The Twelve Best Music Festivals of 2014 So Far
Music festival season is the most wonderful time of the year for music lovers, concert-goers, and pretty much anyone who’s willing to have a good time. Starting in early spring with interactive festivals like South by Southwest in Austin, TX, and Moogfest in Asheville, N.C., the season comes full swing by the time we hit summer.
This year brought amazing comebacks from artists like OutKast (who are doing an impressive round on the festival circuit,) and first-time appearances from breakout musicians like Sam Smith and Chance the Rapper. 2014’s festival season has already proved to be one we won’t forget.
Wondering which festivals really stood out this year? We’ve got the lowdown on the best of the best. From lineup highlights to the overall atmosphere, and most importantly, the food–we spoke to people who were actually there to get all the important details. So check out our picks for the top music festivals of 2014, and see which fest you should be headed to next year. And stay tuned for a rundown of our final favorites.
1. Glastonbury Festival
Where: Pilton, UK
When: June 25-29
Getting There: More than a third of festival-goers use public transportation, plus you earn Green Traveller discounts.
Accommodation: Camping is the most popular form, with access to camping fields included in ticket prices. Others chose to stay in camper vans, Worthy Farm’s off-site camping, or the Pop Up Hotel if you’re feeling luxurious.
2014 Lineup Highlights: Arcade Fire, Jack White, Dolly Parton, Jurassic 5, James Blake, The Black Keys, Lana Del Rey, Skrillex, Danny Brown, and Ed Sheeran.
Food Situation: There’s a huge variety with West Indian, Creole, Mediterranean, Spanish, Japanese, German, French, Greek, and, of course, British food.
Overall Vibe: Muddy music mayhem, with fun surprises at every corner.
This massive five-day festival is arguably Europe’s most famous and celebrated. Since its start in 1970, Glastonbury always brings out a vibrant array of artists and attendees. And with over 58 stages in a huge 500-acre expanse, things can definitely get overwhelming. Gillian Spencer, 47, (who’s been five times,) advises that it’s “best to just go with the flow and see what musical delights you encounter on your travels.” It’s also known to rain a lot, so make sure to pack your wet-weather gear.
2. CMA Music Festival – Nashville, Tennessee
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
When: June 5-8
Getting There: There’s a free, downtown shuttle service running day and night.
Accommodation: With hundreds of hotels in Nashville, the downtown area (where CMA takes place) is best.
2014 Lineup Highlights: Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Brantley Gilbert, Chris Young, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, and Hunter Hayes
Food Situation: Nashville is filled with excellent dining options, plus there’s festival vendors like Eat-n-Beats at Riverfront Park.
Overall Vibe: Super friendly, and, of course, very country.
Taking place in the mecca of country music, Nashville, Tenn., CMA Music Festival is a must for country music lovers. Bringing in the biggest names of country music, there are events like Fan Alley, where you can actually meet your favorite musicians, or The Buckle, where you can win freebies, sample food, or sing karaoke. Plus, proceeds from CMA support music education in Metro Nashville Public Schools. So if you’re a fan of country, don’t hesitate and go to CMA.
Where: Barcelona, Spain
When: June 12-14Getting There: Public transportation is the way to go, and note that Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night have different locations.
Accommodation: Barcelona has a huge variety of hotel options and affordable hostels.
2014 Lineup Highlights: Massive Attack, CHIC feat. Nile Rodgers, Röyksopp & Robyn, Lykke Li, Rudimental, Caribou, Four Tet, Pretty Lights, and Bonobo.
Food Situation: You’re best bet is a quick metro ride to Las Ramblas for a nice variety of food options.
Overall Vibe: Great electronic music, and a fun, party atmosphere, all in beautiful Barcelona.
Barcelona, Spain is the epicenter for this international music festival, and it’s perfect for electronic music lovers. This year, the three-day fest was divided into Sónar by Day (at Fira Montjuïc) for the more up-and-coming DJs and artists, and Sónar by Night (at the Fira Gran Via) for the big-name acts. Then there’s Sónar +D, a showcase for the creative work of music, tech, and communication companies, with awesome events like “Music Hack Day”–a 24-hour competition for hackers to make a music-themed app.
4. Governors Ball
Where: Randall’s Island, New York
When: June 6-8
Getting There: Most people use public transportation, either by subway, bus, or the Manhattan Ferry.
Accommodation: There are the many hotel options of N.Y.C., and you can use Gov Ball’s accommodation partner when in doubt.
2014 Lineup Highlights: OutKast, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Strokes, Phoenix, Skrillex, Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Foster the People, Disclosure, and Childish Gambino.
Food Situation: Great food trucks and awesome variety, the food at Gov Ball will not disappoint.
Overall Vibe: Hip and trendy.
Even though it started in 2011 with a one-day lineup of DJs and rappers, Governors Ball has quickly expanded into a multi-genre music extravaganza with superstar headliners. (This year’s lineup is a prime example of the festival’s rapid transformation.) And if the musical acts aren’t impressive enough, Gov Ball is also equipped with a killer array of food trucks, fun lawn games, and art installations. Plus, did we mention this all takes place in New York City?
5. Sasquatch! Festival
Where: Quincy, Washington
When: May 23-25
Getting There: Most people drive (arriving the day the campground opens.) Sasquatch also offers a shuttle program.
Accommodation: Camping is the way to go and access to the campground is included with festival tickets.
2014 Lineup Highlights: OutKast, The National, Queens of the Stone Age, M.I.A., Foster the People, Kid Cudi, Haim, Major Lazer, Tyler, the Creator, and Chance the Rapper
Food Situation: Dozens of food vendors surround The Gorge’s amphitheater, boasting locally-sourced produce, vegan/vegetarian options, and responsibly-raised meats.
Overall Vibe: Majestic views, good music, and a mostly local, authentic crowd.
If you love the great outdoors, Washington state, and of course amazing music, Sasquatch! is definitely the festival for you. The scenic fest takes place high in the cliffs of Columbia River Gorge, and the lineup is killer. There are fun extras, like the comedy tent, which featured SNL alum Maya Rudolph and her Prince cover band–Princess. Monica Peralez, 21, (who attended in ‘12, ‘13, and ‘14,) loves the venue and unpretentious crowd. “Nobody is checking out what you’re wearing or who you’re with, it’s all just good vibes.”
When: June 12-15
Where: Manchester, Tennessee
Food Situation: A Gastropod Diner, Food Truck Oasis, tons of BBQ spots, and frozen coconuts on a stick! Need we say more?
Overall Vibe: Jam-packed, high energy.
With an amazing lineup year after year, and a plethora of interactive activities, you can’t go wrong with Bonnaroo. This fest also showcases up-and-comers in intimate venues like The Garage. Plus there’s a comedy theatre, on-site cinema, silent disco, hair salon and more, making it near-impossible to get bored. Jessica Shamma, a Bonnaroo 2014 first-timer, said, “the amish donut is the closest thing to a religious experience I’ve ever had with a donut, or any other food for that matter.” Even the food impresses at this T.N. fest.
When: April 11-13 and April 18-20
Where: Indio, California
2014 Lineup Highlights: OutKast, Muse, Arcade Fire, Beck, Calvin Harris, Neutral Milk Hotel, Disclosure, Lana Del Rey, Pharrell Williams, Lorde, and Ellie Goulding
Food Situation: From a farmers market to food trucks, Coachella has a killer food lineup, that also includes vegan-friendly options.
Overall Vibe: Hot and flashy.
Along with the hyper trendy celebs and fashionistas that frequent Coachella, this festival is still an amazing music experience for the masses, and arguably the most popular festival in North America. The lineup never disappoints and like many huge festivals, Coachella is filled with fun activities, from Bad Dancing competitions to a full-on Beauty Bar. Experienced attendee, Hillary Taylor, loved the art installations from The Do LaB, and proclaims that Coachella’s, “wavey Cali vibes, and hot sunsets leave you forever reminiscing.”
8. Outside Lands
When: August 8-10
Where: San Francisco, C.A.
Getting There: Parking in Golden Gate Park is very limited so public transportation is strongly recommended, plus there’s a special three-day shuttle pass.
Accommodation: San Francisco has a slew of hotel options. Check Outside Lands’recommended partners for ideas.
2014 Lineup Highlights: Kanye West, Arctic Monkeys, Disclosure, Tegan & Sara, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Kacey Musgraves, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, HAIM, and The Killers.
Food Situation: Amazing. From 2014 Taste of the Bay Area, to Chocolands, you can’t go wrong with this diverse-food selection.
Overall Vibe: Cool and collected.
If Coachella sounds too hot and trendy for you, then C.A.’s Outside Lands might be your next best bet. With one of the best festival lineups this year, and as Kate Lavelle, 21, described, “a really friendly and down-to-earth” crowd–Outside Lands rarely disappoints. Plus it’s set in beautiful Golden Gate Park, but warning, with that lush greenery comes lots of fog and chilly nights. You’ll stay constantly entertained with attractions like The Barbary, (a comedy and variety tent,) and well fed with delicious food options. Lavelle, a 2012 attendee, advises to “get there early and check out bands you haven’t heard of. You’ll [be] surprised at how good some of them are.”
9. Firefly Music Fest
When: June 18-21
Where: Dover, D.E.
Getting There: Located in The Woodlands on the outskirts Dover, there is free parking on the grounds and convenient public transportation options.
Accommodation: With more than 140 acres of wooded grounds, there’s great camping sites, and nearby hotels throughout Dover.
Lineup Highlights: Foo Fighters, OutKast, Jack Johnson, Imagine Dragons, Beck, The Lumineers, Arctic Monkeys, Childish Gambino, and Tegan and Sara
Food Situation: A great variety that includes vegan/vegetarian options and fresh produce at Firefly's own farmers market.
Overall Vibe: Woodsy and picturesque.
Launched only in 2012, Firefly Music Festival has already made a name for itself. With amazing activities like a silent disco in The Thicket, gaming at The Arcade, and a fully running Coffee House, there’s constant entertainment. Plus, Rachel Sonis, 20, (a ‘13 and ‘14 attendee,) said, “I love that this music festival, more than any other in my opinion, strives to introduce people to new artists.” And since it’s in the middle of the woods, it “ feels a bit like camp for adults.”
10. Hangout Music Festival
Where: Gulf Shores, A.L.
When: May 17-19
Getting There: Parking near the festival is difficult, so booking a spot on Hangout’s Shuttle Service is recommended.
Accommodation: From renting a condo, to beachside hotels, Gulf Shores has dozens of lodging options.
Lineup Highlights: The Black Keys, The Killers, OutKast, Jack Johnson, Queens of the Stone Age, Pretty Lights, The Avett Brothers, Modest Mouse, Wiz Khalifa, Zedd, and Childish Gambino
Food Situation: Prime seafood, and other food options, in the many restaurants of Gulf Shores.
Overall Vibe: Beachy festival heaven.
Quite possibly the ultimate summer music festival, Hangout Music Fest offers amazing music right on the sands of beautiful Gulf Shores, A.L. That means flip-flops and swimsuits are standard attire. And whenever you need to cool off there’s always the ocean nearby. These are just some of the many perks of Hangout Fest. And with a star-studded lineup, and fun activities, (there’s even a waterslide!) this festival is one to look out for next year.
When: August 1-3
Where: Chicago, Illinois
2014 Lineup Highlights: Eminem, OutKast, Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Skrillex, Calvin Harris, Lorde, The Avett Brothers, and Nas
Food Situation: Curated by Chi-Town’s own celebrity chef, Graham Elliot, the aptly named “Chow Town” features a delicious array of food options.
Overall Vibe: All-star performers, vendors, attendees, and more.
Located in Chicago’s Grant Park, Lollapalooza started out in the ‘90s and has since earned the reputation of one of America’s best music fests. Boasting a star-studded lineup almost every year, it’s no surprise that 2014 brings an exciting array of acts, from Eminem to the Arctic Monkeys. And don’t think Lolla organizers stop after landing an amazing lineup, there’s also a farmers market, the Green Street art market, and other fun activities. Plus, this festival takes place in Chi-Town (aka Chicago)–an exciting place to be during the final days of summer. Find out everything else you need to know about Lollapalooza on their website.
12. Osheaga Music and Arts Festival
Where: Montreal, Canada
When: August 1-3
Getting There: The highly-recommended method of travel is the metro, with the festival’s gates right outside Jean-Drapeau metro station.
2014 Lineup Highlights: OutKast, Jack White, Skrillex, Arctic Monkeys, Lorde, Modest Mouse, Lykke Li, Haim, J. Cole, Childish Gambino and Foster the People
Food Situation: From fish and chips to high-end sushi, Osheaga boasts a great variety of food options.
Overall Vibe: A killer array of music in an equally killer location.
Another North American, music fest that boasts an impressive lineup of artists, Osheaga Music and Arts Festival was one of Montreal's best kept secrets, until now. Starting in 2006, Osheaga has quickly turned into a festival powerhouse, and this year’s lineup is definite proof. (OutKast, Jack White, Danny Brown, Arctic Monkeys, and this list goes on!) The backdrop is equally impressive, taking place on the Ile Ste-Hélène–a lush island, minutes away from bustling Montreal. Osheaga is also adding a new stage to feature emerging artists so you can not only see fan favorites like Chromeo, but maybe discover some new faves. Learn more on their website here.
August 20, 2014 via Pepsi