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Top 29 Music Festivals in the United States

The intriguing kaleidoscope of sounds, cultures, and experiences offered by American music festivals resonates across the nation. Immersion tours into the heart of American music culture include sounds that range from pulsating rhythms resonating through vibrant cityscapes to harmonies floating across wide plains.

The United States has a wide variety of festivals to suit every musical taste, with scenery as varied as its music. These events honor the soul of music by bringing fans and artists together to create memorable experiences. They feature a wide range of musical genres, from jazz to indie and rock to electronic dance music.

Whether your tastes are for big-name headliners behind some of the greatest pop songs ever recorded, soulful jazz ensembles and some of the best southern food around, or bass-thumping EDM and the chance to dress up in costume, festivals are back and ready to get you dancing in 2024.

Also Read: Why Is the Spanish Language the Most Popular in the United States?

So what is the biggest music event in America? Naturally, that depends on your objectives. We shall list the best music festivals in the US along with their specialties.

Top 29 Best Music Festivals in the United States

 Here are the best festivals in the U.S., in chronological order:

  1. SXSW (Austin, TX)
  2. Big Ears (Knoxville, TN)
  3. Coachella (Indio, CA)
  4. Levitation (Austin, TX)
  5. Jazz & Heritage Festival (New Orleans, LA)
  6. Shaky Knees (Atlanta, GA)
  7. Hangout Music Festival (Gulf Shores, AL)
  8. BottleRock (Napa, CA)
  9. Movement (Detroit, MI)
  10. Governors Ball (New York City, NY)
  11. Lollapalooza (Chicago, IL)
  12. Ultra-Music Festival (Miami, FL)
  13. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (Manchester, TN)
  14. Rolling Loud (Multiple Locations)
  15. Grateful Dead’s Performance (New Jersey)
  16. Life Is Beautiful Festival (Las Vegas, NV)
  17. Stagecoach Festival (Indio, CA)
  18. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (New Orleans, LA)
  19. Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, NV)
  20. CMA Fest (Nashville, TN)
  21. Shaky Knees Music Festival (Atlanta, GA)
  22. Made In America Festival (Philadelphia, PA)
  23. Electric Forest (Rothbury, MI)
  24. Electric Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas, NV)
  25. Austin City Limits Music Festival (Austin, TX)
  26. Outside Lands (San Francisco, CA)
  27. Pitchfork Music Festival (Chicago, IL)
  28. Riot Fest (Chicago, IL)
  29. Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI)

1. SXSW (Austin, TX)

Since its inception in 1987, SXSW has grown exponentially in both popularity and impact. An estimated 280,000 people attended the 10-day event in 2019, a significant increase from previous years.

SXSW’s growing stature as the most profitable event in Austin and a significant event on the national entertainment scene not only attests to its growing popularity but has also established itself as a mainstay of the city’s economy.

Among the festival’s many exciting elements is SXSW Music, which has over 2,000 bands playing all throughout the city. Furthermore, SXSW Comedy provides a week full of well-known and up-and-coming comedians, while SXSW Film presents highly anticipated films via screenings, conferences, and workshops.

Notably, SXSW Interactive has become increasingly popular, with renowned speakers, interesting panels, and SXSW Accelerator, a venue for competitive pitches. This multimodal event has grown into a cultural force, influencing trends in music, cinema, comedy, and interactive technology while drawing a wide range of viewers.

2. Big Ears (Knoxville, TN)

Named for its demand for an unbiased listening style, “Big Ears” often features a broad program that includes avant-garde classical works in addition to daring indie-rock, jazz, metal, and electronic tracks.

Genre classification is at odds with the festival’s philosophy, which supports a boundary-less philosophy in its varied programming. In just four days, Big Ears transforms the city into a sanctuary for all genres of music, taking over grand music halls, intimate nightclubs, and tranquil churches that are all ideally located close to one another.

3. Coachella (Indio, CA)

Over 100,000 music lovers visit the Empire Polo Club on the same weekend every year for Coachella, whether they are traveling from adjacent golf resorts and mid-century modern residences or arriving from campgrounds. Even with the attraction of fine food and flashy hotel parties competing for guests’ attention, Coachella’s spirit lives on in the blissful, relaxed vibe of the desert around a carefully planned music festival experience.

4. Levitation (Austin, TX)

Levitation has caused some uncertainty over rebranding. It appears that it, formerly known as Austin Psych Fest, has changed its name back to Austin Psych Fest and moved its date to April. In spite of its name, this event has made a name for itself in Austin’s festival scene by showcasing psychedelic sounds from the 1960s and the development of experimental rock.

Over the course of a weekend, it’s a celebration of musical experimentation and pushing limits. Acts including “Oro Y Moi”, “Cuco,” “Yves Tumor,” “Black Rebel Motorcycle Club,” “The Black Angels,” “Melody’s Echo Chamber,” “Crumb, and more were on the schedule for 2023.

5. Jazz & Heritage Festival (New Orleans, LA)

Ever since its founding in 1970, Jazz Fest has been one of the most lasting music festivals in the US—a custom that is now one of the biggest. Attracting around 500,000 spectators, it features a wide variety of jazz, blues, rock, and roots music.

A lot of festivals rely on a rotation of reuniting alt-rock bands, but Jazz Fest always features headliners worthy of the Hall of Fame. The program in 2023 included well-known performers like Gary Clark Jr., Leon Bridges, Jon Batiste, Jill Scott, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Kane Brown, H.E.R., Steve Miller Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, which goes beyond jazz bounds.

6. Shaky Knees (Atlanta, GA)

Fans of all genres of music assemble at Atlanta’s Central Park, lured by more than sixty bands occupying four stages and showcasing a wide range of up-and-coming musicians, popular acts, and internationally renowned performers. Heavyweight acts like “The Killers,” “Yeah Yeah Yeahs,” “Tenacious D,” “Placebo,” and many more well-known names in the modern music world were on this year’s list.

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7. Hangout Music Festival (Gulf Shores, AL)

A surprise success in the festival world, this event directly on the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico had a less-than-ideal beginning due to the “Deepwater Horizon oil leak” in 2010. Nevertheless, in defiance of the odds, it persisted and eventually expanded to the point that the company behind Coachella purchased it.

The roster for the Hangout Festival mostly consists of upbeat pop, electronic, and independent musicians who are ideal for the beach party vibe. This year’s confirmed artists include Calvin Harris, SZA, Flume, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

8. BottleRock (Napa, CA)

A mid-festival massage (yes, really), an abundance of great wine, and gourmet treats are vital components of a classic Wine Country celebration. But BottleRock sets itself apart with a range of attractions that guarantee to satisfy your enthusiasm for amazing music and your appetite for delicious food. “The Smashing Pumpkins,” “Duran Duran,” “Red Hot Chili Peppers,” “Lizzo,” “Lil Nas X,” “Post Malone,” and “An Amazing Roster” were the best.

9. Movement (Detroit, MI)

Detroit’s movement is the antithesis of the vast, overpowering EDM mega-parties like Electric Daisy Carnival that most people associate with the term “Electronic Music Festival.” Founded in 2000 as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, it takes place in the center of the city and gave rise to techno, focusing more on the music than the big show. The festival’s roster skillfully combines the forerunners of electronic music with the next generation of forward-thinking artists.

10. Governors Ball (New York City, NY)

Originally a little party held in the shadow of deserted buildings and military barracks, it has grown into a vital event that has carved out a special place for itself in the summer concert scene of New York City. Enclosed by an artificial turf-covered Citi Field, every stage is arranged in a 360-degree circle at the center of the space to minimize noise disruption between acts and reduce long treks for attendees.

It’s the ultimate local festival, including buzzworthy bands supported by tastemakers, chart-topping hip-hop acts, unusual pop superstars, and the dominant presence of EDM maestros. Famous names like “Lizzo,” “Lil Uzi Vert,” “Finneas,” “Odesza,” “Lil Baby,” “Lil Nas X,” and a host of other musical artists were on this year’s schedule.

11. Lollapalooza (Chicago, IL)

Chicago comes alive in August with the bright sounds of the Lollapalooza music festival, which takes place at Grant Park. Even if the event this year looks spectacular, it is part of a rich heritage that has been built over time.

Founded in 2005, formally by Jane’s Addiction’s lead vocalist, Lollapalooza has become a beloved yearly Chicago event. Attracting over 400,000 visitors a year, the park becomes a sanctuary where top-charting performers gather for shows in one handy location.

Lollapalooza was a four-day event from August 3–6 in 2023 with an incredible roster including headliners like “Billie Eilish,” “Kendrick Lamar,” “Odesza,” “Red Hot Chili Peppers,” and “Lana Del Rey.”  Over 170 acts from all over the world performed at Lollapalooza, filling nine different stages with a broad range of sounds that are sure to enthrall music fans of all stripes.

12. Ultra-Music Festival (Miami, FL)

The Ultra Music Festival may be your best option if your search entails dancing constantly for days to electronic sounds. After its launch in 1999, the Ultra Music Festival quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, with several editions held in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The fact that Ultra is so widely available in so many places is a testament to its enormous influence.

The most well-known Ultra version was in Miami, which drew large crowds in late March this year. This flagship event’s revolutionary layout and innovations never fail to create enthusiasm. This electronic music spectacular is particularly well-known for its enormous, alien stages and amazing graphics that completely transform the event experience.

Ultra provides guests with a complex experience that goes beyond dancing, standing out for its excellent sustainability program and unique art exhibits beyond the throbbing sounds. The festival becomes even more appealing due to its dedication to sustainability and artistry, which elevates it to the status of a dynamic cultural event that transcends music.

13. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (Manchester, TN)

Every year in mid-June, Manchester, Tennessee, hosts the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which is the culmination of the city’s summer celebrations. Since its founding more than 20 years ago, it has changed from being a jam band-focused event to a broad platform that features top-tier musicians and a variety of music genres.

Prominent performers like the “Foo Fighters,” “Paramore,” “Odesza,” “Zeds Dead,” “Griz,” and “Portugal” were on the 2023 schedule. As a camping event, Bonnaroo caters to a variety of tastes, with camping permits ranging from $50 for basic camping to $3,000 for opulent glamping experiences.

In addition to music, the festival has fun events like yoga classes, a 5 km run, parades, and Ferris wheel rides. Beyond merely musical acts, Bonnaroo guarantees an immersive experience with a bustling marketplace and a variety of food vendors.

14. Rolling Loud (Multiple Locations)

Rolling Loud is the world’s greatest rap and hip-hop event, known for its always exciting roster that builds massive buzz. Rolling Loud is unique in that it is so popular that it has events all around the world, including Miami, California, Portugal, Germany, Rotterdam, and Thailand.

More than 200,000 die-hard fans flocked to Hard Rock Stadium every year for the first Rolling Loud, which took place in Miami in 2015—despite the unrelenting July heat in Florida. “ASAP Rocky,” “Ice Spice,” “Bryson Tiller,” “Offset,” “Playboy Carti,” and “Travis Scott” were among the artists scheduled to play in Miami in 2023.

15. Grateful Dead’s Performance (New Jersey)

One of the most treasured moments in the band’s history and a significant turning point for its loyal followers is the Grateful Dead’s historic September 3, 1977, show at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. This event, which drew an audience of more than 90,000-150,000, is well known for its lively atmosphere and the band’s exceptional improvisational abilities.

Highlighting the dead at the height of their improvisational genius, the show included a long set list of well-known songs and lengthy jams. The sheer number of people in attendance transformed the racetrack into a vibrant community, creating a lasting sense of oneness and melodic harmony. A highly regarded performance among deadheads, this gig is considered legendary, having shaped the band’s touring career and solidified their standing as pioneers of live improvisational music.

Decades later, “Grateful Dead” fans still hold this concert in high regard as a testament to the band’s lasting impact and the allure of their live performances.

16. Life Is Beautiful Festival (Las Vegas, NV)

Life Is Beautiful, a three-day festival in late September, is a fitting moniker for this simple yet powerful Las Vegas music spectacular, with maybe the most dazzling and inspiring of all names. “Life Is Beautiful,” which aired in 2023, had an amazing roster that included “The Killers,” “Kendrick Lamar,” “Khalid,” “Nelly,” “Flume,” and “The 1975.”

17. Stagecoach Festival (Indio, CA)

If you’re a country music lover and feel left out of the many pop and EDM festivals, don’t worry—there’s a fantastic, well-planned festival in the United States, particularly for you, Stagecoach. This celebration of country music takes place at the end of April and is a fun way to welcome spring with a mix of country hits.

Surprisingly, Stagecoach is a music sanctuary for West Coast residents that is conveniently located on the same grounds as Coachella at the Empire Polo Club. The event often brings in a roster of elite country performers in addition to other musicians from other genres. Headliners including Luke Bryan, Kane Brown, and Chris Stapleton performed at the most recent edition, while beloved performers from a variety of genres like Elle King, Nelly, and Diplo all left a lasting impression.

18. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (New Orleans, LA)

Renowned for its musical heritage, New Orleans is home to the amazing New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which takes place every year. This long-running festival, which runs from April 26 to May 5, offers two weekends full of jazz tunes and much more.

In spite of its name, the festival offers a wide range of musical styles, not just jazz. Numerous performers, including “Lizzo,” “Ed Sheeran,” “Wu-Tang Clan,” The LLumineers, Mumford & Sons, “Santana,” and “Ludacris,” performed at the 2023 edition.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival dispels the myth that music events aren’t appropriate for families. With a range of entertaining activities suitable for all ages, it is a great option for families with children. All weekend long, kids may enjoy everything from a special kid-only stage to colorful parades and arts and crafts, while adults can enjoy the music all around them.

19. Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, NV)

In the United States, Burning Man is a unique and highly regarded celebration. Held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert from August 27 to September 4, the event is well-known for its uniqueness and spans 37 years.

It stands out from other events due to its challenging circumstances and prolonged length, which necessitate careful planning. The Burning Man is more than just a typical festival; it’s a worldwide movement that creates its own community for nine days. It doesn’t have a set program as regular events do and instead surprises guests with community-driven activities.

The symbolic burning of a big wooden figure marks the end of the story. Designed for experienced festival-goers looking for a unique experience, it demands forethought and consideration for the unpredictable nature of the desert, particularly for first-timers.

20. CMA Fest (Nashville, TN)

One of the oldest music festivals in the United States is CMA Fest, a legendary country music extravaganza that began in 1972. More than half a century later, it welcomes 90,000 visitors each year, which is a substantial increase from its modest 5,000 opening days.

The 2023 edition, which took place over four days in mid-June and included country music icons including Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, and Luke Combs, lasted from June 8-11. The event featured approximately 260 performances on six more stages with a variety of musicians, such as Ashley Cooke, Ingrid Andress, and A Thousand Horses. Newcomers may have a more simplified festival experience thanks to CMA Fest, which offers the CMA Connect app, maps, lineup schedules, and prize possibilities.

21. Shaky Knees Music Festival (Atlanta, GA)

Atlanta-based Shaky Knees is a May event honoring fans of indie and rock music. On its tenth anniversary in 2023, the festival presented more than sixty artists in an incredible celebration that mixed well-known headliners like the Lumineers, Muse, and the Killers with up-and-coming acts.

Apart from its musical offerings, Shaky Knees is notable for its varied menu items that accommodate different dietary requirements, guaranteeing a great dining experience. For those looking for extra benefits, the festival provides a cozy atmosphere along with a variety of conveniences, including picture booths, phone charging stations, and improved VIP experiences.

22. Made In America Festival (Philadelphia, PA)

Created more than a decade ago by the legendary artist Jay Z, the “Made In America Festival” is a music spectacle that should definitely be on your bucket list. This festival promises to be an amazing experience, taking place during Labor Day weekend on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. SZA and Lizzo were the nightly highlights in 2023. Attendees also enjoyed performances from Miguel, Metro Boomin, Lil Yachty, Ice Spice, and Doechii.

23. Electric Forest (Rothbury, MI)

Electric Forest is an immersive voyage into a fanciful dreamland, not just your average music festival. Tucked away in the small Michigan town of Rothbury, this festival first appeared in 2011 as a magical substitute for more traditional festival fare. Electric Forest is quickly sold out, becoming a much-anticipated event. About 40,000 people partied at the festival’s magical grounds in 2023, which ran from June 22-25.

Electric Forest is filled with nonstop activities, exciting performances, and unique displays that engage spectators over the course of four days and nights. Even if the nights aren’t quiet here, there are many enjoyable surprises. Electric Forest attracts people of all ages despite its ethereal atmosphere; you can even see children running around.

Bring plenty of water, additional sunscreen, and protective headphones for a family-friendly festival experience. These will help you traverse this enchanted environment with ease.

24. Electric Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas, NV)

Camping meets electronic music at the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), a festival that epitomizes the genre. Based on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, this iconic festival dates back to the rave scene of the 1990s and has been going strong for thirty years. Globally, EDC has grown, with branches in several states, Mexico, and even China.

EDC had an incredible roster of more than 200 performers, including notable acts like “Chris Lake,” “12th Planet,” “Afrojack,” “Armin Van Buuren,” and “Alison Wonderland” in the 2023 edition. Over 500,000 people attend this kind of event each year in an attempt to fully immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere of the festival.

The festival world praises EDC for its huge stages and visually striking art displays. Every year, a great deal of work goes into creating a brand-new, unique experience that appeals to both novice and experienced festival attendees.

25. Austin City Limits Music Festival (Austin, TX)

Over 100 exciting acts take place on nine different stages throughout the two exciting weekends of October that make up the Austin City Limits Music Festival. In contrast to many American music festivals that focus on certain genres, this fall tradition in Austin welcomes a diverse lineup that attracts a wide range of spectators.

The roster for the event featured a wide range of artists, ensuring a varied experience in 2023, including Tove Lo, Labrinth, Tash Sultana, Alanis Morissette, Maggie Rogers, Shania Twain, and Kali Uchis. The event from October 6-8, and from October 13-15, provided several chances to take part in its colorful celebrations.

26. Outside Lands (San Francisco, CA)

Nestled in the heart of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Outside Lands is a beloved local institution. This year’s festival, which took place from August 11-13, is celebrating its 15th year in 2023. Prominent performers such as Zedd, Janelle Monae, Lana Del Rey, Fisher, Megan Thee Stallion, Willow, and special performances by drag queen Trixie Mattel and Shaquille O’Neal DJing as Diesel were all part of the amazing roster.

Beyond the music, Outside Lands treats guests to a mouthwatering array of wine, beer, cocktails, and food from the best Bay Area restaurants. Discover a variety of unique mementos at the Outside Lands Marketplace, including handcrafted apparel and jewelry, stickers, and home decor.

Outside Lands is an event where guests may enjoy great music and a variety of engaging events. Premium passes include access to private toilets, exclusive lounges, and excellent viewing areas during concerts for an upgraded experience.

27. Pitchfork Music Festival (Chicago, IL)

Rock and alternative music are the main attractions at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, which takes place at the end of July. Pitchfork, which began in 2006, occupies a space between the status of an original festival and a more modern addition to the scene. It stands out in the world of music festivals because of its distinctive and peculiar features.

July 21–23 was the scheduled date for the event in 2023. The program included over 40 bands and artists, including Bon Iver, Koffee, Big Thief, King Krule, The Smile, and Alvvays.

28. Riot Fest (Chicago, IL)

The premier punk rock event in the US is Riot Fest, which takes place in September each year at Chicago’s Douglass Park. Located in the center of the city, this site was a fantastic place to see both established punk rock acts and up-and-coming bands throughout the weekend of September 15–17.

Riot Fest in 2023 will have a roster of daytime gigs preceding the major events, as well as headline performances by Foo Fighters, The Cure, The Postal Service, Death Cab For Cutie, and Queens of the Stone Age. In addition to carnival rides and a variety of interesting exhibitors, the festival provides a wide range of delicious culinary selections that may accommodate different dietary requirements.

Riot Fest offers a “Do Your Part” campaign as a way for individuals who cannot afford festival tickets. In exchange for their help, participants can earn tickets by participating in park clean-up programs. The clean-up events take place right before the festival; however, space is limited, so early registration is advised to guarantee a position.

29. Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI)

Milwaukee’s Summerfest loudly declares that it is one of the biggest music festivals in the world, bringing in up to 500,000 visitors in 2022 (and close to a million before the epidemic). It is well known for being lengthy, spanning three full weekends, and providing live music for over a month. Milwaukee is lucky to have it as a treat.

Summerfest took place in its 55th year in 2023 from June 22-24, June 29-July 1, and July 6-July 8. The wide range of performers on the roster included the Dave Matthews Band, Imagine Dragons, Odesza, Zac Brown Band, and many more over 12 stages.

Summerfest has a wide range of entertainment choices in addition to the music. To provide a well-rounded and enjoyable festival experience, attendees may explore many food and beverage sections in addition to an activity zone that offers virtual reality activities and more.

Conclusion

Inviting music enthusiasts from all over the world to experience the pure bliss of live performances, the numerous festivals dotting the United States offer a melodious feast for the senses.

As these festivals develop further, they serve as real examples of the ability of music to unite people across boundaries and bring them together in celebration of a common interest.

Whether you’re dancing in the rain at Lollapalooza, swaying to the rhythms at Electric Daisy Carnival, or among the desert sands of Coachella, these festivals create memories that blend into the fabric of American music that endures forever.

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FAQs

What is the Biggest Music Festival Ever?

It should come as no surprise that Vienna is now the site of the largest festival in the world, as the city has long been home to musical talents like Mozart. Donauinselfest, which takes place on an island in the middle of the Danube River, drew an astounding 3.1 million attendees in 2016.

What is the Biggest Concert in America?

According to Billboard Boxscore, the Grateful Dead’s September 3, 1977, performance at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, drew the oldest crowd of 100,000 people. With 107,019 attendees, the event continues to hold the record for the most ticketed concert in US history.

Which Five are the Most Popular Music Festivals in the US?

1. SXSW.
2. Ultra Miami.
3. Coachella.
4. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
5. Bonnaroo. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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