It’s official: It’s sum–, sum– summertime. While some parts of the Northern Hemisphere have been baking in the summer heat already, the season officially kicked off yesterday, June 21st — the summer solstice. For us at the ‘fly, that means one thing: We’re kicking our summer festival season into high gear and plotting out some of the best destination festivals in North America for you to visit this year.
We asked our head of festivals, Jeff Krenik, a twenty-year veteran of the festival business (so ahead of his time), to shed some (sun)light on the top festivals worth traveling to this summer. Only add these destinations to your summer bucket list if you’re looking for a seriously beautiful backdrop for a good time.
Pemberton Music Festival (July 16-19) – Our northern neighbors make their list debut and for good reason. Pemberton rocks in a valley at the base of Mount Currie. Google it. Nestled right outside of Whistler, BC, stroll through the Olympic Village on your way in and take in all the glory.
Toronto Festival of Beer (July 24-26) – There’s something great about the combination of brew lessons and old school hip hop. Throw them together in Toronto at Exhibition Place – a mixed use district right by the shoreline of Lake Ontario — and you’ve got an event fit for a Great Lake.
Lollapalooza (July 31 – August 2) – This annual festival behemoth has one of the best backdrop combos with the Lake Michigan/Chi-town duo. The urban oasis also means it’s a great excuse to visit a destination with so much more to do before and after leaving Grant Park (like grab some deep dish at Geno’s East).
Newport Jazz Festival (July 31 – August 2) – It doesn’t get more beautiful than Newport, RI, so a festival in Fort Adams Park is right up our alley. Surrounded by water on three sides and situated right near a boat museum, you’ll be taking in the beautiful rocky beaches all weekend long. Grab a lobster roll, stroll through some historic mansions (Great Gatsby filmed in one), and get folksy.
Telluride Jazz Fest (July 31 – August 2) – For the last forty years, one of America’s premier destinations for jazz has been high up in the San Juan Mountains. Surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks, jazz, funk, and soul have had a truly majestic home at the Telluride Jazz Fest, and right near some world class mountain action.
Outside Lands (August 7-9) – Okay, we know this one is in our backyard but we can’t help where it is. Golden Gate Park’s 1,000+ acres is home to a number of attractions, including Outside Lands and some of the best festival food and wine we’ve ever had. Once you’re in the park, navigating the park is like exploring new lands. Luckily, you’re insulated by Ranger Dave, an always impressive lineup, and that famous SF fog that hangs just at eye level.
Jazz Aspen Snowmass (September 4-6) – Have you heard of Aspen? Thought so. With a long and rich history of bringing amazing music to even more amazing landscapes, this is one of the best boutique festivals around. Help the Jazz Aspen Snowmass celebrate their 25th anniversary season with a gondola ride to the top.
UTOPIAfest (September 4-6) – There is a Utopia on earth, and it just happens to be in Texas. It also happens to host an intimate, family-friendly, BYOB music festival over Labor Day weekend. Check out some wide open spaces at the Four Sisters Ranch, home to the 7th annual UTOPIAfest.