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Arts + Culture

10 Best Summer Music Festivals

If you wanted to attend a different music festival every weekend until next winter, your problem wouldn’t be finding one—it would be choosing one. Music expert Charlotte Steinway is here to simplify the process, lining up the perfect fest for every type of music lover (and traveler). From house music in the forests of Sweden to psychedelic rock at an adult sleepaway camp, these are your jams

See recent posts by Charlotte Steinway

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For the Partier: Coachella Indio, CA

Coachella’s always-stellar lineup sets the tone for every summer music festival: this year, all eyes are on Sunday’s set, with Drake, Odesza, Jamie xx and John Talabot all packed into one day. The cool kids don’t arrive at the three-day festival until sundown, but the cooler ones never even bought tickets — for LA’s pretty people, it’s all about the day parties, pool parties and after parties surrounding the festival itself. Many of the blowouts take place in Palm Springs’ hotel hot spots (see last year’s Adidas x The Do-Over party at the Ace Hotel and the Saguaro’s Desert Weekender party), but the most exclusive are thrown on the grounds of rented private residences. Expect epic darties (day parties) from official Coachella sponsor H&M, rage late into Saturday night at Brent Bolthouse’s Neon Carnival, or nab a spot on the list at Soho House’s invite-only Desert House pop-up: guests last year included Diplo, A$AP Rocky and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

April 10-12 & April 17-19

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For the Music Snob (and Budget Conscious): Pitchfork Chicago, IL

With a lineup featuring only musicians whose albums have earned solid ratings on Pitchfork, the eponymous music festival is made by and for the musical elite. Wilco, Chance the Rapper and Sleater-Kinney are headlining, but we’ve got our sights set on Run the Jewels, the lively hip hop duo comprised of New York producer El P and Atlanta rapper Killer Mike, as well as singer-songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr., whose debut album Goon earned him an impressive 8.5 rating on Pitchfork this March. It’s worth noting that Pitchfork Fest is also markedly less expensive than the other festivals, with day passes starting at $65 and three-day passes going for $150.

July 17-19

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For the Family: Newport Folk Festival Newport, RI

Established in 1959, the Newport Folk Festival has played host to greats like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, who was notably booed off the festival stage in 1965 for performing with an electric guitar for the first time. Today, the festival sprawls across four stages of an oceanside venue called Fort Adams State Park, boasting an eclectic bill of folk artists like the Lone Bellow and Brandi Carlile. The festival is general admission seating (and bring-your-own-folding chairs), meaning it’s great for picnics and sitting back and relaxing with the whole family. Tickets run only $15 for children 12 and under, and there’s even a “Late July Family Tent” dedicated exclusively to family programming.

July 24-26

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For the Thrill-Seeker: Into the Valley Festival Rättvik, Sweden

Imagine transmitting the energy of a pulsing club into an abandoned limestone quarry at the heart of a Swedish forest. Cue Into the Valley, the most aesthetically pleasing (and remote) festival on the list. The lineup is one of the summer’s best, with big names in electronic music like Nicolas Jaar and Four Tet, plus Detroit-influenced, Stuttgart-based deep house king Motor City Drum Ensemble and a live set from English electronic duo Mount Kimbie. Another plus? The festival is only open to ages 23 and over, meaning the likelihood of spotting festivalgoers in fishnets puking on their furry boots is markedly reduced.

July 31 – Aug 1

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For the Festival First-Timer: Osheaga Montreal, Canada

Often pegged as the “Coachella of Canada,” Osheaga really has it all. First-off, the location can’t be beat: it’s held on Montreal’s idyllic Parc Jean-Drapeau island in middle of the Saint Lawrence River (and yet just a few stops from the city center via Métro). Once you enter the grounds, expect twinkle light-strung trees, hammocks, two massive adjacent main stages and smaller stages tucked into forest-like corners of the island. Last year’s lineup saw a seasoned mix of heavy hitters like Flume, Lorde, Jon Hopkins and Clockwork, who’ll be returning this year under the RL Grime alias that landed him the February cover of Mixmag.

July 31–Aug 1

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For the Foodie: Outside Lands San Franciso, CA

Forget overpriced French fries and Bud Light. In a foodie city like San Francisco, the culinary lineup is almost as important as the musical one. Enter Outside Lands. In addition to a perfectly-crafted menu of food vendors (think porcini doughnuts from Rich Table and Homeroom’s famous Gilroy garlic mac and cheese), there are also designated wine-lands, beer-lands and choco-lands plus GastroMagic, an interactive culinary stage located in the center of the festival fairgrounds. Oh, and the music’s not bad either—headliners this year include heavyhitters from Elton John to Mumford & Sons, Billy Idol to D’Angelo with a little Wilco, Black Keys and Sam Smith thrown in for good measure.

August 7-9

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For the Trailblazer: Further Future Las Vegas, NV

SXSW, Coachella, Lollapalooza…been there, done that? Further Future is the antidote to festival fatigue. From the people behind New York’s cult Robot Heart parties comes Further Future, an all-day, all-night conversion of art, music, and technology held just outside of Las Vegas, NV. The lineup veers on the psychedelic side, with experimental artists like The Orb and Bob Moses sharing a bill with solid dance standbys Martyn and Tropicool. Like Burning Man, the festival aims to “skirt the confines of present-day society,” in a celebration of mindfulness, innovation and forward-thinking optimism. The details on exactly what that entails are scant—tickets are only available by application through their Facebook page.

May 1–May 3

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For the Rocker: Shaky Knees Atlanta, GA

Once upon a time, festivals were about rock music. But Woodstock came before laptops, and for better or for worse, a hearty dose of EDM (electronic dance music for the uninitiated) seems requisite on most festival lineups today. Not so at Atlanta’s Shaky Knees festival, whose indie-heavy bill features legendary acts such as The Strokes, Wilco, TV on the Radio and James Blake. Only in its third year, the festival is moving venues to Midtown Atlanta’s Central Park. Both single-day and three-day passes are available and the VIP option comes with cushy perks like complimentary beer, water and a catered lunch.

May 8-10

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Photo by Phierce Photography / Keith Griner


For the Camper: Summer Camp Festival Chillicothe, IL

While many music festivals offer a camping element, Summer Camp Festival is unique in that it makes no distinction between campgrounds and festival grounds. If you’re attending the festival, you better know how to pitch a tent (or have access to an RV)—every ticket includes camping for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The festival’s main stage is deemed the “Camping Stage,” which, paired with late night venues like the “Red Barn,” will host performances from acts like Umphrey’s McGee, A-Trak and Steve Miller Band. Not sounding enough like that one summer you spent at Camp Anawanna? There’s also a festival-wide field day (tug of war anyone?), nightly campfires and a Camp Counselor program for music bloggers looking to cover the event.

May 22-25

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For the Beach Bum: Hideout Zrce Beach, Croatia

Sure France and Italy are great, but everyone knows that the real European Riviera party takes place on the sandy, stunning shores of Croatia. Music festivals have followed suit, including Hideout, coming June 28-July 2 to Zrce Beach on the Adriatic island of Pag. The Ibiza-like town is always bustling during the summer months, but the beach is at its best this June when house legends like Jamie Jones, Maceo Plex and Seth Troxler are in town. Deep house duo Dusky and French Express favorites Isaac Tichauer and Jonas Rathsman round out the festival’s stellar lineup. At five days, Hideout runs longer than most festivals, meaning it’s worth extending your stay for a weeklong beach-hop along Croatia’s coastline.

June 28–July 2



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