With the page officially turned to 2015, the buzz begins to build surrounding the year’s biggest music festivals.
Festivals have been separated by those located in California and other big events that take place beyond the Golden State. Lineup announcements have been sparse thus far, but stay tuned for more info as details arrive in the coming months.
- Dates: February 20 – March 1
- Locations: Fillmore, Independent, Swedish American Music Hall, The Chapel, Rickshaw Stop, Great American Music Hall, Bottom of the Hill, 1015 Folsom, Brick and Mortar Music Hall (San Francisco) & Fox Theater (Oakland)
- Rundown: Established in 1993, Noise Pop Festival is an indie music, arts and film festival. Organized by those responsible for Treasure Island Music Festival and 20th Street Block Party, this unique event has performances taking place at most of the major SF venues. This year’s lineup is topped by electronic psychedelia artist Caribou, avant-garde crowd activator Dan Deacon, Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers and San Francisco favorite Geographer.
- Dates: April 10 – 12 & April 17 – 19
- Location: Empire Polo Fields (Indio)
- Rundown: The most high-profile of California music festivals, Coachella delivers plenty of surprises year-after-year with a long history that dates back to 1999. Rock, indie, hip hop, and dance music artists perform on five main stages, plus the famous Do Lab stage with emerging electronic acts, along with art installations and sculptures. Photos from last year.
- Dates: May 21 – 25
- Location: San Antonio Recreation Area (Bradley)
- Rundown: Organized by Southern California promotions company The Do Lab returns to the Central Coast to host a transformational festival that promotes sustainability, social cohesion, personal health, and creative expression to the soundtrack of top dance music producers. Tickets are already on sale, but the lineup has yet to be announced. Major improvements have been made on-site for the second year at this location, according to organizers, to minimize dust, increase access, and provide more water options for attendees. Photos from last year.
- Dates: May 29 – 31
- Location: Napa Valley Expo (Napa)
- Rundown: This music, wine and food festival returns for its third year in 2015. Last year it drew 80,000 fans featuring more than 60 acts on four stages with offerings from local wineries and restaurants. The inaugural BottleRock organizers collapsed under the weight of debt and lawsuits, but fortunately the festival shifted to a scaled-back version thanks to new promoters Latitude 38 Entertainment, who acquired the BottleRock name and partial assets last January. Music spans pop and rock to country and hip-hop. Photos from last year.
- Dates: June 19 – 21
- Locations: Three California stops including Shoreline Ampitheatre (Mountain View), Pomona Fairplex (Pomona) and Seaside Park at the Ventura County Fairgrounds (Ventura)
- Rundown: The largest traveling music festival and also the longest running tour, it began as a showcase for punk rock music, but more recent lineups have had diversified genres.
- Date: June (TBD)
- Location: Shoreline Ampitheatre (Mountain View)
- Rundown: Hosted by Bay Area radio station Live 105, this mostly alternative rock event serves as a platform for up-and-coming artists and staples of modern rock radio. Organizers always grab some eye-catching acts, but it serves as a great place to see up-and-coming artists on side stages, as well.
- Date: August 7 – 9
- Location: Golden Gate Park (San Francisco)
- Rundown: San Francisco’s premier music festival, Outside Lands hosts three days of music on five stages at Golden Gate Park, plus food and drink options from numerous local favorites. Its emergeD as one of the strongest three-day music festivals in the state, rivaling Coachella. Photos from last year.
- Date: August 23 – 24
- Location: LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park (Los Angeles)
- Rundown: Originally created by an 18-year-old and coined as Fuck Yeah Fest in 2004, the two-day festival is now in it’s 12th year and has a friendlier name. Golden Voice, the same puppet masters behind Coachella, joined as producers a few years back to help avoid logistical disasters. The partnership also adds some free-love swagger to this blended lineup of mainstream, electronic, and hardcore music.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
- Date: October 2 – 4
- Location: Golden Gate Park (San Francisco)
- Rundown: Founded in 2001, Hardly Strictly, also referred to as HSB or Strictly Bluegrass, is a free and non-commercial music festival held over the first weekend of October. This could be the best free festival in existence – there’s a wide variety of musical performances happening outdoors in a park and attendees can bring in their own booze and picnic.
- Date: October 17 – 19
- Location: Treasure Island (San Francisco)
- Rundown: This is one of the smaller festivals on this list, but the two-stage, two-day offering takes place at one of the most unique locations—on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Better yet, none of the major acts overlap on the schedule, making it possible to catch every set, although the epic sunsets and unique side shows provide plenty of distractions. There is also a silent disco area for those who just want to quietly boogie. Photos from last year.
South by Southwest (SXSW)
- Dates: March 17 – 22
- Location: Austin, TX
- Rundown: There’s nothing quite like SXSW, which takes over downtown Austin for a couple of weeks with a music, film and interactive conference and festival. Music generates the most buzz with major artists flocking to the area along with buzz bands and newcomers hoping to catch a break. If you are looking for a band in March, odds are it is here. Highlights from the initial lineup include London vocalist Jessie Ware, San Francisco garage rock band Thee Oh Sees, and rising electronic project Until the Ribbon Breaks. Photos from last year.
- Date: March 27 – 29
- Location: Bayfront Park (Miami, FL)
- Rundown: Easily the most premier electronic dance music festival, Ultra pairs an outdoor party environment laced with plenty of palm trees with nearly all of the top DJs and producers. The parties continue all night at the city’s famous nightclubs. The beach-friendly festival vibes coincide with the annual Winter Music Conference, also held in Miami.
- Dates: April 24 – May 3
- Location: New Orleans, LA
- Rundown: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, often known as Jazz Fest, is a 10-day cultural celebration of the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. The full music lineup will be announced later this month, with major national touring headliners along with New Orleans favorites. Attendees usually pick between the Weekend 1 lineup and Weekend 2. Photos from last year.
- Date: May 22 – 25
- Location: Gorge Amphitheatre (George, WA)
- Rundown: The biggest event in the Pacific Northwest switches back to a four-day format over Memorial Day weekend this year. It had been this way for several years before expanding to a two-weekend format in 2014. The full festival line up will be announced in early February.
Electric Daisy Carnival
- Date: June 19 – 21
- Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nevada
- Rundown: The 19th annual EDC (and fifth since the festival moved to Las Vegas from its original home in Southern California) now rivals Ultra for the crown jewel of all-electronic festivals. However, it is not nearly as large as the Miami counterpart. Partying on a race track in the desert does make for an intriguing backdrop to soak in bass-heavy beats. Photos from last year.
- Date: June 11 – 14
- Location: Manchester, TN
- Rundown: The four-day festival takes place on 700 acres of Tennessee nature. Over 80,000 campers make the pilgrimage to witness 150 performances on more than 10 music stages, as well as dozens of comedians. Photos from last year.
- Date: July 31 – August 2
- Location: Grant Park (Chicago, IL)
- Rundown: Taking place during the pleasant summer season in downtown Chicago, the end of summer marks the beginning of Lollapalooza. The lineup consistently features a mix of major headliners and buzz bands from across genres at this destination festival. There are also comedy performances and craft booths. Conceived and created in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band (they still tour regularly), Lollapalooza ran annually until 1997 and was revived in 2003. The festival recently expanded beyond the United States to South American locations such as Chile and Brazil.