Summer Musical Festival 2013: Your Essential Guide to the Top 5 Festivals

Summer is right around the corner, and with it comes many music festivals. Every band, rapper, singer-songwriter, or performer in some manner shape or form will be coming to a festival this year. Some of these festivals are big (Electric Daisy in Las Vegas had more than 110,000 people on one day), some are small (Equifunk capped their ticket sales at less than 600 as recently as two years ago), but one thing is certain, there is a festival out there for everyone. Below are five great festivals from coast to coast.

1. Governor's Ball Music Festival — June 7-9, New York, NY


In an area not known for being particularly "festival-friendly," as this New York Times article details the difficulties with putting up a festival in New York City, Governor's Ball has survived. Currently in its third year as a festival, it has expanded from one day in its inaugural year to two days last year and three days this year. The lineup has also gotten more eclectic, beginning as a mainly electronic festival with Girl Talk, Pretty Lights and Empire of the Sun as the headliners in year one, this year has a very diverse and top-notch lineup. Headlined by Kanye West, Kings of Leon, Guns n' Roses as well as a vast number of high-quality acts from the top to the bottom of the lineup (especially NYC-based band MS MR).

2. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival — June 13-16, Manchester, Tenn.


Taking its cues from Phish and European festivals that were in their infancy, Bonnaroo is the closest decendent to Woodstock. This now four-day, more than hundred band festival in the middle of nowhere in Tennessee is the gold-standard of American music festivals.  Put on by Superfly Productions (the same people who do Outside Lands and Jazz Fest in New Orleans), they combine top-flight musical acts with the top-comedians out there. This year it will be headlined by Paul McCartney, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and many more on the musical end and Bob Saget, Mike Birbiglia, Reggie Watts, Daniel Tosh on the comedy side.

3. Summerfest June 26-30 and July 2-7, Milwaukee, Wisc.


Since 1968, Summerfest has been one of the largest (and in 1999, was certified as THE largest) music festival, Summerfest attracts almost 1,000,000 people over the course of 11 days. With more than 700 bands playing across 11 stages, Summefest can be incredibly overwhelming; however, one thing is certain, you will like a lot of the music that is playing. Not adhering to one genre or another, Summerfest truly has something for everyone. This year's headliners include fun., Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Jason Aldean, Pitbull, the Eagles and many many more.

4. Lollapalooza — August 2-4, Chicago, Ill.


Lollapalooza was created in 1991 as a touring festival; however, since 2005 it has found its home at Grant Park right in the heart of Chicago, Illinois. Eclectic lineups and some serious heavy-hitters as headliners are the name of the game for Lollapalooza in addition to some great acts that are "on the verge" so to speak. With more than 250,000 people coming through the gates over the course of this three day, non-camping festival, there is a lot to see and do. This year, the festival is headlined by The Cure, Mumford & Sons, The Killers, Phoenix, and The Postal Service as well as dozens more bands.

5. Electric Zoo — August 30-September 1, New York, NY


Last but not least, to close out the summer, Electric Zoo, held annually on Labor Day weekend is one for the electronic music fans. Since its inception in 2009, Electric Zoo, held on Randall's Island, hosts a number of the top DJ's and electronic acts.  Last year's festival was headlined by Pretty Lights, Above & Beyond, and Skrillex.  The lineup for this year's event has not been announced yet; however, if the past four years have been any indication, the lineup is sure to be filled with all of the top and up and coming DJ's.

Also check out the best festivals of the spring. 

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Brian Weidy

A Sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Aspiring writer from New York City with a love of Sports, Films, Music, and Politics.

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