10 Best Annual Music Festivals in America
These epic concerts are only thrown once a year for a reason—they’re the ten best annual music festivals America has to offer.
- Warped Tour. Almost every rock band who has toured over the last decade has paid their dues on this often grueling summer tour. The Bouncing Souls, MXPX, and Flogging Molly are all Warped Tour veterans, as are newer acts like Paramore, The All-American Rejects, and Boys Like Girls. With more than 40 dates across the country, this rock circus is one of the best annual summer tours in America.
- Coachella. Indie and alt rockers unite at this three-day music festival in the middle of the desert in Indio, California. Officially founded in 1999 with acts like Beck, Tool and The Chemical Brothers, the festival has featured The Killers, The Ting Tings and Paul McCartney in recent years. Tip: Bring your outdoorsy side. Camping out on the grounds adjacent to the concert is encouraged.
- CMJ Music Festival. Each fall, more than 1,000 new and “undiscovered” bands of all genres are invited to perform over five days in more than 75 venues across New York City, New York as part of the annual CMJ (College Music Journal) Festival. These shows serve as “showcase performances,” and it’s common for bands to be get signed after playing a CMJ show for fans and lurking record execs alike. Past acts include Nirvana, Weezer, R.E.M., Coheed & Cambria and MGMT. Head to this annual week-long festival if you're looking to say you saw so-and-so way back when.
- Bonnaroo. Camping in tents and RVs is all part of the experience at this four-day music festival, which takes place on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee every June. Contemporary music reigns here, and past “Rooers” have been treated to an array of acts including Bonnie Raitt, Dave Matthews Band, Norah Jones, Passion Pit, Nine Inch Nails, The Roots, and The White Stripes. The lineup is long, the vibe is peaceful, and though the dirt is plentiful, there are showers on site for $7 a pop.
- Sasquatch. Music meets nature at this three day festival, which is held in the infamously gorgeous outdoor amphitheater The Gorge in George, Washington. Revelers enjoy lawn seating for an eclectic mix of rock, hip hop, and electropop each year, and many camp out to not only enjoy the music, but the mountain and river views, too.
- South by Southwest. This Austin, Texas festival is an annual music industry event for people on both sides of the mic. For five days in March, approximately 80 venues open their doors to more than 2,000 performers. In addition to shows—there are famous speakers, discussion panels, networking events and trade shows. Don't worry, the average music fan is welcome, too.
- The Bamboozle. Rock acts reign at The Bamboozle, which is hosted by three major cities each spring—East Rutherford, New Jersey, Anaheim, California and Chicago, Illinois. Jimmy Eat World, No Doubt, The Bravery and Every Time I Die have taken this stage, and occasionally hip hop and pop artists like Drake and Ke$ha will perform special sets, too. Tip: The warm spring temperatures drop drastically after sunset, so pack a jacket!
- Z100’s Jingle Ball. Drawing the most enthusiastic pop music & idol-worshippers, Z100's Jingle Ball takes place at the beginning of December. Plenty of top-40 radio stations host annual concerts, so why does this one stick out? It takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York, where fans are met with just as much glitz, glamour and larger-than-life personas outside the venue as they are inside.
- Ozzfest. Thrown by the poster-child for heavy metal, Ozzy Osbourne, this annual tour delivers hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Hatebreed, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, and of course, Black Sabbath. With more than 20 dates each summer, fans all across the country gather, head bang, and scream along.
- CMA Music Festival. What better place to hold an annual country music fest than Nashville, Tennessee, and who better to throw it than the Country Music Association? This four-day festival formerly known as Fan Fair consistently books the hottest country acts. Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley have all taken the CMA stage in the past.
Posted on: Feb. 28, 2010