2018 Music Festival Guide

Think warm thoughts during this freezing weather that has overtaken the US. We are just a few short weeks away from music festival season! Sun, fun, good music and good vibes awaits you at the festival of your choice. Music festival season known to others as summer, is my absolute fave. I have been to over 11 different mid to large-scale music festivals over 22 times. That’s not including local music festivals, outdoor concerts and shows. You could say, I like music festivals and know a thing or two about them!

The below guide includes tips for the festivals that I’ve been to and aspirations for the ones I plan to attend this year. I’ve placed my logo next to my favorite festivals that I absolutely adore and look forward to each year. Each festival has the same details for easy comparison. No matter your region there is a music festival just a drive away from you. This is not an exhaustive list that would be wayyyyy too much for me to write. The good thing about festivals is, you can pick your flavor. What city, what size, what time of year, what kind of lineup, it’s basically build your own experience.

Which of the below festivals are you attending this year? Do you think I should add one to the list? Let me know in the comments section. DISCLAIMER: GA pass prices are as of 1/25/2018 and may change/be sold out depending on when you view. 

Okeechobee

March 1-4, Okeechobee, FL
GA Passes: $289
On-Site Camping: Yes
Highlights: Aquachobee, a daytime swimming, hanging & music hang zone

This is the first large-scale festival of the year. I’ve never been, but all of the pictures, testimonies and videos are either amazing marketing or this festival is truly wonderful. I mean it has a beach and swimming hole in the camping center! It’s on my list next year for sure. I like festivals that truly build community and they seem to have done that. This year’s headliners include Arcade Fire, Travis Scott, Foster the People and MisterWives. Snoop Dogg as the PowWow headliner which is a once-in-a-lifetime collaborative concert between superstar artists and incredible musicians.

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SXSW

March 2-18, Austin, TX
GA Passes: Varies for Conference and Festival
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: 10 days of Film, Music, Comedy, parties and showcases

This will be my first year going to SXSW if all goes as planned. I’m a newbie myself for this one so I’ve been doing a lot of research and asking SXSW veterans. I will be going the last weekend, which I heard is the best.  Essentially, you can get into most of the presentations by simply RSVPing on the site. My blogger friend Blake Von D is doing a talk the first weekend. Unfortunately, I will be in Minneapolis for another event, but def check her out if you’re down there! For the parties and official concerts you need a pass. Those will cost you a hefty fee. Good news, there are lots of unofficial stages and parties around Austin that will be packed and still have artists and celebrities. This year, I will be at the Plane House Stage. Come find me.

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Ultra

March 22-25, Miami FL
GA Passes: $379
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: Miami!!! One of my favorite cities. Reason enough to go

I’ve always wanted to go to Ultra, but it has never worked out. I’ve heard mixed reviews which is part of the reason I haven’t. Honestly, I prefer eclectic festivals and this is def just a rave in downtown Miami. If that sounds like a good time to you, go for it. I’ve heard it can get really dirty and very crowded as well. If that happens, you can always escape down to the beach.

Broccoli City Fest

April 28, Washington, DC
GA Passes: $80-100
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: Broccoli City Weekend including a 5k run and conference

This is a relatively new and small festival. The first Broccoli City Festival was started in 2013 to draw attention for Earth Day, aligning with the brands mission to build thriving urban communities to sustain future generations by mobilizing and educating urban millennials through social impact campaigns and major events. Over a dozen of my friends are going to this to see Cardi B, Migos and Miguel. I would go, but it’s right after Coachella and has the same headliners.

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Coachella 

April 13-15 & April 20-22 Indio, CA
GA Passes: SOLD OUT
On-Site Camping: Yes
Highlights: Two weekends, amazing campground fun

Coachella has been sold out for a few weeks, but you can still get overpriced tickets on resale sites like StubHub. I am going Weekend 1 and this will be my 5th year. I normally go Weekend 2, but my friend and I decided to switch it up this year. Coachella always has the best artists and very eclectic bill. Beyond the music, the food and art help enhance the experience. I suggest camping as it makes the experience more memorable and cost-effective. Pretty sure everyone knows who is headlining, lol! If you are planning on going, be sure to check out my Coachella Planning Guide.

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Beale Street Music Festival 

May 4-6, Memphis, TN
GA Passes: $105
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: The culture of Beale Street and the show is by the river

The BSMF is part of Memphis’ month long celebration “Memphis in May”. This festival always has incredible lineups. I have to admit, I haven’t been even though it’s a short 3 hour drive away from Nashville. The 2018 lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but I predict Justin Timberlake will be one of the headliners. 2017 headliners included MGMT, Wiz Khalifa and Kings of Leon. For 3 days of music, this is the most bang for your buck!

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Rolling Loud Festival

March 11-13, Miami, FL
GA Passes: $249
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: For the price, you really just get the music and Miami

Tickets for this festival actually go on sale tomorrow. The full lineup has not been announced yet. This is also a new festival, but thus far, I’ve only heard positive things.

Hangout

May 18-20, Gulf Shores, AL
GA Passes: $279
On-Site Camping: No, condos
Highlights: Shows on the beach, nightly beach bonfires

I’ve only been once and I’ve been craving to go back ever since. It was one of my best festival experiences. I went in 2012 and I still vividly remember the magic of the shows on the beach and late night vibes at the beach bonfires. It’s so nice waking up to the sound of the ocean and then heading to your favorite set. Highly recommended. There’s something special about the hippie vibes of this fest. 2018 headliners include Kendrick Lamar, The Killers and The ChainSmokers.

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Sasquatch

May 25-27, Quincy, WA
GA Passes: Early Bird Sold Out. Regular on Sale Soon
On-Site Camping: Yes
Highlights: The beautiful scene of Gorge Amphitheatre

This is a festival I always hear positive things about from my friends. Not sure when else you would want to venture to Wisconsin, but this is the perfect excuse. The 2018 lineup hasn’t been released, but this is one of the biggest festivals in the US. It always has a great lineup. Look out for the official drop of the lineup and tickets. They will go fast!

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Soundset

May 28, Minneapolis, MN
GA Passes: ~$90
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: Great local hip-hop artists

Although this is a one day festival, you get a lot of great artists in that day. Soundset focused on hip-hop and was started by Minnesota native, rapper artist, Atmosphere. The 2018 lineup has not been announced. I’ve been twice and had a great time each year. The only really downside was the weather. It somehow rains every year. So pack a poncho.

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Bonnaroo

June 7-10, Manchester, TN
GA Passes: $324.50
On-Site Camping: Yes
Highlights: Another great community and THE FOUNTAIN

Roo! One of my faves as it just so happens to be the first festival I went to back in 2011. There truly is something magical about Bonnaroo and the community they have created. Everything from hi-five Fridays and radiate positivity sticks with you long after the festival is over. It’s also one of the nation’s only four day festivals. This year’s headliners include Eminem (he’s headlining a lot of fests this year), Bassnectar, Paramore and Future. I do miss the day’s when a camping pass was included, but passes are now separate making this one of the most expensive festivals this year.

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Essence Music Festival

July 5-8, New Orleans, LA
GA Passes: $150
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: Bourbon Street!

2018 headliners include Janet Jackson, Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu. You’re sure to have a soulful good time at this festival. This festival is more family friendly and certainly caters tot the more mature crowd. If you’re looking for a laid back, good time, I suggest this festival.

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Forecastle

July 13-15, Louisville, KY
GA Passes: $169
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: The Bourbon Lodge. The best bourbon is made there

This is a very affordable festival. This year’s headliners include Chris Stapleton, Arcade Fire, Modest Mouth and Vance Joy. Hoping to make the short 2 hour drive up from Nashville this year.

Pitchfork

July 20-22, Chicago, IL
GA Passes: Varies for Conference and Festival
On-Site Camping: $175
Highlights: Downtown Chicago and the beach are steps away

I’ve been to Pitchfork once. It was very low-key and we bought our one day pass  the day of. This is another very affordable festival. This festival caters to the indie crowd and while there are a few big names, it’s more for up and coming artists as well as a lot of great local talent. The 2018 lineup hasn’t been announced yet.

Lollapalooza

August 2-5, Chicago, IL
GA Passes: Not Confirmed Yet
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: Great lineup and views of the Chicago skyline at sunset

Lolla was still a 3 day festival the last time I went. This will be its 2nd year as a 4 day fest. You stay in hotels and it’s Chicago so you have to book early. It’s easy to get around with the train, but they are going to be overwhelmingly crowded. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet. Lolla now has festivals all over the world and they always get the top artists. In recent years, this festival has catered to a younger crowd.

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AfroPunk

August 25-26, Varies
GA Passes: $105
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: 10 days of Film, Music, Comedy, parties and showcases

AfroPunk has festivals in Atlanta and London. Brooklyn is probably the most well-known and well-attended.

Music Midtown

Sept 2018 Dates Not Confirmed, Atlanta, GA
GA Passes: TBD
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights:

Life is Beautiful

September 21-23, Las Vegas, NV
GA Passes: $200+
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: VEGAS BABY! And the art is dope

2017 was my first year going and man on man, it was amazing! The festival includes a conference portion and then music in downtown Las Vegas. We did a hotel/pass combo which I highly recommend. Check out my recap here. Lineup has not been announced yet.

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Pilgrimage Festival

September 22-23, Franklin, TN
GA Passes: $275
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights:

Austin City Limits

Oct 5-7 & Oct 12-14 Austin, TX
GA Passes: Varies for Conference and Festival
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: Beautiful backdrop of Austin skyline and the food!

 

I’ve been once in 2016 and hope to go back this year. It was a wonderful experience. It’s two weekends so kinda like the Coachella of the South. But it’s much more laid back than Coachella and you certainly get the Southern vibe throughout it.

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VoodDoo Music Festival

October 26-28, New Orleans, LA
GA Passes: TBD
On-Site Camping: No
Highlights: Halloween weekend on Bourbon Street, Art & Culture

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If it’s your first time to a music festival, be sure to check out my Music Festival Starter Kit. I hope each of you has a fun and safe festival experience no matter where you end up. Happy Festival Season!

love, 

Leigh 

 

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