The last year and a half have been bleak for many, with the Covid-19 pandemic negatively impacting the lives of millions worldwide. When lockdowns were initiated, most people began making bucket lists consisting of the activities and places they would want to participate in and visit when restrictions were lifted, including the best American music festivals.
For some, lifted restrictions mean being able to visit family and friends. Yet, for others, it could mean standing in an open field amongst strangers, paying for overpriced food and drink while looking for your friends you lost a while ago. This might not sound like a pleasant experience to most, but many cannot wait to make memories like these.
As America continues with its vaccine rollout, many music lovers eagerly await the start of festival season, which is just around the corner. In 2021 music festivals are slowly on the comeback.
As with most industries, music was hit hard during 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Hundreds of artists are eager to get back on stage, and music festival hosts are working towards making the 2021 American music festivals the best they have ever been.
Regardless of if you’re a fan of hip-hop, rock, EDM, indie, or metal, there is definitely an American music festival on this list that will pique your interest. We have managed to source 10 of the very best American music festivals occurring in 2021 that you should consider looking into before it is too late.
10 of the Best American Music Festivals
Date: July 29 – August 1
Headliners: Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Miley Cyrus, Tyler, the Creator, Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, and Roddy Rich
Book tickets: lollapalooza.com
One of the most popular multi-genre American music festivals that draws in approximately 400,000 people each year is making a comeback in 2021. The Lollapalooza music festival was founded by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrel and has continued to succeed since its inception. The festival features eight separate stages with more than 170 bands each year.
Lollapalooza is held in the historic Grant Park in Downtown Chicago with the beautiful Chicago skyline and the shores of Lake Michigan as its backdrop. In 2021 the festival is set to run from July 29 until August 1, but tickets are set to sell out fast because of this year’s spectacular lineup. Ticket holders can expect to see Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Marshmello, Megan Thee Stallion, and Tyler The Creator.
This festival doesn’t only focus on music as there are also numerous food stands, craft booths, and even comedic acts. Additionally, what’s great about this festival is that it isn’t only big band names that perform. Those who love indie and alternative musicians will also enjoy this festival. Some of the lesser-known bands performing this year include Elephant Heart, Phem, and Dermot Kennedy.
2. Summer Smash
Date: August 20 – 22
Headliners: A$AP Rocky, Lil Baby, and Lil Uzi Vert
Book tickets: thesummersmash.com
Summer Smash is arguably one of the best lyrical hip-hop music festivals in the midwest. In 2021 the festival will be held at the prestigious Douglas Park in Chicago for the third year. This festival is presented by Lyrical Lemonade, which has promised to offer festival-goers an exciting lineup. Not only will hip-hop superstars be performing, but there will also be some of the best up-and-coming artists performing as well.
If you enjoy hip-hop and want to support your favorite artist or discover some new talent, you should consider attending this festival. This year there will be more than 80 artists to be entertained by.
Although Summer Smash has not been running as long as other music festivals in America, it has still made a name for itself reasonably quickly thanks to its incredible lineups. This year some of the notable artists performing at Summer Smash include Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, and A$AP Rocky.
3. Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
Date: September 2 – 5
Headliners: Foo Fighters, Megan Thee Stallion, Tame Impala, Lizzo, Tyler, the Creator, and Lana Del Rey
Book tickets: bonnaroo.com
A festival that stands out amongst the rest is definitely the Bonnaroo music festival. Bonnaroo doesn’t just aim to be the best music festival; it also strives to be the greenest. Unlike other festivals, Bonnaroo seeks to set the standard high for greening practices and sustainability amongst American concert events. Admittedly this festival is changing the concert world one festival at a time.
Each year the festival hosts numerous musical acts with tons of fun activities. 2021 is no different as there will be a diverse lineup of more than 150 musicians, 10 performance stages, and four campground party barns. Additionally, some of the activities you can participate in include yoga, painting with local artists, environmental talks, a silent disco, or you can choose to participate in the 5k.
This year, some notable artists performing in Manchester, Tennessee, include Lizzo, Lana Del Rey, Tame Impala, Incubus, G-Eazy, Deftones, Young Thug, and The Disco Biscuits. Should you not want to miss out, you should try to purchase your tickets soon as they are bound to sell out asap.
4. Made In America Festival
Date: September 4 – 5
Headliners: Justin Bieber, Lil Baby, Dojo Cat, Tinashe, and Bobby Shmurda
Book tickets: madeinamericafest
Made In America is celebrating its 10th anniversary by donating a portion of its earnings to the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Reform Alliance. This music festival has been a great success because it’s curated by hip-hop superstar Jay-Z and produced by Roc Nation. In 2021 this music festival will take place at Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philly between September 4 and September 5.
The Made In America festival has several stages dedicated to several genres, including hip-hop, R&B, pop, EDM, and rock. However, most of the artists performing this year fall mostly in the hip-hop, rap, and EDM genres. Over the years, this music festival has lived up to the expectation that it would be a place that brought culture and music together.
This year fans can look forward to appearances by Justin Bieber, Lil Baby, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Ricch, Moneybagg Yo, Freddie Gibbs, and Tinashe.
5. Riot Fest
Date: September 16 – 19
Headliners: The Smashing Pumpkins, Faith No More, Run The Jewels, Pixies, and Nine Inch Nails
Book tickets: riotfest.org
One of the biggest independently-owned music festivals in America is Riot Fest. This music festival occurs annually at Douglas Park in Chicago during September.
Unlike other multi-genre music festivals, Riot Fest specializes in rock, punk, hip-hop, and alternative rock. This festival began in 2005 and was founded by Mike Petryshyn and Shaun McKeough. Before settling on Douglas Park, the festival occurred each year at multiple venues, including the Congress Theatre and the Metro.
It has since surprisingly become one of the most sought-after outdoor music festivals to attend, with tickets selling out fast every year. In 2021 the lineup is impressive, with the band’s Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Run The Jewels headlining. Some of the other notable artists performing include NOFX, Bodycount, Meg Myers, Taking Back Sunday, Best Coast, Lupe Fiasco, and Bayside.
6. Firefly Festival
Date: September 23 – 26
Headliners: Billie Eilish, The Killers, Tame Impala, Lizzo, Diplo, Phoebe Bridges, and Machine Gun Kelly
Book tickets: fireflyfestival.com
Another environmentally conscious music festival focused on sustainability and advocation is the Firefly Festival. Each year this festival allows attendees to donate to their unique carbon footprint offsetting program.
For every donation given, the festival matches until the festival is proven to be completely carbon neutral. The Firefly Festival also sells reusable water bottles, and they participate in a waste diversion program. This program aims to significantly reduce the amount of rubbish the festival accumulates that ends up in a landfill.
The Firefly Festival takes place in the Woodlands of Dover International Speedway. This year the festival will have seven stages, including the Firefly stage, the Prism, the Roost, the Treehouse, and the Lawn. Although music is the main drawing card for this festival, numerous other activities will also be available.
Some of the activities festival-goers can choose to participate in include an arcade tent, yoga, a silent disco, a hammock relaxation area, and multiple cafe-style food vendors. However, those who are most interested in the music won’t be disappointed by the artists set to appear. This year Wiz Khalifa, Billie Eilish, The Killers, and Marc Rebillet are headlining. A few of the other notable musicians that will also be performing are Chris lake, Megan Thee Stallion, Machine Gun Kelly, and Madds.
7. The Governors Ball
Date: September 24 – 26
Headliners: Billie Eilish, A$AP Rocky, J Balvin, and Post Malone
Book tickets: governorsballmusicfestival.com
If you’re looking for a festival packed with a multitude of different genres, food trucks, demonstrations, and outdoor activities, you may be interested in The Governor’s ball music festival. 2021 is the 10th anniversary of this music festival that focuses on featuring various musical genres such as hip-hop, indie, pop, Americana, folk, and rock.
Every year thousands of people flock to attend this diverse music festival. This year the festival will be held at the Citi Field complex in Queens. Previously the festival was held at Randall’s Island in New York. Some of the activities you can expect to participate in include a silent disco, human board games, art demonstrations, and lawn games.
The 2021 lineup looks fantastic and includes some renowned artists and some lesser-known musicians who are sure to impress. Headlining the Governors Ball this year is Billie Eilish, Post Malone, A$ap Rocky, and J Balvin. Additionally, some of the other artists you can look forward to seeing are 21 Savage, 24KGolden, Future, Ellie Golding, Princess Nokia, and Tate Mcrae.
8. Austin City Limits (Oct 1 – 3 & Oct 8 – 10)
Date: October 1 – 3 & October 8 – 10
Headliners: George Strait, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Rufus Du Sol, Stevie Nicks, and Da Baby
Buy tickets: aclfestival.com
Not many music festivals are hosted over two weekends. Fortunately, if your schedule is not as flexible as you would like, you can still attend a festival worth remembering in 2021. The Austin City Limits multi-genre music festival is held over two weekends allowing those with immovable schedules a chance to attend one of the two weekends.
Should you attend this festival, you can look forward to a diverse lineup as eight stages cater to more than 100 different performers. Additionally, this music festival has an incredible array of food options on offer, including vegan menu items.
Unlike other festivals, this one is family-friendly. In between sets, you can enjoy the mini-fest that is child-friendly, sponsored giveaways, and locate a few of the best photogenic scenes to capture the memory of the day.
Although one day and three day tickets are sold out, there are still certain tickets still available. A few of the performers you can look forward to are Billie Eilish, George Strait, Miley Cyrus, Chet Faker, and Dermot Kennedy, to name a few.
9. Outside Lands
Date: October 29 – 31
Headliners: Tame Impala, Lizzo, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, Glass Animals, and Khelani
Buy tickets: sfoutsidelands.com
The biggest independently owned music festival in the United States is Outsidelands. In 2019 Outsidelands was one of the highest-grossing festivals in America, with profits of almost $30 million. This year the festival is held from October 29 to October 31 over Halloween weekend in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Park.
Interestingly, at the 2019 festival, Outsidelands became the first major American music festival to legally sell cannabis products after the San Francisco office granted Outsidelands a temporary license to sell. The area designated for the sale of cannabis products was known as “grasslands.” During the festival, approximately $1 million in profits was made from the sale of cannabis products.
Besides the cannabis attractions, Outsidelands will also have attractions that focus on wine, food, and art in 2021. Additionally, there will also be areas offering attendees the opportunity to participate in wine tastings and relax in a bar filled with arcade games.
Some of the artists giving performances that music lovers can look forward to at Outsidelands this year include The Strokes, Angel Olsen, Nelly, Glass Animals, Tyler The Creator, Young Thug, Khelani, Sofi Tucker, Vampire Weekend, and Lizzo.
Date: November 5 – 6
Book tickets: astroworldfest.com
Arguably the title for the most famous music festival on our list goes to Astroworld. Tickets for this festival sold out in less than an hour, even though a lineup had yet to be announced at the time. Since this music festival was postponed in 2020, it’s returning in 2021 for two days instead of one. Astroworld will be held in Houston, Texas, from November 5 to November 6.
Although this music festival has only had two events, it has gained much acclaim from musicians and fans alike. Astroworld started as a festival geared primarily towards performers in the hip-hop genre but has since expanded to include other musical genres like reggaeton, rock, and pop.
Currently, no lineup has been announced, yet, there is speculation surrounding who will be performing. It’s rumored Don Toliver, Ken The Man, Lil Uzi Vert, Kanye West, Megan Thee Stallion, Playboi Carti, and Young Thug will be performing at this year’s Astroworld Festival.