Typically, music festivals find their temporal home in the warm days of summer. But when you live in Florida, those days are not just warm—they’re brutally, scorchingly hot. And so springtime is the season for the best music festivals in Florida. Whether you’re looking for things to do in Miami Beach that will get your head banging, or the biggest dance events in Miami (hi there, Ultra), there is a music festival in Florida with your name on it. Who needs Coachella when you've got beats blaring from the sands of the Miami beaches?
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Best music festivals in Florida this spring
Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival
Celebrate all things Florida at GrassRoots Live, a weeklong celebration of South Florida’s art, culture and music scenes. The event spans local venues as well as the Virginia Key Beach Park, where attendees can spend the night and camp out. Expect weeknight performances at the Wynwood Yard, Concrete Beach Social Hall and the North Beach Bandshell, along with a beer garden, crafts, live art, a sustainability expo and a Zen village hosted on the event’s park grounds. Feb 21–27, 2017; various locations, Key Biscayne.Photograph: Vincent Roazzi Jr
Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival
Take an iconic lake, thousands of campers, artist villages and a line-up packed with more than 80 bands and musicians and you’ve got Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival—what some are calling Florida’s answer to popular camping festival Bonnaroo. Now in its second year, the four-day event features A-listers such as Kings of Leon, theLumineers and Sleigh Bells. Mar 2–5: 12517 NE 91st Ave, Okeechobee.Photograph: Terry Beeman
Gasparilla Music Festival
Since 2011, Gasparilla Music Festival has mixed local acts with big musical names to bring a helluva weekend to Tampa. This year, indie darlings Cage the Elephant, Venezuelan jam band Los Amigos Invisibles and soulful rocker Ryan Adams are activating the city’s downtown with sound. Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah will drop the killer beats. They may lack the big names—no Beyoncé or Red Hot Chili Peppers—but this fest promises some of the highest quality acts of any on the calendar. March 11–12, 2017: Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa.Photograph: Courtesy Gasparilla/Anthony Martino
Ultra Music Festival
Since 1999, Ultra Music Festival has grown from a handful of stoned, drum’n’bass-loving, hippie slackers standing barefoot in the sands of South Beach to bringing in something like 150,000 tweekers and candy ravers from around to world to Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami. This year will definitely make the Magic City even more magical with Ultra’s usual massive name DJs like Afrojack, Avicii and Carl Cox, and newer stars like Purity Ring and Knife Party. Ultra has spread its bass-busting beats all over the world from Ibiza to Seoul, Korea, and just recently announced an expansion to Rio de Janeiro. In the fall, you can round out your EDM year with a different electronic fest, EDC Orlando. Yup, there’s an Electric Daisy Carnival right by Disney. Talk about a trippy week! March 21–26, 2017: Bayfront Park, Miami.
Photograph: Courtesy Ultra/Philippe Wuyts
Winter Music Conference
If you grew up in South Florida, you probably remember at least one spring where you partied hard at the Winter Music Conference. Back in the ’90s, clubs lining Washington Avenue on Miami Beach were filled with music nerds and industry folks decorated with WMC badges listening live to the coolest electronic acts of the day like Fat Boy Slim, Roni Size or Daft Punk. Since those early days, WMC has been swallowed by what is now known as Miami Music Week, which includes humongous EDM fest Ultra and plenty of other label and local showcases. Even with all that noise, those most dedicated to the craft of making electronic music will strap on their WMC badges again in 2017 and take to the streets. March 21–24, 2017: Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach, Miami.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Amy Pitner
Wanee Music Festival
The soulful and rocking Wanee Music Festival welcomes hippies and blues aficionados of all ages —and their dogs. This is a fest for the people, and if they have pets, it’s so chill that it’s for them too! The heart of the event is egalitarian and revelers camp camping and chill on a sea of hammocks under trees heavy with Spanish moss. The festival was created by the Allman Brothers Band in 2005; the classic Southern act played its final show there in 2014 at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in sleepy Live Oak. Expect to hear jams and noodling galore from Widespread Panic, Matisyahu, Les Brers and Gov't Mule, among many others. April 20–22, 2017: Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak.
Photograph: Courtesy Wanee Music Festival/Jason Koerner
Tortuga Music Festival
Sing along at Fort Lauderdale’s fifth annual Tortuga Music Festival, a three-day party featuring country, rock and roots favorites. Thousands pour onto Fort Lauderdale’s beachside as diverse performers like Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney and Nelly take the stage. The festival benefits the Rock the Ocean Foundation, which works to increase public awareness about issues impacting the world’s oceans. Apr 7–9, 2017; 1100 Seabreeze Blvd, Fort Lauderdale.Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Tortuga Music Festival/Marc Serota
Welcome to Rockville
If the name didn’t give it away, Welcome to Rockville promises two days of heavy-duty, fling-your-hair-back rocking. But “rock” at this Jacksonville fest comes in many forms. This year, they’re bringing the punk rock genius of the Offspring and the heavy metal of Def Leppard and Soundgarden to Jacksonville. But you can also expect to hear straight rock from the likes of Papa Roach and Three Days Grace. To fit in, wear black and come ready to drink yourself silly. April 29–30, 2017: Metropolitan Park, Jacksonville.
Photograph: Courtesy Welcome to Rockville/Scott Uchida
For five days straight, SunFest brings oodles of life, color and action to the waterfront in West Palm Beach. It’s the music festival that appeals to everyone, from babies to grannies. Last year’s lineup is a case in point: ZZ Top, Meghan Trainor, Alabama Shakes, Jason Derulo, Duran Dura—it's always virtually impossible for anyone to complain about the whole thing. The crowd is draped in everything from silly hats, snapbacks, long flowing skirts and short-shorts—all a little sticky from the heat and spilt beer. May 3–7, 2017: Downtown West Palm Beach, Miami.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kristian Golding
Sunset Music Festival
Spend Memorial Day zoning out on EDM at Tampa’s Sunset Music Festival. PLUR will be plentiful and neon tutus will be the signature style. Though the 2017 lineup hasn’t been announced, if last year’s roster is any indicator, expect electro stalwarts and the kind up-and-coming DJs your kid brother is loving online. The 2016 festival boasted Hardwell, Galantis, Jack U and the Chainsmokers—a nice mix of electronic sub-genres and pop favorites certain to keep the crowds going. May 27–28, 2017: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa.
Photograph: Courtesy Sunset Music Festival/Drew Ressler