Spring Break is over, but the festival season has just begun! Now is the time for hitting the road and leaving your troubles behind in favor of experiencing the best food, drinks, art, and entertainment you can hope to find from now until summer’s end.
Summer festivals are all about wild maximalism, letting yourself free in a backdrop of wild sensory overload — the music is loud, the food is mouthwateringly decadent, and the weather is near perfect on an almost daily basis. It’s enough to make you forget that the world is seemingly on the verge of its own destruction, though we probably need to keep a close eye on all of that too.
With so many music, lifestyle, and transformative festivals out there it’s hard to narrow down the best of the best. So we’ll be highlighting the festivals we’re most psyched about across the country from now until the end of festival season. We’ll do all the hard work for you so you can just sit back, plan your itinerary, and get out on the road living your summer to the fullest.
Here are all the best festivals worth road tripping to for the month of May.
Lighting In A Bottle — May 8-13
Lighting in a Bottle is the holy grail of independent lifestyle, music, and arts festivals. Showcasing all things vibey with deep a deep hippie bent, Lighting in a Bottle combines cutting edge electronic music, educational workshops, yoga classes, and demonstrations and celebrates environmental consciousness over the span of five days at Bakersfield’s Buena Vista Lake. LiB begins today, but there is still time to start driving from Cali, Nevada, or the PNW and take advantage of the weekend dates.
This year, LiB pulled together a fantastic list of some of electronic music’s best artists like Disclosure, Flying Lotus, Santigold, Toro Y Moi, and Elohim. Though LiB tends to be on the more expensive side of the spectrum when it comes to festivals on offer this year, they do offer payment plans, and the sheer amount of thought and effort that goes into this festival make it one of the best.
Rolling Loud — May 10-12
Tickets are still available to Rolling Loud Fest if you feel like cruising down to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium this weekend. In celebration of the festivals five-year anniversary, they’re throwing a massive three-day festival that features the talents of Migos, Travis Scott, Cardi B, Kid Cudi, and Rae Sremmurd to name a few.
Since its five years in operation, Rolling Loud has proven itself to be one of the largest Hip-Hop focused festivals in the world, expanding operations in Northern and Southern California, with future plans to plant flags in Japan, China, and Europe in the next few years. The drive down A1A in Florida is a joy all on its own. To drive it while headed to a fest is pure summer awesomeness.
Hangout Fest — May 17-19
If you’re looking for a chill spring festival in a waterfront setting, consider checking out Hangout Fest at Alabama’s Gulf Shores. The three-day festival has a seriously stacked lineup with headliner performances from Travis Scott, Vampire Weekend, Khalid, Cardi B, and the Lumineers. This is one of the best music festivals all year for lovers of hip-hop and more independent-leaning acts.
Sipping cocktails on the white-sand beaches of the Gulf? Yeah — that sounds like the perfect hangout for that person who just didn’t get enough spring break this year. Plus it’s a fantastic cruisy drive along the Gulf Coast for anyone in a neighboring state.
Boston Calling — May 24-26
If your music tastes lean hard into the indie side of things, you’re going to want to catch Boston Calling, which features headlining performances and appearances by Tame Impala, Logic, Chvrches, Mura Masa, Yaeji, Twenty One Pilots and Princess Nokia. With over 50 bands performing across three-stages over one weekend in May, Boston Calling has made a name for itself showcasing a vast variety of food vendors.
Boston Calling is quickly positioning itself to be the Coachella of the East, but since it’s held in Boston’s lush Harvard Athletic Complex, it’s more beautiful and enjoys better weather than the dusty deserts of Indio. The NYC > BOSTON drive is an American classic and just long enough to get you hyped for a fest without growing tedious.
Bottlerock Napa Valley — May 24-26
Craft beer and cocktails, an expensive selection of Bourbon and wine, a silent disco, a culinary stage AND headlining performances by Imagine Dragons, Neil Young, and Mumford & Sons, make Bottlerock in Napa Valley a truly multi-focused festival. Nothing gets the mind ready for summer like a festival that puts as much emphasis on its selection of food as it does its curation of music.
Expect to enjoy gourmet food from some of Napa Valley’s best chefs, and get lost in one of the dozens of wine cabanas serving up the valley’s bounty. Guests can choose between single or three-day passes and a variety of different packages that’ll grant them exclusive access and the best views of the various stages. If you really want to do this fest right, pair it with a drive along Pacific Coast Highway on either the Oregon or Cali sides of the state border.
Gather Festival — May 25-26
Up in the Catskills of New York, lovers of the best electronic music will, for lack of a better word, gather at Gather for a lakeside dance floor extravaganza! Gather is the perfect festival for East Coasters looking for a brand new festival to brag about attending.
Gather is kicking off their very first festival with a bang, with headliners that include the XX co-founder and electronic super producer Jamie XX as well as a special DJ set by the legendary James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame. Expect this festival to continue to pull in electronic music’s most prodigious producers and artists in the coming years. Plus it’s a nice drive from “the city” — which could mean Boston, NYC, or DC in this case.
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