From NYC to the middle of Tennessee, there’s an action-packed summer music festival for everyone. So shake a tail feather, bang your head, play a lawn game, chow down on impressive grub, or simply sway in the breeze. Your pick!
Governors Ball Music Festival—New York City, NY
Get ready for revelry in Randall’s Island Park June 3–5! Kanye West, Beck, the Strokes, Robyn, De La Soul, and Father John Misty are among the performers playing the sixth annual “Gov Ball.” NYC’s first super-successful music fest has become known for wide-ranging acts, lawn games, art installations, and—because this is the Big Apple—amazing food. Heavily curated by foodie favorite The Infatuation, the still-lengthy list of vendors has spiked to 53 and is as varied as the musical lineup.
Photo credit: The Governors Ball Music Festival and Forest Woodward
Five more rockin’ fests
1 Bonnaroo — Manchester, TN. Indie music/comedy heaven rules a 700-acre farm outside Nashville June 9–12.
2 Austin City Limits Music Festival — Austin, TX. ACL Fest 2016 rocks Central Austin’s beloved Zilker Park September 30–October 9.
3 Vans Warped Tour 2016 — Camden, NJ. North America’s longest-running punk music tour comes to the Philly area July 8.
4 ARISE Music Festival — Loveland, CO. Colorado’s music/yoga/love fest jams out across 100 mountain acres August 5–7.
Summertime is delicious! Dig into the season’s ripe delights by taking a big bite out of the great Midwest, feasting from a food truck, or sampling some superb “street” fare … just for starters, of course.
Taste of Chicago — Chicago, IL
With gorgeous Grant Park as the backdrop for the Windy City’s annual celebration of cuisine, it’s no wonder this food fest is the largest in the world. Chi-town’s far-flung restaurant scene is smoking hot these days, so the 36th year of this lakefront extravaganza should not disappoint. As if more entertainment were needed, because this is Chicago, there’s great music from the likes of The Roots. Entry is free for the entire fest July 6–10.
Photo credit: City of Chicago
Five other tasty food fests
1 Feast Portland — Portland, OR. FEASTPDX’s amazing 30+ events canvas the city September 15–18.
2 Seattle Street Food Fest — Seattle, WA. The third annual “Mobile Food Rodeo” runs August 20–21 in South Lake Union.
3 New York City Food & Wine Festival — New York City, NY. NYC’s celebrity- and charity-driven foodie fest goes citywide October 13–16.
4 Epcot Food & Wine Fest — Orlando, FL. Taste your way around the world September 14–November 14 at Epcot.
When it comes to summertime libations, what’s not to fest? There’s no shortage of ways to toast this season (and early fall) with regional wines, liquors, and barrels full of sudsy brews from California to Carolina.
Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival — Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach’s Hunt Club Farm is the newest location for the 10th annual Southern-style festival devoted to the three b’s: beer, bourbon, and barbecue. This particular trifecta is a big draw from Atlanta all the way up to New York City, and this August 20 specific event includes an arsenal of “all-you-care-to-taste” beers (60), bourbons (40), liquor and beef-based seminars, live rock and blues music, and even some “tasting theaters” fetishizing pork to go along with them. Vegetarians beware: This is definitely where the beef is.
Photo credit: Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival, Trigger Agency LLC
Five more highly spirited fests
1 California Wine Festival — Santa Barbara, CA. Santa Barbara’s on-the-rise vintages compliment its glorious scenery July 14–16.
2 Brewgrass Festival — Asheville, NC. Beer City USA’s 20th anniversary fest boasts 55 brews on tap September 17.
3 Oregon Brewer’s Festival — Portland, OR. 80,000 travelers journey to “Beervana” July 27–31 for Portland’s annual fest.
4 Tequila, Taco, & Cerveza Festival — Denver, CO. The Mile High City celebrates this holy (and tasty) Mexican trinity August 21.
Nerding out is always in season, but summer is the time for trekking to superhero central to see epic icons in the flesh, or even out to Coney Island for a super-famous eating contest. Whatever your flavor, weirdness abounds!
Comic-Con International — San Diego, CA
Ah, SoCal. Home to human prototypes of all stripes, this high-profile neck of the woods goes full force and interstellar July 21–24 when actual costumed comic book heroes and sheroes stride through the San Diego Convention Center to mix and mingle with their devoted fans. This global phenomenon of a festival has accelerated over 47 years from convening simply comic book creators and their fervent admirers to popular arts characters, movie stars, and their Hollywood ilk. Call it an awesomely successful revenge of the nerds.
Photos: fun and funky fests
Five other super-quirky fests
1 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — Sturgis, SD. Ride along for the 76th year of this most righteous motorcycle rally August 8–14.
2 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Fest — Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY. Coney Island’s legendary competition turns 100 at Nathan’s flagship this July 4.
3 Avocado Festival — Carpinteria, CA. Californians mark 30 years of loving this green gem with AVOFEST October 7–9.
4 Gilroy Garlic Festival — Gilroy, CA. Gilroy’s “Gourmet Alley” cooks garlicky treats from fries to ice cream July 29–31.
Looking for more creative summer fests? From massive folk art displays and Ren Faire-style reenactments to Hawaiian cinema screenings—artistic happenings are all around you this time of year.
International Folk Art Market — Santa Fe, NM
Part market and part community celebration, this hugely popular international folk art extravaganza takes over Santa Fe July 8–10. With vibrant displays of art, dancing, music, and wares from parts far and wide, the city’s Museum Hill area and its environs truly come alive with global-market-level buzz. Expect booths lined with indigenous goods from Algeria to Zimbabwe, music by way of Mali’s Mamadou Kelly, and scores of residents taking part in the 13th year of New Mexico’s dizzyingly diverse fest.
Photos: Santa Fe art market
Five other fantastically artistic fests
1 Oregon Country Fair — Veneta, OR. Magical woods outside Eugene host butterflies and this lovely “Fair” July 8–10.
2 Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters — Laguna Beach, CA. Art brought (incredibly) to life through “living pictures” in SoCal July 7–August 31.
3 Old Town Art Fair — Chicago, IL. See the Old Town Triangle District’s renowned display of 250 artists June 11–12.
4 Maui Film Festival — Maui, HI. Catch some “Celestial Cinema” at events June 15–19 in gorgeous blue Wailea.
* Banner photo credit: City of Chicago