Music festivals are held across the entirety of the US, from San Francisco to New York City and Chicago to Austin, ranging from enormous multi-weekend extravaganzas in the desert to city festivals and smaller genre-specific events, spanning electronic pop, hip-hop and country rock. We have picked out the best festivals for 2023, based on each event’s lineup, atmosphere, and food and drink offerings. Dust off your bucket hat, it’s festival season.
When: 14-16 & 21-23 April
Where: Indio, California
Price: weekend pass 549 USD
Music history is made every year at the Empire Polo Club ground in the Coachella Valley, just outside Palm Springs in California. Coachella is one of the most attended music festivals in the world, with 645,000 attendees across the six day period. Spread over two weekends of identical lineups, Coachella books some of the biggest artists in pop, indie, rock, electronic, and hip hop music. Since 1999, countless legendary performances and surprise reunions have happened over the years. Some of the best performances include Outkast’s first reunion gig as headliners there in 2014, with Andre 3000’s iconic political slogan jumpsuits; Jay-Z’s headline in 2010, becoming the first solo rapper to do so, and 2009’s two-and-a-half-hour set by The Cure, who played not one but three encores. There’s something to be discovered at every corner of the festival: the camping area becomes a festival area in its own right, with DJ sets held at The Dome, exclusive to camping pass festival goers.
When: 28-30 April
Where: Indio, California
Price: weekend pass 429 USD
Dust off your cowboy boots and head off to the desert for a weekend of the best in country music in Indio, California. Held on the same grounds as Coachella, Stagecoach festival hosts the biggest names in country music on the main stage, including Kane Brown, Luke Bryn, and Chris Stapelton. Stagecoach is also a place for new and innovative artists to showcase their talent: electronic artist Diplo, who takes a modernised approach to country, hosts his own Honky Tonk stage with guest DJ sets across the weekend. And it’s not only the music to get excited about: Guy Fieri’s Stagecoach Smokehouse serves bbq food all weekend, as well as hosting cooking demonstrations with artists performing at the festival.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
When: 28 April – 7 May
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
Price: weekend pass 240 USD
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, also known as ‘Jazz Fest’, brings together jazz, blues, rock and much more in celebration of New Orleans’ heritage. Parades are held every half hour through the city from different cultural groups, while performers take to 14 different stages. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival curates one of the most diverse lineups in the country, mixing new and noteworthy artists with iconic bands to cater to all listeners: for 2023, big name chart toppers like Ed Sheeran, Lizzo, and Mumford & Sons combine with the soulful sounds of H.E.R and Leon Bridges. Dead & Company, a collective made up of John Mayer with former Grateful Dead band members, is set to perform on 6th May on the main festival stage.
Hangout Music Fest
When: 19-21 May
Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama
Price: weekend pass 443 USD
Hangout Music Fest is new to the festival scene but has managed to make waves with its heavy-hitting lineups. Set in Gulf Shores on the Alabama border with Florida, this beach side is combining the electronic beats of Calvin Harris and Flume with the indie sounds of The Backseat Lovers and Coin for 2023. In between sets, festival goers take part in sand volleyball, beach club parties, roller disco, and art exhibits. Unlike many festivals, re-entry is allowed, meaning you’re free to head out for a midday dip in the sea. Hangout offers beach vacation packages with local Gulf Shore hotel and condo options, which include a four-night stay, passes to the festival, and shuttle services for easy transportation.
When: 26-28 May
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
Price: weekend pass 360 USD
Foo Fighters, The Lumineers and Paramore will take the stage this Memorial Day weekend for Boston Calling. Harvard Athletic Complex has held Boston Calling since 2017, since expanding from City Hall Plaza, and has hosted some stellar lineups in that time, including rock legends Nine Inch Nails and Metallica appearing as headliners in 2022. For 2023, 20 out of the 50 acts are local to the Massachusetts area, demonstrating Boston Calling’s continued support of the local music scene. The festival offers four different ticket tiers, from general admission to platinum. For a more luxurious festival experience, consider buying the latter, which includes access to the platinum area, where a private viewing deck and a restaurant hosted by celebrity chefs can be enjoyed.
When: 26-28 May
Where: Napa Valley, California
Price: weekend pass 389 USD
Bottlerock is a music, food, wine and beer festival in the heart of wine country in the hills of Northern California. Big names attract 120,000 festival goers across the weekend each year. Post Malone, The Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lizzo are set to perform for the 2023 Memorial Day weekend. Bottlerock values sustainability by restricting single use plastics and placing water refill stations across the grounds. This festival is as much about the food and wine as the music: the gourmet lineup features a variety of vendors from local Bay Area establishments, and the William Sonoma culinary stage combines TV celebrity chefs such as Guy Fieri and Martha Stewart peforming artists at the festival, with a live cooking show in the middle of the food vendor lawn. Come for the weekend or just for the day – the festival is perfect for all ages and music tastes.
Governor’s Ball Festival
When: 9-10 June
Where: New York City, New York
Price: weekend pass 319-501 USD
New York’s Governors Ball, held on the second weekend of June, will take place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park for the first time this year. Situated in Queens, the park is easily accessible to city dwellers and out of towners. The festival has electronic, hip-hop, pop, and more from American and international artists, and this year’s lineup is no different, featuring Diplo, Omar Apollo, Odesza, and Kendrick Lamar. An excellent food and drink offering complements the music too: a host of New York City restaurants hold food stands at the festival, meaning you can sample the best of an NYC city break without leaving the party.
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
When: 15-18 June
Where: Manchester, Tennessee
Price: 428 USD 4 day pass / 217 USD 1 day pass
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival sits 60 miles from Nashville in Manchester, Tennessee. The 700 acre farm holds more than 150 acts over four days, and boasts a vintage market, art fair, 5K running race, and one of the largest brewery fests in the country. Bonnaroo proves Tennessee isn’t just about country music: 2023 will see Tyler Childers, Paramore, Hippo Campus, and Louis The Child perform. The campground village at Bonnaroo, called Outeroo, has yoga classes, disco dance floors, an intimate music tent, and its own saloon across nine plazas. VIP ticket holders receive even more benefits in the VIP Centeroo Lounge with misting fans and live feed TVs.
When: 22-24 June, 29 June-1 July, 6-8 July
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Price: 62 USD 3 day pass / 130 USD 6 day pass
One of the largest and best music festivals in the country, Summerfest has 12 stages of more than 600 artists held over three weekends in June and July, and is the perfect celebration of summer and music in the Midwest. Henry Maier Festival Park has continued to grow attendee numbers during its 50 year history, and now attracts 800,000 people each year for the wide variety of musical acts and carnival rides. James Taylor, Zac Brown Band, Earth Wind & Fire, and The War On Drugs can be seen this year at the amphitheatre and on the festival stages. It is important to note that the main shows at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater are bought separate from general admission.
When: 21-23 July
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Price: weekend pass 239 USD
Online media company Pitchfork curates a multitude of genres for this midsize festival in Union Park in the West Loop area of Chicago. The publication started the festival in 2007 to support new artists and build a community of music lovers. Phoebe Bridgers, HAIM and The National have performed in previous years with The Smile, Big Thief, and Bon Iver headlining this 2023 season. Pitchfork Plus passes give fans exclusive access to artist interviews as well as a private selection of local food and beverage vendors. The festival also holds a vinyl, craft, and poster fair on the grounds that supports independent vendors, which is well worth checking out while you’re there.
Newport Folk Festival
When: 28-30 July
Where: Newport, Rhode Island
Price: weekend pass 273 USD
On the coast of Rhode Island, The Newport Folk Festival has celebrated folk music since 1959. At first an extension of the Newport Jazz Festival, the now standalone folk festival has had legendary acts like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell grace the stage over the years. This year’s big names include Caamp, Maggie Rogers, and up and coming Noah Kahn, with more acts to be announced before the festival starts at the end of July. There is no camping onsite but festival guests are encouraged to camp at nearby grounds to support Rhode Island State Parks. The Newport Folk Festival works with the Newport Festival Foundation to support music education and local artists.
When: 3-6 August
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Price: 4 day pass 449 USD / 1 day 159 USD
Since 2005, Grant Park has hosted 400,000 people each year for Lollapalooza. The lakefront music experience is one to remember. There’s over 170 artists performing across the four-day schedule. The 2023 edition has Billie Eilish, The 1975, Fred Again.., and Lana Del Rey booked along with many other artists. Elevate your outfits at the many glamour tents with hair braiding stations, or relax with a drink in air conditioned beer tents. Chow Town holds numerous food stalls with cuisines from around the world provided by local vendors. Lollapalooza is one of the longest running American festivals, and a must-see event of the summer.
Outside Lands Music Festival
When: 11-13 August
Where: San Francisco, California
Price: weekend pass 508 USD
The Bay Area has an amazing lineup on its way for 2023’s Outside Lands Music Festival, with American rap legend Meghan Thee Stallion, German DJ Zedd, dream pop band Cigarettes After Sex, and British rock band Inhaler gracing the stages. Golden Gate Park has an array of activities to choose from in the heart of San Francisco: the SOMA tent blasts house music all weekend from various DJs, while Wine Land serves numerous vintages from local wine counties. If breweries are more your thing, Beer Land offers a selection of craft lagers and IPAs, while specialty cocktails and mocktails are mixed at Cocktail Magic for a tasty refreshment. Join people from all over the world to listen to music in the foggy city.
Life is Beautiful
When: 22-24 September
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
Price: weekend pass 462 USD / 1 day pass 188 USD
The Las Vegas strip turns into a music and arts block party every year for the Life Is Beautiful festival in September. The festival will celebrate its ten year anniversary in 2023 with rock act The Killers, hip-hop legend Kendirck Lamar, and EDM music duo Odesza taking the main stage. All three headliners have performed at the festival before among many influential music icons like Billie Eilish, Arctic Monkeys, and Green Day. Life Is Beautiful also boasts a range of theatre acts: festival attendees can see Cirque du Soleil performances and famous comedians. The neon electric SubOrbs block party, curated by art collective Meow Wolf, provides an immersive art experience. Check out the 18-block-long art gallery tailored by local artists featuring all kinds of mediums. There is no question why Life Is Beautiful won ‘Best Festival In The World’ by the BandLab NME awards in 2022.
Austin City Limits
When: 6-8 & 13-15 October
Where: Austin, Texas
Price: weekend pass 328 USD / 1 day pass 145 USD
Texas: the home of barbeque, country music, and Austin City Limits. From Paul McCartney to Childish Gambino, ACL puts on performances of all kinds. A slew of food truck catering can be found in the ACL Eats Food Court all from surrounding Austin favourites.The Craft Beer Hall, organised by Texas’s very own Karbach Brewing Co., has flatscreens and cold beers to drink under the shaded tent. Austin Kiddie Limits holds its own stage for kids to enjoy music and activities in a specialised space. Zilker Park closes out the festival season in the Texas fall heat with 420,000 in attendance each year. The lineup has yet to be announced but is expected to be as abundant as ever.