Home For Travelers "Best of" Lists FlipKey’s Top Music Festivals of 2014

FlipKey’s Top Music Festivals of 2014

SXSW (South by Southwest) 

blog-sxsw-500x280-v01Where: Austin, TX
When: March 7 – 16 (Music portion, March 11- 16)
Why: A two week party masquerading (in some instances) as a corporate conference, SXSW is the ultimate event for all types of online and offline entertainment. The Interactive portion of SXSW showcases digital innovations and a host of speaking engagements tailored to the online space and marketing professionals. The Film portion pushes the boundaries of the medium and screens film entries both big and small. SXSW Music is one of the largest music festivals of its kind in the world, with more than 2,200 “official” performers and bands playing in more than 100 venues. Stars like John Mayer, Hanson, and James Blunt have been discovered while plying small shows at SXSW Music. SXSW is all about discovering new talent all around – whether it’s the next box office smash, the up-and-coming band, or the small kernel of an idea that becomes an Internet revolution. These three tracks, but specifically the music, make SXSW a must-go event every single year.

TreeFort Music Fest

Where: Boise, ID
When: March 20 – 23
Why: Treefort Music Fest is a four-day, indie music festival which is held at various venues throughout downtown Boise. Being that it is just after SXSW, it makes TreeFort a natural follow up for featured bands to the bigger conference. A relatively new festival (only three years old) TreeFort aims to continue on the momentum of the up-and-coming music and art scene in Boise. There is also a concurrent film festival complimentary to Music Fest attendees. Other related happenings in the same time frame are AleFort (brewing), HackFort (TED-style innovation conference), YogaFort (dance and yoga classes), and StoryFort (a literary section with details coming soon.)  Tickets cost $119 for a 4-day pass for Music Fest and up to $999 for a “Secret Handshake” package which includes a private meet/greet and backstage access among other perks. Artists include Run the Jewels, Built to Spill, The Joy Formidable, and RJD2. The proceeds from Treefort benefit community radio station Radio Boise, KRBX 89.9 FM.


Where: Coachella Valley, CA
When: April 11-13, April 18-20
Why: If you haven’t booked your ticket yet, you may be out of luck, as the Coachella website is advertising this two-weekend event as now “sold out.” Bummer. It’s not surprising considering Skrillex, Nas, Kid Cudi, Calvin Harris, Lana Del Ray, Ellie Goulding, Lorde, Foster the People, and MGMT are performing among many many other acts. Coachella is one of the most famous and profitable annual music festivals in the US, and since it takes place in the California desert, temperates can range from 107F to 41F. On-site campgrounds house many attendees and spots include free wifi internet cafe, free showers, and a general store, and toilets. A cool green-incentive is called Carpoolchella, where if you arrive in a car with 4 or more passengers you may be selected for a VIP upgrade. Coachella is sponsored by large brands including Heineken, Red Bull, and H&M. General admission tickets were $375 and VIP were $799.

Viva Las Vegas

Where: Las Vegas, NV
When: April 17 – 20
Why: In 2014 Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend comes to the Orleans Hotel and welcomes car, music, and dancing enthusiasts. From supped up hot rods to swing dance competitions and even a burlesque show (it is Las Vegas, of course) Rockabilly Weekend offers something for everyone. There’s a show for guitar geeks where some of the most amazing instruments are played, the car show is probably the most popular event as all types of automobiles are featured, and both the Tiki Pool Party and Tattoo Lounge are heavily visited. Tickets range from $30 for a one-day pass to $120 for the High Roller package.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Where: New Orleans, LA
When: April 25 – May 4
Why: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival boasts the most well known lineup on this list with Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Robin Thicke, Alabama Shakes, John Fogerty, and Cristina Aguilera scheduled to headline. According to the official Jazz Fest website, “The Festival celebrates the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, so the music encompasses every style associated with the city and the state: blues, R&B, gospel music, Cajun music, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk music, Latin, rock, rap music, country music, bluegrass and everything in between.” The festival also showcases local and African crafts, and a host of Louisiana cuisines. The event pumps $300 million into the local economy, and there are many more local shows happening during these dates outside of the massive festival. This annual, resilient concert series began in 1970 and even continued during the extremely trying year of 2006 after Hurricane Katrina. Advance adult tickets cost $50, or $70 gate price.

Lightning in a Bottle

Where: Bradley, CA
When: May 22 – 26
Why: Lighting in a Bottle Festival (LIB for short) is taking place over Memorial Day weekend in 2014 in SoCal and presented by The Do LaB. As with most festivals, this concert series is promoting  sustainability, social cohesion, personal health, and creative expression. Winner of the Outstanding Greener Festival Award three years in a row, LIB also offers workshops in sustainability, spirituality and child-friendly entertainment. With camping, yoga, inspiring talks, and the Temple of Consciousness all on the docket, going to LIB is definitely an experience. Free water is offered at many locations throughout the grounds so bring your own (non-plastic) water bottle or purchase one on site. In 2013, the cheapest ticket cost $195 and there are buses that can bring attendees to Bradley from other areas in California for an additional fee. This festival has been a bit of a nomad since its public inception in 2004, being set in a number of locations. Tops acts last year included Purity Ring, Nicolas Jaar, and Rusko. The high res photos and videos on their website say more than a brief description ever could, though.


Where: Manchester, TN
When: June 12 – 15
Why: Fun fact – Bonnaroo means a “really good time”, and this festival lives up to that moniker. The festival began with a primary focus on jam bands and folk rock; it has diversified greatly in recent years but continues to pay tribute to its roots. In Bonnaroo’s own words, “with 80,000 happy campers, 700 acres of Tennessee nature, 150 epic performances, 10+ stages of music, and dozens of comedians – this the four of the best days ever.” Bonnaroo has donated millions to Coffee County organizations and continues to improve sustainability efforts. There are food trucks for eating and brewers on site for drinking. The 2014 lineup will be announced February 19th, but 2013 headliners were Paul McCartney, Jack Johnson, and Tom Petty among others. Outside of the music (which is the main attraction) there are comedy tents, a small film festival, crafts for purchase, a waterslide and fountain, a fun run, yoga, and art exhibits. General admission tickets are at a reasonable price point of $28.60.

Newport Jazz Festival

Where: Newport, RI
When: August 1 – 3
Why: When you’re in Newport, RI – you just feel rich. The mansions dotting the cliffs along a crashing ocean coupled with the small town charm provide an ideal backdrop for this legendary jazz event. There was initial resistance to the jazz sounds (and the jazz fans) from the area’s stodgy elite in the 50s and 60s, but jazz won out and the festival is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Most events are held at Fort Adams State Park, but select concerts are being played at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. This festival is really for the jazz lovers as Bobby McFerrin, Trombone Shorty, George Wein & the Newport All-Stars are scheduled to play among the 20+ acts. Tickets are $40 – $350 for adults; $20 for students; $15 for children. Service charges apply to on-line purchases. As with most festivals there will be craft, food, and beer booths for patronage during the three day festival.

Outside Lands

Where: San Francisco, CA
When: August 8 – 10
Why: Held at Golden Gate Park, this relative newcomer to the festival scene hosting over 50,000 attendees per day. With live streaming of the event, and a strong focus on eco-conscious throughout, this is definitely a festival for the millennial generation. There are also booths featuring the area’s top wines, food vendors, and art shows. The 2013 festival featured artists like Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Nine Inch Nails. Ticket prices and lineups are yet to be announced.

Monterey Jazz Festival

Where: Monterey, CA
When: September 19 – 21
Why: Debuting in 1958, the Monterey Jazz Festival is one of the longest running jazz festivals in the world. Featuring famous and soon-to-be famous artists throughout the years, musicians like Louie Armstrong, Herbie Hancock and B.B. King all played here. In order to accommodate over 40,000 attendees, the concert is held on the 20-acre Monterey County Fairgrounds. Outside of concerts there are also jazz conversations, panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions, clinics, and an international array of food, shopping and festivities. Pricing for tickets and the lineup for the festival have yet to be announced, both are coming in Spring 2014.