10 Music Festivals to Add to Your Bucket List

My love for music is the driving force behind many of my 2016 travels. My upcoming trip to Pittsburgh is based around a few concerts I want to attend and my entire US roadtrip is being planned around being able to attend Bonnaroo and Firefly. I’m excited because 2015 was a pretty pathetic year for me in terms of discovering music and going to shows, especially following the year I lived in Pittsburgh and more or less when to a show every week. I pounced on Bonnaroo and Firefly tickets as soon as they were available – I literally set an alarm to remind me when Bonnaroo presale tickets went on sale.

I’m just beginning to discover some of the major music festivals around the world but I can see festival attendance being a driving factor in many of my future travels. The more I research, the more festivals I add to my never-ending bucket list.

For music lovers like me, here are 10 music festivals to add to your bucket list.

Envision Festival. Envision caught my attention last year when I was headed to Costa Rica, where the Burning Man-esque festival is held. Each year, a few thousands attendees gather on the beaches of Uvita, Costa Rica for a few days of yoga, meditation, music and a general positive living vibe. The entire thought of the festival brings out the hippie in me and while my plans to attend this year fell through, it’s top on my list for 2017.

Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo is held each year in Tennessee and has been on my radar for a few years. These posts from Alex in Wanderland did me in, though, and pushed my to purchase presale tickets. It’s known for being one of the most relaxed, hippie-vibe music festivals, with a general motto of “radiate positivity.”

Firefly. Officially the first festival I ever purchased tickets for, Firefly is held each year in Dover, Delaware. They always have an eclectic line-up – this year the headliners include The Weekend, Muse, and Twenty One Pilots with other artists like Weezer and T-Pain.

Jam Cruise. Jam Cruise is an annual event held on the Norwegian Pearl. Each year, musicians across genres and music lovers board the ship as it sails to destinations like Jamaica and the Grand Cayman while jamming to music all day and night. Sounds like perfection to me!

Selfhelp Fest. Self Help Fest was started a few years ago by my all-time favorite band, A Day to Remember. The idea behind the festival is that music is a powerful, healing force and many of the bands that attend are bands that are frequently credited with being a force that pushed someone from the edge of suicide, at least in the hardcore/metalcore/rock scene. It’s about bringing people together and realizing you’re not alone. While it is held annually in California, they did hold it on year in Philadelphia and I’m crossing my fingers they do that again soon!

Coachella. Coachella is one of the most popular music festivals in the United States, pulling some of the biggest headliners of any festival. It’s held each year over two weekends in California and tends to pull a crowd that’s a little more glamorous than those at Bonnaroo. Even so, it’s a festival I must attend!

iMatter. Unlike many of the other festivals on the list, iMatter is more of a local festival than a national event – for now, anyway. Much like SelfHelp, iMatter brings together a community of music lovers who are no stranger to the pain of life. They put an emphasis on using music, rather than suicide or self-harm, as an escape and often bring in artists that can relate to the crowd. It’s a fairly small festival held in the Elmira, NY area with a few national headliners and ten or so local bands, mostly heavy metal. iMatter was the first concert I attended solo and while I haven’t been able to return, it’s a festival I recommend everyone on the East Coast attend. The best part? It’s free.

SO WHAT?!. SO WHAT?! began a few years ago as South by So What?!, held during the South by South West festival, bringing in bands of all genres, though leaning heavily towards the rock genre. They’ve recently added a fall edition that takes place in various venues across Dallas.

Glastonbury Festival. Glastonbury is the largest greenfield arts and music festival in the world and the inspiration for many of the other festivals on this list. Each year, 900 acres in the Vale of Avalon is turned into an oasis for all attendees. It brings the most eclectic people and musicians from all across the world and is top on my personal bucket list.

Lollapalooza. Lollapalooza takes over Grant Park, Chicago each summer with some of the biggest names in current music. Tickets often sell out almost immediately and it’s a festival like no other. A must-attend in the US.

What music festivals are on your bucket list? Have you been to any on this list?

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Feature photo by Diego Sulivan on Unsplash

6 thoughts on “10 Music Festivals to Add to Your Bucket List

  1. Angel Young

    Excellent list! I’ve surprisingly never been to an actual full scale concert, surprisingly. I’ve went to a small local band during a 4th of July thing at a park, and when I was in Chicago in 2013 I got to see Ghost of the Robot play inside the Muvico before I went to James Marsters birthday party. Having dinner with him and his son after hearing their band was pretty fantastic though! Eventually I’ll get to a real concert, and hopefully one of these festivals! Excellent post as always!

    Reply
  2. Hannah T.

    You mention some festivals I didn’t really know about yet. Make me curious :).

    This year I will go to Balaton Sound and Tomorrowland, looking forward to it a lot!

    Reply
  3. Natalie

    Great list!! We live in Austin and find music festivals draw huge happy crowds! Music can really help people enjoy life and connect with each other. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Brittany Giles

    Costa Rica sounds like fun especially when trying to learn a new language! I hope you fulfill your goals in life!

    Reply

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