25th birthday this year.
  • Go for: J. Cole, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, LCD Soundsystem
  • But do not miss: Leon Bridges, Grimes, Mutemath

Hotel pick: Rock-n-roll digs for around $315.

10. Osheaga in Montreal: July 29-31

Instagram: Osheaga

Instagram: Osheaga

  • The vibe: With its rolling hills, wooded enclaves, and art installations, Montreal's Parc Jean-Drapeau, an island in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River, is the perfect host for a summer music festival. This particular one is part bohemian wonderland, part all-day outdoor disco (there's a stage dedicated to house music), and part mainstream mega-show (complete with dueling main stages).
  • Go for: Lana Del Rey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead
  • But do not miss: Death Cab for Cutie, Lucius
  • Factor in: The long wait time for the swing ride -- you'll be glad you did

Hotel Pick: Stay at this sleek, ultra-modern hotel near Chinatown with rooms starting at $230/night.

11. Outside Lands in San Francisco: August 5-7

Instagram: Outside Lands

Instagram: Outside Lands

  • The vibe: San Francisco's cool kids flock to Golden Gate Park for a lineup that switches from indie rock and R&B to electropop and Americana.
  • Go for: LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead (noticing a theme here?), Lionel Richie
  • But do not miss: Caveman, Chance the Rapper, Jason Isbell
  • Refuel: At GastroMagic, the deejayed food and drink area with a magician

Hotel Pick: For about $390/night, you might rub shoulders with one of the A-list rocker guests that this artsy one-of-a-kind motel is famous for.

12. Pickathon in Happy Valley, Oregon: August 5-7

Instagram: Pickathon Music Festival

Instagram: Pickathon Music Festival

  • The vibe: Low-key and eco-minded, this six-stage, family-friendly rock-and-folk fest is a peaceful campout on a farm in Happy Valley, Oregon, about 30 minutes southeast of Portland.
  • Go for: Jeff Tweedy, Yo La Tengo
  • But do not miss: Dan Deacon, Beach House, Wolf Parade
  • Be grateful that: Only 3,500 weekend tickets are sold to keep the crowds light

Hotel Pick: Non-campers might do well at this contemporary hotel with a prime location and rooms in the $250/night range.

13. FYF Fest in Los Angeles: August 27-28

Instagram: FYF Fest

Instagram: FYF Fest

  • The vibe: Hip-hop artists, EDM groups, dream pop bands, and folk rockers fill Downtown L.A.'s Exposition Park for Southern California's end-of-summer answer to Coachella.
  • Go for: Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem
  • But do not miss: Father John Misty, Wild Nothing

Hotel Pick: Rooms here cost around $300/night and are within walking distance of Exposition Park.

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