When we slowly, hesitantly awaken from our winter sleep, the live music scene emerges with a fresh, exhilarating, lively vitality. Beginning this summer, your favorite performers will return to enormous stages in New York, Austin, New Orleans, Indio, and other cities for the finest music festivals in the United States, along with entertaining event activations, comedy tents, massive art installations, and even spa services. Yeah, indeed.
So, what is the biggest music festival in America? It depends on what you’re looking for. Whether you’ve been craving bass-thumping EDM and the opportunity to dress up in costume, soulful jazz groups and some of the greatest Southern cuisine available, or big-name headliners performing some of the best pop songs ever recorded, fests are back and ready to get you dancing in 2023. In chronological order, these are the greatest festivals in the United States for the next year. May they inspire the music-filled weekend of your dreams.
😎 The best European music festivals
Best music festivals in the U.S.
When: March 10–19, 2023
Where: Austin, Texas
The inaugural SXSW was held in 1987, and the event has expanded in terms of both attendance (by some estimates, 280,000 people attended the 10-day festival in 2019) and influence: SXSW is Austin’s most profitable event and one of the most significant events on the country’s entertainment calendar. SXSW Music (with 2,000-plus acts performing across the city); SXSW Film (with screenings of anticipated films, panels, and workshops); SXSW Comedy (a week of laugh-out-loud lineups featuring established and emerging talent); and the increasingly popular SXSW Interactive, which includes speakers, panels, and the SXSW Accelerator pitch competition.
When: March 30–April 2, 2023
Where: Knoxville, Tennessee
Big Ears is named for the open-minded attitude to listening that it encourages its visitors to take. It usually features modern classical music concerts as well as daring indie-rock, jazz, metal, and electronic music. To categorize genres is virtually anathema to the festival’s philosophy, which makes no difference in its voracious bookings. Big Ears turns the city into a music lover’s heaven for four days, taking over royal music halls, small bars, and silent cathedrals, all of which are centrally placed and within walking distance.
When: April 14–16 and 21–23, 2023
Where: Indio, California
More than 100,000 music lovers make a pilgrimage to the Empire Polo Club during each identical weekend of Coachella, whether bound for campgrounds or shuttling over from golf resorts and mid-century modern homes. Despite its tailored dining experiences and hotel party scene, Coachella is all about the relaxing desert air ecstasy of a well-curated music festival.
When: April 28–30, 2023
Where: Austin, Texas
This one seems to have some branding misunderstanding. Levitation, formerly known as Austin Psych Fest, seems to have moved its date ahead by six months to April and renamed itself Austin Psych Fest once again. Despite of its official name, this event has become a fixture on the Austin festival circuit, honoring the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s and the history of experimental music. This weekend-long bash is all about breaking boundaries and expressing yourself musically. Acts for 2023 include Oro Y Moi, Cuco, Yves Tumor, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Angels, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Crumb and more.
When: April 28–May 7, 2023
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
Jazz Fest is one of the country’s longest-running music events, having been held annually since 1970. It is also one of the largest. A big lineup of jazz, blues, rock, and roots music draws over 500,000 people. Although most festivals are satisfied to hire the same handful of reformed alt-rock bands, Jazz Fest always has hall-of-fame headliners. This year’s lineup goes well beyond jazz with names like Jon Batiste, Jill Scott, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Kane Brown, H.E.R., Steve Miller Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gary Clark Jr., Leon Bridges and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.
When: May 5–7, 2023
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
Rock enthusiasts flock to Atlanta’s Central Park to enjoy more than 60 bands across four stages, and they’re greeted with a rather eclectic range of up-and-coming, trending, and world-renowned musicians. This year’s lineup includes The Killers, Yeah, Yeah Yeahs, Tenacious D, Placebo, and a slew of other famous names in current music.
When: May 19–21, 2023
Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama
One of the more unlikely success stories in the festival business, this fest right on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico had the bad luck to launch in the midst of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill—but it hung in there and grew big enough to get bought up by the company that puts on Coachella. The Hangout roster is strong on lively indie, techno, and pop performers that are appropriate for a beach party. This year’s confirmed artists include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flume, SZA, and Calvin Harris.
When: May 26–28, 2023
Where: Napa, California
A proper Wine Country gathering would be incomplete without an abundance of wine, excellent cuisine, and a mid-fest massage (seriously). But BottleRock really distinguishes itself by satisfying both your culinary and aural palates—and the variety of attractions does not disappoint. The Smashing Pumpkins, Duran Duran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Post Malone, and many more are among the confirmed artists.
When: May 27–29, 2023
Where: Detroit, Michigan
Detroit’s Movement is the antithesis of the sprawling, sense-assaulting EDM mega-raves like Electric Daisy Carnival that come to mind when you hear the phrase ‘electronic music festival.’ Founded in 2000 as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival and hosted downtown in the city that gave the world techno, the emphasis here is on music over spectacle, with a program that includes pioneers as well as next-generation innovators.
When: June 9–11, 2023
Where: Governors Island, New York
What started as a few tents amid abandoned buildings and military barracks has grown into a staple event, holding a distinct position among summer performances in New York City. All stages will be nestled in the center of an astroturf-lined Citi Field, with a 360-degree layout to prevent sound bleed between stages and eliminate long walks for festgoers. It’s the one local fest where you can catch hip-hop chart-toppers, tastemaker-approved buzz bands, left-field pop heroes and, yes, dance-commanding EDM overlords. This year’s roster features Lizzo, Lil Uzi Vert, Finneas, Odesza, Lil Baby, Lil, Nas X, and a slew of more well-known musicians.
When: June 15–18, 2023
Where: Manchester, Tennessee
Long-running Bonnaroo has a reputation as the funkiest of the modern major music festivals, from its backwoods Tennessee location and its hedonistic on-site camping to the slightly hippie-fied lineups and signature all-star ‘superjam.’ Zeds Dead, Liquid Stranger, Kendrick Lamar, Odesza, Foo Fighters, Pixes, and more are among the artists performing this year.
When: June 22–24 • June 29–July 1 • July 6–8, 2023
Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Summerfest was just getting underway when they unveiled roughly 100 headliners. The festival will take place over three weekends and will include over 800 acts on 12 stages. Elle King, Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews Band, Imagine Dragons, James Taylor, Zach Bryan, and more will perform.
When: July 16–20, 2023
Where: Chicago, Illinois
The musical tastemakers of Pitchfork bring a painstakingly curated lineup of critically lauded indie rockers, hip-hop artists and forward-thinking musicians to Chicago’s Union Park each summer. Since its inception in 2006, the festival has remained an ideal size, boasting reasonable crowds (about 20,000 people per day), three stages and plenty of room for lounging in the sun or shade. Acts for 2023 have yet to be approved.
When: July 28–30, 2023
Where: Newport, Rhode Island
Best known as the place where Dylan went electric (before being cut off by angry folk traditionalists), Newport’s been showcasing the changing face of Americana for nearly half a century. While the lineup usually has a healthy dose of acts that reflect its history of traditionalism, it also features rockers, R&B singers and electronics-assisted performances. This year, there will be two three-day events with performances, storytelling, and workshops.
When: August 3–6, 2023
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Founded as a touring festival by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell in 1991, Lollapalooza has made Chicago its permanent home since 2005. The gargantuan event spans the entirety of Grant Park, subjecting more than 100,000 daily attendees to long walks between stages, porta-johns and beer tents. The payoff for your sun-drenched toil? A genuine who’s who of festival headliners, ranging from hip hop to indie music and everything in between.
When: August 11–13, 2023
Where: San Francisco, California
Outside Lands has become a landmark San Francisco event in the years since its initial weekend in 2008. Three days of dancing to dozens of bands and yucking it up with A-list comedians are interrupted by drinking and eating experiences that outperform standard festival fare. (In previous years, there have been such things called “Cheese Lands” here, as well as a “Wine Lands” and Bubble Tea Party in a magical forest). Remember to dress in layers and be prepared to get dirty. The bands are rocking, the fog is rolling in, and it’s going to be a long and exciting weekend.
When: August 25–27, 2023
Where: Columbus, Ohio
Established in 2019 to promote and generate funding for mental health efforts at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, a portion of the festival’s proceeds is still used to assist the medical center’s activities. After missing 2020, the festival returns for its third year this autumn, and although the 2023 lineup has yet to be announced, prior years have included performances by Kesha, Wilco, Grouplove, Black Pumas, and AJR. The 54-acre family-friendly festival also offers a wealth of food choices, a vibrant artisan village, and activities for youngsters.
When: September 1–3, 2023
Where : New York City, New York
Electric Zoo is New York City’s flagship electronic music event, held during the Labor Day weekend. It’s an uncommon and thrilling way to spend the holiday, with stacked musicians spanning from bass to techno and everything in between. This year’s program include Armin Van Buuren, Carl Cox, Gorgon City, Martin Garrix, and many more. Events in years past have featured a ‘Supernaturals’ theme, inviting ‘all cosmic creatures, astral aliens, intergalactic illusionists, supernatural wizards, shamans, witches, and extraterrestrial beings’ to experience a spectrum of electronic music and its various subgenres. It should give you an indication of what to anticipate.
When: September 15–17, 2023
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Forget flower crowns and fluorescent tank tops—Riot Fest is the place to flaunt your old high school denim jacket, adorned with patches and pins. This three-day festival, which began as a punk-rock celebration, has expanded to include alternative rockers, hip-hop groups, electronic musicians, and more. You can also ride a Ferris wheel, eat funnel cake, and watch a sideshow—like it’s a state fair but with much better music. No acts had been officially confirmed for 2023 at the time of writing, but last year a jamp-packed lineup included My Chemical Romance Alkaline Trio, Portugal, The Man, Bleachers, Taking Back Sunday, Descendents, Rocket From The Crypt, The Wonder Years, Jeff Rosenstock and more.
When: October 6–8 • 13–15, 2023
Where: Austin, Texas
ACL takes place over two weekends and it’s easy to see why: Organizers need all the time in the world to stuff Zilker Park full of some of America’s biggest (and most eclectic) names. No artists have been formally announced as of this writing, but if prior years are any indicator, it will be a musical extravaganza worth making an effort to attend.
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What is the biggest festival in United States?
Biggest Music Festivals in America
- Electric Daisy Carnival. …
- SXSW—South by Southwest. …
- Electric Zoo. …
- Ultra Music Festival. …
- Austin City Limits Music Festival. …
- Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. …
- Firefly Music Festival. …
- New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Where is the largest music festival in the US?
Summerfest, the biggest music event in the United States, attracting around 800,000 people each year in Milwaukee (Wisconsin).
What are the greatest musical festivals?
Top 10 Biggest Music Festivals in the World:
- FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE JAZZ DE MONTREAL. …
- POL’AND’ROCK FESTIVAL. …
- SUMMERFEST. …
- ROCK IN RIO. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. …
- SZIGET FESTIVAL. Budapest, Hungary. …
- ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL. New Orleans, USA. …
- NEW ORLEANS JAZZ AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL. New Orleans, Louisiana…
- ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL.
What is the hardest festival to get into?
Summerfest is the world’s most difficult ticket to get, with a five-minute sell-out period (despite the festival selling over 800,000 tickets). Summerfest is a cross-genre arts festival, with big-name performances of country, alternative rock, hip-hop and jazz music.