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Live Music

The Best Music Festivals In The US

Photograph of the blog post author, Carla Johnson

Carla Johnson

17.12.2021

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The live music scene is making an overdue comeback in 2021 with a succession of the best music festivals in the US that look and feel as they did in 2019 (prior to Covid). Beginning in the summer, your favourite artists will be returning to large stages in Austin, New Orleans, Indio and throughout the US. The top music festivals in the US are fun events with comedy tents, massive art installations and even spa services. 

In 2021 the fall and winter will be the new summer with even more of the biggest music festivals in the USA happening over Labor Day and Halloween weekends. Whether you are waiting for the best EDM music festivals in the US and change to dress up in costume or want to enjoy some soulful jazz with the best Southern food, and even watch some big-name headliners behind the top pop songs ever written – festivals are back and bound to get you dancing throughout 2021/22.

Here are the best festivals in the US over the next year.

best festival in the us

10 Of The Best Music Festivals In The US

So, what are the biggest music festivals in the US? Here is our review of the top 10 music festivals in the US!

Coachella

When: April 15-17, 22-24

Where: Indio, CA

This festival has to be one of the top music festivals in the US. Selling out fast each year, the Indio desert becomes a stylish getaway with some of the freshest bands appreciated by trendy people and celebrities. Near the top of many people’s bucket list of festivals, the Coachella line-up is a hotbed of musical discussion as well as being a persistent source of yearly anticipation.

Over 100,000 music fans make the journey to the Empire Polo Club during each identical weekend of Coachella, whether headed for campsites or shuttled over from golf resorts and mid-century modern homes. Although the upmarket dining experiences and hotel party atmosphere may sometimes steal headlines, Coachella remains about the relaxed desert air jubilation of a well-curated music festival. Those that purchased tickets for the cancelled 2021 fest will automatically receive new wristbands for 2022.

Rumours around who will be performing are that of previously confirmed 2020 artists such as Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean, Thom Yorke, Lana Del Rey, Calvin Harris, Run the Jewels, and FKA Twigs. 

coachella festival

Lollapalooza

When: 2022 dates TBA 

Where: Chicago, IL

Amongst the top music festivals in the US is Lollapalooza, a magnificent get-together of music, dance, comedy and craft booths. Founded as a touring festival by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell in 1991, Chicago has been Lollapalooza’s permanent home since 2005.

Another multi-genre festival which also delivers a podium for political and non-profit artists and groups. The festival is always generating historical moments in plenty of musician’s careers, securing it in the worldwide hall of fame for festivals. The gigantic event covers the whole of Grant Park, exposing over 100,000 daily attendees to long walks between stages and beer tents.

The compensation for your sun-drenched hike? The ultimate who’s-who of festival acts, including hip hop and indie rock as well as everything else in-between.

lollapalooza

Firefly Festival

When: September 23-26

Where: Dover, DE

An American multi-genre event, Firefly is the east coast’s biggest camping festival. Placed in the Woodlands of Dover, Delaware, this is one of the most popular music festivals in the US. An open-air, camping-friendly festival which offers 120 bands over seven stages as well as artisan boutiques, a silent disco, lots of fun, surprises each day including drag brunch and yoga. Campsites are created by the stage with areas to enable attendees to relax and recharge their batteries between top headliners such as Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, The Killers, Tame Impala, and Lizzo.

Everything about this festival is top of the line, making it one of the best music festivals in the US. From the line-up which each year is made up of the greatest names in popular music to an extremely immersive experience onsite with loads of areas to explore.

firefly festival

Pitchfork Music Festival

When: September 10-12

Where: Chicago, IL

One of the most popular music festivals in the US is Pitchfork, with a meticulously selected line-up of critically praised indie rockers, hip-hop artists and progressive musicians. They head to Chicago’s Union Park every summer (although this year it’s been rescheduled to fall).

Arranged by Pitchfork Media who are an independently focused music source, the three-day music event covers all genres from rock, hip-hop, electronic, jazz, punk and any other genre and subgenre you wish to celebrate.

Since the festival was established in 2006 the festival has continued to be the ideal size, boasting reasonable crowds (around 20,000 people each day), three stages and plenty of room for lounging in the sun or shade. Pitchfork focuses on popular newish artists (including Yaeji and Phoebe Bridgers, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Kelly Lee Owens), however you will also get to see some legacy acts such as Erykah Badu, Cat Power, and Flying Lotus in the headlining spot. Truly a cultural feast there is also a record fair, food, art and beverages from local and national vendors.

pitchfork festival

Bonnaroo

When: September 2-5

Where: Manchester, TN

Initially concentrating on jam bands and folk rock, Bannaroo is on the list for one of the best music festivals in the US. The festival has extended to include a remarkable range of popular genres. Bonnaroo has firmly paved the way as one of the most influential festivals in North America and has even previously been praised by Rolling Stone magazine by being included in the “50 Moments That Changed Rock & Roll,”. 

The long-running festival – Bonnaroo has formed a name as the trendiest of the modern top music festivals, with its backwoods Tennessee location and its wild on-site camping. There are also some considerably hippie-ish line-ups as well as the signature all-star ‘superjam.’

This year’s line-up has several distinctly non-jammy acts in the top headlining spots including Foo Fighters, Lizzo, and Tyler the Creator, however it will be irrefutably vibey with mind-blowing rock (Tame Impala, My Morning Jacket), electro-pop (Glass Animals, Sylvan Esso, Big Wild), global psychedelia (Khruangbin), and neo soul (Brittany Howard) all being represented by top acts.

bonnaroo festival

Governors Ball

When: September 24-26

Where: New York, NY

2021 is a big occasion for the Governors Ball as it marks their 10th anniversary. Initially the festival started with just a few tents in an abandoned building and military barracks which have become a staple of the festival, inhabiting an exceptional place among summer concerts in NYC.

This year, the annual Randalls Island festival will be set in the fall and excitingly will be moving to a new home. Moving off of Randalls Island to Citi Field in Queens, Governors Ball is a thrilling and irresistible mix of rock, hip-hop, electronic, and pop. Delivering a variety of music and food tastes, Governors Ball has everything you need. No matter if you are looking to take a well-deserved break  and relax or surrender yourself to beats and riffs there is something for everyone.

All of the stages are placed in the centre of an AstroTurf-lined Citi Field, with a 360-degree layout to avoid sound bleed between stages and eradicate long walks for festival attendees. It’s one of the only local festivals where you will be able to see hip-hop chart-toppers, top buzz bands, left-field pop artists as well as dance-commanding EDM overlords. It’s definitely one for the list to watch for the best EDM music festivals in the US.

Next year, the festival is set to return to its usual June date. However, this year’s fall line-up is going to be massive, with Billie Eilish, Post Malone, and A$AP Rocky headlining the three-day fest.

governors ball festival

Austin City Limits

When: October 1–3, 8–10

Where: Austin, TX

Austin City Limits (ACL) is organised over two weekends and it’s easy to see why. Coordinators require all the time they possibly can in order to pack Zilker Park full with some of America’s major (and best eclectic) names.

Inspired by a concert series of the same name, the festival is an eight-stage celebration of everything music, as well as including an art market, enjoyable food and drink, a devoted family area and much more. Initially a one weekend event, the festival effectively extended to two weekends in 2012 once the local council voted unanimously to permit it to do so.

This year the lineup includes an array from rap wonder DaBaby to “King of Country” George Strait and dark pop queen Billie Eilish.

austin city limits festival

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

When: October 8-17

Where: New Orleans, LA

One of the country’s longest-running music festivals, this had to be on our top 10 music festivals in the US. Few festivals mean more to their community than New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals. Running each year since 1970, Jazz Fest is also one of the main festivals. Around half-a-million people show up to take in a massive bill of jazz, blues, rock and roots music.

Although many festivals are happy to reserve the same handful of reunited alt-rock bands who are doing the rounds, Jazz Fest on the other hand ensures to feature hall of fame calibre headliners. This year’s line-up goes well beyond jazz with names like The Rolling Stones, Dead & Company, Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters, Lizzo, and Ludacris.

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a comprehensive cultural experience stretching well beyond the music. This is not a stiff, stuffy event and is a Jazz Fest which has expanded its horizon over the years, mounting over one of the top vibrant cities in the world. 

new orleans jazz and heritage festival

SXSW

When: March 11–20, 2022

Where: Austin, TX

What are the biggest music festivals in the US list would not be complete without SXSW.  SXSW or South by SouthWest was originally held in 1987, subsequently the festival has increased not only in terms of attendance but also in terms of influence. By some counts in 2019, around 280,000 people attended the 10-day festival. SXSW is also Austin’s largest revenue-producing event and one of the most significant gatherings on the nation’s entertainment calendar. Essentially taking over the city of Austin, everyone in the world of music from fans to media gather here to find the next big talent.

Considered as the fundamental trend-setter and launcher of careers, SXSW is a yearly showcase of music, film and interactive highlights enjoyed through performances, showcases, talks, screenings and more.

The event is broken down into SXSW Music (with 2,000-plus artists playing across the city); SXSW Film (with screenings of awaited movies, panels and workshops); SXSW Comedy (a week of funny line-ups including recognised and emergent talent), and the increasingly popular SXSW Interactive, which includes speakers, panels and a pitch competition, SXSW Accelerator.

SXSW

Burning Man

When: August 2022 Date TBA

Where: Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Burning Man is the ultimate festival and has become one of the top music festivals in the US. Beginning in 1986, Burning Man has expanded into a cultural phenomenon, inspiring plenty of replication festivals around the world.

Taking place in the Nevada desert, the festival is all about bringing freedom back into a progressively structured life. There isn’t a line-up per se, however the festival comprises music, art and cultural programs put on by its festival goers. 

burning man

That Was Our Review Of The Best Music Festivals In The US

Coachella, Lollapalooza and SXSW are frequently the first US festivals that come to mind when you think about the top music festivals in the US. We have broken down our top 10 from the celebrated favourites with a couple surprises in between. We hope you enjoyed our breakdown of the most popular music festivals in the US and get to attend a festival soon.

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