Music festivals in North America, and the whole world, were hit pretty hard over the past years. While many of the smaller festivals were forced to close their doors (hopefully not forever), a few power players in the scene fought through the challenges and are back stronger than ever.
So let’s dive into our list of the best major music festivals you can attend in North America.
MAGNETIC’S 9 BEST MUSIC FESTIVALS IN THE UNITED STATES
Whether you’re a repeat attendee or if you just like to roll your eyes at the infamy and over-hype that surrounds this spectacle of a weekend, it’s hard to deny that Coachella is the mecca when it comes to music festivals in the United States.
Spanning every genre under the sun; whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here (it just might cost you a pretty penny).
Sensory overload underneath the California sun would be an understated way to describe exactly what to expect if you plan on attending. So check our coverage through the years to get a better understanding of what makes Coachella one of the best festivals in the United States
Movement takes it back to where the whole American underground scene began and techno was first established in North America; hosting some of the heaviest hitters in the world of house and techno.
Claude VonStroke, Adam Beyer, Louie Vega, DJ Minx, Derrick Carter, Jeff Mills and Richie Hawtin are all commonly seen on the ticket along with many other high-caliber DJs. This shining star of the Midwest’s festival scene is held right in the heart of Detroit, and it is absolute must-attend for any house house and techno enthusiast.
Check out all of our coverage through the years by clicking here.
ULTRA MUSIC FESTIVAL
There is no bigger scene of splendor and glamour than Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Florida. This festival brings in some of the largest accumulation of rising and current talent in the dance music industry.
With such a wide breadth of talent, there is something for everyone and recent initiatives by Ultra have included live streams of all of the biggest acts, meaning you can be apart of the festival no matter where you are at in the world.
Despite many petitions by the locals to move the festival elsewhere, the draw of this festival is just too strong (even Kaskade started a petition to keep in in Miami) and will continue to be a staple in the east coast for decades to come.
Check out our entire line of coverage of this phenomenal festival here.
LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
DoLab has staked their reputation on throwing holistic, down to earth parties where all are welcome. And no event encapsulates that more than Lightning in a Bottle (and yes, unlike Ultra this event is quite kid friendly).
While the festival has certainly faced its fair share of roadbumps throughout the years, forcing it to change venues and risk cancelation all-together, it has always come out the other side even more unique and fantastical.
If you are looking for a pleasant mix of daytime parties, energetic and nuanced music, and tasteful progressive beats, then LiB is guaranteed to be up your alleyway.
Check out our words and histories we’ve experiences in America’s most timeless festival by clicking this link here.
Electric Daisy Carnival
Nothing is more synonymous with modern raving and the American main-stage EDM than the Electric Daisy Carnival.
Everyone has a friend who’s been and won’t stop talking about it, and if you haven’t been yet then I’m sure that friend has tried to convince you that you need to go.
There is no other way to describe this 20k+ person festival than that it’s a spectacle. Massive stages, top-tier talent, extravagant entertainment, and more are all held within the confines of the racetrack in the heart of Las Vegas.
No matter where you live, EDC is worth the trip and an absolute must-see for any EDM fan. Just be prepared for a very long weekend, both emotionally and physically.
Check out all of our past coverage on this event here.
If you’re a ‘vibes person’, Electric Forest should be your spot.
Simply put, Electric Forest is one of the most unique places on the planet.
What makes it so special is the community that pops up at JJ Ranch in Rothbury, MI is built on a foundation of love and togetherness that radiates throughout the forest for those 4 special days. If you’ve been there, then you know what I’m talking about and you if you have yet to make the journey, make this year be the year that you do.
If you doubt me, just check out this breathtaking video…
After a couple of years forced hibernation, Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo, British Columbia is making a triumphant return.
While not technically in the United States, this festival gets an honorable mention just because of how unique of an experience it is (and because it’s just a simple hop over the Canadian border for more State-siders).
This festival stands out from the rest on its unique energy and tasteful curation of talent that it always brings to the table. A pleasant mix of bass-heavy genres paired with 4×4 legends like Canada’s-own TESTPILOT means that each set brings new flavors of grooves to the pits the and dance floors.
San Diego’s CRSSD Fest is an expertly curated marvel that, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to love and respect even more.
The tasteful blend of nuanced house and melodic-focused music pairs well with the San Diego skyline, and offers a unique, if not intimate impression that no other venue and promoter can replicate.
Not only does it pack the dance floors with quality DJs and genre-defining acts of the age, but also offers a bit of education in the space by hosting time of the biggest, most timeless legends from all generations of dance music.
Check out all our coverage in full through this link here.
Ezoo is another festival that’s had it fair share of turmoil and hiccups throughout the past decade. But like all of the best festivals who have weathered similar storms, they came out the other side better for it.
So much better in fact, that recently the New York-based festival expanded across the pond to throw Ezoo Tokyo. Once again, they must be doing right!
Ezoo is another festival that offers a little bit of something for everyone. What makes Ezoo special is that it’s held just a stone’s throw away from New York City, which makes it one of the most exciting and adventure-packed destination festivals a raver could ask for!
With the world opening back up again, it was a nice walk down memory lane recapping some of our favorite North American festivals. If you’re hungry for more, keep an eye out for our upcoming list of some of the best smaller festivals…
But now that we’ve dug deep into our favorite festivals, let’s go a bit further into what exactly makes music festivals such a unique and timeless experience.
What Is A Music Festival?
The dictionary would describe festivals are a gathering of people centered around music and experiences, typically hosted for a weekend or more. The artists booked for the weekend, known as a lineup, can vary wildly; sometimes spanning every genre under the sun while other festivals carve out their niche by only booking artists of a specific genre or vibe.
But to me, festivals are so much more than what a dictionary would define it as…
Music festivals are a communion of cultures, people, ideas and energies and are a celebration and expression of all of the above. They allow you to be completely yourself and escape the hum-drum of daily life back in the ‘real world.’
No other place than a festival to you have the opportunity to mingle with so many different varieties of people; all of whom are completely in their element.
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Every music festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can never be replicated and that’s what makes attending festivals such an amazing experience. It’s a place to discover new music and new facets of yourself, and it’s a shame so many people never discover those facets of themselves that only such an experience can reveal.
Why Are Music Festivals So Popular?
Music festivals were popularized throughout the 1960s and 70s once the Woodstock ethos began to take hold throughout the youth culture of the time. While Woodstock was by no means the nation’s first music festival, it certainly showed the country the demand for such an event and experience.
Once the idea of young people coming together to celebrate a similar vibe, energy, ethos, and a heavy dose of hedonism, took hold, the profit motive was evident and it took less than a decade before the conventional music festival model we know today became profitable.
But I think the root cause of music festivals ever-increasing popularity goes a bit deeper than that.
Throughout the 21st century, the generation of would-be festival goers are groomed and expected to be cogs in the wheel of machines much better than themselves. It’s a massive weight on the shoulders of our generation to repeatedly rinse and repeat the daily tasks needed to push the wheels of capitalism forward.
Festivals are a direct rejection and antithesis to the monotony of the daily grind.
They are a unique place in which the only cares you have are set times and eating enough calories to be able to dance all night. The provide a headspace and platform in which you can explore and create whatever image of yourself you want for your real-life self (instead of through online avatars and gamer tags).
Whether subconsciously or with the utmost intention, that is why music festivals have become so popular and show no signs of slowing down. This fact is ever more evident by the increasing number of older-aged attendees one sees throughout the festival grounds.
We are all looking for an escape that only festivals provide, and this is not something bound by age, race, music preference, or occupation.