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Summer 2015’s 50 Must-See Music Festivals

From Jazzfest to Electric Daisy Carnival and beyond, a guide to the season’s biggest and loudest bashes

Music Festivals

This summer boasts some of the biggest, loudest and most unique music festivals, from Jazzfest to Electric Daisy Carnival and beyond.

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Looking for a weekend when you can relax with your family, rave with your friends or just hang out and listen to some of your favorite artists? No matter what you like or where you live, this summer almost certainly has a festival for you. Just as, say, Midwestern techno fans can find their rhythm at Detroit's Movement, rural New Englanders can vibe off alt-country and marvel at hot balloons from the grass of Western Massachusetts' Green River. But what if you're a nu-metal diehard stuck in western Quebec? Then Amnesia Rockfest has you covered. Below are the 50 summer festivals we're most excited about, from local events like the aforementioned to international travel destinations such as ATP Iceland and Primavera Sound.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Trombone Shorty

Trombone Shorty commands Jazzfest.

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New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

When: April 24th-26th, April 30th-May 3rd

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana

Why Go: No city in the South has a richer cultural and musical heritage than the Big Easy, the birthplace of jazz, chicory café au laits and crawfish everything. Toss in a slew of internationally renowned blues, R&B, hip-hop and gospel musicians, plus Native American pow wows and a minimum of four parades per day, and you've got the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. This gloriously diverse celebration of Louisiana culture can't be recreated anywhere else, and you won't find many other lineups that bring together No Doubt, Buddy Guy and the Who.

Must-See Acts: No Doubt, Ryan Adams, Elton John, Wilco, Sturgill Simpson, the Meters, Big Freedia, Kermit Ruffins Tribute to Louis Armstrong, Juvenile and Mannie Fresh, Galactic, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band, Hozier, Ed Sheeran, T.I.

Official Site: nojazzfest.com

Shaky Knees Music Festival

Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeroes performs during the 2nd Annual Shaky Knees Music Festival at Atlantic Station on May 11, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Shaky Knees Music Festival

When: May 8th-10th

Where: Atlanta, Georgia

Why Go: Atlanta's Central Park might not be the most exotic location, but this relatively new event includes a strong lineup of both festival regulars (Mac DeMarco) and creative bookings (Social Distortion), along with up-and-comers like Nashville's Blank Range and neo-outlaw Nikki Lane. And as anyone whose ever spent double-digits on a soggy Sunday corn dog can tell you, it's a big plus that the midtown location puts you within walking distance of local food trucks and great barbeque.

Must-See Acts: The Strokes, Mastodon, Mac DeMarco, TV on the Radio, Pixies, Blank Range, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Mountain Goats, Social Distortion, Wilco, Nikki Lane, Tame Impala, Ryan Adams, James Blake, Interpol

Official Site: shakykneesfestival.com

Austin Psych Fest

Atmosphere during Day 1 of Austin Psych Fest at Carson Creek Ranch on May 2, 2014 in Austin, Texas.

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Austin Psych Fest

When: May 8th-10th

Where: Austin, Texas

Why Go: Leaving enough time to recover from the maelstrom that was SXSW, Austin keeps it weird with the annual Psych Fest, held at Carson Creek Ranch. This year's lineup suggests that freaks of all generations are welcome, spanning 50 years of psychedelic excellence. 13th Floor Elevators and the Jesus and Mary Chain headline, but don't miss contemporary local greats like Tele Novella. If you can spare $274 and endure the brutal pollen count, weekend admission with a camping pass is the way to go.

15 Must-See Acts: 13th Floor Elevators, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Melody's Echo Chamber, Mac DeMarco, the Soft Moon, Lightning Bolt, Health, Metz, Fat White Family, Föllakzoid, Las Robertas, White Fence, Tele Novella, Spiritualized, Primal Scream

Official Site: austinpsychfest.com

Rock in Rio

Fans celebrate during a concert in the Rock in Rio Festival on September 13, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The festival will be held in Las Vegas in 2015.

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Rock in Rio USA

When: May 8th-9th, May 15th-16th

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

Why Go: Previously hosted in Brazil, Portugal and Spain, the carnivalesque Rock in Rio makes its U.S. debut this year in our most carnivalesque city. Rockers and pop fans get two separate weekends, with EDM and indie stages thrown in for good measure, but we assume there will be equal distribution of pyrotechnics. Oh, and in conjunction with the Cirque du Soleil, this year's fest boasts a flying DJ table and a 400-foot zip line that shoots your body across the crowd.

Must-See Acts: Rock Weekend: Sepultura, Metallica, the Pretty Reckless, Linkin Park, Deftones, No Doubt, Coheed & Cambria, Of Mice and Men. Pop Weekend: Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Empire of the Sun, Charli XCX, Whitney Fierce.

Official Site: rockinrio.com/usa

Hangout Music Festival, Diarrhea Planet

Hodan Dickie of Diarrhea Planet performs during the 2014 Hangout Music Festival on May 17, 2014 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

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Hangout Music Fest

When: May 15th-May 17th

Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama

Why Go: Perched on the Gulf of Mexico's white-sand shores, Hangout doesn't try to be serious. Why bother, when everyone is either topless (him) or in a bikini (in most cases, her)? Imagine a super-charged MTV Beach House with acts like the Foo Fighters, Jenny Lewis and Skrillex playing to a crowd pushing a day-long sun buzz, all looking for a good excuse to raise one more margarita toward to the sky.  

Must-See Acts: Foo Fighters, Sam Smith, Beck, My Morning Jacket, Spoon, Jenny Lewis, Sylvan Esso, Father John Misty, Zac Brown Band, Skrillex, Paramore, Houndmouth, Jeff the Brotherhood, Future Islands, Major Lazer

Official Site: hangoutmusicfest.com

Outkast, Counterpoint Festival

Andre 3000 and Big Boi of Outkast perform onstage during the 2014 Counterpoint Festival at Kingston Downs on April 27, 2014 in Rome, Georgia.

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CounterPoint Music and Arts Festival

When: May 22nd-24th

Where: Kingston Downs, Georgia

Why Go: Held on 5,000 acres near the Etowah River, CounterPoint keeps costs low by booking a tight lineup of dance, rock and funk. Expect the Roots to bring all three, and enter the "Sunday Summer Vibes" Stage at your own risk.

15 Must-See Acts: The Roots, Zedd, Umphrey's McGee, Travis Scott, ILoveMakonnen, Cherub, Lunice, Widespread Panic, RL Grime, Dillon Francis, Knife Party, Zeds Dead, Kygo, Chet Faker, Joe Russo's Almost Dead

Official Site: counterpointfestival.com

Summer Camp

Summer Camp

Summer Camp Music Festival via YouTube

Summer Camp Music Festival

When: May 22nd-24th

Where: Chillicothe, Illinois

Why Go: Summer Camp is ground zero for the kind of crossover that only makes sense in hindsight. Here, trance-inducing jam bands roll on alongside trance-indebted EDM acts, and come Sunday night, the planet is a tiny bit chiller than it had been on Friday morning. Headliners Umphrey's McGee and Moe. each play five sets – catch 'em all, Pokémon-style.

Must-See Acts: Umphrey's McGee, Moe., Steve Miller Band, Widespread Panic, Krewella, Violent Femmes, Griz, Paul Oakenfold, Big Gigantic, Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, Keller Williams and Grateful Grass, A-Trak, Joe Russo's Almost Dead, Trampled by Turtles, Ween

Official Site: summercampfestival.com


Joey Timmer


When: May 22nd-25th

Where: Bethel, New York

Why Go: Rain and a series of tech glitches put a damper on last year's Mysteryland, but everyone is hopeful the kinks have been worked out by now. This might be only the festival's second year, but think of it as EDC New York's chill big bro: The acts are a little more sophisticated, the setting is a little less severe and it doesn't mind if you smoke a little herb.

Must-See Acts: Diplo, the Martinez Brothers, Dillon Francis, Anna Lunoe, ILoveMakonnen, A-Trak, Lee Foss, Robin Schulz, Matthew Dear, Maya Jane Coles, Skream, Kygo, Porter Robinson, Richie Hawtin, Nicole Moudaber

Official Site: mysteryland.us./en

Bayou Country Superfest, Hunter Hayes

Hunter Hayes performs during 2014 Bayou Country Superfest at LSU Tiger Stadium on May 25, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Bayou Country Superfest

When: May 23rd-24th

Where: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Why Go: A three-day event if you count Taylor Swift's separately ticketed May 22nd performance at Tiger Stadium, Bayou Country Superfest combines two Louisiana passions – country music and tailgating – in one convenient location. Some of the genre's biggest stars – including Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Brantley Gilbert – provide the party-hearty soundtrack for this fan-friendly weekend that features artist meet-and-greets before beer-guzzling bros whoop it up in the lot until 2 a.m.

Must-See Acts: Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert, Tyler Farr, Kip Moore, Colt Ford, David Nail, Kristian Bush, Cassadee Pope

Official Site: bayoucountysuperfest.com

Movement Electronic Music Festival

An aerial view of the Movement Electronic Music Festival.

Movement Electronic Music Festival via YouTube

Movement Electronic Music Festival

When: May 23rd-25th

Where: Detroit, Michigan

Why Go: Movement is the Barbara Mandrell of EDM fests: It was techno when techno wasn't cool. Local legends like Kevin Saunderson and British house imports like MK would elsewhere be relegated to for-the-heads side-stages, but around here, they're the stars of the show. If loving that is wrong, we don't want to be right.

Must-See Acts: Disclosure, Tuskegee (Seth Troxler and the Martinez Brothers), Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, Dog Blood (Skrillex and Boys Noize), MK, Richie Hawtin, Kerri Chandler, Maya Jane Coles, Danny Brown, Ben Klock, Dixon, Josh Wink, Phuture, Marcell Dettmann, Thread

Official Site: movement.us

Reignwolf, Sasquatch Music Festival

Reignwolf (Jordan Cook) performs live at the Sasquatch Music Festival at The Gorge on May 24, 2013 in George, Washington.

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When: May 22nd-25th

Where: George, Washington

Why Go: Held at the breathtakingly beautiful Gorge Amphitheater, this is the place to catch once-a-year views behind a lineup that rivals just about any of the summer. Sasquatch! is packed with top talent from a pretty diverse run of genres: Kendrick Lamar, Sleater-Kinney and Lana Del Ray, together at last. All that and one of the best stage sets around, the dramatic, moss-dusted cliffs of the Columbia Gorge Canyon.

Must-See Acts: Kendrick Lamar, Sleater-Kinney, Lana Del Rey, Ryan Adams, St. Vincent, the War on Drugs, Run the Jewels, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Future Islands, Courtney Barnett, King Tuff, Chromeo, Diarrhea Planet, Perfume Genius, Jenny Lewis

Official Site: sasquatchfestival.com

Primavera Sound

Festival goers, Primavera Sound Festival, Parc del Forum, Barcelona, Spain.

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Primavera Sound

When: May 28th-30th

Where: Barcelona, Spain

Why Go: Barcelona's Primavera is celebrating its 15th anniversary by booking some of the most notable rock reunions of the past few years. Sleater-Kinney, Babes in Toyland, Ride and the Replacements are just a few of the together-again alt-rock legends who will be taking over Spain's early-summer party. Meanwhile, Strokes fans can go for the triple crown, catching Albert Hammond Jr. and Julian Casablancas' respective solo projects before seeing the New York City band play in full.

Must-See Acts: Patti Smith, Sleater-Kinney, the Replacements, Babes in Toyland, the Strokes, Antony and the Johnsons, Interpol, Caribou, Swans, Damien Rice, the Black Keys, Tyler, the Creator, Benjamin Booker, the Julie Ruin, Tobias Jesso Jr.

Official Site: primaverasound.com

The Roots, Roots Picnic

Questlove of The Roots performs at the 6th Annual Roots Picnic at the Festival Pier June 1, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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The Roots Picnic

When: May 30th

Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Why Go: The Philly hip-hop icons (and Jimmy Fallon's right-hand band) curate their eighth annual party on the banks of the Delaware River. They'll perform first alongside Erykah Badu then in their own closing set, and they usually manage to dazzle the crowd by jamming with an unannounced guest or two. If you've got enough energy after a long day at the Festival Pier, head towards the Theatre of the Living Arts for an OkayFuture afterparty featuring Hudson Mohawke.

15 Must-See Acts: The Roots, the Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, Phantogram, Rae Sremmurd, DJ Mustard, Erykah Badu, Hiatus Kaiyote, Hudson Mohawke, Afrika Bambaataa, Win Butler (as DJ Windows 98), Raury, King Britt, Bishop Nehru, Chronixx

Official Site: rootspicnic.com

Lost Highway Festival

Lost Highway Festival via YouTube

Lost Highway Motorcycle Show and Concert

When: May 29th-30th

Where: San Bernardino, California,

Why Go: Because you love motorcycles, camping and Toby Keith, who isn't letting his truck sponsorship stop him from headlining this celebration of Southern California's rudest bikes. The festival lasts all weekend, but there's only music on Saturday. Bring earplugs – not to block out the bands but the sound of a hundred Harleys revving in unison.

Must-See Acts: Toby Keith, Social Distortion, Eli Young Band, Reverend Horton Heat, Lucero, Chris Janson, Lindi Ortega, Rick Monroe, the Brave Ones

Official Site: losthighwayfest.com

Governors Ball

Atmosphere during day 1of the 2014 Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall's Island on June 6, 2014 in New York, United States.

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Governors Ball

When: June 5th-7th

Where: New York City

Why Go: It's not hard to find most of the acts on this fest's lineup around New York. Many are locals, most have played venues like Bowery Ballroom or Music Hall of Williamsburg and one even features a guy who sometimes lectures at Barnard College. But this weekend, catch them all in one place, with headlining sets from a Toronto rapper, a MoMA-approved Icelandic singer-songwriter and two garage-rock grumps flown in from Ohio.

Must-See Acts: Drake, Björk, the Black Keys, Florence and the Machine, Lana Del Rey, Chromeo, Conor Oberst, St. Vincent, Charli XCX, Flying Lotus, Rae Sremmurd, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Chronixx and the Zincfence Redemption, Sharon Van Etten, Clean Bandit

Official Site: governorsballmusicfestival.com

Northside Music Festival, Jurassic 5

The American hip hop group Jurassic 5 performs a live concert at Northside Festival 2014.

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Northside Festival

When: June 8th-14th

Where: Brooklyn, New York

Why Go: In March, many New Yorkers ditch the cold by flying to Austin for a week of panels and bands. By the second week of June, when hometown temperatures reach 80, residents can get a similar experience to SXSW by walking a few blocks to Northside. The festival's 2015 edition might focus on indie rock (Best Coast, Built to Spill), but don't miss sets from Chicago footwork maestro DJ Spinn and Queens rapper Heems.

Must-See Acts: Neko Case, Best Coast, Against Me!, Sleigh Bells, Heems, the Very Best, Beverly, Ex Hex, DJ Spinn, Kal Marks, Total Freedom, Vulture Shit, Zola Jesus, Yvette, Femi Kuti and the Positive Force

Official Site: northsidefestival.com


Aerial view of the Main Stage, 'What Stage' and camping during the 2014 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival on June 15, 2014 in Manchester, Tennessee.

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When: June 11th-14th

Where: Manchester, Tennessee

Why Go: The country's largest summer festival features 125 bands and 20 comedians performing on 12 stages. This means a lineup that's both wide and deep: older stars like Billy Joel and Earth, Wind & Fire, plus thoroughly now names like Kendrick Lamar and Alabama Shakes. And with plenty of outliers like Flying Lotus and Tanya Tagaq mixing things up, the former jam-band Mecca celebrates the diversity of America's live-music potential on a site that's more anything-goes theme park than mere venue.

Must-See Acts: Kendrick Lamar, Billy Joel, Florence and the Machine, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, Alabama Shakes, D'Angelo and the Vanguard, Flying Lotus, Gary Clark Jr., Slayer, Against Me!, Courtney Barnett, Rhiannon Giddens, Tove Lo, Who Is William Onyeabor?, this year's to-be-arranged Superjam

Official Site: bonnaroo.com

CMA Festival

Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line perform at the 2014 CMA Festival on June 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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CMA Music Festival

When: June 11th-14th

Where: Nashville, Tennessee

Why Go: If there's ever a time to attend an NRA-hosted brunch called "Kegs and Eggs," it would be before heading to a baseball stadium packed with country fans ready to see the same male-dominated main-stage acts that have played CMA Fest seemingly every year in recent memory. The true magic happens away from LP Field, in the gridlock of downtown's smaller stages. Although the full 2015 lineup has yet to be released, Nashville's endless array of primo up-and-comers and generations of classic musicians might draw even indie or alt-country fans unwilling to schlep out to Manchester for Bonnaroo, which takes place the same weekend.

Must-See Acts: Eric Church, Brad Paisley, Ashley Monroe, Sam Hunt, the Band Perry, Oak Ridge Boys, Zac Brown Band, Alan Jackson, Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley, Maddie and Tae, Lee Brice, Luke Bryan, Tanya Tucker, Kristian Bush

Official Site: cmaworld.com/cma-music-festival

Riot Fest Chicago

Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello.

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Amnesia Rockfest

When: June 18th-21st

Where: Montebello, Quebec

Why Go: No event is working harder to keep the early Aughts alive than Amnesia Rockfest, and this summer it's doing so in the heaviest way possible. Hard-rock arbiters System of a Down, Linkin Park and Slayer lead the guitar-friendly lineup, but it's an appearance from Snoop Dogg that takes this year's edition to the next level. Comedy outfits including Tenacious D and Steve-O of Jackass round out what promises to be a wild weekend in the Great White North.

Must-See Acts: System of a Down, Linkin Park, Snoop Dogg, the Offspring, Pixies, Deftones, Tenacious D, Buzzcocks, Melvins, Slayer, Rancid, Tom Green, Cro-Mags, Bad Religion, Gogol Bordello

Official Site: amnesiarockfest.com/en

Firefly Music Festival, Twenty One Pilots

Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots performs during day 3 of the Firefly Music Festival on June 21, 2014 in Dover, Delaware.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Firefly Music Festival

Firefly Music Festival

When: June 18th-21th

Where: Dover, Delaware

Why Go: Set in the woods of Delaware, Firefly's an event for those who like to set up camp and feel marooned – even if there's a mall located conveniently in their backyard. It's also one of only two stateside festivals Sir Paul McCartney is playing this year, and its three-day lineup is a smart balance of marquee names (Kings of Leon, Hozier, Snoop Dogg) and smaller-font acts like rapper Le1f and electronic duo Vindata.

Must-See Acts: Paul McCartney, Charlie XCX, Morrissey, Modest Mouse, Run the Jewels, Snoop Dogg, Gary Clark Jr., Sturgill Simpson, Zola Jesus, the Killers, Hozier, Snoop Dogg, Zedd, DJ Mustard, Le1f, Odesza

Official Site: fireflyfestival.com

Electric Daisy Carnival

DJs/producers Sebastian Ingrosso (L) and Axwell perform as Axwell /\ Ingrosso on the kineticFIELD stage during the 18th annual Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on June 23, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Electric Daisy Carnival

When: June 19th-21st

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

Why Go: This is EDM's epicenter, turning up in the desert and remaking a city once known for the blackjack and the Rat Pack into the center of beats and drops. The lineup will likely be announced after the New York Electric Daisy Carnival, but general admission tickets have already sold out. To avoid dehydration, following a simple rule of thumb: Don't do anything that Dean Martin wouldn't do.

Must-See Acts: Lineup to be announced.

Official Site: electricdaisycarnival.com

Kid Rock, Summerfest

Kid Rock performs at the Marcus Amphitheater on July 3, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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When: June 24th-28th, June 30th-July 5th

Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Why Go: The Guinness Book of World Records has certified this music festival as humankind's largest, but it's also one of our most affordable. Spanning 11 days and 11 stages – and costing no more than $80 to see it all – Summerfest sits lakefront on 75-acre Henry Maier Festival Park. Think of it as an all-ages rock & roll day camp.

15 Must-See Acts: Rolling Stones, Kendrick Lamar, Public Enemy, Florida Georgia Line, Schoolboy Q, Kaskade, Halestorm, Ximena Sariñana, Gogol Bordello, the Flaming Lips, Santigold, the Isley Brothers, Sheryl Crow, Kings of Leon, "Weird Al" Yankovic

Official Site: summerfest.com

Electric Forest

A general view during day 1 of the 2012 Electric Forest Festival at Double JJ Ranch on June 28, 2012 in Rothbury, Michigan.

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Electric Forest

When: June 25th-28th

Where: Rothbury, Michigan

Why Go: Remember that dream where you do-si-do'd to the String Cheese Incident's progressive bluegrass then raved to the pulse of Steve Angello's Swedish house? That wasn't a dream, it was a flashback to last year's Electric Forest. The aptly named rural festival literally lights up the woods, blasting Wonderland visuals into the natural environment. Once again, the soundtrack will include EDM, jam bands and a lot of twentysomethings saying, "Ooh."

Must-See Acts: The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Skrillex, Kaskade, Carl Cox, Flux Pavilion, Galactic with Macy Gray, Green Velvet, Joe Russo's Almost Dead, John Digweed, Paul Oakenfold, Flume, Lettuce, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, Four Tet

Official Site: electricforestfestival.com

Dierks Bentley, Farmborough

Dierks Bentley will headline the inaugural Farmborough in New York City.

Mark Horton/WireImage

Farmborough Country Music Festival

When: June 26-28

Where: New York City

Why Go: New York City is undergoing another country transformation – first a radio station dedicated to the genre, now a massive festival full of chart-topping, truck-and-moonlight superstars. It may be dominated by male acts (where are you, Miranda, Carrie, Kacey?), but the party vibes are balanced by a lineup of new outlaws – Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Clark and leader of them all, Dwight Yoakam. Expect lots of tailgaters, plenty of tanlines.  

Must-See Acts: Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Dwight Yoakam, Maddie and Tae, Sturgill Simpson, the Cadillac Three, Charlie Worsham, Brandy Clark, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Lindsay Ell, Kip Moore, Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, Wade Bowen

Official Site: farmboroughfestival.com

Linkin Park, Loudwire

Linkin Park will headline this year's Loudwire Music Festival.

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Loudwire Music Festival

When: June 26th-28th

Where: Grand Junction, Colorado

Why Go: Loudwire's lineup is filled with some of the