While music festivals are synonymous with summertime for many, festival season actually begins in the spring and sprawls across autumn.
It only seems to grow longer and longer each year as festivals become more popular (something we're not sad about), and the result is that the music-loving weekends of September, October and November have started to compete for your attention against their warmer counterparts.
We've run down 10 of the best fests happening this fall for you right here, complete with dates, locations, lineup highlights and more. Check out all 10–ranging from a can't-miss punk rock lineup down South to a long-running music marathon in the New York–to help decide where you'll be spending your vacation days this fall.
When: September 5-7
Lineup highlights: The National, Lorde, The Replacements, Nas x The Roots, Neutral Milk Hotel, Childish Gambino, Girl Talk, Spoon, The 1975, others.
Boston Calling is unique in that it happens twice a year and bookends the summer, with each installment taking place around Memorial Day and Labor Day. In May, the festival had an extremely successful two-day event with indie acts like Brand New, Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, Jack Johnson, Tegan and Sara and Frank Turner. The three-day extravaganza in September offers up a terrific lineup as well, and in only its second full year on the job, we'd say Boston Calling is doing a great job of bringing a big-ticket festival to a town that deserves one.
When: September 6-7, 12-14 and 19-21
Where: Toronto, Chicago and Denver, respectively
Lineup highlights: Weezer, The Flaming Lips, Slayer, The Cure, Social Distortion, The National, Rise Against, The Offspring, Taking Back Sunday, Wu-Tang Clan, Descendents, many more.
Chicago's Riot Fest hasn't wasted much time making a name for itself. Celebrating its 10th birthday this September, the festival now spans across three major markets in North America and will move to an even more massive part of Humboldt Park in Chicago (gotta make more room for all those carnival rides, ferris wheels and shrines to John Stamos). This year's lineup may be its most impressive to date: not only does the festival continue to cater to its punk roots by showcasing the who's-who of up-and-coming names in independent emo and punk, it's more appealing to the masses than ever before with huge, main stage-friendly names like The Flaming Lips, The Cure, The National, etc. Each Riot Fest boasts tweaks to the lineup (A Day To Remember will rock Denver; Brand New will take over Toronto, etc.), but plenty of these amazing acts can be found in each city.
Oh, and did we mention that 10 bands will be performing 10 classic albums in their entirety? If you need us, we'll be watching The Offspring play Smash right before watching Slayer play Reign In Blood...then the next day we'll be freaking out while the Descendents do Milo Goes To College...then we'll just hope we can stay conscious for day three after being hit in the face with all that awesome in such a short amount of time.
When: September 26-28
Where: Atlanta, GA
Lineup highlights: Avicii, David Guetta, Skrillex, Steve Aoki, Tiesto, Diplo, Kaskade, Martin Garrix, and a never-ending list of cohorts.
TomorrowWorld is the North American version of Belgium's Tomorrowland, one of the most recognizable globally-known music festivals around. It's back for a second year in Georgia, and there's very good reason to be excited: its first installment was a remarkably massive success, and the lineup for 2014 is absurd. As far as EDM goes, TomorrowWorld is already playing with the big boys like Ultra and Electric Daisy Carnival, so it's more than worthy of consideration from fans of the genre.
When: October 3-5 and 10-12
Where: Austin, TX (duh!)
Lineup highlights: Eminem, Pearl Jam, Outkast, Skrillex, Beck, Calvin Harris, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, The Replacements, Zedd, Major Lazer, more.
Austin hosts a huge party each March with South By Southwest and then comes back into play with the underrated Austin City Limits Music Festival as festival season starts winding down. "Underrated" is a term we're forced to use because of the huge attention paid to SXSW, but ACL Fest is more than holding its own year in and year out. It serves as a heavyweight complement to SXSW: March is all about crawling Austin's bars and indie venues looking for the next big thing, and ACL Fest leans toward a massive celebration with some of the biggest names on the festival circuit. Now that it spreads over two weekends, the celebration is only getting longer and more hearty.
When: October 3-5
Where: Mobile, AL
Lineup highlights: Ludacris, Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington, CeeLo Green, Kid Rock, Earth Wind & Fire, Foster The People, more.
Alabama may seem like a somewhat odd choice for a festival destination on first thought, but Mobile has a beautiful coastline, and October delivers great weather in the South. If the idea of sinking your toes into the sand and watching CeeLo Green do his thing doesn't appeal to you, we just don't understand where you're coming from.
When: October 21-25
Where: New York City
Lineup highlights: Depends on where you go!
The CMJ Music Marathon is back for another week-long celebration across New York City, and its spirit is as strong as ever. It stacks up against South By Southwest as one of the greatest collections of budding, buzzy bands as more and more labels, publications and brands build quality showcases. Keep an eye out for your favorite labels and bands to start announcing showcases in the very near future. (We're excited for No Sleep Records' showcase, personally).
When: October 31 - November 2 (plus Oct. 29-30 for Pre-Fest)
Where: Gainesville, FL
Lineup highlights: Descendents, Lifetime, Less Than Jake, Strike Anywhere, The Menzingers, Hot Water Music, Touché Amoré, Mineral, zillions of other punks.
All you need to know about The Fest can be summed up in three words: Punk Rock Mecca. It's a must-experience event for any fan of the genre, and its yearly attendance proves that sentiment. Thousands of people from all across the globe gather in the college town of Gainesville once a year–it's a punk pilgrimage, really–to see one of the most spectacular lineups this genre could offer. Every year, fans wonder whether it'll happen again the following fall, and they haven't been disappointed yet. The 13th incarnation of The Fest kicks off on Halloween, and it promises to be spookier (and louder) than ever before.
When: October 31 - November 2
Where: New Orleans, LA
Lineup highlights: Foo Fighters, Outkast, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, Zedd, Pretty Lights, 30 Seconds To Mars, and many more create a lineup as diverse as it sounds.
One of the bittersweet signals that festival season is coming to a close is the commencement of Voodoo in New Orleans. Voodoo has made a name for itself largely based on its willingness to invite acts of any kind to perform, and its 2014 incarnation holds an incredibly wide-ranging lineup. In the headliners alone, you'll find hard rock, hip hop, indie and EDM. While this may seem standard nowadays, you have to check out the full list of acts to truly appreciate how Voodoo can offer a little something for everyone.
When: November 7-8
Where: Orlando, FL
Lineup highlights: Hmmm....none announced yet!
Don't worry, everyone. Last year's EDC Orlando didn't have a lineup until only three weeks before it happened. So the fact that it's the end of August and the early November festival hasn't dropped even a hint of which acts will be featured isn't even a big deal. One look at 2013's stacked bill, though, will tell you that you'll want to be at Tinker Field this year. (Plus, it's in Florida in November, a great time to dodge the cold of your home state.)
When: November 7-9
Where: Austin, TX
Lineup highlights: Judas Priest, Nas, Modest Mouse, Girl Talk, Neutral Milk Hotel, King Diamond, Wiz Khalifa, Fred Armisen, alt-J, more.
Remember when we mentioned Austin City Limits Fest as the year-end festival in Austin that complements South By Southwest? Well, turns out that Austin really can't get enough music, so Fun Fun Fun Fest comes in November to remind the town why it's such a major music capital. Just like SXSW and ACL Fest, it's well worth your attention. The tough choice is to decide when, not if, you're going to Austin any given festival season.