LIVIN’ IT UP
Avoid the Next Ultra: Your Ticket to This Summer’s Hottest Music Festivals
It’s humid. You’re hot. And the world feels heavy. So why not take a vacation that won’t be relaxing in the slightest?
Music festivals encapsulate the best and worst of summer. To do the festival circuit right is to lean into all of its intensity. If you want to have the weekend of a lifetime, you best believe you will, even if that means waiting in line for a Porta Potty while a teenager next to you is chugging vodka out of a crinkled plastic water bottle.
The festivals this year are as diverse as the lineups. Want to suntan while watching Cardi B dominate the stage? Head to Hangout Fest. Looking to mingle with the best of Black Hollywood? Essence Fest in New Orleans is your spot. And if you’re an A Star is Born stan, there’s no way you can miss Stagecoach where Jackson Maine once performed.
- Dates: April 12-14 and April 19-21
- Location: Indio, CA
- Headliners: Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala
Does possibly new bi queen Ariana Grande headlining Coachella negate the festival’s notoriously anti-LGBT owner? No, absolutely not. But that won’t stop thousands of teenagers, USC students (Olivia Jade so graciously offered her style tips there last year) and celebrities from descending upon California’s Colorado Desert hours outside of Los Angeles. Weekend and VIP passes are sold out, but you can still snag a tent without having to go to StubHub.
- Dates: April 26-28
- Location: Indio, CA
- Headliners: Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Jason Aldean
No Jackson Maine?! Though Stagecoach makes a brief appearance in A Star Is Born, the actual festival is the last place you’d find the likes of Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. It takes place in the same polo club grounds as Coachella, but expect fewer culturally-appropriating teens and more oppressively straight cowboys. The lineup is straight out of Nashville, but it’s the unexpected old-school rockers Bret Michaels and Lynyrd Skynyrd that make this year’s festival worth the trip. Yee—and I cannot stress this enough—haw.
- Dates: May 10-12
- Location: Miami Gardens, FL
- Headliners: Migos, Cardi B, Travis Scott, Kid Cudi
Rolling Loud touts itself as “the largest hip-hop festival in the world.” We don’t have a fact check for that bold statement, but it sounds about right. Everyone from Cardi B, Rae Sremmurd and City Girls to Young Thug, Travis Scott and Lil Wayne are performing to an entirely sold-out crowd. Interested? You should be.
- Dates: May 17-19
- Location: Gulf Shores, AL
- Headliners: Cardi B, Travis Scott, Khalid
It might not be the most relaxing vacation, but Hangout is certainly the premier beach festival. With a standard summer 2019 festival lineup, come for a chance to relive summer camp with s’mores, roller disco, a puppy-kissing booth...and a wedding chapel? Schedule time off work and go all three days for $299, because day passes are all sold out.
- Dates: May 17-19
- Location: Las Vegas, NV
- Headliners: A$AP Rocky, David Guetta, Diplo
If the lineup poster in alphabetical order is any inclination, EDC requires some serious work. (Seriously, just show me the headliners.) As if Vegas wasn’t tiring enough, now’s the chance to experience the best of pyrotechnics and EDM. Ninety percent of tickets are sold out, so act fast.
- Dates: May 24-26
- Location: Allston, MA
- Headliners: Twenty One Pilots, Travis Scott, Tame Impala
No, you’re probably not going to see Boston boys Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, but how do Fred Armisen and Jenny Slate sound? Boston Calling offers an excellent lineup of festival mainstays and popular stand-ups. Where else are you going to get Chvrches and Michael Che? Three-day passes for $289 and single-day ones for $114 are still available.
- Dates: May 31-June 2
- Location: New York, NY
- Headliners: Tyler, The Creator, Florence & The Machine, The Strokes
Am I the only one who thought New York’s Lollapalooza and Coachella equivalent took place on Governors Island? Well, it doesn’t. Gov Ball takes on Randall’s Island for one weekend with a stellar lineup (Kacey Musgraves and Florence & The Machine on the same day?!), food trucks, bars and even miniature golf. Tickets are still available: $115 for day passes and $305 for 3-Day.
- Dates: June 8, 29 and 30; July 20 and 21
- Location: USA, baby!
- Headliners: Travie McCoy (of Gym Class Heroes), Meg & Dia, Yungblud
Relive your skater boi days with the seminal traveling tour’s 25th anniversary shows. This year, they’re only stopping in three cities: Cleveland, Ohio; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and Mountain View, California. While Warped Tour may not be attracting the big names it used to, there’s always fun in moshing to punk music. Plus, if you’re really feeling physical, they offer a wrestling event. Don’t ask me why. The Cleveland show is sold out, but the two other locations have tickets ranging from $71 to $141.
- Dates: June 13-16
- Location: Manchester, TN
- Headliners: Post Malone, Childish Gambino, Phish
Good on Bonnaroo for offering up one of the most musically-diverse lineups this festival season. Legendary jam band Phish is headlining two days, alongside the talents of Brandi Carlile, Cardi B, The Lonely Island and Solange. Want more? There’s also Hozier, The National, Kacey Musgraves and Brockhampton. Seriously, make this the year you finally commit to camping in a Tennessee field. Four-day tickets are $339 but will increase to $349 soon.
- Dates: July 4-7
- Location: New Orleans, LA
- Headliners: Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Nas
Essence Fest is lowkey the best way to do some celeb spotting. The likes of Issa Rae, Lena Waithe and the Girls Trip squad are known to touch down in New Orleans for a weekend of black excellence. With performers like Missy Elliott, Pharrell and H.E.R., the 25th anniversary celebration this year is a must. Single-day tickets go on sale April 8.
- Dates: July 19-21
- Location: Chicago, IL
- Headliners: Robyn, Haim, The Isley Brothers
Pitchfork is Lollapalooza’s cooler younger sister who drinks PBR, has too many houseplants and probably started a zine a few years ago. The fantastic lineup features legendary rockers like Mavis Staples and The Isley Brothers alongside effortlessly cool performers Earl Sweatshirt and Robyn. They even snagged the highly anticipated, somewhat unexpected return of Sky Ferreira. Party for cheap with $75 single-day and $175 three-day passes. Prices, like half the lineup, are only on their way up.
- Dates: August 1-4
- Location: Chicago, IL
- Headliners: Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots
My condolences to all the fortysomething parents who rocked out at Pitchfork and now have to deal with their teenager pleading that it’s only fair they get to go to Lollapalooza. (I know because that was me. Sorry, Mom.) Appease them—and yourself—by letting them run free at one of the most iconic music festivals now dominated by high schoolers. Meek Mill and Ariana Grande are the must-sees at the Chicago festival, which is otherwise filled with regulars. If you’re smart, you’ll make your kid pay for half the steep $340 four-day pass as a promise they’ll be smart and safe. Single-day passes still to come.
- Dates: August 9-11
- Location: San Francisco, CA
- Headliners: Paul Simon, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots
Paul Simon is back! After announcing his retirement from performing in early 2018, the truly original performer has committed to a one-off set at the picturesque San Francisco festival. It’s a no-brainer for the largely eco-friendly festival. He’s donating net proceeds to local Bay Area environmental non-profits. Outside Lands feels more like a Renaissance Fair than it does a city park—but that’s a good thing. Three-day passes: $385. Single: TBD.
- Dates: June 27-30
- Location: Rothbury, MI
- Headliners: Odesza, Kygo, Bassnectar
When I asked a friend to describe what it’s like attending the Michigan EDM festival, she simply replied: “Wonderful. You’re in a forest.” This fest is straightforward: EDM’s best artists offer up electrifying light shows on a woodsy Midwestern ranch. What more could you want? Oh that’s right, tickets. They’re sold out, so you’ll need to head to StubHub if you want in.
- Dates: August 16 -18
- Location: Watkins Glen, NY
- Headliners: The Killers, Miley Cyrus, Dead & Company, Jay-Z
Perhaps the most highly-anticipated festival of the season is also going to be one of the hardest to get to—but that’s kind of the point. Woodstock 50 is a (currently) one-time weekend honoring the 50th Anniversary of the iconic 1969 Woodstock festival held in the Finger Lakes town of Watkins Glen, New York. Woodstock co-creator Michael Lang helped organize this stellar line-up featuring everyone from Dead & Company and Santana to Miley Cyrus and Chance the Rapper. Tickets (prices TBA) will surely go fast, so be ready when they drop on April 22.
- Dates: August 24 & 25
- Location: Brooklyn, NY
- Headliners: Jill Scott, FKA Twigs, Leon Bridges
Afropunk isn’t just a music festival. It’s an immersive, inclusive weekend to “feel the music, free your mind, and join in the movement.” The fashions at the Brooklyn-based festival are just as captivating as headliners FKA Twigs, Kamasi Washington and Santigold. In the spirit of community, tickets range from $60 for single-day to $300 for VIP.
- Dates: August 30-Sept 1
- Location: New York, NY
- Headliners: Dog Blood, Diplo, Kaskade
Electric Zoo also takes place at Randall’s Island Park. Its lineup is still to be fully announced, but expect some serious EDM heavyweights. Previous headliners include Martin Garrix, Kaskade and David Guetta. This year they’re upping the zoo theme. Hopefully, no actual animals will be harmed in the making of EDM heads tripping out. Three-Day passes: $220. Two-Day: $170-180.
- Dates: August 31 & Sept 1
- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Headliners: Travis Scott, Cardi B, James Blake
The summer festival season unofficially closes out with this Philadelphia fest. Created by Jay-Z in 2012, Made in America is still going strong and features the best of R&B and hip-hop. Come for Cardi B and Travis Scott, but stay for Anderson .Paak and Jorja Smith. As with all things Jay-Z, presale tickets are currently available on TIDAL, but are open as well to American Express cardholders.