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The Coolest FREE Music Festivals You Should Check Out in 2017

Dhinesh Manuel
Written by Dhinesh Manuel

While most music festivals nowadays would advertise what a good time you could have for your $$$ ticket, there’s still some out there who believe you shouldn’t have to pay to check out some awesome music. In fact, there are plenty of great musical showcases taking place in 2017 that won’t cost you a dime. Whoever said “the best things in life are free” probably had these 9 awesome free music festivals in mind, so check them out.

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!

Where: Brooklyn, New York

When: Early June into August (check their website for details)

Promoted as “one of New York City’s longest running, free, outdoor performing arts festivals,” BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! will be rocking the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn once more this summer. You’ll be able to catch more than just music — the event promotes spoken word and theater, as well as dance. Performers in the past have included Femi Kuti, They Might Be Giants, Talib Kweli, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Angelique Kidjo, and Dr. John, to name just a few.

Norman Music Festival

Where: Norman, Oklahoma

When: April 27 – 29

“There ain’t no power like the power of people.” @ADDverseEffects #NMF7

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Based in Norman, the college town that’s home to the Univerity of Oklahoma, this 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. This year’s festivities will include music by Israel Nash, Oddisee & Good Company, and Thee Oh Sees.

French Quarter Festival

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana

When: April 6 – 9

Carl LeBlanc holding it down on Royal Street. #fqfest16 #fqfest

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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 this April! there’ll be 23 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. This year’s lineup at the free festival includes artists like Aaron Neville, The Treme Brass Band, and the New Orleans Classic Jazz Orchestra.

Festival International De Louisiane

Where: Lafayette, Lousiana

When: April 26 – 30, 2017

Chock-full of music, art, and the visual arts, this festival celebrates world music and Louisiana’s rich francophone culture and brings together an eclectic group of performers from all around the world, all in a family-friendly environment. This year, you’ll be able to catch riveting performances by Balkan Beat Box, Les Respectables, Ginkgoa, and the Gugu Drum Group from Shanghai


Where: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

When: August 4 – 13

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Even though it has ticketed events featuring big-name draws like Santana, Chicago, Toby Keith, and Jethro Tull, there are also numerous free events held under its umbrella, which include music, kids activities, dance performances, and comedy routines. Watch their website for updates on performers on the free stages this year.

Chicago Blues Festival

Where: Chicago, Illinois

When: June 9 – 11

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Hosted this year at the Windy City’s Millenium Park, the festival will once more showcase blues legends and rising up and comers. The carnival atmosphere, with food stalls and other fun activities, should make for an unforgettable three days in the “Blues Capital of the World.” This year, you’ll be able to enjoy artists like Gary Clark Jr., Roni Baker Brooks, William Bell, and Rhiannon Giddens.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Where: San Francisco, California

When: October 6 – 8

Conor Oberst performing at the Rooster Stage! #HSB16 #ConorOberst

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Scheduled for the fall in the city’s Golden Gate Park, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass features over 100 artists on 7 stages, and is a true get-together for music lovers of diverse genres. While bluegrass, folk, and roots music are the main focus, past performers have included Cyndi Lauper, M. Ward, Boz Scaggs, and Dropkick Murphys, which goes to show its variety. Check their website for updates on confirmed artists for 2017.

Make Music Pasadena

Where: Pasadena, California

When: Early June (check their website for updates)

The streets of Pasadena become a celebration of music during Make Music Pasadena, a free festival that features promising new artists as well as well-known acts. Past performers have included Atlas Genius, The Raveonettes, and Clara-Nova.


Where: Columbus, Ohio

When: June 23 – 25

Dedicated to encouraging community engagement and social activism since 1972, Comfest is an independent, volunteer-run festival that brings together prominent local artists and performers to create an environment of social consciousness, harmony, and peace. You may not find too many big name performers, but be rest assured you’ll feel a sense of community when you rock out at the city’s Goodale Park. Keep checking their website for updates on confirmed performers for 2017.

Want to hit up these music festivals? Get there on the cheap!


About the author

Dhinesh Manuel

Dhinesh Manuel

Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by wait...that's bad ...

Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!

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