Not all summer music festivals require a road trip to the desert; in fact, you’ll find a pretty even split between local L.A. venues and day trip destinations. Most do, however, require plunking down a sizable chunk of change—thankfully we have plenty of free concerts to balance them out. While festivals aren’t the only upcoming concerts this summer, they certainly generate the most buzz—particularly the summer music festivals below.
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Summer music festivals near L.A.
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 Childish Gambino, Tame Impala and Ariana Grande atop its bill.
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 Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean. Expect the usual mix of contemporary and classic country.
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 Disclosure, Big Gigantic, Flying Lotus and Santigold topping the 2019 bill. Expect to do some serious soul-searching during this six-day retreat, all while immersing yourself in everything from a speaker series at the Lucent Temple of Consciousness to the old timey Grand Artique trading post.
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: Diplo, Martin Garrix, Alison Wonderland, Deadmau5 and more are all set to perform this year. Once you let the neon and bass wash over you, it is the time of your life.
Say goodbye to dusty thoroughfares and violent porta-potties: Splash House takes the music festival concept off of sweltering desert land and places it poolside. Movers and shakers at this multi-location getdown are shuttled between the Renaissance, the Riviera Resort and the Saguaro to lap up big-name dance acts and DJ sets.
Though locally born EDM juggernaut HARD Summer has hopped around Southern California in recent years, its dedication to bringing the biggest names in the hip-hop and electronic scene. Kid Cudi, Major Lazer, RL Grime, Dillon Francis, Alison Wonderland top the lineup, with a slew of high-profile back-to-back performances: Excision and Nghtmre, Flosstradamus and 4B, and Zhu and Tchami, among them.
Celebrate L.A.’s burgeoning Eastside with a free music festival—what’s not to like? Echo Park Rising is back for its eighth year with over 100 handpicked local up-and-coming bands, comedians, film screenings and more. With venues ranging from the Echo and Stories Books & Cafe to Button Mash and the parking lot of TAIX French Restaurant, as well as various special discounts and sales at local businesses, this is always a neighborhood affair not to be missed.
Kaaboo is returning to the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds with another eclectic lineup of adult alternative favorites—including Kings of Leon, Dave Matthews Band, Mumford & Sons and Duran Duran. The “mix-perience” (yep) comes with clean amenities, artisanal cuisine, fashion pop-ups and local artwork. Views of the main music stage can be enjoyed from a variety of vantage points: on a chaise lounge, in a pool, on a volleyball court or inside a premium cabana.
Bask in the glow of the blinking Las Vegas lights during this beautiful mess of a music festival. Eighteen city blocks become a playground for music lovers of all types at the genre-spanning Life is Beautiful. Embrace all of the things that are both wonderful and awful about Vegas trips and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic lineup; the 2019 iteration includes Post Malone, Chance the Rapper, the Black Keys, Billie Eilish, Vampire Weekend, Zedd, Lil Wayne, Janelle Monae and more.
Eddie Vedder’s Ohana Festival once again lands at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, with sets from the Strokes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tash Sultana, Incubus, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and Vedder himself. The fest’s name comes from the Hawaiian concept of family, and as such the beachfront festival will give back to its own community by donating a portion of proceeds to the San Onofre Parks Foundation and the Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association.