Are we in the golden age of the music festival? It really feels that way, at least when it comes to availability. Pretty much no matter where you are in the world, the odds are strong that you’re within driving distance of a world-class event that’s ready to host you and foster your fondest summer memories.
Now that the warmer months are upon us, festival season is in full swing, and all across the planet, there are awesome shows being put on virtually all the time. Whether you’re in Chicago, San Francisco, or Barcelona, there’s probably something great going on very soon in your area, so let’s look at some of the best examples. We’ve compiled a list of ten of the best fests happening this summer, and it offers plenty of compelling reasons to leave the house for a weekend.
The best part is that there are still great ones beyond this list (Firefly, Pitchfork, Osheaga, and Mo Pop come to mind, for instance), but the list below is a great place to begin your summer planning.
Lollapalooza (August 1-4)
Simply put, Lollapalooza is one of the world’s biggest fests. Consequently, the lineup is always packed with top-tier talent, and there’s no doubting that that’s the case this year. Atop the poster for the Chicago event are Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots, The Strokes, Tame Impala, Flume, The Chainsmokers, and J Balvin. If you want star power, you got it. Otherwise, local cuisine, stunning skyline views, and a host of aftershows make this one of the best events in the world.
Governors Ball (May 31 to June 2)
The Randall’s Island Park fest is a relatively new entrant in the major music fest category, with its inaugural event being held in 2011. It hasn’t taken long for the festival to establish itself as one of the country’s finest, though. There’s plenty of love in this year’s lineup, including Kacey Musgraves, Tyler The Creator, Nas, Lil Wayne, The 1975, and plenty more.
Sled Island (June 19 to 23)
The Alberta festival picks a guest curator every year, and for this installment, they got Julien Baker. Thanks to her taste, the lineup added Japanese Breakfast, Jpegmafia, Hop Along, Bully, and others. The lineup is pretty killer aside from Baker’s personal picks, as it also includes Rapsody, Cate Le Bon, Cass McCombs, and Jessica Pratt taking over all the local venues in Downtown Calgary.
Outside Lands (August 9 to 11)
Paul Simon isn’t as active as he used to be these days, but Outside Lands managed to snag him for a headlining spot at this year’s fest. The San Francisco event has a strong and diverse set of headliners aside from him this year, as they also brought Lil Wayne, Kacey Musgraves, Leon Bridges, Anderson .Paak, Kygo, Blink-182, Flume, Childish Gambino, The Lumineers, and Twenty One Pilots.
Mad Cool (July 11 to 13)
For people looking for an excuse to take a trip to Spain, the Mad Cool poster has plenty of them. The Madrid festival will draw plenty of people in July, thanks to a strong indie and alternative rock presence via The National, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, The Cure, The 1975, and The Smashing Pumpkins. There’s variety beyond that too, like Vince Staples, Robyn, Iggy Pop, and plenty more.
Real Street (August 10 and 11)
If you haven’t heard of this one before, that’s because this is the inaugural year for the Anaheim festival Real Street. The hip-hop-focused event has done a terrific job at securing an admirable group of the genre’s finest, like 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Big Sean, Cardi B, Rae Sremmurd, Miguel, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Megan Thee Stallion… the list goes on, and there are even more special guests to be announced.
Yola Día (August 18)
The event formerly known as Yola Fest made a bunch of changes in recent days (like a new name, most noticeably), but now that the dust has settled, everything is still looking pretty great. The Lykke Li-founded fest will bring a strong all-female lineup to LA Historic Park in August: Aside from Li herself, the fest also boasts a lineup featuring Cat Power, Megan Thee Stallion, Empress Of, and Courtney Love.
Glastonbury (June 26 to 30)
Every so often, Glastonbury takes a year off to allow the land to recover, and 2018 was one of those years. The good news is that the iconic UK festival is back this year, and the poster’s top line is impressive: The Killers, The Cure, Stormzy, Kylie Minogue, and Janet Jackson. Even going down the poster, the quality of acts doesn’t really drop off a ton. In the bottom half, you’ll still find Interpol, Kurt Vile, Lizzo, and Sharon Van Etten. There’s a reason why this one has the reputation of being one of, if not the, best festival in the world.
Bonnaroo (June 13 to 16)
You’ll see a new arch at the Bonnaroo farm this year, and as usual, the iconic Tennessee festival is bringing plenty of freshness aside from that. There are expected-but-wonderful headliners like Childish Gambino, Post Malone, and The Lumineers, but what’s more surprising is the omnipotence of Phish. The legendary jam band doesn’t pop up on many festival lineups these days, but there’s no doubting they’re deserving of the spot. This booking is a perfect example of how Bonnaroo continues to set itself apart.
Primavera Sound (May 27 to June 2)
The esteemed Barcelona festival is actually happening as you read this (assuming you’re reading between May 27 and June 2, 2019), but since this one is essentially a weeklong affair, there’s still plenty left to see if you find yourself in the area. The Saturday lineup, for example, includes Nilüfer Yanya, Pusha T, Solange, James Blake, Tierra Whack, and Stereolab. Most importantly, the event’s 50/50 initiative is leading the charge for a more inclusive festival landscape, where women and men will find equal representation.