Crowd at Lollapalooza.

Festivals To Catch in June, July and August

BY Emily Frantz | June 2, 2024

The arrival of summer means one thing and one thing only for music fans across the country: it’s finally festival season, baby. Dust off your fairy wings, assless chaps or fringe jacket, and buy a new pot of face glitter because you’ve got dusty fields to dance in. From Nashville to Iowa, from New Orleans to San Francisco, some of the most anticipated festivals of the year take place in June, July and August.  You’ve spent all year gearing up for Outside Lands and Lollapalooza, but there are some small, more niche options worth considering as well. Here are 12 festivals you can’t miss this summer. 

CMA Fest 

Photo courtesy of Lenny Darling | CC BY 2.0

Nashville, Tennessee

June 6-9, 2024

Think about it: how many genres of music have their own association? The love of country music runs so deep in Nashville that much of CMA Fest consists of free shows scattered across the city. The Chevy Vibes Stage at Walk of Fame Park, the Dr. Pepper Amp Stage at Ascend Park, and all other outdoor, daytime stages offer free admission. You can catch up-and-comers Reid Haughton and Kelsey Waldon at the free Hard Rock Stage outside the Hard Rock Cafe. If you want to see your favorite chart-toppers, though, you’ll need to migrate indoors, where the likes of Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, and Jason Aldean have played in recent years. This year’s heavy hitters include Colbie Caillat, Keith Urban and Jelly Roll.

Jeremiah David Jenkins

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 

Photo courtesy of Adam Stoffa | CC BY 2.0

Manchester, Tennessee

June 13-16, 2024

With more than 20 years under its belt and the scale to match, chances are you’ve heard about Bonnaroo. From attendee outfits chock full of winged costumes and harnesses, to over 10 stages of marquee musical acts, to elopements and parties thrown by the same club behind “Ketamine: The Musical,” Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival is all that and more. With 700 acres of farmland at Tennessee’s Great Stage Park, there’s room for all kinds of wild activities alongside the 110 artists, headlined by Pretty Lights, Post Malone, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fred Again.

Suchita Chadha


Photo courtesy of Jim Pietryga | CC BY-SA 3.0

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

June 20 – July 6, 2024

For Wisconsinites, there is nothing that activates that true spirit of vacation like Summerfest. For three consecutive weekends in late June and early July, downtown Milwaukee will be taken over by 12 stages, massive artisan markets and one enormous ferris wheel that gives riders prime views of adjacent Lake Michigan. Officially crowned the World’s Largest Music Festival by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999, you’d be hard pressed not to find one of your favorite artists among over 600 performers across a variety of genres — rock, pop, hip-hop, country and more. This year, Kane Brown, Mötley Crüe, Illenium, Tyler Childers, Keith Urban, AJR, Maroon 5 and Lil Uzi Vert will headline, with each act promising to bring along their own special guests.

Olivia Winters

National Cherry Festival 

Photo courtesy of Julie Danielle | CC BY-SA 2.0

Traverse City, Michigan

June 29 – July 6, 2024

From concerts to volleyball tournaments, the National Cherry Festival is a full-town celebration dedicated just to cherries. Now, these aren’t your regular snacking cherries, your drive-away-the-summer-heat cherries, your grab-em-from-the-grocery-before-they’re-gone cherries, or, well you get the point. Sweet cherries are primarily produced in Oregon and Washington, but these bright red Michigan sour cherries are the ones you’ll really want for all your jams and jellies, pies and preserves, cocktails and compotes. Snack on every kind of sour cherry preparation before heading to the Bayside Music Stage — which does require tickets — where there’ll be shows by American rock group Goo Goo Dolls, country-pop singer Dylan Scott and comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias. 

Suchita Chadha 

Essence Music Fest

Image courtesy of Valerie Albert | CC BY-SA 4.0

New Orleans, Louisiana

July 3-9, 2024

The Essence Festival of Culture, known as the “party with a purpose,” will celebrate its 30th year of celebrating the African American community. Essence Fest is hosted by Essence Magazine, a publication centered on African American women, and is all about Black culture. There are daytime workshops and talks by Black authors, and cooking demonstrations alongside a bustling marketplace. Many of these are free and scattered throughout New Orleans. The main excitement tends to revolve around beauty and wellness workshops (past ones have included make-up challenges featuring Supa Cent and a forum on owning your sexuality and sensuality)—as well as the music. This year’s lineup includes Ms. Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and Megan Thee Stallion, among others. 

Logan Davis


Photo courtesy of Nick Amoscato | CC BY 2.0

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

July 18-21, 2024

Picklesburgh is a three-day, pickle-themed — yes, you heard us — festival. Regional pickle vendors and farms show up and take over a few blocks of downtown Pittsburgh, marking their territory with a giant Heinz pickle balloon at the entrance. (Back in the 1860s, Heinz sold pickles, sauerkraut and vinegar by horse-drawn carriage to stores around the city.) Folks can come by for free to experience pickle everything. There will be your classic bread and butter chips and kosher jerkins, of course, but also creative pickle takes, like pickle ice cream.

Logan Davis

Pitchfork Music Festival 

Photo courtesy of swimfinfan from Chicago | CC BY-SA 2.0

Chicago, Illinois 

July 19-21, 2024

Pitchfork, the online music publication behind Pitchfork Music Festival that’s now part of men’s magazine GQ, was once the beacon for music journalism, and the Chicago festival wasn’t far behind. Called the “record-collecting, alt, much cooler, visually and sonically pleasing sister” to Lollapalooza, the Pitchfork fest takes place just a few weeks before Lolla. In the past, Pitchfork’s lineup was influenced by the tastes of Pitchfork’s writers which usually provided interesting results. This year it’s headlined by Jamie xx, Alanis Morissette and Black Pumas. 

Suchita Chadha

Sturgis Buffalo Chip Rally 

Sturgis, South Dakota

July 29 – August 10, 2024

On Monday, July 29 at 8 a.m. sharp, the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Rally’s garage services begin, opening the floodgate for over 400,000 bikers who will ride through the festival’s open fields during its two-week run. Once the music kicks in on Friday, bikini beach parties become bikini bike washes and motorcycle stunt shows between headliners Jelly Roll, Bad Wolves and Kid Rock. Past performers have included legendary acts such as Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Aerosmith. It’s bike show, concert, refuel and start again for a whole week. 

Emily Frantz


Photo courtesy of Leonardo Samrani | CC BY 2.0

Chicago, Illinois 

August 1-4, 2024

Chicago’s most popular music festival returns to Grant Park this August for four days of mayhem. One of the biggest festivals in the country every year, Lollapalooza reliably has the era’s most popular pop, rock, indie, alternative, rap, techno and DJs (you don’t still have to have an unfortunate 2000s haircut to appreciate Skrillex). The festival that began in 1991 as a touring event is still going strong in its home base of Chicago’s Grant Park, where over 170 bands will play on eight stages. This year’s headliners include SZA, Tyler, The Creator, Blink-182, The Killers, Future X Metro Boomin, Hozier, Stray Kids, Melanie Martinez and Skrillex.

Emily Frantz

Outside Lands 

Photo courtesy of Edward Betts | CC BY-SA 3.0

San Francisco, California

August 9-11, 2024

Outside Lands is sort of like a big San Francisco park day. It’s named for the outer, western neighborhoods of the city, and has the expected NorCal mainstays: a designated cannabis area (called Grass Lands), tech bros head-bobbing to Odesza and a redwoods canopy. Big names in performers and sponsors, but low-key in effect, the three-day festival takes place amidst Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. This year the headliners are Alicia Keys, The Killers, Dua Lipa, Troye Sivan, MGMT and SIA.

Logan Davis

Iowa State Fair 

Photo courtesy of Phil Roeder | CC BY 2.0

Des Moines, Iowa

August 8-18, 2024

Even if you’ve never been to the Iowa State Fair, you’ve probably seen pictures. The gondola lift soaring over crowds at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, the ferris wheel lit up at night. Then there are the lesser-known oddities: butter sculptures, pickle dogs, a husband calling contest. And yes, there are politicians, too. Every election cycle we’re treated to the spectacle of sweaty politicians choking on corn dogs in broad daylight. It’s a rite of passage for these people: Rick Perry showed off his throat game in 2011, Bernie Sanders in 2019, Obama in ‘07 — the list goes on. In 2024’s heated presidential race, steel yourself for some unforgettable images.

Jeremiah David Jenkins

Moab Music Festival

Photo Courtesy of Ken Lund | CC BY-SA 2.0

Moab, Utah

August 28 – September 14, 2024

The tags of “outdoor venue” and “natural acoustics” can’t adequately prepare you for what happens at the Moab Music Festival. A love letter as much to the terrain around the Colorado River as to classical music, the Moab Music Festival is a series of 20 events — mostly concerts, but with a few film screenings — across two weeks that take artist and audience alike into the rocky Utah landscapes. A grotto, a canyon and the Colorado River itself are a few of the places that become amphitheaters.

Suchita Chadha