U.S. Music Festivals


3 minutes

For a music fan, there can be no better experience than attending a festival. Major festivals draw huge crowds and feature dozens of performers. Most festivals are annual, with many occurring during the summer. They may coincide with a regional holiday or the start of a season.

One of the more interesting and popular festivals in recent years is South By Southwest (SXSW), a yearly event in Austin, Texas where musicians, filmmakers, and the technology industry share a spotlight. SXSW showcases over 10,000 registered presenters in three categories: Music, Film, and Interactive. It usually begins in early to mid March.

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The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival began in 2001. It is famous for showcasing not only popular established performers but also talented up and coming acts. Coachella does not limit itself to any one genre of music, though Hip Hop and Indie Rock acts often headline. Coachella usually happens during the third or fourth weekend in April at Indio, California.

Bonnaroo (Music & Arts Festival) started in 2002. At first, the focus was on Jam bands, acts that perform improvised music. As it increased in popularity, it expanded to include other kinds of live music. Recent festivals show a diverse array of acts from all genres. The word bonnaroo comes from New Orleans slang and translates to mean "A Good Time," which it definitely is. The annual festival occurs in Manchester, Tennessee during early June.

Summerfest is the world's largest music festival. It is a yearly event, lasting for 11 days from late June through early July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Summerfest is run by a nonprofit organization called the Milwaukee World Festival and attracts up to 1 million people every year. There are 11 stages, which the music acts pack from noon to midnight for 11 days straight. In addition to the music, attendees can enjoy comedy, fireworks, and family activities. As it is the biggest event, Summerfest draws all of the major artists, with Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, and Peter Gabriel headlining in recent years.

Bumbershoot happens around Labor Day (the first Monday in September) in Seattle, Washington. It started as a city funded event simply called the Mayor's Arts Festival in 1971. Declining government support in the late 1970s caused it to be taken over by a nonprofit organization in 1980. The name Bumbershoot comes from the local nickname for an umbrella.

Lollapalooza is another popular annual festival, occurring at various times in different cities every year. Originally conceived in 1990 as somewhat of a farewell tour for the band Jane's Addiction, Lollapolooza now features popular Rock, Punk, and Hip Hop artists. Recent headliners include Lady Gaga, Bjork, The Smashing Pumpkins, and MGMT among others. Music is the main attraction but in recent years, it has provided a platform for nonprofit and political groups. In 2011, the first international Lollapalooza was held in Santiago, Chile. Since that first international festival, it has occurred in Brazil and was recently announced to be coming to Tel Aviv, Israel in 2013.

The Woodstock Music & Art Fair is probably the most famous music festival to ever occur. It occurred in 1969 and was recorded in a documentary released the next year called Woodstock. The success of the movie is what propelled Woodstock to legendary proportions. Woodstock is not annual, only occurring once every 10 years since 1969. The only exception being Woodstock '94, which was held to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original festival.

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Ani Kington Ani Kington

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.

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