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Music festivals within driving distance of L.A.

Hit up these hometown music festivals, as well as ones within driving distance of L.A., from Las Vegas to the Central Coast

Coachella 2016 weekend 1; day 2
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
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Whether a day trip or a Metro ride away, there’s no shortage of music festivals near Los Angeles. We’re not just talking about summer music festivals either—thanks to Southern California’s persistently pleasant climate, we can enjoy outdoor fests nearly year-round. So lace up a comfortable pair of shoes for these music festivals within driving distance of L.A., from free concerts to camping excursions.

Upcoming music festivals

Burgerama 2015
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Music

Burgerama

Burger Records’ annual music fest, Burgerama, is back after a few year haitus. The noon-to-midnight at the Echo and the Echoplex includes sets from the Mummies, Flamin’ Groovies, Apache, Hollywood Stars, Tomorrows Tulips and more.

Beyond Wonderland
Photograph: Courtesy Insomniac
Music, Music festivals

Beyond Wonderland

NOS Events Center, San Bernardino

This springtime spin-off in Insomniac’s Wonderland series takes its whimsical, carnival-like atmosphere to this trance-heavy festival. The dreamy, multi-stage experience includes the likes of Alison Wonderland, Dillon Francis, Diplo, Tiësto and Diesel (yep, as in Shaq).

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Desert Stars Festival
Photograph: Courtesy Desert Stars Festival
Music, Music festivals

Desert Stars Festival

Location T.B.A.,

One of the most grassroots and crunchy granola music festivals around (and we mean that in the most flattering way possible) is held in an outdoor theater in Joshua Tree. Pack your camping gear and cruise out to the desert for two days of fresh air and killer tunes. Mercury Rev, Ringo Deathstarr, Twink, Pete International Airport, Alex Maas and Death Valley Girls top this year’s lineup. Passes are a steal compared to some other fests, making this comparatively chill music event a worthwhile way to round out your festival season.

Coachella 2015, day 3
Photograph: Kate Wertheimer
Music, Music festivals

Coachella

Empire Polo Club, Indio

Coachella 2020 has been postponed until October due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly 125,000 music lovers make a pilgrimage to the Empire Polo Club during each identical weekend of Coachella, whether bound for campgrounds or shuttling over from golf resorts and midcentury modern homes. Coachella’s all-embracing three-day lineup consistently crafts the pool of performers from which all other summer music festivals borrow. Even in the face of an increasingly predictable pattern, it’s hard to argue with a fest that finds room for Frank Ocean, Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, Run the Jewels, Thom Yorke and Lana Del Rey atop its bill.

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Stagecoach 2015
Photograph: Kate Wertheimer
Music

Stagecoach Festival

Empire Polo Club, Indio

Stagecoach 2020 has been postponed until October due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Strap on your cowboy hat and make the pilgrimage to country music’s biggest jamboree, taking up residence at Coachella’s digs, the Empire Polo Club. Stagecoach is coming back for a three-day fest, and headlining the event this year are stars like Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church (plus Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus and Diplo). Expect the usual mix of contemporary and classic country.

Morrissey at FYF 2015, day 2
Photograph: Mallory Turner
Music, Rock and indie

Cruel World Festival

Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson

Cake on the eyeliner, cry it off and then dance away the tears at this inaugural 1980s goth and new wave fest feauting Morrissey, Bauhaus, Blondie and Devo. On May 2, the grounds around the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson will host the Cruel World Festival, a one-day-only music fest that features almost every ’80s alt obsession imaginable: the Psychedelic Furs, Echo & the Bunnymen, Violent Femmes, the Church, English Beat, Public Image Ltd, Gary Numan, Missing Persons (you know they’ll play “Walking in L.A.”) and more.

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Redondo Beach Pier
Photograph: Courtesy Redondo Pier Association
Music, Music festivals

Beachlife Festival

Redondo Beach Pier, Redondo Beach

This surf-inflected music fest will once again take over the Redondo Beach coastline for three days, with a laid-back lineup that includes the likes of the Steve Miller Band, Counting Crows, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, G. Love & Special Sauce and a Bob Marley celebration featuring Ziggy and Stephen Marley.

EDC Las Vegas 2015
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Music, Music festivals

Electric Daisy Carnival

Las Vegas Motor Speedway,

On the outskirts of town at the Motor Speedway, Electric Daisy Carnival is pure, condensed Vegas. There is a VIP Ferris wheel. Helicopters shuttle in high rollers. The 135,000-strong crowd is soaked in ecstasy and spray tan. Every millionaire DJ that plays the laser-riddled nightclubs on the Strip is here. EDC introduced EDM as a Day-Glo spectacle for the masses in America, and its lineups in recent years have certainly lived up to the hype. Once you let the neon and bass wash over you, it is the time of your life.

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Joshua Tree Music Festival
Photograph: Courtesy Foster Snell
Music, Music festivals

Joshua Tree Music Festival

Joshua Tree Lake Campground, Desert

Make your way to the desert for the Joshua Tree Music Festival, a gathering of like-minded indie musicians who will be rocking out to a dance-world-electro-funk’n groove. The biannual festival is a four-day party with over 30 bands in a unique lineup of artists who aren’t necessarily household names. There’s free water to all patrons, minimal service charges on tickets and yoga classes aplenty.

Lightning in a Bottle
Photograph: Courtesy Juliana Bernstein
Music, Music festivals

Lightning in a Bottle

Location T.B.A.,

After years on the Central Coast, the annual event has made a move significantly closer to L.A., at Bakersfield’s Buena Vista Aquatic Recreational Area. Sure, it’s still a bit of a trek, but where else can you find a sustainable, vegetarian festival dedicated to equal parts music, food, art, yoga and wellness? Lightning in a Bottle has stepped up its musical lineup in recent years, with Kaytranada, Sylvan Esso, GRiZ, Purity Ring, Four Tet, Big Wild, Jon Hopkins and James Blake topping the 2020 bill.

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Looking for free concerts?

Movie screenings, live concerts, comedy and more happen here at the Santa Monica Pier.
Photograph: Courtesy Twilight Concerts
Music

Free concerts in L.A.

Looking for free concerts in L.A.? Well, you’re in luck—music (aside from film, possibly) is the city’s most abundant form of entertainment.

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