Coachella is over, which means music festival season is in full swing. Many music fans are already planning their trip to Chicago for this year’s Lollapalooza or buying their camping gear and flip-flops for Bonnaroo, but we think it’s time to take a look at a few of the more under-the-radar festivals.
Some of these fests will connect you to your surroundings, whether it’s the beaches of the Gulf Shore for Hangout Fest or the best local eats at Brooklyn’s Great Googa Mooga. Others will take you to unlikely locations, like the Gorge in Quincy, Washington for Sasquatch or the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Southeast Ohio for Nelsonville Music Fest.
Here’s our list of 10 festivals that should be on your radar (if they’re not already) for this summer and many summers to come.
Sweetlife Festival – May 11 – Columbia, Maryland
This one-day festival mixes music and food, but prides itself on its do-gooderness. Held by Sweetgreen, Washington, D.C. eatery started by three friends in 2007, the fest gives back to the local community by teaching them about the importance of healthy eating and green living. Now in its third year, the fest is preaching sustainability by keeping things carbon neutral, offsetting the power generated at Sweetlife through the use of solar panels on their main stage, which will feature performances from Phoenix, Passion Pit and Kendrick Lamar. In order to keep the Merriweather Post Pavillion clean, they’re stressing the motto “no bottle or cup left behind.” As incentive, they’re even asking fans to trade in their recyclables from the festival for Sweetlife swag like custom sunglasses, a festival poster or a skateboard.
Hangout Fest – May 17,18 & 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama
Find a spot under a palm tree, perhaps next to a turtle, and just relax to the sweet sounds of this eclectic three-day festival. This year’s fest boasts headliners like the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Stevie Wonder and Kings Of Leon. The lineup also features acts of every genre from Baauer and his “Harlem Shake” to Trey Anastasio and his jam band ways. Did we mention that you’d be watching all of this go down while lounging on a white sandy beach? Not a bad way to spend a weekend.
Great Googa Mooga – May 17-19 – Brooklyn, New York
Now celebrating its second year, this festival from Bonnaroo promoter Superfly is ideally for the the music-loving foodie – the type of person who is there for the bands as much as the gourmet gluttony. Set in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, attendees can see more than 20 bands including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Flaming Lips (who kick off the festivities), while enjoying local eats from 85 different restaurants (and even more breweries) set up in charming hand-painted booths that are reminiscent of the good ol’ days of New York. Best part is, Saturday and Sunday, featuring performances from acts like Matt & Kim and Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, are free to those who register. So pack your loosest pair of pants ’cause it’s gonna be a good time.
Sasquatch Festival – May 24- 27 – Quincy, Washington
Whether you’ve heard of this festival or not, you have to see it to believe it. Especially, since it’s not very often that you see a show in a venue that is carved into a basalt cliff, but that’s what happens when you go to The Gorge. The four-day Sasquatch Festival, taking place this Memorial Day weekend, features the usual suspects on the festival scene (Mumford & Sons, the xx, The Postal Service and Vampire Weekend), but the scenery is hard to beat, with five different stages located high above the Columbia River. Best part is, you get to end the night camping underneath the Pacific Northwest sky, which we can assure you is much more comfortable than Bonnaroo’s unbearable heat.
Nelsonville Music Festival – May 30- June 2 – Nelsonville, Ohio
This is the little festival that could. Back in 2005, it was a one-day event that took place in the downtown Nelsonville Historic Arts District, located in the small Southeast Ohio town amidst the Appalachian foothills. Now eight years later, the fest grown to three days and multiple stages, with a wide variety of past headliners ranging from the Flaming Lips to Loretta Lynn and this year including Wilco and Cat Power. Though it has grown, the folk, indie rock and country-tinged festival still prides itself on the intimacy of its setting. In addition to the main stage, they have a “porch” stage (which is literally on a porch of a cabin) as well as a performance space inside of a 19th-century school house cabin. The town’s vibrant culture is also on display, with local artisans selling their wares throughout the fest. Maybe Chan Marshall can even pick herself up some homemade soup before she takes the stage.