Adding a Southern music festival to your spring and summer plans infuses your warmer months with tunes and gives you a weekend destination without having to travel too far. For readers with older kids, it makes a fun family getaway (really!). With so many music festivals to choose from around the South, we have selected some of the best to help you decide which ones to attend. All of the following are held between late April to Labor Day, so embrace the heat! Do more than dream about summer; make some plans and enjoy it.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
April 28-30 and May 4-7, 2017 — New Orleans, LA
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival celebrates the city of jazz, its cultural history and Cajun and Creole cuisine in a two-weekend-long parade of craft booths and concerts. Nowhere else but New Orleans can deliver a multi-stage music festival with crawfish boils, tribal basket weaving, woodworking and more. Even at the very first Jazz Fest, renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and Duke Ellington both joined a parading brass band for an impromptu performance, exemplifying the vivacious energy of the festival that continues today. This year’s lineup includes Kings of Leon, Harry Connick Jr., Meghan Trainor, Lorde, Snoop Dogg and more. Check out the website for additional details and ticketing information.
Beale Street Music Festival
May 5-7, 2017 — Memphis, TN
Beale Street in Memphis has long been known for its musical offerings, especially blues, but the Beale Street Music Festival turns up the volume just that much more. The festival, located in the Tom Lee Park along the riverfront, celebrates all that Memphis has to offer, including but not limited to great barbecue, musical entertainment and tons of amazing local art. There is always a stellar lineup at Beale Street Music Festival with acts crossing all genres, so check back with the website for the forthcoming lineup.
Shaky Knees Festival
May 12-14, 2017 — Atlanta, GA
If you have plans to be in or near Atlanta this summer and are craving some music festival fun, the food truck-fueled Shaky Knees Festival is the perfect event for you. Held in the beloved Centennial Olympic Park, the festival invites attendees to take in the music, pop in and out of photo booths and grab screen prints of favorite bands. Must-see acts include The XX, LCD Soundsystem and Phoenix. Purchase your tickets and find the complete lineup of artists here.
Hangout Music Festival
May 19-21, 2017 — Gulf Shores, AL
What more do you want at the beach than a few beers and some good tunes? Hangout Music Festival delivers with its major beach party vibe and consistently chart-topping lineups, which, this year, include the likes of Twenty One Pilots, Frank Ocean and Mumford and Sons. At no other festival can you see talent this good with your toes deep in the sand and the Gulf of Mexico as your backdrop, truly setting Hangout apart from the rest. Our wish list of acts to see is too long to count, but some favorites are The Head and the Heart, MGMT and Band of Horses. A general admission, all-weekend ticket is $289, and VIP packages are also available. View the entire lineup and purchase tickets here.
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
June 8-11, 2017 — Manchester, TN
When the topic of Southern Music Festivals comes up, perhaps the first to come to mind is likely Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and with this year’s top-notch headliner U2 on the line-up, it’s positioned to be the most popular iteration yet! For the unfamiliar, Bonnaroo takes place for a few days each summer, turning the quiet town of Manchester, TN, into a bustling, groovy campground as concertgoers from all over the world show up for some serious musical entertainment. Bonnaroo gives a nod to its festival predecessors, most notably Woodstock, and features jam bands and folk rock aplenty. However, the selection is diverse and spans all genres, from pop to hip-hop to bluegrass. Attendees of the festival get to participate in the melting pot of creativity the festival has become and engage with music and visual arts of every sound and color. Other notable names on this year’s lineup include Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Weeknd. Click here to create a custom lineup, view your ticket options and see what’s new this year at this one-of-a-kind, you’ve-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it festival.
July 14-16, 2017 — Louisville, KY
Held in Louisville’s scenic waterfront park, Forecastle Festival is not only known for its star-studded lineups, but also for featuring local artists and promoting environmental activism. The Kentucky Landing area of the festival, focusing solely on goods from the Bluegrass State, includes regionally produced beers, handmade crafts and food trucks galore. This year’s lineup is as impressive as you’d expect with headliners like LCD Soundsystem, Weezer, Odesza and Cage the Elephant. General admission and VIP packages are still available in limited quantities. See purchase options and a complete artist lineup here.
Sloss Music & Arts Festival
July 15-16, 2017 — Birmingham, AL
Sloss Music & Arts Festival, promoted by Jill Wheeler and her team, is preparing for its third year, and the lineup is nothing short of amazing. Held at one of Birmingham’s most unique historic sites, Sloss Furnaces, the music festival’s backdrop is the 20th-century ironmaking complex, which provides a funky, industrial setting for some seriously great talent, which, this year, includes Alabama Shakes, Widespread Panic, NEEDTOBREATHE and so many more! Concert-goers can find more than musical entertainment, though, including a beer garden, art for purchase by the American Poster Institute and even a hands-on iron pouring demonstration by the Sloss Metal Arts Program.
August 24-27, 2017 — Arrington, VA
LOCKN’ Festival is the perfect spot to get your groove on and catch some of your favorite bands in a picture-perfect setting. The foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains provide a picturesque opportunity for hiking, yoga and almost any outdoor activity imaginable to complement the amazing tunes, which this year are being offered by The Avett Brothers, The Revivalists, John Butler Trio and more. LOCKN’ is definitely the festival to visit if jam bands are your favorite, and while you should go for the music, don’t miss the offerings of regional cuisine, local artisans and craft beer. Tickets and camping and parking passes can be purchased here. See the full lineup here.
Have a blast at whatever spring or summer music festival you attend. They are all sure to be amazing!
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