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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.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch

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.

Kygo, Forecastle Music Festival

Kygo performs during the 2014 Forecastle Music Festival at Louisville Waterfront Park on July 19, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Forecastle

When: July 17th-19th

Where: Louisville, Kentucky

Why Go: Headlining this year's Forecastle fest is Louisville's very own My Morning Jacket, who will hold down Saturday night while Sam Smith and Widespread Panic lead Friday and Sunday. Now in it's 30th year, the rock-leaning weekend celebrates local artists and big names in the Kentucky city's 85-acre Waterfront Park. If you're a drinker, be sure to check out the Forecastle Bourbon Lodge to sample another hometown favorite.

Must-See Acts: My Morning Jacket, Sam Smith, Modest Mouse, ZZ Ward, Kiesza, the War on Drugs, the Word, First Aid Kit, Shovels and Rope, Speedy Ortiz, Big K.R.I.T., Desaparecidos, Lizzo, Tweedy, Sturgill Simpson

Official Site: forecastlefest.com

Pitchfork Music Festival

General view of festival goers on Day 3 of Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 at Union Park on July 21, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.

Daniel Boczarski/Redferns via Getty Images

Pitchfork Music Festival

When: July 17th-19th

Where: Chicago, Illinois

Why Go: You've read the ratings, now attend the festival. This year's edition is Lollapalooza or Bonnaroo minus the radio rock, alt-country, EDM and jam bands. Nothing wrong with that, though: Sleater-Kinney have been going as hard as ever, Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield cuts as deep as any singer-songwriter, Todd Terje will put your body in motion and, if asked, ILoveMakonnen would happily join your friends' game of hacky sack.

Must-See Acts: Wilco, Chance the Rapper, Sleater-Kinney, Future Islands, Caribou, Parquet Courts, Jamie xx, ILoveMakonnen, Courtney Barnett, Ex Hex, Tobias Jesso Jr., Perfume Genius, Todd Terje and the Olsens, Future Brown, Waxahatchee

Official Site: pitchforkmusicfestival.com

Gathering of the Juggalos

Juggalos

Amy Harris/Corbis

Gathering of the Juggalos

When: July 22nd-26th

Where: Thornville, Ohio

Why Go: Juggalos were chanting "family" years before Vin Diesel and Paul Walker expanded theirs racing cars across the streets of L.A. And if you thought Furious 7 was hardcore, remember that it's Insane Clown Posse fans whom the FBI classifies as an actual gang. Head to the Gathering to see why the Feds have no clue what they're talking about. The lineup might be top-heavy, but the people couldn't friendlier and the side attractions remain the season's most unique: If Juggalo Family Feud is too quaint, sip your Faygo at the Juggalo Championship Wrestling ring and wait for the blood to splatter.

Must-See Acts: Insane Clown Posse, Tech N9ne, Twiztid, Waka Flocka Flame, Flosstradamus, Psychpathic Rydas, Anybody Killa, Dark Lotus, Puddle of Mudd, Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Boondox, Hopsin, Rittz, Big Hoodoo, Big Silva

Official Site: juggalogathering.com

Newport Folk Festival

Aerial view of the 2014 Newport Folk Festival at Fort Adams State Park on July 27, 2014 in Newport, Rhode Island.

Douglas Mason/Getty Images

Newport Folk Festival

When: July 24th-26th

Where: Newport, Rhode Island

Why Go: God bless Americana. Oozing history galore (this is where Dylan went electric, dude), the Newport Folk Festival offers a relatively cushy spot from which to enjoy the latest developments in the evolution of folk, rock, country, blues, soul and everything in between. This year's lineup boasts a wealth of hungry new acts like Sturgill Simpson, Shakey Graves, Heartless Bastards and Nikki Lane, plus Leon Bridges' mellow soul and a rare acoustic set from Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis.

Must-See Acts: The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, First Aid Kit, Brandi Carlile, Calexico, Sturgill Simpson, Shakey Graves, Heartless Bastards, Watkins Family Hour, José González, Laura Marling, J Mascis, Angel Olsen, Nikki Lane, Leon Bridges

Official Site: newportfolk.org

Diplo, Mad Decent Block Party

Diplo of Major Lazer performs onstage during the Mad Decent Block Party at Williamsburg Park on August 10, 2013 in Brooklyn, New York.

Roger Kisby/Getty Images

Mad Decent Block Party

When: July 31st-September 26th

Where: Atlanta, GA; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Brooklyn, NY; Detroit, MI; New Orleans, LA; Dallas, TX; Austin, TX; Nashville, TN; Toronto, ON; Calgary, AB; Vancouver, BC; Berkeley, CA; Eugene, OR; San Diego, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, MI

Why Go: Mad Decent has been reaching new audiences with viral videos from artists like Baauer and a Major Lazer cartoon on FXX. But the label's bread-and-butter remains their annual block party, which roves the States and Canada throughout the summer. Diplo will no doubt be there, but the ever-shifting lineup also big-ups soca and regional club music.

Must-See Acts: Diplo, Dillon Francis, Jack Ü, Cut Copy, ILoveMakonnen, Skrillex, T-Pain, Tyler the Creator, Zeds Dead, Vic Mensa, Knife Party, Mija, Nadus, Major Lazer, Dillon Francis

Official Site: maddecentblockparty.com

Gathering of the Vibes

Gathering of the Vibes via YouTube

Gathering of the Vibes

When: July 30th-August 2nd

Where: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Why Go: The tie-dyed spirit of the Sixties abides in this annual seaside celebration of the Grateful Dead's improv-rock legacy – and few groups echo the Dead's roots experimentalism more than headliners Wilco. Similarly, the Dark Star Orchestra will re-create one of the Dead's classic shows, and members of three younger jam bands will join former Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann in his new Billy and the Kids. Expect Dweezil Zappa to mock the whole shindig, and keep an ear open for up-and-coming jam-heads like Twiddle.

Must-See Acts: Wilco, Bombino, the Word, the String Cheese Incident, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Weezer, Gregg Allman, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Billy and the Kids, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Zappa Plays Zappa, Electron, Greensky Bluegrass, Twiddle, Dark Star Orchestra

Official Site: gatheringofthevibes.com

Lollapalooza

The general atmosphere of Lollapalooza 2014 at Grant Park on August 2, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.

Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

Lollapalooza

When: July 31st-August 2nd

Where: Chicago, Illinois

Why Go: Three generations headline Lollapalooza this year: a Beatle from the Sixties, metal masters from the Eighties, and the Kate Bush of the 21st century. That wide-ranging eclecticism runs through this year's edition of the venerated festival from top to bottom: Besides McCartney, Metallica and Florence and the Machine, there's new guitar god Gary Clark Jr., rock revivalists Alabama Shakes, bass music madman Flying Lotus, future-R&B diva FKA twigs, plus cosmic country upstarts like Father John Misty and Sturgill Simpson.

Must-See Acts: Paul McCartney, Metallica, Florence and the Machine, Alabama Shakes, Bassnectar, Tame Impala, Gary Clark Jr., Flying Lotus, Hot Chip, Father John Misty, DJ Snake, Toro y Moi, the Weeknd, FKA Twigs, Sturgill Simpson

Official Site: lollapalooza.com

Pickathon

An audience sits on a structure made of pallets to watch a band at the Tree Line Stage at the Pickathon music festival on August 1, 2014 in Happy Valley, Oregon.

Natalie Behring/Getty Images

Pickathon

When: July 31st-August 2nd

Where: Happy Valley, Oregon

Why Go: If you're looking for a side of sustainability with your music festival experience, Oregon's Pickathon is the place for you. Having eliminated plastic and single-use items like cups and utensils, Pickathon is so environmentally conscious that it invites attendees to bring their own dishware and make use of free water and sinks. The lineup is not too shabby either, offering a diverse range of artists across its three-day weekend.

Must-See Acts: Ex Hex, Shabazz Places, Ty Segall, Viet Cong, Thundercat, Sinkane, Sam Cohen, King Tuff, Jessica Pratt, Cloud Nothings, Heartless Bastards, Tune-Yards, Leon Bridges, Whitey Morgan, Happyness

Official Site: pickathon.com

Osheaga

A general view of day 3 at the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival on August 3, 2014 in Montreal, Canada.

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Osheaga

When: July 31th-August 2nd

Where: Montreal, Quebec

Why Go: The 10th anniversary of Canada's premiere festival boasts an internationally beloved lineup, with the Black Keys and Florence and the Machine leading the 100-act pack in Montreal's Parc Jean-Drapeau. Thanks to the city's temperate summer, Osheaga's a good place to catch critical darlings, next-big-things and radio-friendlies without sweating it all out too much. Its organizers also work to integrate the visual arts, and past installations have included an igloo made of guitar amps – can't buy that at Urban Outfitters. 

Must-See Acts: Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine, the Black Keys, Weezer, Alt-J, FKA Twigs, St. Vincent, Run the Jewels, Nas, First Aid Kit, Desaparecidos, Action Bronson, George Ezra, Interpol

Official Site: osheaga.com

Newport Jazz Festival

The Mingus Big Band performs during the 2014 Newport Jazz Festival at Fort Adams State Park on August 3, 2014 in Newport, Rhode Island.

Douglas Mason/Getty Images

Newport Jazz Fest

When: July 31st-August 2nd

Where: Newport, Rhode Island

Why Go: Now in its 61st year, Newport Jazz soldiers on with over 40 bands, 19 of which will be making their festival debut. Look out for 11-year-old newcomer Joey Alexander, performing on Saturday, and don't miss the Tennis Court Hall of Fame concert at the Newport Casino, which will feature Chris Botti and Jon Batiste.

Must-See Acts: Snarky Puppy, Matana Roberts' Coin Coin, Peter Evans Quintet, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Chris Botti, Dr. John and the Nite Trippers, Kenny Garrett Quintet, José James, Cassanda Wilson, Jamie Cullum, Arturo Sandoval, Scott Robinson's Doctette, Pat Martino Organ Trio, Steve Lehman Octet, Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet

Official Site: newportjazzfest.org

Hard Summer Festival

DJ Tiesto performs during HARD Summer at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area on August 3, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

Hard Summer

When: August 1st-2nd

Where: Pomona, California

Why Go: Last year, Hard moved from the shadow of Dodger Stadium to the more suburban Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. Come August, it heads even farther into the Inland Empire, bringing with it not just the aggressive EDM described in the name (Jack Ü, Dillon Francis, RL Grime) but also the slightly smoother sounds of craftsmen like Gorgon City and Jamie xx.

Must-See Acts: Jack Ü, Rae Sremmurd, Dillon Francis, RL Grime, Young Thug, Hudson Mohawke, Zeds Dead, Boys Noize, DJ Mustard and Friends, the Weeknd, Salva, MK, Caribou, Fetty Wap, Lunice

Official Site: hardfest.com

Drake, OVO Festival

Drake headlines the OVO Festival at the Molson Amphitheatre in 2013.

Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images

OVO Fest

Where: Toronto, Ontario

When: August 1st-3rd

Why Go: The official lineup features a Kevin Hart gig on the first night, J Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive tour on the second and Drake's sixth annual homecoming as a finale. But the real excitement lies in the famous special guests October's Very Own usually invites: In the past, Drizzy has brought out Stevie Wonder, Eminem and Kanye West. At the very least, he'll bring along his OVO crew.

Must-See Acts: Drake, J Cole, Kevin Hart, Big Sean, YG, Jeremih, Bas, Cozz

Official Site: octobersveryown.com/ovo-fest

Outside Lands

Musician Kim Schifino of Matt & Kim performs at the Twin Peaks Stage during Day 3 of the 2013 Outside Lands Music And Arts Festival at Golden Gate Park on August 11, 2013 in San Francisco, California.

FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival

When: August 7th-9th

Where: San Francisco, California

Why Go: Split across five stages (including a comedy stage and an EDM tent), this festival of music, art exhibits, gourmet food and wine tastings usually overwhelms both the senses and the wallet. Still, three-day passes to Outside Lands sold out within hours. (One-day passes remain available.) Keep your eyes and ears peeled for surprises: In 2012, Jack White pulled off a secret concert at his Third Man Records truck, playing alongside Boots Riley and Tom Morello.

Must-See Acts: Mumford & Sons, Wilco, D'Angelo and the Vanguard, the Black Keys, Kendrick Lamar, Elton John, Sam Smith, St. Vincent, G-Eazy, Caribou, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, DJ Mustard, Tame Impala, Porter Robinson

Official Site: sfoutsidelands.com

Made in America Festival

Music fans attend day 1 of the 2014 Budweiser Made in America Festival at Los Angeles Grand Park on August 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch

Made in America Festival

Where: Los Angeles, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When: August 30th-31st

Why Go: This two-day festival has ballooned since Jay Z and Steve Stoute co-founded it with main sponsor Anheuser-Busch four years ago. It added an L.A. edition last year, where Steve Aoki gleefully sprayed champagne and threw sheet cakes at the crowd and Kanye West stalked the stage in full Yeezus regalia.

Must-See Acts: Lineup to be announced.

Official Site: madeinamericafest.com

Bumbershoot Music Festival, Wu-Tang Clan

Wu-Tang Clan performs at the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival on August 30, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.

Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic

Bumbershoot

When: September 4th-6th

Where: Seattle, Washington

Why Go: The U.S. summer festival explosion is a rather recent phenomenon, but Seattle's Bumbershoot has existed in one form or another for four decades. 2015's lineup hasn't been announced yet, but last year's ranged from Elvis Costello and a tribute to Big Star's Third to hip-hop royalty Wu-Tang Clan. It showcased funk legends Bobby Womack and Bootsy Collins as well as up-and-coming rappers like Schoolboy Q and Danny Brown.

Must-See Acts: Lineup to be announced.

Official Site: facebook.com/bumbershootfestival

Electric Zoo

A general view of atmosphere during Electric Zoo 2013 at Randall's Island on August 31, 2013 in New York City.

Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

Electric Zoo: Transformed

When: September 4th-6th

Where: New York City

Why Go: For those who know only one Martin Garrix song, Electric Zoo vs. Electric Daisy is tough dilemma. For those who've downloaded every episode of the 18-year-old DJ's Internet radio show, it's a false choice. The two festivals bookend New York's extended summer, boasting a who's who of electronic music. But if you can only make one, EZoo is the better bet: Tickets are cheaper, but the bass is just as loud.

Must-See Acts: Lineup to be announced.

Official Site: electriczoofestival.com

Hopscotch Festival

Jamie xx at CAM, 2014

Jillian Clark

Hopscotch Music Festival

When: September 3rd-5th

Where: Raleigh, North Carolina

Why Go: The 2015 lineup hasn't been announced yet, but the sixth year of Hopscotch promises to offer one of the headiest weekends of music out there. Last year boasted indie stalwarts like Spoon, St. Vincent and Mastodon, while also offering up an array of outsiders ranging from Hawkwind to minimalist composer Tony Conrad to dark ambient Björk collaborator the Haxan Cloak.

Must-See Artists: Lineup to be announced.

Official Site: hopscotchmusicfest.com

Bestival

Festival goers pose with the Giant Disco ball in the background at Bestival at Robin Hill Country Park on September 4, 2014 in Newport, United Kingdom

Joseph Okpako/Redferns via Getty Images

Bestival

When: September 10th-13th

Where: Isle of Wight, England

Why Go: Including the word "best" in a festival's name is a bold move, but this September soiree has been doing everything it can to live up to that promise since it began in 2004. Originally intended as an off-shoot of record label Sunday Best, the four-day event is a perfect end-of-summer dance party that blends tried-and-true legends (Duran Duran, the Chemical Brothers) with the most exciting up-and-comers (FKA Twigs, Charli XCX).

Must-See Acts: Charli XCX, Duran Duran, Jurassic 5, FKA Twigs, the Chemical Brothers, Girlpool, Future Islands, Annie Mac, Flying Lotus, Tame Impala, Guy Gerber, Action Bronson, Neneh Cherry, Fat White Family, Young Fathers

Official Site: bestival.net

No Doubt, Kaaboo Del Mar

No Doubt will headline this year's Kaaboo Del Mar festival.

Richard Chapin Downs Jr./Getty Images for Global Citizen

Kaaboo Del Mar

When: September 18th-20th

Where: San Diego, California

Why Go: The first Kaaboo Del Mar festival describes itself as an "art and entertainment mix-perience" where music, comedy and art can be consumed across seven stages in sunny San Diego. Headlined by No Doubt and the Killers, Kaaboo's lineup focuses on alt-rock but makes room for Sheryl Crow, Snoop Dogg and a hefty selection of comedians. It also offers "personal indulgences" for ticket-buyers, making perks like massages and manicures available to all.

Must-See Acts: No Doubt, Snoop Dogg, the Killers, Sheryl Crow, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Minnie Driver, X, Spoon, Counting Crows, the Roots, Grace Potter, Foster the People, 311, Joel McHale, Lewis Black

Official Site: kaaboodelmar.com

TomorrowWorld, Armin Van Buuren

Armin Van Buuren at TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival on September 29, 2013 in Fairburn, Georgia.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

TomorrowWorld

When: September 25th-27th

Where: Atlanta, Georgia

Why Go: Escape into the mythical TomorrowWorld, complete with floating bridges, scenic lakes, mushroom stages and dream lodges for three days of EDM and fantasy. Buried deep in the scenic Chattahoochee Hills, TomorrowWorld is the U.S. version of Belgium's most popular music festival, TomorrowLand. Last year, we overheard two Americans discussing the detailed work-out regimen and trans-Atlantic flights they needed to prepare for Europe – this year, maybe they'll just drive to Georgia.

Must-See Acts: Lineup to be announced.

Official Site: tomorrowworld.com

Motorboat, Motorhead

Motorboat via Vimeo

Motörboat

When: September 28th-October 2nd

Where: Departs from Miami, making stops in the Bahamas

Why Go: For its second year, Motörhead's Motörboat cruise is about to get even louder. Joining Lemmy Kilmister and Co. will be Slayer, Anthrax, Hatebreed and more of the world's best metallic outfits. Plus, Motörboat promises more than just music, with a number of Q&A sessions, parties and games to be announced prior to three of the heaviest days at sea imaginable.

Must-See Acts: Slayer, Hatebreed, Motorhead, Anthrax, Crobot, Huntress, Fireball Ministry, Suicidal Tendencies, Exodus, Kyng

Official Site: motorheadcruise.com

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