City Guide

The 19 Best Music Festivals in the U.S. to Add to Your Bucket List

By Cassandra Brooklyn | Jul 28, 2022
Crowd of people at one of the best music festivals in the U.S.

Music in America is as diverse as its residents, so those of us lucky enough to live (or travel) here have our pick of music festival fun across the good ol’ US of A. From dance parties in Las Vegas and hip-hop gatherings in New York to rock fests in Chicago, you’ll find music festivals both large and small scattered across the entire country that specialize in virtually every type of music imaginable.

And while there are plenty of festivals out there that cater to a single musical genre—say, punk or jazz—lovers of many types of music will appreciate multi-genre music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, which boast a diverse artist lineup including everything from rap and rock to techno and pop.

Whether you’re looking for a gigantic bucket-list music festival in big-city New York or Chicago or a small-town community concert series with a unique lineup, here are our picks for the best music festivals in the U.S.

The biggest music festivals in the U.S.

1. Coachella

Kicking off the music festival season each April is the world-famous Coachella music fest. The tiny town of Coachella, California, (two hours east of Los Angeles) swells each spring as about 750,000 people take over the desert during two consecutive three-day festival weekends. Tickets can sell out a year in advance, so if you want to see world-renowned acts like Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, or Doja Cat, start planning well in advance.

2. Summerfest

Not only is Summerfest one of the largest open-air music festivals in North America, but it’s also one of the largest music festivals in the world. It’s certainly the largest music festival in the United States and, as it started in 1968, it’s also one of the longest-running music festivals.

In late June of each year, about 800,000 festival-goers head to the Lake Michigan lakefront in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for Summerfest, a 10-day family-friendly celebration packed with A-list acts. Guests can catch small and large local and national acts with a day pass to the main festival grounds, but a separate ticket is needed for the mega acts at the amphitheater (think Snoop Dogg, Lionel Richie, and Rod Stewart).

3. Essence Festival

Also held during the Fourth of July weekend each year is Essence Festival, an R&B-focused festival where half a million soul and R&B music fans head to New Orleans for an all-star line-up featuring heavy hitters like Janet Jackson, En Vogue, and The Isley Brothers.

The best music festivals in the U.S. for rock music

1. Lollapalooza

Every year in late July, Chicago is thumping during the four-day Lollapalooza festival, where about 100,000 music lovers can enjoy nonstop music. Festival music skews toward rock (with everything from alt-rock to heavy metal) but also includes other genres like hip-hop and pop. Previous big-name acts include heavy metal hitters like Metallica, ’90s melodic punk bands like Green Day, and pop singer Dua Lipa.

2. Moondance Jam and Rocklahoma

Classic rock music fans would do well heading to the summer Moondance Jam music fest in Walker, Minnesota, (3.5 hours north of Minneapolis), while hard rock and heavy metal fans might prefer the September-held Rocklahoma music fest, 45 minutes from live music hub Tulsa or 2.5 hours from Oklahoma City.

The best music festivals in the U.S. for hip-hop and rap music

1. Governors Ball

Perhaps the most famous rap music festival in the country, Governors Ball is a star-studded June festival held at Citi Field (home of the New York Mets baseball team). This festival features big-name acts like A$AP Ferg, Kid Cudi, and Jack Harlow.

2. The Roots Picnic

Fans seeking hip-hop artists like Black Thought and Rick Ross and R&B artists like Mary J Blige and Musiq Soulchild should head to the City of Brotherly Love, where The Roots Picnic lights up Philadelphia the first weekend in June.

The best music festivals in the U.S. for electronic music

Electronic music and EDM-electronic dance music is a huge genre that includes techno, house, drum and bass, two-step/garage, down temp, and many more sub-genres so it’s no surprise that there are also a huge number of electronic music festivals across the country, including:

1. Movement

Detroit, Michigan is the hub of techno music, so you’ll find one of the biggest parties there at Movement, aka Detroit Electronic Music Festival, held over Memorial Day weekend.

2. Electric Forest

Electric Forest is another electronic-focused concert festival held in Michigan, but it’s held far from the city—in an actual forest! This festival is put on each June in Rothbury, Michigan, about 3.5 hours from either Detroit or Chicago.

3. Electric Daisy Carnival

Electric Daisy Carnival (often referred to as EDC Vegas) is the largest electronic music festival in the country, with 300,000 revelers flocking to Las Vegas Motor Speedway each May for electronic music, carnival rides, circus-style performances, and in true Vegas style, plenty of bright lights, glitz, and glam.

The best music festivals in the U.S. for jazz music

1. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

New Orleans is the epicenter of jazz in the United States so it’s no wonder that it hosts not just one of the country’s largest jazz music festivals, but one of the largest music festivals of any genre, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Each April and May, about half a million concert-goers head to what’s commonly known as “Jazz Fest”, for a 10-day music fest that cuts across genres with a well-curated list of up-and-coming acts and household names like Jimmy Buffet and Katy Perry. And, as this festival takes place in the Big Easy, you could almost consider it a food and music fest, as typical festival food like burgers and fries are replaced with authentic Creole cooking.

2. The Portland Jazz Festival and the Beale Street Festival

Other notable festivals within the genre, are the Portland Jazz Festival held in Oregon each February and the Beale Street Festival in Memphis each April.

The best music festivals in the U.S. for folk music

1. The Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Folk festival enthusiasts and bluegrass music lovers would do well heading to Telluride, Colorado (about six hours from Denver and Colorado Springs) in June, when the Telluride Bluegrass Festival takes over this sun-drenched mountain town that’s famous for skiing in the winter.

2. The Prairie Dog Blues Festival and the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival

If you’d prefer a slightly smaller music fest, head to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin for the Prairie Dog Blues Festival or to Morgantown, Indiana for the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival.

The best music festivals for art lovers

1. Burning Man

Burning Man is a once-in-a-lifetime festival dedicated to art, music, and wild self-expression that has grown in popularity (and in attendees) in recent years. Truly a bucket-list event, Burning Man qualifies as a mega-festival, not so much in terms of its overall attendance but in terms of its scope.

The festival’s 80,000 attendees are a fraction of the number of concert attendees that some of the previously mentioned music festivals receive. However, the fact that these 80,000 people are descending into the Black Rock desert (three hours north of Reno) each Labor Day for a fully self-sufficient two-week festival that brings in and packs out absolutely everything they’ll need for the non-stop party is truly incredible.

Burning Man attendees often describe the festival as life-changing, and as it is primarily an artistic festival, also expect to see unique, homemade costumes and elaborate art installations galore.

2. Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival

If you’re looking for a slightly smaller live art and music festival that won’t require a trip to the desert, the Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival is the polar opposite, where 30,000 or so music fans take over a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, (about an hour outside of Nashville) each July.

The genre-diverse lineup includes acts like Stevie Nicks, Tool, and J. Cole, and since Bonnaroo is also all about art, expect to find interactive art installations, exhibits, and an extensive arts marketplace.

Attend the country’s best music festivals by living with Landing

Having a hard time choosing which music festival you want to attend this year? Why not head to more than one! Landing offers fully furnished apartments in over 375 cities throughout the U.S., along with flexible leases that let you travel the country on your terms.

Landing’s network of fully furnished apartments can be the perfect home base while you make your way through the best music festivals in the U.S. Learn more about what a Landing membership can do for you today!

Cassandra Brooklyn

Cassandra is a freelance travel writer based in New York City with work appearing in The New York Times, National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, Fodor's, USA Today, and The Daily Beast, among other publications. She specializes in sustainable travel, adventure travel, and all things outdoors - hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, camping, and scuba diving. She's also the owner of EscapingNY, a small tour company and she leads tours in Cuba, Mexico, Jordan, and beyond.