Weekend getaways: Out-of-town music festivals near NYC
Planning your weekend getaways for the summer? Here's our guide to the best out-of-town music festivals, all within weekend-trip distance.
Tue Jul 3 2012
Photograph: Dave Vann
Ah, music festivals. It’s where audiophiles and partiers unite, long-lost bands get back together, and dead rap stars come back to life via fancy technology. Musical options beyond NYC abound, and we’ve rounded up the best summer fests that are still close enough for (extended) weekend getaways. So go on, get outta town—but be sure to consult our summer concert survival guide before you go.
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July 12–14: Camp Bisco, Mariaville, NY
Held at the bucolic Indian Lookout Country Club, this dance-music lover’s playground appeals to your booty first and your ears second. Catch self-styled “trance-fusion” outfit and event hosts the Disco Biscuits during one of their many sets, electronic dance music heavyweight headliners Skrillex and Bassnectar, and several quality hip-hop acts, such as Big Boi and Atmosphere. Other daytime options include making crafts and competing in the long-running “color wars”—a sort of festival Olympics—alongside the Biscuits. (campbisco.net). Sat only $85, three-day pass $170.
How to get there: Car (2.5 hours) or shuttle from NYC (round-trip $80; see festival website)
Where to sleep: Your ticket includes onsite camping. If you’re not the tent type, recharge your batteries at Halcyon Farm Bed & Breakfast (518-842-7718; rooms from $119) in neighboring Amsterdam. Alternately, don’t sleep at all!
July 19–22: Gathering of the Vibes, Bridgeport, CT
No self-respecting hippie would miss this Grateful Dead celebration, in which the venerable band’s surviving members crowd the bill with their solo projects. The chilled-out congregation isn’t limited to the jammy set; the event brings together a variety of genres, with folk-rock (the Avett Brothers), reggae (Steel Pulse) and experimental funk-metal (Primus) also represented. Despite the guaranteed pot haze, the fest also caters to families, offering a kids’ corner and beachfront activities. (gatheringofthevibes.com). Day pass $40–$65, four-day pass $205.
How to get there: Car (1.5 hours) or Metro North to Bridgeport (1.5 hours, $16)
Where to sleep: Your ticket includes a spot at the onsite campgrounds. Non-camping Vibers receive special rates at the Hampton Inn (203-874-4400; rooms from $135) in nearby Milford.
August 3–5: Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, RI
Though we were heartbroken that the Newport Folk Festival sold out months in advance, we’re consoled that New England’s storied city by the sea offers a sister fest. This first-rate jazz fete kicks off Friday evening with the NOLA-bred one-two punch of soulful veteran Dr. John and traditional jazz masters Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Witness outdoor sets (replete with dazzling ocean views) over the remainder of the weekend from notable talents the Bad Plus with Bill Frisell, Maria Schneider, Pat Metheny and others. (newportjazzfest.net). Fri $40–$100; Sat, Sun $74–$84; two-day weekend pass $135.
How to get there: Car (3.5 hours) or bus (greyhound.com; 7 hours, $51)
Where to sleep: There’s no onsite camping, but Portsmouth’s Melville Ponds Campground (401-682-2424; rates from $35) is about ten miles away from the fest. The quaint town of Newport isn’t known for its deals, but you can snag a bed at the Newport International Hostel (newporthostel.com; dorm beds from $89, private room from $218 over festival weekend).
August 3–12: Musikfest, Bethlehem, PA
With hundreds of bands populating 15 venues over the course of the ten-day festival, this massive event may initially seem overwhelming. Allow your music tastes to guide you to the appropriate stages, which are organized by genre, spanning jazz, country-blues, polka, classical, acoustic rock and plenty more. Most performances are free—check out Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds’ fiery soul (Aug 11 at 7:30pm) or M.A.K.U. SoundSystem’s Afro-Colombian punk-funk (Aug 9 at 9pm). Higher-profile ticketed shows go down each night; highlights include indie darlings MGMT (Aug 5 at 7:30pm; $35–$45) and R&B supergroup the Dukes of September Rhythm Revue (Aug 8 at 8pm; $33–$43). (fest.org)
How to get there: Car (1.5 hours) or bus from Port Authority to Bethlehem (greyhound.com; 3.5 hours, $15)
Where to sleep: Sayre Mansion Inn (877-345-9019, sayremansion.com; rooms from $155) offers charming accommodations in downtown Bethlehem; be sure to book ahead. You can also make a one-day pilgrimage from NYC if there’s a particular show that piques your interest.
August 17–19: Equifunk, Equinunk, PA
Tickets to this all-inclusive music fest—a sort of summer camp for adults—cover lakeside accommodations (camping or shared cabins with bunk beds), meals, unlimited beer and, of course, musical entertainment. In addition, the Olympic-sized pool is the site of a Saturday-afternoon pool party with live music, alcohol and a 100-foot waterslide. Festivalgoers also get full access to the venue's facilities for the weekend, which means you can take a break from boozing to play sports such as tennis, basketball and volleyball. That's when you're not grooving to the funk and soul stylings of N'awlins ensemble Galactic, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk or electronic jam band Sucker Punch, which includes members of the Disco Biscuits, the New Deal and Lotus. (equifunk.com). One-night weekend pass (Saturday morning through noon on Sunday) $125–$199, two-night pass (Friday afternoon through noon on Sunday) $185–$315.
How to get there: Car (2.5 hours) or shuttle from NYC (round-trip $50; see festival website)
Where to sleep: Festival tickets with camping cost $125 per person for one night and $185 for two nights (get 14% off with our special Time Out offer). Festival tickets with accommodations in a 12-bed cabin are $199 per person for one night and $315 for two.
September 1–2: Made in America, Philadelphia
This is Jay-Z’s first attempt at festival curation, and to no one’s surprise, the lineup is bananas. Artists are still being announced, but on top of a headlining performance from Jigga himself, you can catch sets from alt-rock institution Pearl Jam, resurgent R&B crooner D’Angelo and raucous L.A. hip-hop collective Odd Future. Plus, dance to indie pop from Passion Pit and Santigold, as well as production wunderkind Calvin Harris’s infectious beats. Jay-Z’s star-studded shows usually come with surprise cameos galore—this one should be no exception. (madeinamericafest.com). Two-day pass $135–$350.
How to get there: Car (2 hours), bus (boltbus.com; 2 hours, $13) or train (amtrak.com; 1.5 hours, $50)
Where to sleep: Rent a room at the cozy Cornerstone Bed and Breakfast (cornerstonebandb.com; rooms from $150), which is only a 15-minute walk away, just across the Schuylkill River. If you want to live like Hova for a weekend, travel packages are available; prices start at $689 for two people.