When: June 3 - 5
Where: New York, NY
2016 Lineup Highlights: Kanye West, The Strokes, The Killers, Beck, Robyn, Death Cab for Cutie, M83, HAIM, Of Monsters and Men
Why You Should Go: Governors Ball 2013 proved to be the meaning of "the show must go on," as the festival weathered a tropical storm and a flash flood warning on New York's Randall's Island. With an incredible lineup, it was a weekend where attendees had to look past their own mud-caked features and appreciate the music at hand. 2014 paid off for those who returned, as they got to watch major talents hailing from every genre rock so loudly their tunes bounced off the nearby Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Even the super-celebs were stage-hopping: Madonna made sure to catch Disclosure's set, and André 3000 brought his son Seven to the photo pit in order to get up close and personal with Childish Gambino. Don't even get us started on 2015, with Lana Del Rey, deadmau5, Black Keys, Drake and more.
When: June 9 - 12
Where: Manchester, TN
2016 Lineup Highlights: Pearl Jam, LCD Soundsystem, J. Cole, Ellie Goulding, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
- The Best Live Photos From Bonnaroo 2015
- Best "Guitar Faces" of Bonnaroo 2015
- Best Live Performances at Bonnaroo 2015
- Red, White and Roo: Patriotic Fashion at Bonnaroo
Why You Should Go: None of the top few American festivals are as "hardcore" as Bonnaroo for most people who go. It's one of the greatest camping experiences at any festival in the world, and Bonnaroo organizers constantly deliver a fantastic lineup. Once you survive four days sleeping outside and watching awesome bands in the intense Tennessee heat, no one will doubt your festival experience. (And definitely try to catch at least one late-night super jam.)
When: June 24 - August 13
Where: Throughout North America
2016 Lineup Highlights: Good Charlotte, Less Than Jake, New Found Glory, Waka Flocka Flame, Sum 41, The Summer Set, Yellowcard
- On The Scene: 2015 Warped Tour Rocks New Jersey
- Our 9 Favorite Musical Discoveries at Warped Tour 2015
- The 8 Best Moments at Warped Tour 2015
Why You Should Go: Warped Tour is the only festival on this list that's actually a full North American tour. It stops in more than 40 cities throughout the course of eight grueling summer weeks, setting up and tearing down a mini-city each day. The festival celebrated its twentieth year in 2014 and continues to blend acts ranging from pop to metalcore to pop-punk to electronic and everything in between. If you're looking for one full, action-packed day of watching bands, Warped is a great place to go and probably not too far from you.
When: June 24 and 25 (New York) and July 29-31
Where: LA & NYC
2016 Lineup Highlights: BTS, Girls' Generation-TTS, CNBLUE, Seventeen, Dynamic Duo, Crush, Twice
Why You Should Go: KCON has been called the Mecca of all things K-pop, and has grown exponentially since it was first introduced in 2012 (a.k.a. the year of "Gangnam Style"), evolving from a one-day convention to a multi-coast extravaganza. Even if you aren't well-versed in all things K-pop, the extreme passion you'll see from fans is engaging as any other major festival culture.
When: June 16 - 19
Where: Dover, DE
2016 Lineup Highlights: Mumford & Sons, deadmau5, Florence + The Machine, Blink-182, Kings of Leon and more.
Why You Should Go: Firefly can still be classified as a start-up of sorts, only launching in 2012. But the festival claims a unique home in the beautiful woodlands of Delaware and has come on strong with powerful lineups. There's camping available as well, so you can make a lot out of this fest!
When: July 22 - 24
Where: Newport, RI
2016 Lineup Highlights: Father John Misty, Ray Lamontagne
Why You Should Go: Newport Folk is an American music tradition at this point, but it's hardly just for the family-friendly/Dylan-crooning set. Over the course of three days, musicians that redefine "folk" in every fashion from the soulful belts of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings to the hard-rocking ways of Jack White descend upon Fort Adams and let their music waft across the sail boat-speckled Narragansett Bay. It's scenic, it's chill and it's a great excuse to eat lobster rolls for an entire weekend while rediscovering an appreciation for banjos.
When: July 28 - 31
Where: Chicago, IL
2016 Lineup Highlights: Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, J. Cole, LCD Soundsystem, Ellie Goulding, Major Lazer, Lana Del Rey
Why You Should Go: Lolla has a great reputation as one of the most organized festivals in the country, as we saw in 2012 when a gnarly storm shut things down for part of the weekend. Sets were rescheduled and the show impressively went on. Other pros about the Chicago fest: Krewella say you don't have to dress fancy and you can explore the city by day.
When: September 3-4, 2016
Where: Philadelphia, PA
- All the Best Photos From MIA 2016
- The 6 Coolest Moments of Beyonce's Headlining Set
- Nick Jonas Proves Solo Success Is No Fluke at MIA
- Future Might Be the Biggest Rapper in the World After MIA
Why You Should Go: How could a festival founded by Jay Z not be cool? Already in its fifth year, Made in America continues to get more ambitious with both the type of talent and amount of talent it brings to Philly each year. There's an emphasis on pop, hip-hop and electronic acts here, and even though the fest is no longer bi-costal, it still becomes an excellent way to spend Labor Day weekend and close out your summer.
When: September 16 - 18
Where: Chicago, IL
2015 Lineup Highlights: Alexisonfire, The Prodigy, Weezer, All Time Low, Rancid and more.
Why You Should Go: Riot Fest provides the ultimate cross between mainstream and independent acts, current punk rock megastars and legendary bands from the past. This was on full display in 2013, when Humboldt Park hosted two mega-awesome modern headliners in Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy, and then followed it up with Weezer bringing some serious musical might to the stage alongside acts like the Flaming Lips and Descendents. 2015's lineup (No Doubt, System of a Down) was just as exciting. If the relatively new Riot Fest can keep the momentum going, it'll soon be mentioned in the same breath as America's heaviest-hitting festivals.
When: September 30 - October 2, October 7 - 9
Where: Austin, TX
2016 Lineup Highlights: Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, Mumford & Sons, LCD Soundsystem, Kygo, Willie Nelson, Flume, LL Cool J, Chris Stapleton
Why You Should Go: ACL Fest comes later in the calendar than Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and SXSW, but that's what makes this festival such a special one to attend. Make no mistake, it's still a huge deal and has sold out for the last decade! But falling in October means that the summer festival rush has ended and this serves as a positive: You get a more relaxed crowd, milder temperatures in Austin and less chaos on the whole. Plus, it's two weekends long now, so the party is twice as good!
When: TBD, but it typically extends over the third week of October
Where: New York, NY
Why You Should Go: If you want to find some of the best new, raw talent in the country, CMJ is for you. It's called a "music marathon" for a good reason. Lasting an entire week, you have the opportunity to see a ton of music and attend music industry-related conferences.
When: October 28-30
Where: Gainesville, FL
2016 Lineup Highlights: The Ergs!, Less Than Jake, Latterman, A Wilhelm Scream, Propagandhi, Dillinger Four
Why You Should Go: If you like punk rock, The Fest is probably one of your favorite weekends of the year. It's a mecca of sorts for punk fans, drawing attendees from countries all over the world. Held in downtown Gainesville, it's a lot like SXSW in that you'll be hopping between multiple venues every day, but the similarities end there, as it's retained a DIY feel throughout each of its 12 years. Held on the same weekend as the annual Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville, the University of Florida's college town is left entirely to the 5,000 punks who descend upon it, and the atmosphere is something you have to witness.
When: October 28 - 30
Where: New Orleans, LA
Why You Should Go: Everyone talks about summer festivals, but October's Voodoo Music Experience, in the lively city of New Orleans, challenges the summer fests with an attitude of its own. Whether you're looking for a top-tier festival to beat the heat or wanting to cap off an awesome summer of music with one more weekend of watching huge-name acts, Voodoo is a great choice.
When: November 6-8
Where: Austin, TX
2016 Lineup Highlights: Jane's Addiction, Wu-Tang Clan, Chvrches, Grimes, Cheap Trick, ScHoolboy Q, Gogol Bordello
Why You Should Go: Austin just keeps on giving. Fun Fun Fun Fest prides itself on highlighting independent and progressive music, and while it doesn't get the same mainstream love as SXSW or the Austin City Limits Festival, it's still an impressive lineup. All music fans need to make a trip to Austin eventually, and FFF Fest provides an excellent opportunity to do so.
When: March 15 - 20
Where: Austin, TX
- The 18 Best Moments of SXSW 2015
- The Best Live Photos from SXSW 2015
- Our 10 Favorite Musical Discoveries at SXSW 2015
Why You Should Go: It's the best festival in the world for uncovering new raw talent. SXSW means hopping around bars and venues in Austin, mingling with a mixed group of music fans and music industry people and watching future stars earn their stripes. Of course, you get the big names, too—who could forget Lady Gaga's high-octane performance in 2014?—but half the fun is stumbling across a brand new act, loving them and then bragging about it when that act blows up four months later.
When: March 18 - 20
Where: Miami, FL
2015 Lineup Highlights: Avicii, David Guetta, Skrillex, Kiesza, Tiësto, Eric Prydz, Steve Aoki, Krewella, Die Antwoord, Gorgon City.
Why You Should Go: Ultra is the most famous EDM festival in North America and for good reason. Do you see the lineup highlights from 2015 up there? We could have kept adding more if we wanted. Also, Miami is a hell of a city to throw a huge party in. Ultra was condensed from two weekends to one in 2014, but that just means the fun is more concentrated.
When: April 15 - 17, April 22 - 24
Where: Indio, CA
- 20 Best Coachella 2015 Live Performances
- The Best Accessories of Coachella 2015
- Wild Looks at Coachella 2015 that Had Us Doing a Double Take
Why You Should Go: Taking place in the middle of the desert, Coachella is a top-notch festival experience that feels like the start of summer festival season. It provides an argument each year that its lineup is king of all festivals, and 2015 was no exception. This year, the reunions of LCD Soundsystem and Guns N' Roses are leading the way; do whatever you can to find tickets.
When: April 29 - May 1
Where: Memphis, TN
2015 Lineup Highlights: The Avett Brothers, Ed Sheeran, Pixies, The Flaming Lips, Lenny Kravitz, Paramore, Hozier, John Fogerty, Five Finger Death Punch, Wilco, Cage the Elephant and Ryan Adams.
Why You Should Go: Beale Street consistently brings forth one of the most eclectic festival lineups we see year to year. It's a huge advantage to be able to catch such a wide variety of acts in one weekend, so if you're looking for one festival to take in and you have scattered tastes, this might be the one for you.
When: May 20 - 22
Where: Gulf Shores, AL
2015 Lineup Highlights: Foo Fighters, Zac Brown Band, Beck, Paramore, Skrillex, Foster The People, My Morning Jacket, Major Lazer, Spoon and more.
Why You Should Go: Gorgeous beaches aren't your typical setting for a major music festival, but Hangout manages to draw massive headliners to the beautiful Alabama coastline for a weekend of serious shredding. As its name implies, Hangout is a chill affair that balances the more high-energy antics of Bonnaroo, Electric Daisy Carnival and the like with a lineup that is always wildly eclectic.
Where: Kingston Downs, GA
2015 Lineup Highlights: Widespread Panic, The Roots, Zedd, Umphrey's McGee, iLoveMakonnen, Dillon Francis, Chet Faker and more.
Why You Should Go: CounterPoint only kicked off in 2012, but it's already become a viable contender for one of America's best electronic festivals. OutKast played a rousing hometown set here; Pretty Lights, Skrillex, Avicii and more performed.
When: May 27 - 30
Where: George, WA
- 20 Awesome Live Photos from Sasquatch! 2015 featuring Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson, Chromeo and more
Why You Should Go: The setting alone is enough to coax hordes of people to Sasquatch!, as the main stage is literally on the precipice of a giant cliff overlooking a majestic gorge. Between OutKast's incredible headlining set, Chance The Rapper's triumphant return to the festival circuit and HAIM's most hard-rocking performance of the season, Sasquatch!'s run in 2014 brought about tons of memorable musical moments. (Not like we'd expect anything less from a festival that sold out in a record 90 minutes in 2013.)
When & When: Mexico City, Feb 27 - 28; Las Vegas, June 17 - 19; UK, July 9; Tokyo, July 2016
Why You Should Go: The New York City event is a two-day warm-up for the bigger attraction, which is the insane party in Las Vegas—and 2015 marked the year that EDC went international! There's nary an EDM festival that's more widely anticipated, and Electric Daisy does it right by having acts perform between sunset and sunrise as opposed to during the day. Make sure you stay hydrated—you'll get surprisingly tired considering the sun's not out—but besides that, it's a blast of a festival.