This blog post was updated on May 1, 2020.
Most music lovers have heard of the likes of Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo when it comes to popular music festivals. These events have become legendary…and also crowded. If you still want to adorn your flower crowns and jean shorts without what feels like the entire country swaying with you, there are several music festivals you’ve probably never heard of but that are still worth attending. So what are you waiting for? Grab your dancing shoes and head for these lesser-known music festivals.
Newport Folk Festival (Newport, RI)
Located at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island, the Newport Folk Festival has been turning up the folk, blues, country, folk-rock, and bluegrass since 1951. The likes of Bob Dylan; Alison Krauss; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Johnny Cash; Wilco; Elvis Costello; and Van Morrison have all played at the prestigious festival. The coveted setting at Newport Harbor showcases four stages for the late July music festival. Founded to show off the diversity of American folk music, the event also includes plenty of crafts, food, and two beer and wine gardens.
Grandoozy (Denver, CO)
Debuting in 2018, Grandoozy comes from the creators of famous music festivals like Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. For a three-day weekend in September, the Mile High City will welcome big-name headliners like Stevie Wonder and Florence and the Machine, along with local Denver bands, to Overland Park. Located in the south Denver neighborhood, Grandoozy will bring the music across three stages. In addition to great music, the festival also promises plenty of local food and drink offerings.
Sasquatch Music Festival (George, WA)
Usually held across Memorial Day weekend, the Sasquatch Music Festival proves ideal for music fans who love that camping-out festival vibe. Now in its 17th year, the festival reverberates throughout the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington. Roughly 3 hours from Seattle and 5 hours from Portland, the venue proves idyllic as it sits right near the Columbia River. Thanks to its out-of-the-way location, it remains a popular music festival for those who like to camp out and spend some time outdoors while enjoying live music. The full lineup boasts over 75 artists.
Big Ears Festival (Knoxville, TN)
For the festival aimed at expanding your musical horizons, you can look no further than the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. Proud to showcase musicians and artists spanning all genres, the music event even incorporates components of performance, film, and the visual arts. Held across several venues in downtown Knoxville — from the 1928 Tennessee Theatre to even churches like St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral — the Big Ears Festival usually takes places in March.
Eaux Claires (Eaux Claire, WI)
For the music festival with a bit of mystery, you can take your dancing shoes to Eaux Claire, Wisconsin, in early July. The independent-minded university town hosts the two-day, multi-stage festival at Foster Farms. Eaux Claires features live music, visual arts, performance, and food. Founded by Eaux Claire native and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner of The National, the indie music festival likes to add an element of mystery by keeping the lineup under wraps, at least for 2018.
Shaky Knees (Atlanta, GA)
For a diverse lineup of world-famous acts and up-and-comers, Shaky Knees in Atlanta, Georgia, is your music festival. Usually taking place at Centennial Olympic Park or Central Park, Shaky Knees brings in over 60 musical acts for the three-day festival in early May. Not only can you tap your toes to great music, but the festival also has something special for foodies with its highly rated food and drink offerings. Loads of Atlanta local staples and Southeast chefs descend upon the city to keep hungry concertgoers fed.
Where do you like to go to check out some great live music? Share your favorite music festivals with us below!