Coachella may have passed, but don’t put away your boho-chic best just yet. That was just the unofficial start to festival season, and this year you’ll have numerous options up and down the California coast to enjoy your favorite music, whether you lean toward rock, rap, or real authentic country. Plus, a number of these summer festivals offer more than just music, with an emphasis on art, food, culture, and something called “Indulgences,” which means you can now get a massage or a blowout between sets of your favorite bands. Festival planners think of everything!
Ready for your tour of California’s summer music festivals? Let’s go!
Come for the wine, stay for the music—or, in this case, the other way around. This three-day festival features a truly great lineup of 70-plus acts, including Stevie Wonder, Florence + The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Lumineers, Death Cab for Cuties, and Lennie Kravitz, plus dozens of other hot bands and artists. And, the location doesn’t get much better, in the heart of the Napa Valley at Napa Expo.
But it wouldn’t be Napa without the ability to completely submerge yourself in the culture, so, with your ticket, you’ll also enjoy gourmet food from the area’s top chefs, craft beer and specialty cocktails, wine cabanas, and art featuring sculptures by Laura Kimpton and David Tanych and murals by JM Rizzi, Ian Ross, David Young and Zio Zeigler.
Northern California’s largest country music festival, Country Summer is headlined by some of the genre’s biggest stars: Lady Antebellum, The Band Perry, and Billy Currington. Seventeen thousand fans packed the festival in its first year in 2014, and last year was a sellout. Expect the same with this year’s lineup at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. When not jockeying for position to get the best view, you can also enjoy western-themed attractions, a variety of “country-inspired culinary delights,” they said, plus wine, beer, and cocktails.
Live 105’s BFD
Being held for the 22nd year in a row, this all-day fest is packed with music from many of the station’s premier bands on four stages, plus food trucks and concessions, at Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheatre. Playing this year are favorite alternative artists including Silversun Pickups, The Offspring, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Bad Religion.
Kate Wolf Music Festival
Black Oak Ranch, Laytonville
Mind, body, and spirit will come together at the 21st annual Kate wolf Music Festival, with four stages of music featuring artists including Eric Bibb, Harry Belafonte, Neko Case, k.d. lang, and The Head & The Heart. The event also features on-site camping, workshops, Hatha yoga and Tai Chi, and a kids’ area, making this an outing the whole family may enjoy.
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
If you could plan and design the ideal San Francisco festival, this would be it. Take top acts like Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Lionel Richie, Lana Del Rey, J. Cole, Duran Duran, and Zedd, and then add in unique features like a bike valet (perfect if you choose to arrive at the fest via the Outside Lands Bike Party), a wine tasting tent, and food ranging from organic eats to restaurant partner fare, to food trucks, to Choco Lands + Cheese Lands, described by the festival as “mouthwatering areas dedicated to the finer things in life.”
Help kick off the inaugural Ohana Festival, a two-day celebration of music headlined by Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, Lan del Rey, and Elvis Costello at Doheny State Beach. You won’t go hungry (or thirsty) with artisan fare courtesy of local restaurants and food trucks, along with craft beer, wine, and signature cocktails. The fest will also raise funds for the non-profit San Onofre Parks Foundation, to help preserve California’s coastal parks.
Founded in 2004, FYF Fest is an annual two-day music festival held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena & Exposition Park and featuring artists from a variety of musical genres ranging from rock music to hip hop to electronic. Featured this year is a diverse list including Kendrick Lamar, Moby, Air, Hot Chip, and Grace Jones.
With some of the top musical artists in the world on the ticket, including Jimmy Buffett, Aerosmith, Jack Johnson, Fall Out Boy, Lenny Kravitz, Daryl Hall & John Oates, The Avett Brothers, One Republic, and Flo Rida, it would be hard to top this festival. But KABOO also features top comedians including Dana Carvey, Darrell Hammond, Jeff Ross, Janeane Garofalo, and the cast of Silicon Valley. Add in a host of famous chefs with artisanal fare in an “upscale culinary environment,” they said, plus celebrity chef demos and book signings, a Rock’n Chef competition, exclusive wineries, craft libations, contemporary public art, and it’s not hard to see why this festival is so highly anticipated. And don’t forget about those Indulgences—an entire spa and relaxation zone with massages, salon services, and fashion consultations, Yes, it’s outside of the “summer festival” boundary. And?
October 7–9, 14–16
Desert Trip is also beyond the seasonal cutoff for summer festivals, but we had to include it based on artists alone, with six of the world’s top acts on one bill: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters, and The Who.
Tickets for the three-day show sold out in three hours, so if you didn’t get yours, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the fun world of resellers.
Which festival is on your summer music radar?