The Biggest Music Festivals Happening in the US This Summer
Summer is approaching, and you know what that means… Summer music festivals! After two years of the pandemic cancelling festivals, they are set to make a return this summer, and here at www.turntablelive.com, we’re going to give you the inside scoop on the biggest and best festival happening in the United States this year. At this point, practically every city in the United States has at least one big music festival every year, and in some places, there are multiple music festival happening this festival season. You’ve probably noticed that the music festival has changed quite a bit over the last decade or two, with festivals being more niche oriented, more comfortable, and much much bigger in terms of the variety of acts and activities they offer. Since we can’t cover every music festival happening this year in this blog post, we’re going to focus on the biggest music festivals in the US in 2022. As of this writing, some big festivals have already come and gone. Thinking of going to Coachella this year? You’re already too late. But worry not! There are still plenty of opportunities to see your favorite artists on the festival circuit this year. At this point, it feels like there are two basic types of festival: The ones with every kind of music under the sun, and ones that are more focused on a specific genre. We’re going to cover the best of both in this post. But you might be wondering, what is the biggest music festival in the US by attendance? While you might assume the most attended festival in the whole world is Coachella, considering it spans two weekends, Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin typically draws over 800,000 fans annually. If you want to talk about the biggest music festival in the world, you need to visit Donauinselfest in Vienna, Austria where the attendance is roughly 3 million people! So, let’s talk about the biggest music festivals in the US in 2022, where they are, and who is playing this year. We’re going to look at the biggest rock festivals in the US as well as the biggest electronic festivals in the US.
Held annually in Chicago’s Grant Park, Lollapalooza spans four days from July 28th to July 31st, 2022. Lollapalooza started life back in the early 1990s as a festival showcasing more independent and up and coming artist, but it has since morphed into an “everything under the sun” festival that features artist from across the musical spectrum. This year’s headliners include Metallica, Lil Baby, Billy Strings, Green Day, Dua Lipa, and Jane’s Addiction. That’s a pretty wide range of today’s (and yesterday’s) biggest acts. This diversity of musical genres is one of the reasons why Lollapalooza has cemented itself as one of the biggest music festivals in the US every year. There is truly something for everyone.
Tickets to Lollapalooza can be purchased in a variety of different ways. If you are a local, and you are only interested in seeing a single day of the fest, you can purchase single day tickets for General Admission ($125/day), General Admission + ($225/day), VIP ($500/day), or Platinum ($2000/day).
So, you might be wondering what you get for the different price levels. Regular general admission is basically what you would expect. You get to attend the festival, and you have the option of buying food and drinks from over thirty-five different restaurants. GA+ gives you access to some shade, private restrooms, and an upgraded bar. VIP offers fans elevated viewing platforms, a dedicated VIP entrance to the fest, and shuttles between different Lolla Lounges. The Platinum ticket give you all of that plus deluxe platinum lounges, better viewing angles of the stages, complimentary spa treatments, and concierge service. It’s not cheap, but it’s a great way to experience the festival and relax at the same time.
Pitchfork Music Festival
An offshoot of the popular Pitchfork website, this fest is smaller and more focused on independent acts from around the world. Despite its size, Pitchfork has an amazingly diverse list of performers from all kinds of different genres. This year’s acts include The National, Spiritualized, Parquet Courts, Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, Lucy Dacus, and The Roots. While it’s not the biggest music festival in the US by attendance, it draws a big crowd and an even bigger crowd to its real-time live stream that can be viewed anywhere in the world. Tickets can be purchased for single days ($99) or for the full three day fest ($200).
Electric Daisy Carnival
When it comes to the biggest electronic festival in the US, the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas reigns supreme. It’s also one of the biggest music festivals in the US, period. For three days and nights, the Las Vegas motor speedway is lit up with an immersive lighting and sound experience that leaves concert goers in awe. The 2022 lineup is a who’s who of EDM talent including Zedd, Armin van Buuren, A-Trak, and Tiesto. Unfortunately, general admission and GA+ tickets are already sold out for 2022, but VIP tickets are still available for ($779). So, if you want to spend an entire weekend dancing in the desert, check out EDC.
Austin City Limits Festival
The Austin City Limits Festival was once known for showcasing mostly country and roots artists, but over the last couple of decades they’ve branched out into rock, hip hop, and pop which has attracted a wider audience. Unlike EDC which focuses mostly on EDM, ACL Fest is about showcasing the true diversity of music these days. Like Coachella, demand for tickets to ACL Fest has expanded the festival from one three-day weekend to two weekends, each featuring the same acts. This year ACL Fest will be held October 7-9 and 14-16. As of now, the lineup has not yet been announced, but tickets are already available for preorder for the low price of $25 to hold your place. As with many of the festival we’re discussing, ACL Fest also tries to showcase as much local food as possible. Since Austin is known for being one of the best cities in the world for barbecue, you will find dozens of different options for authentic Texas barbecue, as well as beer, wine, and craft cocktails.
These days, many festivals are about a lot more than music. In the old days, some of the biggest music festivals in US history didn’t even offer food and drinks, but today, the experience is very different. Nowhere is this more obvious that Napa, California’s Bottlerock Festival, which combines a weekend of music with gourmet food and lots of local wine. This year, Bottlerock features headliners Metallica, Pink, Twenty-One Pilots, Luke Combs, and The Black Crows. While Bottlerock was initially geared toward an older audience, recent years have seen them integrate more younger artists to attract a more diverse audience. This tactic has worked, and Bottlerock has grown into one of the biggest music festivals in the US in a very short time. If you’re interested in attending, you’d better act fast because Bottlerock is coming up at the end of May 2022, and tickets are selling fast. Sunday general admission tickets and three-day tickets are already sold out, but single day general admission tickets are still available for Friday and Saturday.
The Governor’s Ball Music Festival
The Governor’s Ball Music Festival has become a mainstay on the music festival circuit in recent years and features an eclectic mix of pop, rock, hip hop, and folk performers. This year’s fest takes things in a decidedly more hip-hop direction with headliners including Kid Cudi, J. Cole, Halsey, Migos, and Flume. In total, more that sixty bands will perform on four stages over the course of one weekend from June 10-12, 2022. Traditionally this fest has been held on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor, but this year they have moved the fest the Citi Field in Queens. Tickets are currently on sale, and both one day passes and three-day passes are still available.
Life Is Beautiful Festival
Another festival that makes its home in Las Vegas, the Life is Beautiful Festival is less EDM-centric than EDC and features a variety of different artists over the course of three days from September 16-18 in downtown Las Vegas. Like many other festivals, Life is Beautiful offers the option to purchase single day tickets as well as weekend passes, and tickets are still available for both general admission and VIP experiences. As with many festivals these days, you won’t just find music. Life is Beautiful also features a lineup of comedians and live podcasts. Additionally, the restaurants on the Las Vegas strip get into the game by offering dozens of different food and drink options from some of the most interesting and innovative restaurants in town. And if you need a break from the fest, you can always spend some time walking around downtown Las Vegas because that’s where all of the action takes place. Twelve city blocks are dedicated to the festival, and you can easily access hotels and casinos right from the festival grounds.
Boston Calling Festival
Another Memorial Day festival, Boston Calling features a wide range of acts from current pop stars to classic rock favorites. Sadly, this is one of many festivals this summer that will no longer feature Foo Fighters as a headliner following the tragic passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins. Industrial icons Nine Inch Nails will take their place, and fellow headliners include The Strokes and Metallica. While the headliners of Boston Calling skew heavily towards rock, there are plenty of other offerings as well including: Run the Jewels, Rufus Du Sol, Black Pumas, and Paris Jackson. Indie rock fans will want to turn out to see Cheap Trick, Weezer, Modest Mouse, and Avril Lavigne. Tickets for single days, two-day passes, and three-day passes are still available and start at $149/day.
Known for bringing together today’s most diverse lineup of acts, Bonnaroo returns this year after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. This year, Bonnaroo will regain its status as one of the biggest music festivals in the US with a fantastic lineup featuring artists from the classic rock era up to today. The weekend starts out with headliners J. Cole, The Chicks, and Illenium, but you can also catch performances by Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) & Allison Krause, Disclosure, and The War on Drugs.
Saturday brings metal gods Tool as well as Flume and 21 Savage, as well as the modern country picker Billy Strings.
Stevie Nicks caps off the festival on Sunday night with fellow headliners Machine Gun Kelly and Roddy Ricch in the festival’s most eclectic day of performances.
Bonnaroo is also famous for its after-hours scene which kicks off after the headliners have finished and goes late into the night with performers from all days playing at smaller, more intimate venues.
Firefly Music Festival
Held annually near Dover, Delaware, the Firefly Music Festival is a newer festival that attempts to cover the whole musical spectrum in a single weekend. Firefly also features something that is starting to become more and more rare at US-based festivals: camping. Camping was once a staple of the music festival experience, but as festivals have moved into city centers, camping isn’t as common as it once was. At the end of this post, we’ll include a quick guide to festival camping, and all of the essentials you need to bring if you decide you want to camp.
For 2022, Firefly returns with a really diverse lineup, and a list of headliners that covers just about every genre in popular music. Weezer, The Kid Leroi, Big Sean, Zedd, Porter Robinson, and Gunna are headlining this year, but the roster also includes indie favorites like the Head and the Heart, Bleachers, and Manchester Orchestra.
As with many festivals these days, Firefly offers a variety of options when it comes to buying tickets. Unlike most festivals, however, Firefly does not offer single day tickets. The basic ticket package starts at $299 for all three days, but VIP and Super VIP packages are also available and include various amenities not included in the standard three-day pass. Firefly also offers a very exclusive (and quite expensive at $7,499) which allows you to stay at the posh Bally’s Dover Casino and Resort instead of camping or making other accommodations.
Desert Daze Festival
The Desert Daze Festival is held in Lake Perris, California, about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles, and unlike many festivals, it doesn’t try to be all things to all people. Instead, Desert Daze tends to focus more on independent and somewhat psychedelic acts, and the festival has a reputation for being a trippy good time. So far, the promoters of Desert Daze 2022 have not yet announced their lineup, but past lineups have included such artists as: The War on Drugs, Toro Y Moi, Devendra Banhart, The Flaming Lips, Stereolab, Ween, and Animal Collective.
At this point, you can sign up to be on the waitlist for all information about this year’s fest, including info about the lineup and how to buy passes.
If you choose to camp at a festival instead of booking an Air BnB (or they’re all already booked), there are a few things to keep in mind before heading to the fest. Obviously, you will need a tent, but the first thing you should do before packing your bags is to check the festival’s website to see what kinds of amenities they offer their campers. Some fests offer more than others and knowing what to expect before you go can save you a lot of stress so that you can enjoy the festival.
In the past, even some of the biggest music festivals in US history didn’t offer much of anything in the way of creature comforts. Woodstock, for example, didn’t even officially offer food to attendees. These days, the biggest festivals in the US usually offer lots of food and drink options, and some, like the Firefly Fest offer campers permanent shower facilities. The important thing to do is to check all of this out before you go so you know what to expect.
In addition to a tent, make sure to pack extra clothes. When we say extra clothes, we mean more clothes than you think you will need. Festivals can be rainy, which means they can be muddy, and having to spend a couple of days in wet, muddy clothes is no fun when you just want to enjoy a weekend of music with your friends. Bring at least two pairs of socks and underwear for each day of the fest. Bring lots of sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. Summer festivals can feature some weird weather, and you want to make sure you are prepared for anything that might happen. Flashlights are also a great idea in case you need to find your way in the dark.
Depending on where your festival is located, bug spray is a good idea, especially when camping. Also make sure to pack simple medications like Tylenol and Advil for those morning headaches after a night of late-night partying.
At www.turntablelive.com we are music’s social network, and we want to make sure you are prepared for the return of music festivals this summer. We’re all about helping you share your music with your friends, and one of the best ways to do that is by checking out music festivals. Our goal is to give you all the information you need in order to have a great time sharing music with friends this summer and beyond!