A stellar line-up of celebrated pop rock, electronic and hip-hop acts play under the broiling desert sun. As clean and organized as festivals go, you’ll walk away with an irreplaceable first-hand experience, and contribute to charity by purchasing a ticket. With $45 per day added to the ticket price to camp onsite, only a handful of people choose this option, most preferring nearby lodging. Stuffed animals are on the list of things that are not allowed past the gate.
When: April 17-19
Where: Indio, California
Headliners: Paul McCartney, The Killers, The Cure
“Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular colour looks like to someone who is blind,” reads the description on burningman.com. Although technically not a music festival, this legendary art-themed event started in the early nineties around the idea of a community of participants involved in radical self-expression and self-reliance. Spanning one week at the mercy of the harsh Nevada desert, this clothing-optional, commerce-free event is unpredictability manifested. Communal living is encouraged, and the exchange of cash on site is disallowed. Don’t forget to stock up on the essentials – the only things for sale are ice and coffee. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself drunk inside a giant stuffy chicken costume, crawling on your hands and knees to the nearest tent.
When: Aug. 31 – Sept. 7
Where: Black Rock City, Nevada
Headliners: The Man (that burns)
Price: about $300
Pitchfork Music Festival
The holier than thou indie gods at Pitchfork made a deal with the devil to make your daily fixes of Pitchfork-dictated music picks come alive at Chicago’s Union Park. Held on three stages separated by less than five minutes walking distance, the line-up promises the newest, hippest, and most obscure buzz bands, as well as renowned headliners. This year, they’ve added a “Write The Night” event, where attendants pick the songs the headliners will perform. The strictly enforced 10 o’clock curfew may leave those itching for rowdy fun sourly hanging, but after-parties at nearby bars are rampant.
When: July 17-19
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Headliners: Flaming Lips, Jesus Lizard, Built To Spill
Bonnaroo Music and
Well to do dread-locked hippies sell magic brownies while camping for four days on a massive farm in the American South. Boasting a colossal line-up spread over countless stages, with shows scheduled until 5 a.m. on most nights, any good or service imaginable is available here for double the standard price. Mist tents, yoga classes, massage stands, comedy shows, karaoke, internet access, hair salons, a silent disco, and an incredible variety of food make Bonnaroo an event that regulars look forward to with more glee than Christmas.
When: June 11-14
Where: Manchester, Tennessee
Headliners: Bruce Springsteen, NIN, Oakenfold
If You’re Stuck Here
For those too lazy to venture across the border, the following options will keep you happy enough. Besides the Jazz Festival, the Warped Tour, or Osheaga, here are alluring festivals happening two steps from your door.
Mutek – a five-day showcase of sound creation and emerging electronic music celebrating its 10th year anniversary from May 27-31.
Suoni Il Popolo – Month long gathering in June of avant-garde and experimental artists, featuring Six Organs of Admittance, Michael Gira, and TVOTR.
If you can manage to make it down the 401, the North by Northeast Music Festival takes place in Toronto on June 17-21, and features acts from almost every province.
With plenty of choices beyond our list, the summer festival circuit is yours to explore.