The Best Music Festivals in 2018

Music lovers have no shortage of festivals to choose from each year in the U.S. Whether you’re into EDM, indie music, rap, hip hop, or classical – there’s a great festival in a perfect setting for you to attend in 2018.

music festivals 2018

We’ve identified the cream of the crop here.

Sedona Winter Music Festival, Sedona, AZ
January 14, 2018

sedona winter music festival
Let’s start the year off classy – er, classical in Sedona, Arizona for the 5th Annual Sedona Winter Music Festival. Highlighting some of the world’s best chamber musicians, the festival is a weeklong celebration of the form, with master classes and a private gala, leading up to the main event – a performance at the Sedona Performing Arts Center. This year’s musicians will include clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, violinist Arnaud Sussmann and pianist Adam Golka.

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Bluegrass First Class, Asheville, NC
February 16-18, 2018

bluegrass first class
There isn’t a better match-up on our list for music style and festival location than this one. North Carolina has a storied bluegrass tradition to call upon, and Asheville happens to be one of the prettiest little towns nestled deep into the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s also a place that’s earned its hipster bona fides and has a ton of delicious little eateries and breweries to sample while you listen to some of the finest acts in Bluegrass.

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Ultra Music Festival, Miami, FL
March 23-25, 2018

ultra music fest, miami
This outdoor electronic music festival has really come a long way in its 20-year history. It started small on South Beach and as the numbers of attendees swelled, so did the festival. It started as a one-day event, but it now stretches over three days and takes in some of the biggest names in electronic music. The lineup this year includes Marshmello, Afrojack and the Crystal Method.

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Coachella, Coachella Valley, CA
April 13-22, 2018

coachella, ca
Each spring the Polo Grounds at Coachella open to the hipster hordes and every year the lineup gets more insane. Coachella has long had a diverse vibe and this year is no different. Acts as far ranging as Beyoncé, St. Vincent, Eminem, The Weekend and Bleachers will be headlining, with smaller up and coming bands rounding out the lineup. We can’t wait to see AC Slater and the Delerians. Passes to Coachella do not come cheap (the bare bones option is $429 and the VIP passes start at $999), and the fest is notorious for selling out fast. Passes go on sale Friday, January 5.

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New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, New Orleans, LA
April 27-May 6, 2018

new orleans, la
There’s arguably no better Jazz festival on the planet that the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Pretty much every living jazz great plays Jazz Fest, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the audience for one of these legendary performances, you’ll have a one-in-a-lifetime memory to remember it by. New Orleans is a good time no matter when you make the trip, but we think JazzFest gives Mardi Gras a run for the money in the “Best Party Atmosphere of the Year” category. It’s a little less frenetic, slightly less crowded and way cooler.

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Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas, NV
May 18-20, 2018

electric daisy, las vegas
“From dusk till dawn” is the EDC’s motto and why not? Vegas may very well be the easiest place in the world to forget the time and lose yourself. EDC is the premier electronic music festival in the world, has spun off a flurry of international fests and draws a lineup of DJ superstars. But Vegas is where it all started and where it shines brightest. Is it any wonder that the 3-day festival draws close to half a million people each year?

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Sasquatch!, The Gorge, WA
May 25-27, 2018

sasquatch!
credit: joshua rainey photography/shutterstock.com

There’s a few Memorial Day weekend music festivals every year, but our hands down favorite (it keeps us coming back for more) has got to be the Sasquatch! Festival. It’s that elusive combination of eclectic lineup (musical and comedy acts), positive crowds and the spectacular setting. It’s a bit of a bear getting there, so make sure you’re prepared for the 3-hour drive from Seattle. The lineup isn’t out yet this year, but we’re so sure it’ll be worth the trip that we’re recommending it sight unseen.

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Electric Forest, Grant Township, MI
June 21-24, 28-July 1, 2018

electric forest
So many festivals are built on the flat, open field model these days (it’s a time honored setup dating back to Woodstock, after all). But Electric Forest sets itself apart by going back into the woods! Aside from headliners’ The String Cheese Incident, the lineup of bands and DJs range from Chromeo, Cut Copy, Griz Live Band and Zhu among many, many others. Art installations and other “experiences” are promised in “Sherwood Forest,” but promoters are a bit coy about what exactly those experiences are. Guests are highly encouraged to participate, somewhat like Burning Man, and not simply passively watching the shows.

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Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago, IL
July 20-22, 2018

pitchfork music festival, chicago
Pitchfork is the music snob’s music festival. It’s in Union Park in Chicago, and is a bargain at $175 for the three-day pass. You’ll rub elbows with other geeky music lovers and debate the genius of Animal Collective and Andrew Bird. All with Chi-town as a very worthy backdrop to the tunes.

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AFROPUNK, Brooklyn, NY
August 25-26, 2018

afropunk, brooklyn
AFROPIUNK is having a major resurgence. The festival began over a decade ago, and has, in recent years, grown to become an international event with outposts in places like London, Paris and Johannesburg. Still, the main event continues to be in Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park. This year the festivities will include musical acts, comedians, and a vibe that aims to celebrate the culture of African-Americans. Cool side note: When you buy a ticket for yourself, the promoters give a ticket to a disadvantaged youth in the NYC area.

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Made in America, Philadelphia
September 2018

made in america, philadelphia Jay Z’s baby has not yet announced dates for 2018, but the 2017 party was a resounding success so we’re betting on it coming back with a vengeance. Philadelphia is one of those towns that you forget is actually kind of cool – come to Philly for Made in America and experience its charms for yourself.

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Austin City Limits, Austin, TX
October 5-7, 12-14, 2018

austin city limits
Austin City Limits is another festival juggernaut, seemingly unstoppable in its influence. An always eclectic lineup is in the festival’s DNA, and it draws close to half a million people between the two consecutive weekends it is held in Zilker Park in downtown Austin. The lineup for 2018 is not out yet, but expect an explosion of talent across all genres. Last year saw Jay Z, Chance the Rapper, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Spoon, Tove Lo, and Ryan Adams (and there were so many more). Eclectic doesn’t begin to explain it.

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Moab Folk Festival, Moab, UT
November 2-4, 2018

moab folk festival
We like this scraggy little Folk Festival for a few good reasons. Moab is a great place to not only attend a festival, but it’s a outdoorsperson’s dream. Minutes from Arches National Park, you’ll definitely want to experience some of the otherworldly rock formations or get some mountain biking in while you’re in town. Unlike a lot of other festivals around the country, no one is trying to get rich on this one. Instead, the promoters are on a mission to raise money to help promote the arts through grassroots and non-commercial radio.

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Vail Snow Daze, Vail, CO
December 2018

vail snow daze
We don’t yet have the exact dates for Vail’s annual Snow Daze après ski shindig, but we do know it’s one of the most laid back music festivals this side of the Rockies. First of all, the party is 100% free. Second, it’s a music festival in the snow (which is kind of unusual for the festival circuit). The whole party takes place in a winter wonderland. Third? Well, Vail’s just a great place to ski and relax.

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Music festivals too noisy for your taste? Check out our other Best of Events lists for the year: Sports, Food/Culture, and Family Fun. Happy travels in 2018!

11 Comments

    1. That’s another good one! We should have included an awesome country festival – so many music events – so little time! I’ll make sure we don’t overlook it for next year. Thanks for the reminder.

  1. You also should have included The Suwannee River Country Music Jam in Suwannee County Live Oak Florida which is featuring Alan Jackson as one of 2018 headliners

    1. Thanks Julia! Yes – we realize we were light on the country festivals this year – will make sure we remedy that next year and will keep your suggestion on the shortlist. Thanks for weighing in.

    1. You’re right! So many fests to enjoy! We’ll look into some of your picks for next year’s list. Thanks for the additional ideas.

  2. Firefly Music Festival, Dover, DE in mid-June in the Woodlands! Features up & coming bands (example:Chvrches was unheard of in 2014 and they took off like a shot from there!). Headliners have been Foo Fighters, Paul McCartney, Weaser and more. From VIP seating/accommodations/food to Glamping & camping options. Check it out! We’ve been 5 years in a row! Wouldn’t miss it!

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