Nothing feels more like summer than taking in live music surrounded by thousands of your best friends. Luckily, the South is home to some of the best music festivals around, so tune into some of our favorites.
1. The Hangout Music Festival
The Hangout, Gulf Shores, AL, May 17-19
The best beach party on the Gulf with an eclectic lineup of rock bands that play just steps from the ocean.
Lineup Highlights: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stevie Wonder, Kings of Leon, The Shins, Imagine Dragons
Don’t Miss: The fireworks show over the water that closes out each night.
2. Free Press Summer Festival
Eleanor Tinsley Park and Allen Parkway, Houston, TX, June 1-2
The artsiest festival around, Free Press hosts dozens of live installations and more than 80 bands on the rolling hills of Eleanor Tinsley Park.
Lineup Highlights: Alabama Shakes, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, The Postal Service, Matt + Kim,
Don’t Miss: Taking a sip of the ‘White Noise,’ a beer that local St. Arnold Brewing Co. created for the 2013 festival.
3. Forecastle Festival
Waterfront Park, Louisville, KY, July 12-14
The Ohio River and downtown Louisville serve as the backdrop for this three-day fest named after the upper deck of ships where sailing crews would gather to let loose after a day’s work.
Lineup Highlights: The Black Keys, The Avett Brothers, Flaming Lips, Old Crow Medicine Show
Don’t Miss: The Bourbon Lodge, where you can sample varieties of one of Kentucky’s most spirited claim to fame.
4. Riverbend Music Festival
21st Century Waterfront, Chattanooga, TN, June 7-15
The main stage is a barge that floats just off the shore, and boats can pull up to privately enjoy their favorite headliners—spanning genres from country to rap—from the water.
Lineup Highlights: Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen, CeeLo Green, Dierks Bentley, O.A.R
Don’t Miss: The Blue Cross Blue Shield Run & Walk. Take on the competitive 5k or 10k or take the 1-mile for a bit of exercise benefitting a good cause.
5. Floydfest Music & Arts Festival
Blue Ridge Parkway, Floyd, VA, July 25-28
Every year Floydfest sets up shop in the Appalachian Mountains for four days of great music and a chance to bike, hike, and float in between sets.
Lineup Highlights: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile, John Butler Trio, Trampled by Turtles
Don’t Miss: The Children’s Universe, a family friendly oasis with activities such as rock climbing, gaming tents, workshops, and the Forever Young Stage featuring performances by kids.
6. Firefly Music Festival
Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, Dover, DE, June 21-23
In its second year, Firefly is like a chill backyard get-together, complete with a killer lineup, teetered hot-air balloon rides, and glamping (glamorous camping) options for the camping adverse.
Lineup Highlights: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, Ellie Goulding, Grizzly Bear
Don’t Miss: the Hammock Hangouts, a forested area where silent black-and-white movies are screened.
7. Wakarusa Music Festival
Mulberry Mountain, Ozark, AR, May 30-June 2
Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, this grassroots festival intends to reconnect music lovers with Mother Nature. Get your music fix then hike, fish, canoe, and wake up refreshed with early morning yoga.
Lineup Highlights: Widespread Panic, Black Crowes, Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dogg), Dispatch, Yonder Mountain String Band
Don’t Miss: The Friday night costume contest and parade—a Waka staple where the winners get passes to next year’s fest.
8. Boonaroo Music and Arts Festival
Manchester, TN, June 16-18
The ultimate camping trip. 700 acres of Tennessee Nature, 150 performances, more than ten stages, comedians, workshops, and exhibits. For four days you can escape your everyday life and become a citizen of the Roo—they even have their own newspaper.
Lineup Highlights: Paul McCartney, Mumford and Sons, ZZ Top, Wilco, Passion Pit
Don’t Miss: The Boonaroo Victory Garden. Stop by Planet Roo and learn how to grow gardens in small spaces, forage in the wild, compost correctly, and plant your own Shitake mushroom log.
9. CMA Music Festival
Nashville, TN, June 6-9
It’s a country music lovers’ must as emerging artists, superstars, legends, and all of their devoted fans gather in the city that started it all.
Lineup Highlights: Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, Hunter Hayes, Little Big Town, Zach Brown Band, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, The Band Perry, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, basically anyone who is a country artist.
Don’t Miss: Fan Fair X at the Music City Center, where you can meet and photograph your favorite artists.
So, tell us which music festival will you be hitting up this summer?