Over 32 million people in the US attend music festivals every year and that number is only getting bigger and bigger.
Buying a ticket and heading off to the most popular music festivals is the best way to listen to your favorite bands live, discover new artists, and have a lot of fun with your friends in a beautiful location.
There’s no wonder why so many people like going to music festivals! It’s a bucket list experience for many. But choosing the right music festival could make or break your whole trip.
If you want to figure out which of the most popular music festivals in the USA best fits your music taste and vibe, we’ve put together this guide to help you. All of these festivals are some of the most popular in the country and they cover a variety of genres and tastes.
Most Popular Music Festivals in the USA
We’ve listed the top, busiest, and most popular music festivals in the USA to inspire you to attend one. They’re located all over the US so we’ve included information such as exactly where they are and what time of year they take place annually.
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
Where: Manchester, Tennessee
When: Early September
Like a lot of music festivals, Bonnaroo started small and primarily booked folk-rock acts and garage bands back when it started in 2002. In just under 20 years, Bonnaroo now books some of the biggest names in rock and pop music such as Miley Cyrus and Tame Impala.
This is a music festival that offers something for everyone and it’s a great option for first-time festival-goers.
If you’re a festival newbie and are struggling with what to take to a music festival then click here.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Where: Indio, California and Coachella Valley, Colorado
When: Two weekends in April
Whether you love it or love to hate it, Coachella has become one of the music festivals to see and be seen. Tickets sell out faster every year, tonnes of celebrities attend and for those watching from the sidelines on Instagram, it can seem more like a fashion show than a live music event.
But Coachella attracts some of the best musicians in the world spanning all musical genres. It’s also responsible for some of the best musical performances of all time. Everyone remembers when Beyoncé practically renamed the festival Beychella in 2018 with her mindblowing set, right? And they will for years to come.
Where: Indio, California
When: Late April
Usually taking place the weekend after Coachella wraps up, Stagecoach is primarily a modern country music festival that acts as a sister event to Coachella. The kind of acts that perform live concerts at Stagecoach includes Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Keith Urban.
As you can imagine, Stagecoach attracts a different kind of crowd that particularly loves country music. But it’s still a hugely popular sell-out event with 75,000 people attending in 2019.
South by Southwest (SXSW)
Where: Austin, Texas
South by Southwest is a different kind of music festival altogether in that it’s not even strictly a music festival! Part conference, film festival, and music festival, South by Southwest (or SXSW as it’s often styled) almost takes over the city of Austin with hundreds of live music and arts events.
Some of the acts that have previously performed in the music section of SXSW include Lana Del Ray, The Shins, and Lady Gaga. The musical acts tend to be a mix of current pop musicians, hip-hop, and more alternative and indie names.
Where: Grant Park, Chicago
When: Late July/Early August
If you want to attend a quintessentially American music festival that isn’t out in a desert and has a line up featuring all different musical genres, Lollapalooza is perfect.
Past acts at Lollapalooza include Chance The Rapper, Paul McCartney and Alabama Shakes.
Lollapalooza also has a strong history of activism by allowing non-profits and political speakers a platform at one of the most popular music festivals in the USA.
Where: Black Rock Desert, Nevada
When: Late August/Early September
Burning Man is not a festival, and any true Burner will tell you the same thing. It is a spontaneous and cultural happening where art, self-expression, and curiosity converge in the Nevada desert.
But for the sake of clarity, it’s a festival and one of the most original in the world. Though there isn’t an official line-up of events or acts, nor is there really an ‘official’ anything at Burning Man.
Burning Man takes place over one whole week (called ‘Burn Week’) and since it’s inception in the late 1980s has amassed thousands of dedicated followers. No money is exchanged at Burning Man and Burners are expected to bring their own shelter, food, and supplies.
Those who have attended this festival (or cultural happening) usually gushes that it’s one of the best experiences of their lives.
Hangout Music Festival
Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama
What is missing from the other most popular music festivals on this list? If your answer is “the beach” then Hangout Music Festival might be the music festival for you!
Located on the Gulf Shores in Alabama, this three-day music event is the ultimate live-music-at-the-beach experience. Past performers include Twenty One Pilots, Stevie Wonder, and Vampire Weekend. Granted, Hangout doesn’t attract the huge mega musicians but their line ups are still star-studded events.
And who needs Beyoncé when you have upbeat and catchy tunes, sand, and the sun setting in the distance?
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: Late April/Early May
There’s no denying that New Orleans is one of the most vibrant, exciting cities in the world and Jazz is super important to the city’s history and music landscape.
Back in the 1970s, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was created as a showcase for local musicians but nowadays the event is so much bigger. In the past, non-jazz performers like Stevie Nicks, Lizzo, and The Who have performed at the festival so there really is something for everyone.
But at the heart, the Jazz & Heritage Festival is still about celebrating the spirit of the New Orleans people and their undeniable love of music.
There’s a Music Festival Out There for Everyone
Those are just some of the most popular music festivals, and there are heaps more out there! Music festivals aren’t simply just live music shows, but they’re exciting, fun, and often life-changing experiences.
Check out our other arts and music-related articles on our site for more inspiration and information!