This blog post was updated on December 23, 2019.
There’s nothing that can get music lovers’ adrenaline pumping more than a live show with their favorite artists. But with today’s concerts that are hyped up with elaborate stages, light shows, and pyrotechnics, this love for watching artists ply their trade live could come with a hefty price tag. However, what’s surprising is that if you know where to look, you can easily find a major concert that won’t cost you anything to be a part of. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy some great live performances without having to pay a dime (yes, we mean totally FREE!), then check out these 7 awesome free music festivals in the US.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!
Where: Brooklyn, New York
When: Early June into August
As one NYC’s longest-running outdoor performance festivals, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! has been bringing the party to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Bandshell for more than 40 years. As a series of dance, music, and arts platforms that showcase up-and-coming as well as established artistes, you can experience some great shows through the summer months. For music lovers, the lineup is one that’s quite impressive. Past performers have included They Might Be Giants, Talib Kweli, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Maceo Parker, Dr. John, and Hugh Masekela, to name just a few.
Norman Music Festival
Where: Norman, Oklahoma
Based in Norman, the college town that’s home to the University of Oklahoma, the Norman Music Festival celebrates American music across a range of genres, including, bluegrass, country, rock, and hip-hop. Run with the help of volunteers, the festival takes places across a variety of venues, both large and small, across town. Past performers at the festival have included include music by Israel Nash, Oddisee & Good Company, Beach Fossils, Japanese Breakfast, and Anna Burch.
French Quarter Festival
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
If you’ve shaken off your Mardi Gras hangover and are ready for some more rootin’-tootin’ brass, zydeco, cajun, jazz, swing, rock, and New Orleans funk, then head on over to the Big Easy’s French Quarter in April! There’ll be dozens of stages spread out across the famed neighborhood, and there’ll be plenty of performers, food, and other exciting activities (dance lessons, parades, art shows, etc.) that only New Orleans can concoct. Past lineups at the French Quarter Festival have included artists like Aaron Neville, The Treme Brass Band, and the New Orleans Classic Jazz Orchestra.
Festival International De Louisiane
Where: Lafayette, Lousiana
With a colorful itinerary that’s a mix of music, art, and the visual arts, Festival International De Louisiane celebrates world music and Louisiana’s rich francophone culture and brings performers from all around the world, all in a family-friendly environment. Attendees in the past few years have been lucky enough to catch riveting performances by Balkan Beat Box, Boukman Eksperyans, Gato Preto, and Robert Rudolph and the Family Band.
Where: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Musikfest runs through 10 days and holds ticketed events that bring in established artists and bands, BUT the big draw here is also the wide variety of totally free concerts that participants can enjoy. Some of the activities that won’t cost you a penny include kids stalls, dance performances, and stand-up comedy acts…all in addition to some fantastic musical performances.
Chicago Blues Festival
Where: Chicago, Illinois
If you love the blues and have managed to score some cheap flights to Chicago in June, then make sure to make a beeline to Chicago’s Millennium Park, where the Chicago Blues Festival comes to life. In addition to the new rising stars in the blues world, you can also catch some icons take the stage to wow the audience. You can also enjoy the revelry with the carnival-like atmosphere with food stalls and other fun activities that has kept music lovers coming back to the Windy City for more than 35 years.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Where: San Francisco, California
If you think that all of the great free festivals take place in the summer, then you probably haven’t heard about Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Featured in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the festival annually brings together a diverse roster of artists that perform on a variety of different stages. While bluegrass, folk, and roots music are the main focus, you’ll find that the eclectic lineup will have something for everybody. Past performers have included M. Ward, Boz Scaggs, Iron & Wine, and Dropkick Murphys.
Know of any other free music festivals? Tell us about them in the comments!