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2016’s 31 Hottest Country Tours and Festivals

From Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan’s stadium treks to Stagecoach and CMA Music Festival

Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney's Spread the Love Tour will be one of summer's biggest tickets.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

As 2016 gets fully into gear, there will be myriad opportunities to catch one or more country stars on the road. From superstars Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan to touring vets like Lee Brice and hot indie performers like Jason Isbell, there is something to please every taste. For maximum bang for the buck, there are also countless multi-day gatherings that package together top-tier talent on one bill, such as country's homecoming party CMA Music Festival in June. Here's the 31 must-see tours and festivals.

Miranda Lambert

DOVER, DE - JUNE 27: Musician Miranda Lambert performs onstage during day 2 of the Big Barrel Country Music Festival on June 27, 2015 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Big Barrel)

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

C2C Country to Country

Location: London, Glasgow, Dublin

Dates: March 11th — 13th

Headliners: Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Eric Church

Why You Should Go: We may think of country music as mainly the province of the U.S., but the genre has experienced exploding popularity overseas and this U.K. festival — held over three days in London, Glasgow and Dublin with offshoots in Sweden and Norway — has become the premiere showcase for superstars, up-and-comers like Andrew Combs and Maddie and Tae, and legacy acts like Dwight Yoakam. For country fans who've always wanted to travel to the U.K., this is a bloody good reason to head across the pond.

Tickets: Much of the event is sold out with daily and weekend packages varying from £45 to 422.50.

Zac Brown Band

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 10: Zac Brown perfroms at KFC YUM! Center on December 10, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images)

Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images

Southern Ground Music & Food Festival

Location: Charleston, South Carolina

Dates: April 16th — 17th

Headliners: Zac Brown Band

Why You Should Go: Zac Brown's delicious two-day event highlights Charleston's remarkable food scene with an equally remarkable lineup. Music for this hybrid event includes Cam, Hunter Hayes, Marshall Tucker Band, Thomas Rhett, Kacey Musgraves and others. As is the Southern Ground tradition, the Zac Brown Band plays a "Super Set" at the end of each night, with other headliners from the lineup coming in to jam. It's all good, but the Super Set is the kind of thing you'll tell your grandkids about.

Tickets: $115 — $666

John Prine

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 03: Singer/songwriter John Prine performs at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass at Golden Gate Park on October 3, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic)

Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic

John Prine

Dates: January 29th through June 16th 

Why You Should Go: John Prine may have been suffering from cancer in recent years, but it hasn't kept the folk troubadour off the road for long. Known for shows that often push well past the two-hour mark, he's a wizard at balancing the heartbeat of a performance — softly fluttering one moment with ballads like "Sam Stone" and racing towards redemption with "Sweet Revenge" and "Please Don't Bury Me" the next. The luckiest will get to see him with opener Iris Dement, who will hopefully join Prine on stage to revive their classic raunchy love-struck duet "In Spite of Ourselves."

Tickets: $49.50 – $79.50

Jake Owen

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Route 91 Harvest Festival

Location: Las Vegas

Dates: September 30th – October 2nd

Headliners: TBA

Why You Should Go: Most people come to Las Vegas to gamble on the high life, but as far as jam-packed country festivals go, this one is a pretty sure bet. Sin City is all about larger-than-life moments, and Route 91 lives up to the promise with a big lineup (last year boasted party-appropriate Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen and Keith Urban), a supercharged experience like 2015's onsite beach house and carnival rides, and plenty of opportunities to hit the craps tables between sets. Country's been a new king in Vegas of late, hosting the ACMs and boasting superstar residencies from Reba to Shania Twain. Route 91's a rowdy celebration of just how well blackjack and Jack Daniels go together.

Tickets: TBA

Lee Brice

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 22: Lee Brice performs at The Fillmore Detroit in support of his All 50 States in 52 Weeks Tour on October 22, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)

Scott Legato/Getty Images

Lee Brice and Tyler Farr

Dates: February 4th – April 23rd

Why You Should Go: The Life Off My Years Tour pairs longtime friends Lee Brice and Tyler Farr, which should be one of the year's rowdiest live music offerings at a bargain price. Brice and Farr excel at belting sincere ballads, but both have an energetic performance style derived from Garth Brooks' arena-sized presentation that should keep the momentum rolling. Speaking of Brooks, Brice's set typically includes his from-the-gut version of the G-man's Number One "More Than a Memory" and Eli Young Band's "Crazy Girl," in addition to his own hits like "Hard to Love" and "I Drive Your Truck."

Tickets: $31.75 – $41.75

Old Dominion

MANHATTAN, KS - JUNE 25: Trevor Rosen and Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion perform at Kicker Country Stampede Manhattan, Kansas - Day 1 on June 25, 2015 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Kicker Country Stampede)

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Old Dominion

Dates: January 20th – September 3rd

Why You Should Go: Old Dominion will spend the bulk of their summer with Kenny Chesney on his Spread the Love Tour, but in between they'll headline their own club shows. While the Chesney slot will put them in front of the most eyes, it's the close quarters of sweaty bars where the band best shines. With cuts from their debut album Meat & Candy, like the hit "Break Up With Him" and new single "Snapback," along with songs they wrote for country A-listsers from Chesney to Blake Shelton, Old Dominion certainly have an impressive catalog — but it's their energy and everyguy charisma that makes them a must-see.

Tickets: $18 – $25

Florida Georgia Line

John Shearer/Getty Images

Windy City LakeShake

Location: Chicago

Dates: June 17th – June 19th

Headliners: TBA

Why You Should Go: Despite its powerhouse country station US 99.5 and funky club Joe's on Weed Street, Chicago isn't necessarily known for its country music scene, but as LakeShake returns for a second year, that may change. The epic views of both Lake Michigan and the city from Chicago's Northerly Island, combined with a giant inflatable slide, a boathouse and carnival rides were awesome in 2015, as was the lineup: Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line and Brad Paisley. The 2016 lineup has yet to be released, but expect an equally strong roster.

Tickets: TBA


Courtesy Birthplace of Country Music Nonprofit

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion

Location: Bristol, Tennessee

Dates: September 16th – 18th

Headliners: TBA

Why You Should Go: Tiny Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia (the state line runs through town) is considered by many to live up to its nickname of "The Birthplace of Country Music," thanks to the 1927 Bristol Sessions that were recorded here. Bristol Rhythm and Roots is a music festival held in that same spot, now managed by the Birthplace of Country Music nonprofit, which also manages the local Birthplace of Country Music Museum and Radio Bristol. There are 20 stages on the historic city's closed streets, making it easy to sample. With names like John Anderson, Josh Ritter and Mike Farris on last year's line-up, there's ample opportunity to dig deep into bluegrass, country, roots and Appalachian mountain music.

Tickets: weekend passes start at $60

Kacey Musgraves

AUSTIN, TX - DECEMBER 31: Singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves performs in concert at ACL Live on December 31, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)

Rick Kern/WireImage

Bunbury Music Festival & Buckle Up

Location: Cincinnati

Dates: June 3rd — June 5th

Headliners: TBA

Why You Should Go: Historically, Cincinnati has hosted two summer music fests, Buckle Up, which was all country (think: Willie Nelson, Marty Stuart, Emmy Lou Harris) and Bunbury, which was everything but. In 2015 the two were combined, offering a well-organized riverfront festival where Kacey Musgraves played one of her best shows of the year, along with a host of other acts, including Old Crow Medicine Show and Shakey Graves on well-spaced stages. This was a music fest for grown-ups, with decent food, decent drink, decent sightlines and enthusiastic acts. The festivals will be separate again in 2016, enabling Buckle Up to offer more country than it could as part of Bunbury, plus camping, so you can immerse yourself in the experience. Lineups have not yet been released for either festival. Buckle Up dates and ticket prices are still forthcoming.

Tickets: For Bunbury, starting at $135

Dwight Yoakum

CENTURY CITY, CA - AUGUST 08: Musician Dwight Yoakam performs onstage during the Annenberg Foundation and KCRW's 'Sound In Focus' Concert Series, with Dwight Yoakam and X at Annenberg Space For Photography on August 8, 2015 in Century City, California. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images for Annenberg Foundation)

Chris Weeks/Getty Images

Big Barrel Country Music Festival

Update: According to a statement on the festival's website, the event has since been canceled. No further details were available, but full refunds will be provided. 

Location: Dover, Delaware

Dates: June 24th — 26th

Headliners: Brad Paisley, Sam Hunt, Eric Church, along with Hank Williams Jr., Martina McBride, Kristian Bush and more

Why You Should Go: Delaware is a hotbed for country music, and this festival, held on the site of the eclectic rock Firefly Festival, boasts an especially varied lineup for fans in the DelMarVa area. Paisley, Hunt and Church bring radio hits and their own unique personalities as headliners, with an impressive allotment of country vets scattered about the weekend in Hank Williams Jr., Martina McBride, Mark Chesnutt and Dwight Yoakam. Jason Isbell is also on the bill, lending an air of Americana to the decidedly twangy proceedings.

Tickets: $149 for a general admission pass

Thomas Rhett

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 01: Musician Thomas Rhett performs at the 10th anniversary "Miles & Music" concert on November 1, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)

John Shearer/Getty Images


Update: According to a statement on the festival's website, the second annual FarmBorough has been canceled. Information on refunds can be found here.

Location: New York City

Dates: June 17th – 19th

Headliners: TBA

Why You Should Go: Last year was FarmBorough's first rodeo, which transformed New York's Randall's Island into the home of this major-league country festival, which hosted everyone from marquee names like Luke Bryan and Brad Paisley to then up-and-comers Chris Stapleton and Maddie & Tae. And despite some unseasonable downpours, 2015's inaugural run was a thrilling, if not very wet, display of talent and twang both old and new — and solid proof of the Big Apple's growing taste for all things southern. This year's lineup has yet to be announced, but expect to see a diverse representation of the genre including both indie kings and mainstream crooners.

Tickets: TBA

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