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Best Music Festival (2020)

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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, and our readers voted for their favorites.

  • Musikfest

    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 Jesse Faatz Photography / Musikfest

  • Riot Fest

    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 Chris Andrew / Riot Fest

  • Electric Daisy Carnival

    Electric Daisy Carnival
    Las Vegas

    Electric Daisy Carnival, or EDC, is the largest electronic dance music festival on the continent, held each May at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Music is complemented by carnival-themed attractions and multi-sensory experiences, including rides, art installations and circus performers.
    Photo courtesy of Calder Wilson / Electric Daisy Carnival

  • Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival

    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 Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival

  • Hangout Music Festival

    Hangout Music Festival
    Gulf Shores, Ala.

    Gulf Shores in Alabama is the site of a unique music festival that brings bands to the powdery white sand. Festival-goers listen to live music in the warm May weather with the view of the ocean at the Hangout Music Festival (often just called Hangout for short). The three-day festival features all kinds of music, from rock to electronic, with headliners the likes of Jack White, Paul Simon and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
    Photo courtesy of Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Hangout Music Festival

  • Outside Lands

    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 Jeremy Cohen / Outside Lands

  • Capitol Hill Block Party

    Capitol Hill Block Party
    Seattle

    This three-day festival in the heart of Seattle celebrates music, art and its host city. Attendees can listen to live music on six stages, browse art shows and enjoy food and drinks from some of Seattle’s top local bars and restaurants. Past talent has included ODESZA, The Lumineers, Macklemore, MGMT, Run the Jewels and CHVRCHES.
    Photo courtesy of Christine Mitchell / Capitol Hill Block Party

  • Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

    Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
    Manchester, Tenn.

    Bonnaroo brings 85,000 attendees to hundreds of acres in Tennessee for more than 150 performances on 10 different stages. This four-day festival in June features a variety of music, from rock to jazz and everything in between (a few from the past: Allman Brothers, White Stripes, Tom Petty, Jay-Z), with shows running late into the night. Visitors can also catch live comedy, a small film fest and other events, all while enjoying Mother Nature. Bonnaroo has earned some important accolades, too, including being called one of the 50 moments that changed rock and roll by Rolling Stone magazine.
    Photo courtesy of Nathan Zucker / Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

  • Newport Folk Festival

    Newport Folk Festival
    Newport, R.I.

    Newport Folk Festival is one of the originals. In fact, its the self-proclaimed “grandparents of the modern-day festival.” Started in 1959, the festival has earned a reputation over the years for showcasing musicians and launching their successful careers – perhaps most notably, Bob Dylan. The Newport festival spotlights folk, blues, country and bluegrass musicians every summer. It aims to preserve the history of folk music, while continuing to honor it and help develop it in the modern age.
    Photo courtesy of Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

  • Lightning in a Bottle

    Lightning in a Bottle
    Kern County, Calif.

    Lightning in a Bottle aims to be California’s top camping festival – a “transformational” event that not only supports music, but also promotes social unity, health, sustainability and creativity. Guests can also enjoy workshops on how to grow food and live a more sustainable lifestyle, do yoga, meditate and view interactive art installations. Lightning in a Bottle welcomes people of all ages and is drug-free. Electronic dance music is front and center at this one.
    Photo courtesy of Jess Bernstein / Lightning in a Bottle

  • Musikfest
  • Riot Fest
  • Electric Daisy Carnival
  • Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival
  • Hangout Music Festival
  • Outside Lands
  • Capitol Hill Block Party
  • Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
  • Newport Folk Festival
  • Lightning in a Bottle

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

  1. Musikfest - Bethlehem, Penn.
  2. Riot Fest - Chicago
  3. Electric Daisy Carnival - Las Vegas
  4. Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival - Las Vegas
  5. Hangout Music Festival - Gulf Shores, Ala.
  6. Outside Lands - San Francisco
  7. Capitol Hill Block Party - Seattle
  8. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - Manchester, Tenn.
  9. Newport Folk Festival - Newport, R.I.
  10. Lightning in a Bottle - Kern County, Calif.

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

Congratulations to all these winning events!

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