If you look hard enough, you can probably find a solid music festival going on somewhere year round. Summer is quickly on its way, though, which means that the true peak festival season is coming right up. A festival is fun all the time, but when it’s warm and sunny out there’s just a different energy (especially if you’re a student and you’re off from school). All over the world, that vibe is rapidly approaching.
We’ve previously discussed some of the world’s best fests, but this time, we’re getting more specific. What you’ll find below is a rundown of the 15 best music festivals happening this summer, and while most of them take place in our home here in the USA, the whole world is represented in this list. What’s nice about summer festivals is that different things make them great in a variety of ways. This means that you can have a killer time a mainstream-oriented fest, but you can also throw your spurs on at a more country-aligned event, or proudly rock your skinny jeans at an indie festival. Whatever itch you’re trying to scratch, you should find relief in at least one of the festivals below.
There’s no real need to justify Lollapalooza, as it’s one of the American music festival pillars. It’s helped make Chicago a summer destination since the festival fully shifted to a traditional weekend format in 2005. If you need more evidence that Lollapalooza is a monster player: The name holds weight around the world, as the festival regularly hosts international editions in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, and Paris.
This year’s event continues a storied tradition of powerhouse lineups, as this summer is led by headliners The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, and Travis Scott. There’s plenty to love further down the poster as well, including The National, Vampire Weekend, Khalid, and plenty more. More information can be found here.
Golden Gate Park in a San Francisco is a real draw of a venue, not to mention that California more broadly is a fantastic place to be in the summer. That makes Outside Lands the place to be when mid-August rolls around. Along with its varied and excellent food offerings, its comedy tent, and again, the food: There’s a place there called Chocolands, for crying out loud.
Oh yeah, and the music is pretty good, too: The Weeknd, Florence + The Machine, and Janet Jackson are headlining this year’s event, with support from the likes of Future, Beck, Odesza, Bon Iver, and more. You can even bring your dad, because Huey Lewis And The News will be there too. More information can be found here.
Hangout Music Fest
California is probably the first place that comes to mind when you think of beaches, but don’t forget about Alabama, because it has plenty of summer sun that’ll feel nice as you’re laying in the sand. Hangout Fest truly does seem like a great place to hang out: There’s beach campfires, a roller disco, great food, and a ton more. If you’re feeling romantic, there’s even a wedding chapel where you can watch loving couples begin their music-loving lives together.
Speaking of the music, there’s a diverse lineup at Hangout this year. It’s headlined by The Killers, The Chainsmokers, and Kendrick Lamar, and there will also be appearances from Halsey, Logic, SZA, Anderson .Paak, St. Vincent, and a ton of others. More information can be found here.
Sasquatch Music Festival
Washington has natural beauty abound, and Sasquatch is a prime opportunity to take it in. The event takes place in The Gorge, and since the fest is definitely camping oriented, this is an excellent chance to spend a few days in the gorgeous outdoors. The amphitheater overlooks a breathtaking gorge, meaning you’d be hard-pressed to find a better environment in which to watch some top-rank performers.
There are plenty of those, by the way: This year’s lineup is led by Bon Iver, The National, Modest Mouse, and David Byrne, while also on the bill are Tyler, The Creator, Anderson .Paak, Spoon, Vince Staples, Explosions In The Sky, and a variety of others. More information can be found here.
Coachella organizers Goldenvoice has firmly established by now that they know how to put on a festival, so they’re a name to be trusted. Their New York City event, Panorama, is no different, but they have plenty of things that are definitely different. For instance, there’s The Lab, an interactive technological experience, and an open-air club that celebrates DJ culture and electronic music, The Point.
As for the lineup, that’s also pretty sweet: Headlining are The Weeknd, Janet Jackson, and The Killers. The roster is strong elsewhere on the poster as well, thanks to Migos, Father John Misty, Cardi B, The War On Drugs, and more across a variety of genres. More information can be found here.
Denmark might be a bit out of the way for a lot of you reading this, but if you’re in the area or have been meaning to immerse yourself in some good Danish times, Roskilde might be the ticket. The weeklong event definitely has a focus on music, but there’s also plenty of opportunities to experience some art, so it wouldn’t hurt to get some culture.
The bulk of the music is spread out over four days, and there’s a lot to love: The lineup is led by Eminem, Bruno Mars, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, and Gorillaz, and the poster also includes Cardi B, Nine Inch Nails, David Byrne, St. Vincent, and some local acts that could end up being a pleasant surprise. More information can be found here.
The “ATM machine” of festivals, FYF Fest (short for F-ck Yeah Fest Fest) is like a more intimate version of a mainstream fest: Big artists come to Exposition Park in Los Angeles, but it’s only two days and with a smaller lineup. That makes it both a good starter fest for a newcomer who might be intimidated by a massive four-day lineup, and an opportunity to check out some serious talent without having to push so many people out of the way.
The headliners this year are a pair of powerful females: Florence + The Machine, and Janet Jackson. Elsewhere on the poster, you’ll find Future, The xx, St. Vincent, Skepta, and others. More information can be found here.
Mo Pop Festival
This Detroit festival is a relative newcomer (the first one was in 2013), and while the first two editions of the festival were attended by about 7,500 people each, a move to Detroit has allowed it to experience fantastic growth since 2015 and trot out lineups that are competitive with the big-time players. There’s an arcade, food trucks, crafts, drinks, and other festival fare that proves that ultimately, this upstart appears to be here to stay.
The top of this year’s lineup is a blessing for indie rock fans — Bon Iver, The National, Portugal. The Man, St. Vincent — but there’s variety on the bill as well, including Vince Staples, Brockhampton, Alvvays, Billie Eilish, and others. More information can be found here.
There’s plenty of great food in New York City, and a lot of that culinary excellence will be at Governors Ball this year. The eating lineup is actually nearly as impressive as the music lineup, as you’ll be able to get everything from ramen burgers to stuffed ice cream to tacos to Asian food, and essentially everything in between.
That eccentricity applies to the music roster as well: Jack White, Travis Scott, and Eminem are headlining, and beyond that, you can check out Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Post Malone, James Blake, N.E.R.D, Chvrches, Lil Uzi Vert, Manchester Orchestra, and at least one representative from most segments of the music spectrum. More information can be found here.
Iceland is one of those places that has a mystical reputation, and Secret Solstice is doing all it can to promote that. Held in the country’s capital of Reykjavík, the event shows off some natural beauty that I’m pretty sure literally no other music festival can offer: There’s both a trip to a 5,200-year-old lava tunnel and a party hosted in Europe’s second largest glacier. This might be the only festival this summer where you’ll need a parka, but that opportunity seems too great to overlook.
Perhaps even more unusual, though, is the lineup, which is unlike that of any other festival in 2018: Among the highlights are Slayer, Stormzy, Gucci Mane, Bonnie Tyler, George Clinton, Steve Aoki, 6lack, and more. Basically, the lineup reads as the result of putting all of Spotify on shuffle and booking a festival based on that, and it sounds like an amazing time. More information can be found here.
Shaky Knees Music Festival
Music festival lineups are straying more and more away from being inhabited solely by rock acts, but don’t tell that to Shaky Knees. The Atlanta fest is truly a traditional music festival, in that it hasn’t given in to modern pop and electronic pressures and changed its lineup to accommodate. Shaky Knees knows what it likes and what it is, and gosh darn it they’re sticking to it.
The proof is in this year’s lineup: The headliners are Jack White, Queens Of The Stone Age, and The National, with appearances from David Byrne, Fleet Foxes, Tenacious D, The War On Drugs, Cake, Manchester Orchestra, and plenty more acts with at least one guitarist in their lineup. Yup, it rocks. More information can be found here.
Boston Calling Music Festival
Of all the festivals that have cropped up in the past few years, Boston Calling is one of the few that was instantly dominant. It had strong lineups from the very beginning, and they’ve built upon that tradition of excellence sine 2013. The event moved to Harvard Athletic Complex last year, when it was also condensed into a one-yearly festival instead of twice-annually, but that hasn’t been associated with any sort of quality dip.
In fact, this year’s lineup is quite strong: There’s Eminem, The Killers, and Jack White at the top of the poster, as well as Queens Of The Stone Age, The National, Paramore, Tyler, The Creator, Khalid, and plenty more. There’s also a solid comedy lineup featuring David Cross, Cameron Esposito, and… Natalie Portman. More information can be found here.
Newport Folk Festival
The Newport Folk Festival is an absolute institution: It’s been around since 1959, it’s where Bob Dylan went electric, it’s where Johnny Cash launched Kris Kristofferson’s career, and it’s been a Rhode Island staple for about six decades now. Just for the sense of history alone, it’s worth checking out, and aside from that, the lineups are usually pretty solid as well.
The fest hasn’t announced all of its 2018 lineup yet, but they’ve secured some great names so far, like Courtney Barnett, Hiss Golden Messenger, Gary Clark Jr., Jason Isbell, Moses Sumney, Margo Price, and plenty of others. More information can be found here.
Country artists don’t always find their way out to California during their tours, but Stagecoach makes up for it by bringing just about all of them out to Indio. After all, could California rightly be considered the music festival capital without some twang in the mix? That’s no longer a concern, because now there’s plenty of room for you to stomp around in your cowboy boots.
The lineup is a satisfying mix for country fans of all ages. The younger folks will love Kacey Musgraves, Jason Isbell, Keith Urban, and others, while there are some true legends on the bill, like Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Gordon Lightfoot and others. More information can be found here.
Made in America Festival
Good musicians tend to know good music themselves, so a festival hosted by Jay-Z has to be some sort of hip-hop heaven, right? That is true, but the event, which has been held since 2012, is more than just rap, since Jay knows that variety is the spice of life, and a mix of genres is what makes music festivals great. And truly, Made In America has been one of the best fests since its inception.
This year’s lineup has yet to be announced, but if history repeats itself, it ought to be just fine. Last year, Jay-Z, J. Cole, and Solange were there, and past performers have included Rihanna, Coldplay, DJ Khaled, and other names with which you’re intimately familiar. More information can be found here.