Party Time, Excellent: This Summer’s Most Anticipated Music Festivals

With the debacle that was Fyre Festival a thing of the not-so-distant past, blow off some steam at these eclectic celebrations of music.

Christopher Polk/Getty

After an endless winter of bomb cyclones and seasonal affective disorder, it’s finally summer festival season.

Music festivals are a great way to get more bang for your buck, and to prove to everyone on your social media feeds that you’re Doing Stuff. As early as this month, you could be waiting in line at a taco truck next to a girl in an appropriative headdress, biding time before Eminem’s headlining performance. But don’t worry if that sounds like your personal hell—there are festivals for every genre and every Myers-Briggs type, from laid-back beachfront performances to Electric Daisy Carnival. You can take a road trip to Tennessee or a ferry ride to Randall’s Island, party with ex-Fyre Festival VIPs or camp next to a communal shower.

Whichever festival you end up choosing, odds are you’ll have a good time and/or see Eminem live—seriously, he’s everywhere!


Dates: April 13-15, 20-22

Location: Indio, California

Headliners: Beyoncé, Eminem, The Weeknd

Beyoncé?!?! Now that the biggest pop star in the world is back and less pregnant than ever, she’ll finally be gracing Coachella with a show that’ll obviously be worth the wait. Coachella may get its fair share of bad press (mostly from us), but this is an undeniably great and eclectic lineup that other fests can’t really touch. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth contributing to an allegedly anti-LGBTQ billionaire’s personal wealth to see Queen Bey live. Day Passes, VIP Passes, and two person teepees (sigh) all appear to be sold out, so it looks like it’s StubHub or bust at this point.


Dates: May 18-20

Location: Gulf Shores, Alabama

Headliners: Kendrick Lamar, The Killers, The Chainsmokers, Halsey

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Hangout Fest is perfect for anyone trying to balance a love of live music and a deep-seated desire to chill hard. In addition to a great lineup, Hangout has its location going for it—the public beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama—as well as unconventional extras like beach volleyball, a puppy kissing booth, and a wedding chapel. Come for Kendrick, stay because you got impromptu-married at a music festival and you live in Alabama now. General admission is $299, with VIP and SUPER VIP options available as well (Super VIP’s get hot tubs, apparently).


Dates: May 18-20

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Headliners: Diplo, DJ Mustard, Tiesto, Afrojack

If a drug-fueled, seizure-inducing electronic extravaganza is more your thing, look no further than EDC. I could never describe this “experience” as well as EDC does on its website: “Under the Electric Sky, we come together to celebrate life, love, art, and music. From the stages and the sound to the pyrotechnics and the performers, so many unique elements go into bringing this world to life. We invite you to wander, explore, interact, and connect. Imagination and positive energy are the currency of this place.” There are eight stages, carnival rides, art, and “Funkdafied Freaks”—“The dancers, stilters, aerialists, circus performers, and other whimsical characters of EDC!”


Dates: May 25-27

Location: George, Washington

Headliners: Bon Iver, Modest Mouse, Spoon, The National

This Pacific Northwest gem of a festival centers around the Gorge amphitheatre—a stunning outdoor venue with views of the Columbia River and the foothills of the Cascade mountain range. According to the Sasquatch! website, their venue was the 2015 recipient of the Billboard Touring Award for Best Amphitheatre. As befitting the setting and the chill musical vibes, Sasquatch! offers all sorts of camping opportunities, ranging from standard to a $499 option that comes with a concierge. Three-day passes and single-day tickets are still available.


Dates: June 1-3

Location: Randall’s Island, New York City

Headliners: Eminem, Jack White, Travis Scott, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Located on an island in the East River (Randall’s Island, to be exact) Governors Ball is a highly anticipated NYC event that caters to a host of genres. Formerly just a far-away place for New Yorkers to play field sports, Randall’s Island becomes a destination thanks to food trucks, bars, minigolf, and, of course, Halsey. Tickets are $115 a day or $305 for the three-day pass, but selling out fast.


Dates: June 7-10

Location: Manchester, Tennessee

Headliners: Eminem, The Killers, Muse, Future

The next step on Eminem’s 2018 U.S. festival tour is Manchester, TN, where a sleepy farm transforms every year into a raucous campground and live music experience. Camping is encouraged, as is learning how to adapt to the Tennessee heat sans frequent showers. This year, Bonnaroo’s ten stages are hosting a predictably staggering lineup—also, comedy! So pack a hat, load up your van, and say hi to T-Pain for us! 4-day tickets are still going for $337.50.


Dates: June 21 - August 5

Location: Across the Country

Headliners: 3OH!3, All Time Low, Bowling for Soup, Simple Plan

The Warped Tour is officially hanging up its Vans after this year’s outing, appropriately named the “final full cross country tour.” Adolescent punkers across the country wait for Warped to roll into town every year, setting up a makeshift festival in Tampa, Toronto, Las Vegas and Mountainview (to name just a few cities along the route). For this final outing, veterans like Bowling for Soup and Simple Plan are going to show up alongside 3OH!3 and Deez Nuts, giving fans one last chance to break out their colored hair extensions and mosh like no one’s watching.


Dates: July 5-8

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Headliners: Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu

If you’ve seen Girls Trip and still aren’t sold on Essence Festival, I don’t know what to tell you. The annual New Orleans “party with a purpose” attracts nearly 50,000 attendees every year, for three days of motivational seminars, shopping, and entertainment celebrating black excellence. Like Tiffany Haddish showing Jada Pinkett Smith what she can do with a grapefruit, Essence Fest is educational and entertaining. Also, Janet Jackson.


Dates: July 20-22

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Headliners: Lauryn Hill, Chaka Khan, Fleet Foxes, Tame Impala

Too cool for Coachella? Pitchfork Music Festival offers all of the day-partying and none of the shame—a hipster festival haven complete with a record fair and a 20th anniversary performance celebrating The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Three-day tickets are available for the low price of $175, so start planning your road trip to Chicago.


Dates: July 27-29

Location: Randall’s Island, New York City

Headliners: The Weeknd, Janet Jackson, The Killers, Cardi B

Yes, it’s another NYC festival on Randall’s Island. But this lineup though! All-time legend Janet Jackson and legend-in-the-making/better half of a hip-hop power couple Cardi B are an unbeatable pairing; plus, they’re performing on the same day, so get on that day pass before they’re all sold out. Taking a ferry to the middle of the East River has never sounded so appealing.


Dates: August 2-5

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Headliners: Arctic Monkeys, Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Vampire Weekend, Jack White

While this veteran Chicago festival has existed for almost three decades, 2018’s packed lineup proves that Lollapalooza’s still got it. Fulfill a fantasy you didn’t even know you had by spending a weekend with Vampire Weekend and The Weeknd. Per Lollapalooza’s website, in addition to eight stages of fun, there’s also an art market, “sweet photogenic spots,” and “tons of merch to swag out with.” The starting price for swagging out is $120 for a day ticket—four-day tickets are already sold out.


Dates: August 25-26

Location: Brooklyn, New York City

Headliners: Erykah Badu, Tyler, The Creator, Miguel, Janelle Monae

Afropunk Brooklyn is a musical experience, a good time, and a site for community organizing; in addition to watching live performances, attendees can check out activism row, an interactive installation “featuring grassroots and non-profit organizations that solve urgent community problems.” And in lieu of buying your tickets, Afropunk’s website offers an opportunity to earn them: “We encourage interested festival-goers to volunteer their time, passion and talents to give back to their communities in exchange for tickets to attend AFROPUNK.” Also, this might be the only summer festival with Jaden Smith in its lineup.


Dates: September TK

Location: Queens, New York City

Headliners: Lineup TK

The Meadows is a great end to the summer festival season, and a great opportunity to taunt NYC teens who are already back in school. Last year, Citi Field hosted Jay-Z, so who knows what big artist(s) it has in store for 2018. There are 60+ artists performing this year, an extensive array of food vendors showing off everything the borough’s culinary scene has to offer, and a ball pit. One-day tickets start at $115, plus subway fare.