Hot Jams

Music Festivals 2011: Lollapalooza, Burning Man, and More

This weekend kicked off a barrage of music festivals around the world.

Music Festivals

This weekend kicks off a barrage of music festivals around the world. From Lollapalooza to Burning Man to Belgium's best-kept secret, Pukkelpop, see where the sounds of summer go live.

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This weekend, Lollapalooza kicks off summer’s music-festival season with some of the biggest names in the business and the hottest breakout bands of 2011. Industry heavyweights Eminem, Coldplay, and Foo Fighters will join Taylor Momsen, Noah and the Whale, Cults, and Lykke Li in a lineup of more than 130 acts, all heading to Chicago’s Grant Park for the annual gathering that will celebrate its 20th birthday this year. From Lolla’s early days when ’90s grunge, mosh pits, and Soundgarden were all the rage, the massive music fest has drawn a rowdy crowd of all ages. Refuel between sets at Chow Town, where Chicago’s favorite chef, Graham Elliot, rounds up the best local food from around the city.

Nigel Treblin / AP Photo

Outside Lands

On Aug. 12, the festival pack will head west to San Francisco for three days at Outside Lands. The music is as good as it was at Coachella—California’s other festival—but Outside Lands draws a more chilled-out crowd, with wine tastings from local vineyards and a more ecofriendly experience. Water stations will be set up for festival attendees to avoid going through too much bottled water, and a recycling center will offer freebies like T-shirts, 2012 tickets, and posters in exchange for plastic and glass bottles. Oh, and then there’s the music: Phish, MGMT, Ellie Goulding, the Black Keys, and Arctic Monkeys are just a few highlights from this year’s diverse lineup.

Joffet Emmanuel / Sipa

Summer Sonic Music Festival

Would you fly all the way to Japan to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mutemath, or a scantily clad Taylor Momsen with the Pretty Reckless? The Summer Sonic Music Festival will be happening in both Tokyo and Osaka over the weekend of Aug. 13 and 14, and boasts a massive lineup, from the Strokes and Panic! at the Disco, to Ziggy Marley and James Blunt, to Avril Lavigne and the Mars Volta. And for some local flavor, be sure to check out all the bands we can’t pronounce.

Matt Sayles / AP Photo


Don't let the name scare you—the alternative Belgian music fest has been showing attendees a good time since 1985. The three-day fest (Aug. 18–20) in the small parish of Kiewet is one of the largest in the country and features both huge names and up-and-comers. Expect big acts such as the Fleet Foxes, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Eminem, alongside indie rockers like Noah and the Whale and the soulful electronic sensation James Blake. And if you ever need to escape the sweaty crowds, an on-site ferris wheel will lift you straight out of the muck. Complimentary camping spots come with each ticket.

Louis Johnny / Sipa

V Festival

Virgin Mobile began throwing its V Festival four years ago in both the U.S. and the U.K. This year’s will run at Chelmsford and Weston-under-Lizard (yes, that’s a town) Aug. 20–21 in Britain. Catch a mix of artists including Eminem, Rihanna, the Arctic Monkeys, and Plan B, or head to the Glee Club Comedy Tent for some stand-up. Both locations are beautiful wooded areas in the English countryside, so bring your tent. The mobile-carrier sponsor provides free Wi-Fi zones and cell-phone charger stations. If you get lucky you may even catch some free Virgin swag.

Chris Pizzello / AP Photo

Reading and Leeds Festivals

The self-declared “music fans’ festival,” Reading and Leeds has been wooing crowds in Berkshire since 1971. Reading, the older of the two locations, is the longest-running music festival still in existence. Each location boasts the same celebrated lineup and will run from Aug. 25 to 28. This year, check out main-stagers like the Strokes, the National, and the Joy Formidable, or indie-chick band Warpaint, the haunting electronic duo Crystal Castles, or the infamous Pete Doherty himself (re-declared “Peter”) in what’s sure to be an exciting solo act. On-site bars, food vendors, and even an on-site supermarket add to the fun. Just be ready to handle the crowds.

Tara Todras-Whitehill / AP Photo

Burning Man

It's become a bit overrun by curious onlookers, but if you’re up for something totally different—say, a complete escape from reality—then Burning Man may still be the festival for you. The weeklong experience is held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, where some 48,000 travel each year to take part. The festival is not a traditional concert series, but a week designed to force people to express (and rely on) themselves in ways not normally experienced. It prefers to call itself a city and has two simple missions: breathing art and surviving. Each year has a theme (2011’s is "Rites of Passage"), and everyone who attends is invited to contribute. The only rule is that everything must be destroyed following Saturday night’s “burning of the man.”

Hussein Malla / AP Photo

Electric Zoo

If you're a fan of computer-generated jams, the Electric Zoo is your kind of festival. Taking place over Labor Day Weekend in New York City's Randall Island Park, it features some of the top artists and DJs from around the world. This year’s lineup includes Tiesto, David Guetta, Benny Benassi, Rusko, MSTRKRFT, the Crookers, and many more. There’ll also be various activity tents and vendors, including face and body art. All the fist pumping and face paint should get you dancing like an animal.

Trixie Textor / Getty Images


Bestival (Sept. 8–11) calls itself a “boutique” festival, boasting an eclectic lineup, dress-up, a Bollywood cocktail bar, and a hidden disco. Set in Robin Hill, in the lush green of Britain's Isle of Wight, this year’s fest features unexpected acts such as Bjork, the Cure, and Toots and the Maytals, and emerging artists such as James Blake and Carte Blanche. This year will also have a roller disco, flame throwing, a burlesque cabaret, and the Swamp Shack, an imitation Louisiana bayou joint—a little something for everyone.

Abdeljalil Bounhar / AP Photo

Austin City Limits

Austin has developed a reputation as the premier live-music capital of the world, and Austin City Limits sets out to prove it. The three-day festival, Sept. 16–18, takes place in the city’s central public green space, Zilker Park, and features more than 130 acts. Catch everyone from Stevie Wonder to Coldplay to Arcade Fire to Kanye West, and enjoy food from local vendors such as Amy’s Ice Cream, and loads of Tex-Mex. Also check out the Soco art market, inspired by the city’s hipster South Congress district, featuring wares from local retailers and artisans.