12 best music festivals in the USA in 2019
From large to laid-back, indie to mainstream, these are the top 12 music festivals to look forward to in the USA in 2019. Kicking off in March with Ultra in a new Miami location and running up to Austin City Limits in October, it’s going to be an extraordinary summer of music.
Ultra Music Festival
Named after 1997 Depeche Mode album Ultra, the world’s premier electronic music festival features the renowned DJs in one of the USA’s most beautiful cities.
When: March 29-31, 2019.
Where: Bayfront Park, Miami, had been its physical and spiritual home for several years; but Virginia Key Beach Park was confirmed as the new venue in late 2018.
Who: Expect the biggest names in electronic dance music in the still-to-be-confirmed lineup. Past acts include Azealia Banks, Dave Guetta and DJ Snake.
Plus: Ultra coincides with Miami Music Week, so you’ll find plenty of concerts and parties throughout the city.
Nearest airport: Make Miami International your destination.
Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
The world’s most famous music festival, Coachella, is a trendsetter for both music and fashion. Packed with celebrities, it attracts the most high-profile acts (Beyoncé headlined in 2018) and colorful outfits. ‘Chella’ turns 20 in 2019, which is as good a reason as any to pack your tent and go party.
When: April 12-21, 2019.
Where: Empire Polo Club, Indio, California.
Who: Insiders predict the 2019 line-up will be headlined by Childish Gambino (who hasn’t been at Coachella since 2012), Kanye West (back for the first time since 2011) and Justin Timberlake on his first trip to the Indio desert.
Plus: Installation art, sculpture, solar-powered DJ booths and you can charge your mobile phone using a seesaw.
Nearest airport: Palm Springs International is 23 miles away.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Jazz Fest is an annual celebration of the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. To mark its 50th anniversary in 2019, the festival has been extended by a day – an extra 24 hours to enjoy blues, R&B, Cajun, folk, country, rock, rap, bluegrass and of course lots and lots of jazz.
When: April 26 – May 6, 2019.
Where: Fair Grounds Race Course, New Orleans.
Who: The 50th anniversary lineup will be finalised shortly, but past performers have included Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg and Maroon 5.
Plus: This festival is famous for its food. A strict screening process for food vendors means you can look forward to only the best crawfish beignets, alligator sausage sandwiches, Cajun jambalaya, jalapeno bread, oyster patties and fried green tomatoes.
Shaky Knees Festival
This new-ish music festival dedicated to indie, folk, country and rock was launched in 2013 to fill the indie music gap left by other Atlanta music festivals such as Sweetwater 420 Fest and Music Midtown.
When: May 3-5, 2019.
Where: Central Park, Atlanta, Georgia.
Who: Tame Impala, Beck, Cage the Elephant and Incubus have been confirmed as 2019 headliners.
Plus: There are food trucks and bars inside the ticketed area, plus plenty of good eating and drinking at nearby Ponce City Market.
Nearest airport: Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International gets you closest to the action.
Hangout Music Festival
A multi-genre music festival that delivers Coachella vibes on the beach, Hangout is the music vacation of your dreams.
When: May 16-19, 2019.
Where: Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Who: Already confirmed for this year’s festival is a line-up that includes multi-Grammy-nominated The Lumineers, musician/DJ/producer Diplo, Cincinnati rock outfit Walk The Moon and rapper Cardi B.
Plus: There’s a roller disco, puppy kissing booth and ferris wheel.
Nearest airport: Pensacola International is 45 minutes away.
Electric Daisy Carnival
Founded as a warehouse rave in an open field in Pacoima, Los Angeles, the flagship event now connects electronic dance music fans on and off the dance floor in Las Vegas every May.
When: May 17-19, 2019.
Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Who: The lineup has yet to be announced, but regulars include producers and DJs such as Armin van Buuren, Seven Lions, Yellow Claw and Tiësto.
Plus: Interactive art installations and thrilling rides – it’s a carnival, after all.
Nearest airport: North Las Vegas airport is close to downtown and the Las Vegas Strip.
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
Bonnaroo began as a festival dedicated to jam bands and folk rock and continues to honor these roots, even though it now includes every musical genre you can think of. Named one of the ‘50 Moments that Changed Rock & Roll’ by Rolling Stone in 2003, it remains a landmark on the summer music festival calendar.
When: June 13-16, 2019
Where: Great Stage Park, Manchester, Tennessee
Who: Under wraps, we’re afraid. But with past acts including Eminem, U2, Radiohead and Bruce Springsteen, we can expect an impressive lineup.
Plus: Bonnaroo actively supports sustainability, so come ready to recycle.
Nearest airport: Most festival-goers who arrive by air fly in into Nashville International, a 60-mile car ride from Manchester.
Pitchfork Music Festival
Alternative rock, hip hop, electronica and dance music are on the menu at this thriving annual summer music festival, which these days also serves a side dish of hardcore punk, experimental rock and jazz.
When: July 20-22, 2019.
Where: Union Park, Chicago, Illinois.
Who: The lineup will be revealed nearer the time, but past events have featured the likes of Tame Impala, Ms Lauryn Hill, Fleet Foxes and The War on Drugs.
Plus: Non-musical attractions include a record fair, craft fair and poster show.
Nearest airport: Union Park sits almost exactly between Chicago O’Hare International and Chicago Midway International, so take your pick.
Mo Pop Festival
Set in 20-acre green oasis on the Detroit riverfront, Mo Pop is an indie-rock, pop and hip-hop showcase for both emerging and established performers. Smaller than Coachella and Lollapalooza, it makes up in free spirit for what it lacks in size.
When: 2019 dates are TBA, but it’s likely to be towards the end of July.
Where: West Riverfront Park, Detroit, Michigan.
Who: The 2018 edition saw a lineup headlined by Bon Iver, St Vincent and The National. That makes the 2019 lineup something to look forward to.
Plus: In addition to the on-stage action, Mo Pop features four ‘villages’ – Mo Arcade, Food Truck Rally Alley, Craft Bazaar and the Shipyard, a beer garden.
Nearest airport: Windsor International Airport, nine miles from the city center, puts you right near the action.
Once a touring festival, Lollapalooza found a home at Chicago’s Grant Park in 2005, where tickets to this annual lineup of alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock and hip-hop typically sell out in a day.
When: August 1-5, 2019
Where: Grant Park (Chicago), Illinois
Who: Last last year’s lineup included headliners The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White and the Arctic Monkeys. The 2019 line-up is still TBC, but rumors favor Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons and Twenty One Pilots.
Plus: Dance and comedy performances and craft booths. Family-friendly Kidzapalooza, held at the same venue, offers free entry for music fans aged 10 and under.
Nearest airport: Fly to Chicago O’Hare International or Chicago Midway International and book ahead for special rates on airport transfers for Lolla attendees.
More than a festival, Burning Man is a community and art experiment that offers a personal transformative experience. Held at a temporary city in Black Rock Desert, the rules are: collaborate, create, connect and clean up after yourself.
When: August 25 to September 2, 2019
Where: Black Rock City, about 100 miles north/northeast of Reno, Nevada.
Who: Who’s in the lineup? You are! Burning Man doesn’t provide entertainment. Instead it invites all forms of creative expression by participants. Go and show off!
Plus: Evey year’s festival has a theme. For 2019 it’s Metamorphoses.
Nearest airport: It’s a three-hour bus ride on the Burner Express from Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
Not your run-of-the-mill festival, Afropunk Brooklyn is an annual outdoor summer music and culture celebration that promotes multiculturalism. Other locations include Atlanta, Paris, London and Johannesburg.
When: 2019 dates are TBC, but you should arrange to be in NYC in August.
Where: Commodore Barry Park, Brooklyn, NYC.
Who: The line-up is unconfirmed, but 2018 headliners included Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe, Pusha T and Miguel.
Plus: Expect food trucks, live art and a craft market.
Nearest airport: LaGuardia is 16 miles away in Northern Queens.
Austin City Limits Music Festival
From the producers of Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits features eight stages and over 130 bands from genres including rock, indie, folk, electronic and hip-hop during two consecutive weekends of glorious music.
When: October 4-13, 2019.
Where: Zilker Metropolitan Park, Austin, Texas.
Who: Childish Gambino and Travis Scott headlined in 2018. The 2019 lineup is still under wraps.
Plus: A craft beer tent and football games on the big screen.
Nearest airport: The fun starts at Austin Bergstrom, with live music at the baggage carousel.