It’s summer, and you know what that means: if you’re not instagramming, snapchatting, or going live from a music and arts festival, you might as well be dead already. Life is for the living, and June, July, and August are for packing up your cutest crop tops, road tripping across the country, and seeing some of the biggest names in music (barring exhaustion and last-minute schedule changes).
Of course, this festival season has already been marred by some early catastrophes—Coachella, the possibly racist oasis for the worst members of the one percent, and Fyre festival, Coachella for the very dumb and/or overly litigious. Luckily, the summer festival lineup offers something for everyone, from blues lovers to art aficionados to the too rich to function.
Location: Gulf Shores, Alabama
Dates: May 19-21
As per the super chill name, Hangout Music Festival supplements its diverse lineup with guaranteed good vibes. Taking place in Alabama’s Gulf Shores, the festival markets itself as music’s “ultimate beach vacation.” For a $309 three-day general admission pass, you can chill out on the sand in a bikini while listening to Migos or Twenty One Pilots. And for a $1,599 super VIP ticket, you can upgrade to hot tub access, golf cart shuttle rides, and “gourmet food”—and we’re not talking two strips of American cheese on white bread.
Location: George, Washington
Dates: May 26–28
Have you ever spent your Memorial Day weekend in George, Washington? Why not? For over a decade, the Pacific Northwest has hosted this three-day festival. Come for the lineup, stay for the chance to camp out on the grounds with your friends—or ditch your buds for a deluxe tent. Sasquatch has something for everyone, whether you’re glamping, camping, or just driving down on Friday night to see LCD Soundsystem.
Location: New York City, New York
Dates: June 2—4
Randall’s Island, the traditional home of NYC prep school away games, has transformed itself into the premiere venue for those very same prep school kids to go wild and let loose. Still, precocious tweens aside, Governors Ball is your best bet for seeing big-name acts on an island in the East River (if you’re into that sort of thing). Come June, Wu-Tang fans and party kids will make the pilgrimage by subway, ferry, or shuttle. Join the movement! P.S.—some of the best Gov Ball performances go down after dark.
Location: Manchester, Tennessee
Dates: June 8—11
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival is the OG festival camping experience. Over the course of four days, you’ll get intimately acquainted with your tent-mates, your shower buds, and your nearest porta-potty. The Tennessee heat will most likely be punishing, but luckily there are all sorts of amenities, vendors, and yummy food to keep you distracted and amused until sundown. Plus, the endless lineup—complete with comedy and stand-up!—can’t be beat. The promise of a Selena Gomez spotting is just an added bonus.
Location: Dover, Delaware
Dates: June 15–18
Another weekend, another holistic camping and music experience—this time in Dover, DE. In the words of the Firefly website, “Wherever you are on the East Coast, Dover's not far!” If there’s ever a reason to visit Delaware, it’s surely this festival, which boasts a rare performance by Bob Dylan and 140+ bands to boot. Additionally, a set by very good pop star turned beloved justice warrior Kesha seems more than worth the $89 price of a single-day ticket.
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Dates: June 28—July 2 & July 4—9
Billed as “the world’s largest music festival,” Summerfest is the biggest rager to hit Milwaukee…well, ever. The jam-packed lineup plays on for an outrageous eleven days. Plus, there’s all the finest delicacies Wisconsin has to offer, and an array of activities and events (fireworks! comedy! lots of beer!) that are fun for the whole family. And this year, Summerfest 2017 will be celebrating 50 years of good times.
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Dates: June 30—July 2
Set in the A+ vacation destination of New Orleans, Louisiana, Essence festival owes its name to Essence, the magazine for African-American women. The festival’s 2017 installment features some of the most important artists of our time—John Legend, Mary J Blige, Diana Ross, Solange, and, of course, Remy Ma. This lineup is so good, even Nicki Minaj will probably be huddled in the back in a mustache and fedora disguise. But what else did you expect, given that Blige herself helped curate? Naturally, the shows will be happening at night—this is NOLA, after all. Additionally, the festival puts on daytime workshops, seminars, screenings and discussions, which are free and open to the general public.
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Dates: July 14—16
Too cool for Coachella and too poor for Bonnaroo? Look no further than the Pitchfork Music Festival, with its critically acclaimed, highly curated lineup of new musical phenomena and classic acts. The three-day Chicago fest is chock full of talent, and a great opportunity to see some artists you wouldn’t regularly catch on the festival circuit.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Dates: July 21—23
Frank Ocean is a great reason to fly to L.A. So are the all the other headliners at this three-day California fest. If you’re the kind of person who gets equally psyched about Missy Elliott and Nine Inch Nails, FYF is the festival for you. Plus, if you have a car, get ready to make a lot of new friends.
Location: New York City, New York
Dates: July 28—July 30
Another month, another music festival on Randall’s Island. This music festival has it all: an “interactive experience” called THE LAB, an “open-air club” called The Point, and a main stage called…The Panorama Stage. If that all sounds a little silly to you, rest assured that the Frank Ocean-led lineup is no joke.
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Dates: August 3—6
You can’t talk about summer music festivals without talking about Lollapalooza. This Chicago heavyweight consistently features one of the best lineups of the summer, and this year’s announcement didn’t disappoint. Plus, any would-be Fyre festivalgoers can put that settlement money to good use and finally see Blink-182 in person—and they won’t be stranded in the Bahamas afterwards.
Location: San Francisco, California
Dates: August 11—13
It’s hard to compete with a music festival in Golden Gate Park. Outside Land’s gorgeous San Francisco site has got a lot going for it, including a botanical garden and a Japanese tea garden. On top of the local flora and fauna, this eco-friendly festival offers a stacked lineup that mixes pop, metal, hip-hop, and everything in between. It’s always a good idea to round out your summer by seeing Solange one last time.
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dates: September 2—3
Celebrate the end of the festival season with Jay Z’s own Made in America. This patriotic Philadelphia fest, founded in 2012, promises a weekend of really good hip-hop (and other stuff!). Plus, it’s a great opportunity to congratulate Jay on the twins.