Photo: Music Festivals 2021
In 2020, the pandemic wiped out the entire festival season all around the globe, including in America. The future of the live music industry looked really grim, with occasional optimistic forecasts of it coming back to life in the second quarter of 2021. The US live music infrastructure, due to its unique ability to conduct open-air music festivals throughout the whole year (while the majority of UK and European festivals are limited to the late spring-early autumn period) also took a huge blow and, just like many small and medium business owners, festival promoters found themselves in dire straits.
Contrary to early predictions, the festival drought went on in 2021, and only with the vaccination program underway and more than 50 percent of the population fully vaccinated, the majority of states began to ease the restrictions on large indoor and outdoor gatherings, and in late May, most of the restrictions on clubbing and sports events were lifted.
Music festivals, however, are in the very last tide of things opening up, and excluding 1-2 rogue states that seemed to have paid very little attention to the pandemic, most of the festivals that were supposed to have been held in the first half of 2021 were canceled or postponed. At last, however, as of July 2021, the final green light has been given to all kinds of gatherings, regardless of how big they are, and the second half of this summer is now loaded with a wide array of festivals to choose from. If you are a true festival nomad, this may feel like Christmas holidays being canceled for years and then being put back-to-back in one season.
So let’s check out this 6,329-mile-long (depending on your logistics) map of eight important US music festivals 2021 that will take place in the third quarter:
Lollapalooza – Chicago, IL – July 29 – August 1
Lolla Chicago is a worthy start to every festival nomad’s itinerary. Perry Farrell, the visionary who basically reinvented the American music festival with Lollapalooza, first took it on the road in the last century and then finally put down stakes in Chicago. Despite having its main base in the Windy City, Lolla hasn’t forgotten its traveling roots with editions in 6 other countries on 3 different continents. The lineup is always the mixed bag characteristic of any major festival ‒ almost all existing genres and subgenres on different stages. Post Malone, Foo Fighters, and Tyler The Creator are Among this year’s headliners.
We Fest – Detroit Lakes, MN – August 5 – 7
Started by Jeff Krueger in August 1983, when it was held in a barn and attended by approximately 9,000 people, We Fest ‒ one of the biggest country music fan gatherings of the nation nowadays ‒ attracts over 70,000 people who swarm the small town of Detroit Lakes and stay at one of the ten campgrounds. Camping at We Fest is a separate adventure as each of the camping areas is designed for a different lifestyle and ambiance. Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, and Florida Georgia Line are among the headliners for 2021.
Telluride Jazz Festival – Telluride, CO – August 13 – 15
A well-deserved oasis of relaxation after two major festivals and a laid-back showcase of the best in jazz, funk, soul, and eclectic world music, with America’s most beautiful Telluride town’s aesthetic as the background, really makes this festival one of the best-kept secrets in America. Besides the absolutely cinematic settings, the Telluride Jazz Festival consistently puts out the best lineups, including contemporary masters as well as young performers who often jam together on the stage. It really is a very special place with a very special vibe that is impossible to find elsewhere.
Bonnaroo – Manchester, TN – September 2 – 5
Over the last decade, no other US music festival has captured the spirit of large open-air gatherings like Bonnaroo. Bonnaroo burst onto the scene in 2002 and America watched it grow from a scrappy newcomer to a full-fledged anchor of the summer. It may not be the oldest or the largest, but Bonnaroo has captured the spirit of the quintessential American music festival. By 2013, the direct and indirect economic impact of the festival since its inception was estimated at $51 million, including $2.9 million in tax revenue. CNN described it as: ‘Music and subculture melted together into a pot of creative bubbling energy’. In 2008, it was named ‘Best Festival’ by Rolling Stone magazine, calling it “the ultimate over-the-top summer festival.’ You can listen to Run The Jewels, Megan Thee Stallion, and Deftones on this year’s edition of the Roo.
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Summerfest – Milwaukee, WI – September 2 – 18
Summerfest can now be officially found in the Guinness Book of World Records as The World’s Largest Music Festival. This lakeside festival lasts for an eleven-day stretch and entertains an audience of over a million people. Taking place along the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee, this massive festival is also one of the most budget-friendly music events of the summer. The lineup is usually mixed but mostly focused on live performances, with Chris Stapleton, Green Day, and Dave Matthews Band as some of the headliners.
Governors Ball – NYC, NY – September 24 – 26
Governors Ball is simply the best and the most important music happening that the big apple’s Gargantuan music scene can offer. Launched in 2011, the festival features an array of genres and styles of music, including rock, electronic, hip-hop, indie, Americana, pop, folk, and almost every genre and style recognized under the sun. This year, New York City’s mega-fest takes the party to Citi Field in Queens. The attendance is usually over 150,000, with a significant number of people coming from across the ocean to attend this ‘Coachella in the East’ and dive into what’s probably the world’s most diverse music community. A$AP Rocky, Billie Eilish, Ellie Goulding, and Future Islands are among the many headliners for 2021.
Austin City Limits – Austin, TX – October 1 – 10
ACL Festival has eight stages where musical groups from genres including rock, indie, country, folk, electronic, and hip hop perform for fans. The concerts continue from 10 AM to 10 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the festival, with various stages spread out in the park. Approximately 450,000 people attend the festival each year and its impact on the American music and tourism industry is so huge that the revenue that it generates is second only to the Olympic Games as an event. This year’s headliners include Modest Mouse, Machine Gun Kelly, and Erykah Badu.
Electric Daisy Carnival – Las Vegas, NV – October 21- 24
The Electric Daisy Carnival brings all the glitter and glam of Las Vegas to this three-day celebration of Techno, EDM, House, Trance, and all other kinds of electronic music. Now with editions in Portugal, Mexico, and Orlando, there’s still no place like home for the flagship version of EDC, which features hundreds of the best artists, performers, and DJs of our world coming together to this carnival of electronic music. The EDC lineup is so star-studded that it has a headliner for every letter in the English alphabet. A must-see event for every raver and an unforgettable experience for the first-timers ‒ just don’t forget to hydrate!
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David Tsintsadze is a music industry executive, investigative reporter and a film enthusiast. As far back as he remembers, he always wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry. When that started to happen and he began to really understand how it all worked, he found that his love of both the creative arts and the relevant industry allowed him to move between the two worlds and make them relate to each other. David’s belief in meaningful entertainment coincides with Hollywood Insider’s values and in his vision, cultural intermediaries play a crucial role in shaping and exchanging culture, which he firmly believes is one of the main contribution in creation of a free and vibrant society that people want to live in.