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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.
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.
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.
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
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
Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival
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
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