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Best music festival in North America? Readers vote Musikfest

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Winning festival includes 500 shows on 16 stages

As temperatures begin to creep up, music festival season is fast approaching, and each year, more and more events are joining the lineup, expanding and diversifying the music festival circuit in North America. Our panel of music festival aficionados has hand-picked 20 essential festivals from coast to coast where music fans can see dozens of artists in one place. For the last four weeks, our readers have been voting for their favorites, and the results are in.

  • Musikfest
    Bethlehem, Penn.

    MusikFest was founded in 1984 with 295 performances on six stages. Today, this event in the town of Bethlehem has grown to include 500-plus shows on 16 stages over the course of 10 days, with some 900,000 music lovers in attendance each year. Past headliners have included The Chainsmokers, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley and The Goo Goo Dolls.
    Photo courtesy of RaubDaub / Flickr

  • Riot Fest
    Chicago

    Riot Fest is a multi-destination music festival taking place each year in Chicago. It began in 2005 as a weekend of punk and rock and continued to expand to include a full carnival. Yup. “Corndogs. Ferris wheels. Your Music.” That’s the short description. Fans at Riot Fest have watched bands like the Misfits and Dead Kennedys. The goal is simple and pure: to throw unforgettable shows.
    Photo courtesy of David T. Kindler / Riot Fest

  • Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival
    Las Vegas

    Life Is Beautiful debuted in 2013 in the newly revitalized neighborhood of East Fremont in Las Vegas. Today, the three-day festival attracts more than 175,000 attendees and top talent, like Lorde, Blink-182, Muse, Wiz Khalifa, The Lumineers, Major Lazer, Arcade Fire, Duran Duran and Childish Gambino.
    Photo courtesy of Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Life Is Beautiful

  • Outside Lands
    San Francisco

    The Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival takes place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park every August. The festival began in 2008 and has since earned a reputation for its eco-friendly efforts, like solar-powered stages. The 50,000-plus attendees enjoy music, along with beer, wine, art and more. In fact, the thoughtful wine pairings make Outside Lands stand out from other music fests.
    Photo courtesy of FilmMagic / Outside Lands

  • Old Settler's Music Festival
    Tilmon, Texas

    Old Settler’s Music Festival celebrates roots and Americana music with four days of live performances, camping, an arts market and family friendly activities. Headliners have included Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Brandi Carlile, Balsam Range, American Dreamer and The Jeff Austin Band.
    Photo courtesy of ©Wayland D. Clark

  • Desert Daze
    Lake Perris, Calif.

    Desert Daze started in Joshua Tree but has since relocated from the desert to the sands of Moreno Beach. The three-day festival is on the smaller side, so crowds don’t feel overwhelming, and it’s one of the nation’s most aesthetically pleasing music festivals thanks to a series of surreal art installations. Past talent has included My Bloody Valentine, Tame Impala, Iggy Pop and Courtney Barnett.
    Photo courtesy of Shane Hirschman / Flickr

  • BottleRock Napa Valley
    Napa, Calif.

    What's better than stellar California wine? Stellar California wine served to the sound of live tunes. Each May BottleRock Napa Valley features rock 'n' roll, food and wine from some of the best producers in California and the world. Only in Napa does a music festival have a staff of sommeliers!
    Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Eric Risberg

  • Fortress Festival
    Fort Worth

    Fortress Festival has already made a big impression in its first two years of existence. This event in Fort Worth takes over the Cultural District for a weekend of music and art. The lineup at the 2019 event includes Leon Bridges, CHVRCHES, Rae Sremmurd and Khruangbin.
    Photo courtesy of Robert Hein / Fortress Festival

  • Austin City Limits Music Festival
    Austin

    Inspired by the long-running PBS series Austin City Limits, the Austin City Limits Music Festival takes over Zilker Park for two weekends featuring more than 140 up-and-coming and world-renowned acts on eight stages. The festival ranks among the largest in the country, attracting some 75,000 music lovers per day with a lineup of pop, rock, alt-country, folk, blues, gospel, EDM and R&B.
    Photo courtesy of Julian Bajsel / Austin City Limits Music Festival

  • Coachella
    Indio, Calif.

    The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (Coachella for short) in Indio, Calif., is an annual, outdoor, two-weekend fest in April that features a wide variety of music, from electronic to indie to rock – plus art exhibits, too. Coachella launched in 1993 with Pearl Jam, and has since featured a long list of musical faves. On-site camping is a popular way to enjoy the tunes during this festival that kicks off the summer music season.
    Photo courtesy of Zoe Meyers/The Desert Sun via USA TODAY NETWORK

The top 10 winners in the category Best Music Festival are as follows:

  1. Musikfest - Bethlehem, Penn.
  2. Riot Fest - Chicago
  3. Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival - Las Vegas
  4. Outside Lands - San Francisco
  5. Old Settler's Music Festival - Tilmon, Texas
  6. Desert Daze - Lake Perris, Calif.
  7. BottleRock Napa Valley - Napa, Calif.
  8. Fortress Festival - Fort Worth
  9. Austin City Limits Music Festival - Austin
  10. Coachella - Indio, Calif.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning festivals!

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