Best Fests: Mega-Festivals (US)

South By Southwest (SXSW) 2016

March 11-20, 2016

It’s not that South by Southwest takes over Austin — downtown Austin becomes SXSW for nine days in March. Music, art, interactive, panels, comedy, and movies all vie for your attention span. Let’s put it this way. You could skip media for a year, come to Austin for the week, and still come out ahead on pop culture.

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Photo Credit: Diego Donamaria

Ultra Miami 2016

March 18-20, 2016

For EDM fans around the world, Ultra in Miami is a must-stop on the international circuit. While most of the United States is shivering in parkas waiting for the summer festival season, Ultra fans are dancing their asses off in sunny Miami. The show always delivers surprises – both in the musical acts and the fans that attend.

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Photo Credit: Kevin Verkruijssen

Photo Credit: Mike Ivankay

Coachella 2016

April 15-24, 2016

Like a barometer always reading a temperature of awesome, the traditional kickoff to the summer festival season is dominated by Coachella. The glitz and glamour of Los Angeles migrates east to the Indio desert for back to back weekends of the biggest names in music. What started as a small electronic festival in the desert has transformed into a cultural touchstone for the festival season.

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Sasquatch 2016

May 27-30, 2016

Much like its namesake, the Sasqutach festival resides in the northwest, is completely legendary, and sought after by fans from all over the world. The Memorial Weekend powerhouse now stretches over four days in a trippy Washington wasteland that would be considered desolate if The Gorge didn’t provide one of the greatest natural stages known to man.

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Photo Credit: Matthew Lamb

Governors Ball Music Festival 2016

June 3-5, 2016

New York City struggled for years to land a proper mega-festival and finally found the perfect partner with The Governor’s Ball. Taking place on the Hudson River on Randall’s Island, festival fans can settle back and enjoy the show with the unforgettable NYC skyline as the backdrop.

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Photo Credit: Christopher Garbushian

Bonnaroo 2016

June 9-12, 2016

Over the last decade, no other US music festival has captured the spirit of large greenfield gatherings like the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Bonnaroo burst onto the scene grabbing headlines along with our hearts as we watched it grow from scrappy newcomer to a full fledged anchor of the summer. It may not be the oldest or the largest, but Bonnaroo is the spirit of the quintessential American music festival. Long live The Roo.

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Bumbershoot 2016

September 2-4, 2016

Now in its fourth decade, Bumbershoot (a oldie time word for umbrella) is more of an institution than a music festival. There’s so much happening here that you’ll need all three days to sort through all the live music, art shows, speakers, and exhibitions happening under the Bumbershoot. With a budget friendly price (and children under ten are FREE), this fest is one of the most affordable and family friendly of the season.

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Photo Credit: Vito Valentinetti

Austin City Limits 2016

September 30-October 9, 2016

Named after the venerable PBS series, the Austin City Limits Festival heads into its second decade stronger than ever. The traditional lineup announcement leads to a flurry of praise and criticism from the hip kids, but the love for this festival is so strong that ACL added a second weekend.

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Photo Credit: Nick Simonite