Travel Agent

Q:

What Are This Summer’s Best Outdoor Music Festivals Not Named Bonnaroo?

May 2, 2014
Outside
Outside Magazine
OutsideOnline Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Missouri Columbia performance guitar stage

Jammin' at the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival.    Photo: Kelsey McClure/KDHX Community Media/Flickr

A:

Outdoor music festivals are becoming as much a part of the American summer as baseball games, barbecues, and mosquito bites. At them, you can enjoy space to move (and sometimes pitch a tent), natural scenery, tastes of the local food vendors, Frisbees flying, and the wafting scent of a burning leafy substance in the air. Then, of course, are the band performances themselves. Below are the top outdoor music festivals not named Bonnaroo for 2014—based on setting, vibe, and performers.

Sasquatch! Festival

OutsideOnline best summer music festival Sasquatch! Festival Washington Gorge Amphitheater
Quincy, Washington   Photo: Kimberly Lawson/Flickr

The dates: May 23-25

The scene: The centerpiece of this predominantly indie and alternative rock Memorial Day Weekend festival is a natural amphitheater carved into basalt cliffs that peer onto the Columbia River, about 150 miles west of Seattle.

Headline acts: Outkast, Violent Femmes, Super Geek League, The National, Chance the Rapper

Camping? Yes, included in the 3-day, $325 pass.

Firefly

OutsideOnline best summer music festival Firefly Delaware Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros stage
Wilmington, Delaware   Photo: Courtesy of The Triangle

The dates: June 29-22

The scene: The setting for Firefly is surprisingly pastoral, considering lies on the same recreational complex as the Dover International Speedway in Delaware. There are seven stages, including the main stage, that feature more than 70 bands over four days. The festival also has an arcade and a booth for buying a customized pair of Toms shoes. 

Headline acts: Foo Fighters, Jack Johnson, The Lumineers, Beck

Camping? Pitching a tent there will cost $149 on top of the $299 for a four-day admission pass, and an RV is $299. You can also rent a luxury air conditioned tent, equipped with cots and blankets, and a power source, for $699.

Governors Ball

OutsideOnline Governors Ball New York food truck music festival Randall's Island
New York, New York   Photo: kowarski/Flickr

The dates: June 6-8

The scene: First held three years ago on Governor’s Island, the Governors Ball has quickly become New York City’s prime summer music event—though it now takes place on Randall’s Island, between Manhattan and Queens on the East River. Its natural setting removes you from the physical aspects of the city, but its gourmet food trucks make sure you never leave New York’s culture behind.

Headline acts: Outkast, Jack White, Vampire Weekend

Camping? No. Your three-day admission for $230 allows you to come and go—by car, boat, train, or foot. 

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival

OutsideOnline Outside Lands Music and Arts Fe San Francisco skull painted
San Francisco, California   Photo: Peter Lockwood/Flickr

The dates: August 8-10

The scene: By far the most scenic urban music festival in the country, Outside Lands is held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, attracting roughly 50,000 attendees a day. The 70 bands who perform over its three days are only part of the attraction—as more than 50 local restaurants and 11 food trucks sell samplings of their menus there, and artists from across the area show off their skills through live painting and art installations.

Headline acts: Kanye West, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Killers

Camping? No.

Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival

OutsideOnline Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Missouri Columbia string grass performance
Columbia, Missouri   Photo: Kelsey McClure/KDHX Community Media/Flickr

The dates: September 26-28

The scene: Only in its eighth year in the college town of Columbia, Missouri, the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival has already become the blue ribbon outdoor celebration of blues, gospel, bluegrass, and folk music. More than 30 acts perform on the amphitheater stage at grassy Stephens Lake Park, and the barbecue is dished out by vendors from around the country.

Headline acts: The Avett Brothers, John Prine, Trampled by Turtles, Rosanne Cash

Camping? No.

Filed To: Travel, DIY Trips, Road Trips, San Francisco, Delaware, Missouri, New York City, Washington

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