Top 20 Festivals for Pop Music Fans

Music festivals are one of the biggest bargains in live music for pop music fans.  You could have the opportunity to see 100 or more different artists over two, three or more days for one flat price.  This means you will get to see favorites as well as a wide range of artists you may not otherwise pay to see in concert.  These are all great opportunities for pop music fans.  For more festivals, check out the Classic Rock Music Festival Guide.

Coachella - April 10-12, 17-19, 2015

Coachella. Photo by Karl Walter / Getty Images

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a two weekend annual music festival held in Indio, California. The festival first took place in 1999, was shut down for 2000, and was given a new lease on life in 2001. Since that point the event has grown in both size and acclaim currently reigning as the king of US music festivals. The festival originally focused on alternative acts, but it has become known for an eclectic lineup and frequent featuring of major band reunions.

Top artists for 2015:

  • Drake
  • Florence and the Machine
  • David Guetta
  • Hozier

Coachella History

Coachella Official Site

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage - April 24-May 3, 2015

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2015
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2015. Courtesy New Orleans Jazz and Heritage

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is sometimes simply referred to as Jazz Fest.  The event celebrates arts, crafts, and food in addition to music.  The festival began in 1970 and in the early years focused specifically on local music artists.  George Wein, producer of the Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, was hired to produce the initial festival.  There are 12 music stages and tents along with two additional food stages.

Top Artists for 2015:

New Orleans jazz and Heritage Festival Official Site

Beale Street - May 1-3, 2015

Beale Street Music Festival 2015
Beale Street Music Festival 2015. Courtesy Memphis In May

The Beale Street Music Festival is part of the overall month-long festivities known as Memphis in May held in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to the music festival, an International Week with events focused on a specific country, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and Sunset Symphony classical music event all take place. The Beale Street Music Festival kicked off in 2003 and combines national acts with local performers. 

Top Artists for 2015:

  • Hozier
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Paramore
  • Ed Sheeran

Beale Street Festival Official Site

Rock In Rio USA - May 8-9, 15-16

Rock In Rio USA 2015
Rock In Rio USA 2015. Courtesy Rock In Rio

Rock In Rio is one of the world's largest music festivals. It has drawn more than a million people to the events held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It has also been held in Lisbon, Portugal and Madrid, Spain. This year events will be held in Brazil and for the first time in the US. Rock In Rio USA will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada over two weekends. Rock In Rio USA is planned to take place every two years. This year's first weekend is geared toward rock acts and the following weekend toward pop acts. Electronic dance music will also play a key role in the event.

Top Artists for 2015:

Rock In Rio USA Official Site

Hangout - May 15-17, 2015

Hangout Festival 2015
Hangout Festival 2015. Courtesy Hangout Festival

Hangout Festival originated in 2010 and is a three day event held on the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Shaul Zislin, one of the founders of the festival, is the owner of the restaurant named The Hangout. 40,000 tickets for the festival were sold in 2014.

Top Artists for 2015:

Hangout Fest Official Site

Sasquatch! - May 22-25, 2015

Sasquatch! 2015
Sasquatch! 2015. Courtesy Sasquatch

The Sasquatch! Music Festival takes place over Memorial Day weekend in the Gorge Amphitheatre at George, Washington.  The event first took place in 2002.  Original plans were to expand Sasquatch! to two weekends for 2014, but Independence Day weekend plans have been cancelled. The music at Sasquatch! tends to lean in an alternative direction

Top Artists for 2015:

  • Lana Del Rey
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Of Monsters and Men
  • St. Vincent

Sasquatch! Festival Official Site

Sweetlife - May 30-31, 2015

Sweetlife 2015
Sweetlife 2015. Courtesy Sweetgreen

The Sweetlife Music Festival was started in 2011 by the owners of the Sweetgreen salad restaurant chain. It began as a small parking lot event and has become a two day festival in Columbia, Maryland. This year more than 25 artists will perform.

Top Artists for 2015:

Sweetlife Festival Official Site

Governor's Ball - June 5-7, 2015

Governor's Ball 2015
Governor's Ball 2015. Courtesy Governor's Ball

Governor's Ball was launched in 2011.  It is a three day festival that takes place on Randall's Island in New York City.  Heavy rains made the 2013 event difficult.  Governor's Ball has quickly grown to be one of the country's top music festivals.

Top Artists for 2015:

  • Bjork
  • Lana Del Rey
  • Drake
  • Florence and the Machine

Governor's Ball Official Site

Bonnaroo - June 11-14, 2015

Bonnaroo 2015
Bonnaroo 2015. Courtesy Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is a 4 day event held 60 miles outside of Nashville, Tennessee. It began in 2002 and has quickly grown to be one of the country's premier festivals. Traditionally the focus has been jam bands with a fair sprinkling of bluegrass, folk, alternative rock and pop. In recent years the lineup has branched out a bit and now also includes hip hop and R&B artists as key elements of the festival.

Top Artists for 2015:

  • Florence and the Machine
  • Hozier
  • Billy Joel
  • Mumford and Sons

Bonnaroo History

Bonnaroo Official Site

Spring Awakening - June 12-14, 2015

Spring Awakening 2015
Spring Awakening 2015. Courtesy Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening is an electronic music festival held in Chicago that began in 2012. It takes place at Soldier Field, home to the Chicago Bears football team. The main stage is on the field itself, while two smaller stages are outside of the stadium. 

Top Artists for 2015:

  • Afrojack
  • Diplo
  • Tiesto
  • Zedd

Spring Awakening Official Site

Warped Tour - June 17 - August 8, 2015

Vans Warped Tour 2015
Vans Warped Tour 2015. Courtesy Vans Warped Tour

 Warped Tour is a touring festival setting up shop often in parking lots or fields to entertain crowds ranging from 10,000 to 30,000. Sponsored by skateboard shoe manufacturer Vans, the Warped Tour has given national exposure for a wide range of rising pop punk, emo, and hardcore bands. The tour has operated each year since 1994 and most concerts take place in June, July, and August. A sister tour, A Taste of Chaos, was launched in 2004 and operated in the winter through 2010. Among the Warped Tour alumni are Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, and My Chemical Romance.

Top Artists for 2015:

  • August Burns Red
  • Motion City Soundtrack
  • Never Shout Never
  • Bebe Rexha

Warped Tour Official Site

Firefly - June 18-21, 2015

Firefly Music Festival 2015
Firefly Music Festival 2015. Courtesy Firefly Music Festival

 Firefly Music Festival first took place in 2012. It is a four day event held at the Dover International Speedway in Delaware. The aim has been to make it a major camping festival in the style of Bonnaroo. The music festival promotes itself as an environmentally friendly and sustainable event.

Top Artist for 2015:

  • Bastille
  • The Killers
  • Paul McCartney
  • Modest Mouse

Firefly Music Festival Official Site

Summerfest - June 24 - July 5, 2015

Summerfest 2015
Summerfest 2015. Courtesy Summerfest

Summerfest is also known by the nickname "The Big Gig." The event runs for 11 days along the Milwaukee, Wisconsin lakefront and attracts approximately 900,000 people. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Summerfest as the world's biggest music festival. The event had its beginnings in 1968 and has been held in the same location each year since 1970. Performances take place on 11 different stages and include over 800 bands. Summerfest takes place every year in late June and early July. This year Summerfest will be closed on June 29, 2015 and reopen the following day.

Top Artists for 2015:

  • Kings of Leon
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Ed Sheeran

Summerfest History

Summerfest Official Site

Essence - July 3-5, 2015

Essence Music Festival 2015
Essence Music Festival 2015. Courtesy Essence Music Festival

The Essence Music Festival began in 1995 as an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the magazine Essence which has an audience consisting primarily of African-American women. It has been billed as the largest annual event celebrating African-American music and culture. Essence Music Festival is held over four days in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Superdome.

Top Artists for 2015:

  • Mary J. Blige
  • Missy Elliott
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Usher

Essence Music Festival Official Site

Forecastle - July 17-19, 2015

Forecastle 2015
Forecastle 2015. Courtesy Forecastle

 Forecastle kicked off as a small collection of local acts in Louisville, Kentucky in 2002. It has steadily grown into being one of the top annual music festivals in the US. Forecastle also features art from a wide range of contributors. 

Top Artists for 2015:

  • Kiesza
  • Modest Mouse
  • My Morning Jacket
  • Sam Smith

Forecastle Official Site

Lollapalooza - July 31 - August 2, 2015

Lollapalooza. Photo by Nick Simonite / Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza began as a touring festival, much like Warped Tour. Organized in 1991 by Perry Farrell, lead singer for Jane's Addiction, the first Lollapalooza leaned to alternative music but deliberately included a wide range of musical styles. The festival tour folded in 1997, but returned in 2003 with moderate success. It rose again in 2005 as a 2 day event on the Chicago lakefront. The festival was successful enough to expand to 3 days in 2006 and signed a 5-year contract with Chicago beginning in 2007. Lollapalooza celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011.

Top Artists for 2015:

  • Florence and the Machine
  • Paul McCartney
  • Sam Smith
  • Walk the Moon

Lollapalooza Official Site

Outside Lands - August 7-9, 2015

Outside Lands 2015
Outside Lands 2015. Courtesy Outside Lands

Outside Lands kicked off in 2008. It is held at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. The event also celebrates efforts to be environmentally friendly. Approximately 40,000 - 60,000 attend each of the three days.

Top Artists for 2015:

Outside Lands Official Site

TomorrowWorld - September 25-27, 2015

TomorrowWorld 2015
TomorrowWorld 2015. Courtesy TomorrowWorld

TomorrowWorld is a major electronic music festival that kicked off in 2013. It is held in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia in the outskirts of Atlanta. It is a spinoff from Belgium's TomorrowLand festival. 150,000 attended 2014's event. 

Lineup is yet to be announced.

TomorrowWorld Official Site

Austin City Limits - October 2-4, 9-11, 2015

Austin City Limits 2015
Austin City Limits 2015. Courtesy Austin City Limits Festival

 The Austin City Limits Music Festival is produced by C3 Presents, the same organization which produces Lollapalooza. The event kicked off in 2002 and was inspired by the acclaimed PBS TV series Austin City Limits. It is held at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas over two consecutive weekends.

Lineup is yet to be announced.

Austin City Limits Festival Official Site

Voodoo Music Experience - October 30 - November 1, 2015

Voodoo Music & Arts Experience 2015
Voodoo Music & Arts Experience 2015. Courtesy Voodoo Music & Arts

New Orleans' Voodoo Music Experience began on Halloween weekend 1999. It has grown to a major three day festival. The 2005 Voodoo Music Experience took place just months after Hurricane Katrina struck the city and celebrated those aiding in recovery. 

Lineup is yet to be announced.

Voodoo Music Experience Official Site