Summer is kicking into motion, festival season is among us, and lineups are being delivered. Now is the perfect time for us to unveil our annual list of the best music festival lineups of the year. With so many festivals nowadays, small or large, it can be a daunting task to keep track of what’s happening. That’s why we’ve put together this list for you to easily navigate the circuit.
When it comes to ranking these festival bills, one thing we do not consider is who can book the biggest headliner. We’d rather see festivals step outside the box and enlist acts who aren’t regulars on the circuit. Got an artist who has a new album release? Great! But if every other festival has them on their lineup, why should we go to yours?
We also want to see lineups that aren’t top-heavy. It’s obvious when a festival blew all its money on a big-time name, and the rest suffers.
Below, we’ve ranked the top 10 music festival lineups that we’ve seen announced so far this year. To remain concise, we’re limiting this list to festivals in the United States. Choose wisely!
Dates: October 27-30
Location: Live Oak, FL
Why we like it: Hulaween switched up their mostly-electronic lineup to their most eclectic in years. Bass heads will still be very pleased with the undercard.
Must see sets: Black Pumas, Maya Jane Coles, EAZYBAKED
9. Meow Wolf Vortex
Dates: August 5-7
Location: Denver, CO
Why we like it: Our hometown of Denver is notorious for having festivals with short life spans. But if there’s anyone that can change that, it’s Meow Wolf—especially with a lineup like this. Fantastic selections of alternative, hip-hop, electronic, and more.
Must see sets: Toro y Moi, Bladee, Avalon Emerson
8. Format Festival
Dates: September 23-25
Location: Bentonville, AR
Why we like it: One of the first large-scale festivals we’ve seen in Arkansas has debuted with an unbelievably strong lineup, from techno to alt-rock.
Must see sets: Phoenix, Richie Hawtin, Joe Kay
7. Dirtybird Campout
Dates: October 7-9
Location: Modesto, CA
Why we like it: DIRTYBIRD is showing that they’re going back to their leftfield roots with some wonky, forward-thinking bookings. They’re also bringing in some of the longest-lasting veterans in all of house music.
Must see sets: Derrick Carter b2b DJ Sneak b2b Mark Farina, Ben UFO, Nikki Nair
6. Life Is Beautiful
Dates: September 16-18
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Why we like it: Brilliant from top to bottom with something for everybody, but this one truly has some great headliners. We’re also seeing some unexpected but highly appreciated names in the undercard.
Must see sets: Gorillaz, Shaggy, Bad Boy Chiller Crew
5. III Points
Dates: October 21-22
Location: Miami, FL
Why we like it: III Points has consistently delivered some of the best lineups of the circuit, devoted to bringing out acts you typically wouldn’t see anywhere else. This year’s lineup brings some rare heavy hitters and some solid local talent that is soon to break through.
Must see sets: Rosalía, Kenny Beats, Danny Daze
4. Second Sky Festival
Dates: October 29 & 30
Location: Oakland, CA
Why we like it: Short but sweet. Bass, house, bands, and rappers. There is not a single layer of fat on this lineup.
Must see sets: Virtual Self b2b G Jones, Fred again.., RL Grime
3. This Ain’t No Picnic
Dates: September 16-18
Location: Pasadena, CA
Why we like it: Another amazing debut lineup from the folks who brought you Coachella. The smallest names are some of the most promising emerging artists in the industry, with the largest being highly sought-after bands.
Must see sets: LCD Soundsystem, Turnstile, Peach
Dates: September 24 & 25
Location: San Francisco, CA
Why we like it: The very bottom lines of this lineup contain some of our current favorite up-and-coming artists. The headliners are a slew of TSIS favorites. It’s so good that the few names we don’t know are the ones we want to check out the most, considering the company they’re in.
Must see sets: Jaime xx, Four Tet + Floating Points, Keinemusik, Prospa
1. Primavera Sound LA
Dates: September 12-18
Why we like it: Simply not enough can be said about this masterpiece of a lineup. Extremely diverse acts that we’ve just barely been introduced to and god-tier bands that only do a handful of shows a year. Considering Prima’s flagship festival is based in Europe, it makes sense why there is a very finely curated selection of DJs who deserve way more recognition here in the states.
Must see sets: Nine Inch Nails, Arca, PinkPantheress, Sherelle