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.
Formerly Brokechella, the Broke LA Music & Arts Festival is leaving the “-chella” behind while still focusing on a mix of more than 50 emerging L.A. bands. The annual festival will host two music stages and one comedy showcase at the Regent Theater. Oh, and did we mention it's only $25 to get in?
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. Though its bespoke dining experiences and hotel party scene may try to steal headlines, Coachella remains about the relaxed desert air euophoria of a well-curated music festival. Coachella’s all-embracing three-day lineup consistently crafts the pool of performers from which all other summer music festivals borrow (this year’s headliners: the Weeknd, Beyoncé and Eminem).
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 Garth Brooks, Keith Urban and Florida Georgia Line. Expect the usual mix of contemporary and classic country.
You’ll need to trek up to the Central Coast for this annual event, 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 Anderson .Paak, ZHU and Fever Ray topping the 2018 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: Kaskade, Eric Prydz, Kill The Noise and Flux Pavilion 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. With the added comforts of AC rooms and critically acclaimed restaurant fare just steps away from the party scenes, the experience will make you question whether to bother with more punishing locales come next year’s festival season.
Returning to the Rose Bowl–adjacent Brookside Golf Club for a second year, this all-ages, rock-leaning fest is headlined by Neil Young, Jack White, Kings of Leon and Robert Plant. Belle and Sebastian, Alanis Morissette and Third Eye Blind join a small-print bill that, this year, skews toward Americana and ’80s throwbacks. A reconfigured layout—and a new prohibition against stage-front chairs and blankets—should iron out the few awkward elements from the inaugural event.
After finally graduating from its status as an upstart, FYF was almost a goner: Sexual assault allegations against its founder had seemingly put the fest at a dead end. But local promoter Goldenvoice has assumed full ownership of the brand and placed fresh female leadership at its helm. Janet Jackson, Future, Florence and the Machine and My Bloody Valentine top this year’s lineup.
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. This year’s headliners include Marshmello, Travis Scott, Virtual Self and back-to-back sets from Diplo and Dillon Francis as well as Zeds Dead and Jauz.
ROW DTLA isn’t just for Smorgasburg and trendy boutiques. Come this August, it’ll also host a new music festival from HARD founder Gary Richards. The inaugural All My Friends music festival will arrive at ROW DTLA on August 18 and 19. RL Grime, Gucci Mane and Jhene Aiko will headline Saturday of the fest, while M.I.A., Jamie xx and Armand Van Helden top Sunday’s lineup.