Music festival junkies, we did it. We somehow made it an entire year music festival-less. We survived.
I’ll never forget Firefly 2019. It’d been my 4th year going in a row, and my friends and I made a pact that 2020 would be our last time attending for the foreseeable future. Don’t get me wrong, we’re music festival fanatics, but part of us figured it was time we put the towel in for the time being. Little did we know, Firefly 2020 would never happen.
Now that I’ve gone a year without a music festival, it’s safe to say I regret everything I had ever said in 2019. I will continuously go to a music festival every year until my body no longer allows me to. Over the course of the last year, I feared music festivals would cease to exist forever, but, it’s happening. The best music festivals are back and they’ve come with a vengeance.
Some of the best music festivals across the world haven’t announced a 2021 comeback as of yet or have even canceled altogether, which include iconic escapades like Coachella in the SoCal desserts and Sziget, one of Europe’s most sought-after music fest in Budapest. But, other iconic names have released dates and lineups in the past couple of weeks to amp us up for the summer (and fall) we all deserve to have.
The majority of the best music festivals have gone and changed the dates they’re known for by pushing them back into late summer and early fall in hopes COVID-19 infections will slow down and the majority of attendees will get their vaccine. This is most definitely a smart move because, unlike the crushed hopes we had last year, this makes it more probable that these music festivals are actually going to happen.
Whether you’re packing up for a day fest or a 4-night adventure, the best music festivals of 2021 are waiting. All you how to do now is choose which one you’re going to go to. Time to pack up that car with all your cute festival-centric outfits, the best camping gear and tons of water. We’ll see you at the next set.
WHERE: Dover, Delaware
WHEN: 9/23 – 9/26
HEADLINERS: Billie Eilish, The Killers, Tame Impala & Lizzo
I can go on forever and ever about Firefly. I’m absolutely biased because I’ve been so many times, but I will go as far as to say Firefly is the best music festival in the world. I have made so many incredible memories here, I’ve only ever met amazing people and the music, food and festivities are unmatched. It’s a great music festival for anyone living on the East Coast of the United States that wants something spectacular within driving distance. Firefly never disappoints from bopping around your campsite pregaming your favorite artist with your friends to time spent within the actual festival roaming around from set to set. This year, some massive names are coming to tear it up, including Billie Eilish, The Killers, Tame Impala and Lizzo, so we’re sure this is going to be one to remember.
WHERE: Manchester, Tennessee
WHEN: 9/2 – 9/5
HEADLINERS: Grand Ole Opry, Foo Fighters, Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, Tame Impala, Tyler the Creator & Lana Del Rey
Bonnaroo has been rocking Tennessee since 2002 and hasn’t let us down since its beginning. It has a similar vibe to most campout music festivals (such as Firefly) sporting solely good vibes and even better tunes as far as your ears can hear. This year, they’ve made a number of updates to the festival that will include shorter wait times and a brand new way of transportation to Centeroo, the spot where everything goes on. A number of iconic musicians will be performing throughout the entire weekend to bring on a show like no other. Only downside? GA tickets are completely sold out, but they are available for resale which you can find right on their website. Trust us, you’re not going to want to miss this year.
3. Governor’s Ball
WHERE: New York, New York
WHEN: 9/24 – 9/26
HEADLINERS: Billie Eilish, A$AP Rocky, J Balvin & Post Malone
Camping not your thing? No worries, it’s not for everyone. If you’re the hotel type and you can get yourself to New York City in late September, it’s time to check out Governor’s Ball. Otherwise known as Gov Ball, this stellar three-day experience is showcasing performances by none other than Billie Eilish, A$AP Rocky, J Balvin, Post Malone and tons more right in Citi Field in the Big Apple. Given the name, yeah, it used to be held on Governor’s Island, but as someone who has been to Gov Ball in the past, the Citi Field move is a tremendous upgrade. Getting on and off Governor’s Island is certified hell, believe me. You’re going to need a hotel or Airbnb if you plan on spending any time here unless you live nearby, but trust us, it’ll be worth it. It’s going to be the time of your life.
WHERE: Chicago, Illinois
WHEN: 7/29 – 8/1
HEADLINERS: Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Tyler the Creator & Miley Cyrus
We’ve got good news. Lollapalooza has been given the green light to go on as planned at their usual time and place in Grant Park, Chicago this summer. It was up in the air for a bit, but as of May 19th, Lolla shocked us with one of the best lineups we’ve seen this year so far, including performances from Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Tyler the Creator, Miley Cyrus and more. Tickets are likely to sell out fast, so you better act quickly on this one. Because, well, it’s Lollapalooza. One of the world’s greatest music festivals. What else do you expect?
5. Pitchfork Music Festival
WHERE: Chicago, Illinois
WHEN: 9/10 – 9/12
HEADLINERS: Phoebe Bridgers, Big Thief, Animal Collective, St. Vincent, Angel Olsen, Kim Gordon, Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus & Thundercat
Maybe your taste in music is a little bit more refined to what’s typically charting at number 1 on Billboard. If that’s the case, leave it to Pitchfork to give us one of the most tasteful headlining lineups of the year. Performances range throughout a number of genres and celebrate some of the most top-tier artists of our generation. Like Lolla, this festival is held in Chicago but chooses Union Park over Grant. Live in the area? Knock out both this year.
6. Electric Zoo
WHERE: New York, New York
WHEN: 9/3 – 9/5
HEADLINERS: Tiësto, Alesso, Steve Aoki, Alan Walker, Galantis, Illenium & more
Electronic music lovers, this year EZOO is calling your name. Held on Randall’s Island in New York City, this is a music festival dance lovers can’t miss out on. It’s got a slew of electronic favorites ranging from Alesso to Galantis and spans over a three-day course that makes every day worth attending. It takes place Labor Day Weekend this year, meaning you probably won’t have to worry about taking at least one day off work, either.
7. Outside Lands
WHERE: San Francisco, California
WHEN: 10/29 – 10/31
HEADLINERS: The Strokes, Tyler the Creator, Glass Animals, Lizzo, Vampire Weekend, Zhu, Young Thug, Tame Impala, J Balvin, Rüfüs Du Sol & Kehlani
Last but not least, we simply have to talk about Outside Lands. Occurring on Halloween weekend this year, this music festival is going to be one for the books. All of your favorite artists as you’re dressed in the most iconic post-COVID costume you can throw together? Incredible. It can’t get any better than that. Our assistant managing editor James Schiff has plans on attending this year and he couldn’t be more ecstatic, “it’s going to be bananas. The headliners are amazing, sure, but the bench is really deep on this one. And since nearly every artist has been starved of live performances for the past year, you can bet they’ll all bring their ‘A’ game. Plus, who wouldn’t want to hang in Golden Gate Park in a costume while listening to some killer jams?”