The 10 Best Cities in North America For Music Festivals

Auditorium Shores in Austin, Texas. Photo Credit: Extreme Air Shots

Music festivals have exploded across the continent, especially in major North American cities. We scoured the MFJ Festival Guide to find the cities that welcome music festivals with open arms. We’ve included a sampler of some of the more notable fests in each city, but remind you that it’s only a partial list — mostly dedicated to straight music festivals. There’s literally a festival every weekend in these places with bands and tunes for every type of fan.

A couple of things to keep in mind:
1. These cities aren’t in any particular order. There’s no “best” or “worst” in this list.
2. Nearby festivals are limited to around a two hour drive.
3. Again, this is just a partial list, not a full rundown of every music festival in the city.

Ready? Pack your bags (and anything else that needs packing) and let’s check out the hottest music festival cities in the land…

Born during a sweaty, backstage, Bonnaroo downpour, the Chief Festival Junkie's mission in life is to dance, write, and travel to every great festival that this wide world has to offer. While his identity remains a mystery, you may have already met him, probably when he helped himself to your party favors.

7 Comments

  • June 27, 2012

    Levi

    Wait I’m confused as to how Chicago is this low in the list…. Am I missing something because the lineups I’ve seen blow every other city on this list so far out of the water

  • July 7, 2012

    Saint Louis Kid

    I’m with you Levi, I think the author may be bias. Why else would he begin his comment with the statement: “Typically locked in the icy grasp of a Great Lakes winter….” Truth is, Chicago does have a great four season climate and a real winter but the city is not typically locked in winter. The great advantage for Chicago’s outdoor concert season is the fact that along with the four season climate comes a typically moderate Chicago summer. This, for sure, trumps some of the cities on the list which typically have an oppressively hot or oppressively hot/humid summer concert season. In addition, I’ll take Chicago as a destination over most all the cities on the list music festival or no.

  • September 12, 2012

    Braj

    Let me just go ahead and fill in the ones you forgot for LA: Nocturnal Wonderland, Escape from Wonderland, Beyond Wonderland, Hard Haunted Mansion, Hard: Day of the Dead, Rock the Bells, and nearby festivals EDC LV (only the biggest music festival in the country), Coachella and Stagecoach. LA is number one hands down.

  • February 6, 2013

    Andrew

    They used a picture of Escapade Music Festival to show Toronto’s festivals? Escapade is in Ottawa, a 5 hour drive away. Get your facts straight.

  • March 8, 2013

    Terry Liska

    If you FIBS would have read the beginning of the list it said the order does not mean a thing. The top ten were treated equal..The list did not include Milwaukee.. Summerfest is the top Music Fest in the USA hands down. Milwaukee is called the City of Festivals. Not even a mention.. Hey Braj: Summerfest in Milwaukee Is The Worlds Largest Music Festival but you said EDC LV “is the biggest music festival in the country” Braj .. You should get your facts straight..

  • March 18, 2013

    Alaina

    How is New Orleans not on here?

    Jazzfest
    Soulfest
    Buku Music and Art Project
    Congo Square New Worlds Rhythm Festival
    Freret Street Festival
    Greek Festival
    LA Cajun Zydeco Festival
    Essence Music Festival
    Cutting Edge Music Festival
    Crescent City Blues and Barbeque Festival
    Words and Music Festival
    VooDoo Music Experience

    Plus hundreds of spots around the city playing live music every night!

    I know NOLA has a festival or parade almost every weekend but don’t hold it against us. Your list is invalid!

  • June 16, 2013

    Jordan

    Where is Milwaukee, Wi? Nicknamed the City of Festivals…SUMMERFEST the largest outdoor music festival in the world. You haven’t been to a music festival until you’ve been to Summerfest. These cities have nothing on Milwaukee

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