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Julian Bajsel/Coachella

The best music festivals in the U.S.

From EDM ragers and big jazz celebrations to massive pop explosions, these are the best music festivals in the U.S.

Scott Snowden
Edited by
Scott Snowden
Written by
Sarah Medina

Once again, as we slowly, tentatively emerge from winter hibernation, the live music scene is similarly emerging with a new, exciting, vibrant energy. Starting this summer, your favorite artists will return to large stages in New YorkAustin, New Orleans, Indio and more for the best music festivals in the U.S., alongside fun event activations, comedy tents, massive art installations and even spa services. Yes, really. 

So, what is the biggest music festival in America? Well, that depends on what you're after. Whether you've been longing for bass-thumping EDM and the chance to dress up in costume, soulful jazz ensembles and some of the best Southern food around, or big-name headliners behind some of the best pop songs ever written—fests are back and ready to get you dancing in 2023. Here are the best festivals in the U.S. over the next year, in chronological order. May they inspire the music-filled weekend of your dreams.

😎 The best European music festivals

Best music festivals in the U.S.

When: March 10–19, 2023

Where: Austin, Texas

The first SXSW was held in 1987 and since then the festival has grown both in terms of attendance—by some counts, 280,000 people attended the 10-day festival in 2019—and in terms of influence: SXSW is Austin’s biggest revenue-producing event and one of the most important gatherings on the nation's entertainment calendar. The event is broken down into SXSW Music (with 2,000-plus acts performing across the city); SXSW Film (with screenings of anticipated movies, panels and workshops); SXSW Comedy (a week of laugh-out-loud lineups including established and emerging talent), and the increasingly popular SXSW Interactive, which features speakers, panels and a pitch competition, SXSW Accelerator.

When: March 30–April 2, 2023

Where: Knoxville, Tennessee

Named for the open-minded approach to listening it asks attendees to have, Big Ears regularly hosts contemporary classical music performances along with adventurous indie-rock, jazz, metal and electronic music. To list genres is almost antithetical to the spirit of the festival, which recognizes no such distinction in its omnivorous bookings. For four days, Big Ears transforms the city into a paradise for music of all kinds, taking over regal music halls, intimate clubs and hushed churches, all of which are centrally located and within walking distance. 


When: April 14–16 and 21–23, 2023

Where: Indio, California

More than 100,000 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 mid-century modern homes. Though its bespoke dining experiences and hotel party scene may try to steal headlines, Coachella remains about the relaxed desert air euphoria of a well-curated music festival. 

When: April 28–30, 2023

Where: Austin, Texas

There seems to be some confusion over branding on this one. Levitation, formally known as Austin Psych Fest, appears to have shifted its date forward by six months to April and once again started calling itself Austin Psych Fest. Regardless of its actual name, this festival has become a big name on the Austin festival scene, celebrating the psychedelic sounds of the ’60s and the evolution of experimental rock. This weekend-long bacchanal is all about boundary-pushing and musical expression. Acts for 2023 include Oro Y Moi, Cuco, Yves Tumor, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Angels, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Crumb and more.


When: April 28–May 7, 2023

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana

One of the country’s longest-running music festivals, held annually since 1970, Jazz Fest is also one of the biggest. Nearly half-a-million people show up to take in a massive bill of jazz, blues, rock and roots music. While most festivals are content to book the same handful of reunited alt-rock bands making the rounds, Jazz Fest always boasts hall-of-fame caliber headliners. This year’s lineup goes well beyond jazz with names like Jon Batiste, Jill Scott, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Kane Brown, H.E.R., Steve Miller Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gary Clark Jr., Leon Bridges and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.

When: May 5–7, 2023

Where: Atlanta, Georgia

Rock enthusiasts flock to Atlanta’s Central Park to enjoy more than 60 bands across four stages, and they're greeted with a rather eclectic range of up-and-coming, trending, and world-renowned musicians. This year presents The Killers, Yeah, Yeah Yeahs, Tenacious D, Placebo and a whole host of some of the biggest names in modern music.


When: May 19–21, 2023

Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama

One of the more unlikely success stories in the festival business, this fest right on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico had the bad luck to launch in the midst of 2010's Deepwater Horizon oil spill—but it hung in there and grew big enough to get bought up by the company that puts on Coachella. The Hangout lineup leans heavy on energetic indie, electronic and pop acts that fit the beach-party vibe. Confirmed acts for this year include the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Flume, SZA and Calvin Harris.

When: May 26–28, 2023

Where: Napa, California

It wouldn’t be a true Wine Country event without an abundance of vino, gourmet food, and a mid-fest massage (seriously). But BottleRock really sets itself apart by satiating both your flavor and sonic palettes—and the range of attractions doesn’t disappoint. Confirmed acts include The Smashing Pumpkins, Duran Duran, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Post Malone and lots more.


When: May 27–29, 2023

Where: Detroit, Michigan

Detroit’s Movement is the antithesis of the sprawling, sense-assaulting EDM mega-raves like Electric Daisy Carnival that come to mind when you hear the phrase 'electronic music festival.' Launched in 2000 as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, and held downtown in the city that gave the world techno, the focus here is on music over spectacle, with a lineup that mixes pioneers with next-generation innovators.

When: June 9–11, 2023

Where: Governors Island, New York

What began as a few tents among abandoned buildings and military barracks is now a staple festival, occupying a unique place among summer concerts in NYC. All stages will be nestled in the center of an astroturf-lined Citi Field, with a 360-degree layout to prevent sound bleed between stages and eliminate long walks for festgoers. It’s the one local fest where you can catch hip-hop chart-toppers, tastemaker-approved buzz bands, left-field pop heroes and, yes, dance-commanding EDM overlords. This year’s lineup includes Lizzo, Lil Uzi Vert, Finneas, Odesza, Lil Baby, Lil, Nas X and lots of other music acts that you've definitely heard of.


When: June 15–18, 2023

Where: Manchester, Tennessee

Long-running Bonnaroo has a reputation as the funkiest of the modern major music festivals, from its backwoods Tennessee location and its hedonistic on-site camping to the slightly hippie-fied lineups and signature all-star 'superjam.' This year’s lineup includes Zeds Dead, Liquid Stranger, Kendrick Lamar, Odesza, Foo Fighters, Pixes and more.

When: June 22–24 • June 29–July 1 • July 6–8, 2023

Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

When Summerfest revealed around 100 headliners, they were just getting started. Taking place over three consecutive weekends, the lineup features a whopping 800+ artists across 12 stages. Acts include Elle King, Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews Band, Imagine Dragons, James Taylor, Zach Bryan and more.


When: July 16–20, 2023

Where: Chicago, Illinois

The musical tastemakers of Pitchfork bring a painstakingly curated lineup of critically lauded indie rockers, hip-hop artists and forward-thinking musicians to Chicago’s Union Park each summer. Since its inception in 2006, the festival has remained an ideal size, boasting reasonable crowds (about 20,000 people per day), three stages and plenty of room for lounging in the sun or shade. Acts for 2023 have not yet been confirmed.

When: July 28–30, 2023

Where: Newport, Rhode Island

Best known as the place where Dylan went electric (before being cut off by angry folk traditionalists), Newport’s been showcasing the changing face of Americana for nearly half a century. While the lineup usually has a healthy dose of acts that reflect its history of traditionalism, it also features rockers, R&B singers and electronics-assisted performances. This year holds two three-day events with performances, storytelling, and workshops.


When: August 3–6, 2023

Where: Chicago, Illinois

Founded as a touring festival by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell in 1991, Lollapalooza has made Chicago its permanent home since 2005. The gargantuan event spans the entirety of Grant Park, subjecting more than 100,000 daily attendees to long walks between stages, porta-johns and beer tents. The reward for your sun-drenched slog? A veritable who’s-who of marquee festival acts, from hip hop to indie rock and everything in-between.

When: August 11–13, 2023

Where: San Francisco, California

In the years since its inaugural weekend back in 2008, Outside Lands has become a signature San Francisco event. Three days of dancing to dozens of bands and yucking it up with A-list comics are punctuated by drinking and dining experiences that put traditional festival food to shame. (In previous years, there have been such things called "Cheese Lands" here, as well as a "Wine Lands" and Bubble Tea Party in a magical forest). Do not forget to wear layers, and prepare to get dusty. The bands rock, the fog rolls in and it’s a long and awesome weekend.


When: August 25–27, 2023

Where: Columbus, Ohio

Founded in 2019 as a means to promote and raise funds for mental health initiatives at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, a share of the revenue from this fest continues to help support the medical center’s programs. After skipping 2020, the festival returns for its third year this fall and while the 2023 lineup is not yet confirmed, previous years have seen the likes of Kesha, Wilco, Grouplove, Black Pumas and AJR playing live. The family-friendly event spanning 54 acres of outdoor space also includes a plethora of culinary options, a robust artisan village, and activities for children.

When: September 1–3, 2023

Where: New York City, New York

Electric Zoo is New York City’s premier electronic music festival that takes place over Labor Day weekend. With stacked artists ranging from bass to techno and everything in between, it's an unusual and exciting way to spend the holiday. A steller lineup this year includes Armin Van Buuren, Carl Cox, Gorgon City, Martin Garrix and many more. Events in years past have featured a 'Supernaturals' theme, inviting 'all cosmic creatures, astral aliens, intergalactic illusionists, supernatural wizards, shamans, witches, and extraterrestrial beings' to experience a spectrum of electronic music and its various subgenres. That should give you some idea of what to expect.


When: September 15–17, 2023

Where: Chicago, Illinois

Forget about flower crowns and neon tank tops—Riot Fest is a place to show off your old high school jean jacket, plastered with patches and pins. Originally conceived as a punk-rock celebration, this three-day event has grown to welcome alternative rockers, hip-hop acts, electronic artists and more. You can also ride a Ferris wheel, eat funnel cake and see a sideshow—it’s kind of like a state fair with way better music. No acts had been officially confirmed for 2023 at the time of writing, but last year a jamp-packed lineup included My Chemical Romance Alkaline Trio, Portugal, The Man, Bleachers, Taking Back Sunday, Descendents, Rocket From The Crypt, The Wonder Years, Jeff Rosenstock and more.

When: October 6–8 • 13–15, 2023

Where: Austin, Texas

ACL takes place over two weekends and it's easy to see why: Organizers need all the time in the world to stuff Zilker Park full of some of America’s biggest (and most eclectic) names. At the time of writing, no acts have been officially confirmed, but if previous years are any indication, it will a musical extranaganza that's worth making an effort to get to.


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