Music  |  Lists

Seven Cool Music Festivals You've (Maybe) Never Heard Of

March 4, 2011  |  8:16am

Festival season is coming. From SXSW and on through the summer, music festivals spring up across the country, providing fans with jam-packed weekends of music overload. While the big guns of Bonnaroo and Coachella get all the attention, some lesser known festivals sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Here’s the five W’s (remember that from grade school?) and one H of seven cool music festivals you’ve (maybe) never heard of.

Wakarusa Logo.jpg
What: Wakarusa
When: June 2 – 5
Where: Ozark, Arkansas.
Who: Ben Harper and Relentless 7, My Morning Jacket, Thievery Corporation, STS9, Bassnectar, Mumford and Sons
Why: Boasting a wide variety of artists, Wakarusa provides a music and camping experience in the heart of the Midwest. Hiking trails and fishing is available, in addition to a carnival (with a seven-story Ferris wheel!) and a silent disco that rages late into the night.
How (much): $154 for 4-day pass. $69 for Saturday only

Pickathon logo.jpg
What: Pickathon
When: August 5 – 7
Where: Happy Valley, Ore.
Who: Mavis Staples, The Sadies, Bill Callahan, Lee Fields & The Expressions
Why: Pickathon prides itself on providing the “best festival experience in the country.” This includes a 100% plastic-free environment, workshops and a schedule where every artists plays at least two sets over three days across six unique performance spaces. Check out Chris Funk’s favorite moments from last year’s festival.
How (much): $130 for 3-day weekend pass.

Electric Forest.jpg
What: Electric Forest Festival
When: June 30 – July 3
Where: Rothbury, Mich.
Who: The String Cheese Incident, Tiesto, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights
Why: Rising from the ashes of the deceased Rothbury Music Festival, Electric Forest returns to the same ranch on the same weekend as the former jam-band heavy rock fest. However, the new festival takes a significantly more electronic route with its planned artists. Think Electric Daisy Carnival in the woods.
How (much): $199 for 4-day pass, until sold out, then $239.50

MerleFest Logo.jpg
What: MerleFest
When: April 28 – May 1
Where: Wilkesboro, N.C.
Who: Robert Plant & The Band of Joy, Doc Watson, Randy Travis, The Doobie Brothers, Sam Bush Band
Why: Set on the campus of Wilkes Community College, MerleFest was founded in 1988 in Memory of Eddy Merle Watson as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and to celebrate “traditional plus” music. A nature walk, jam camp, pickin’ palace, and midnight jam enhance the experience. Check out some photos from last year’s festival here.
How (much): $35-$55/day, $140 for 4-day pass.

Hangout Music Fest Logo.jpg
What: Hangout Music Festival
When: May 20 – 22
Where: Gulf Shores, Ala.
Who: Foo Fighters, Paul Simon, The Black Keys, Widespread Panic, Cee Lo Green, Amos Lee
Why: Set on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala, Hangout Music Festival provides one of the most relaxing, exciting festival experiences around. Last year’s inaugural festival donated all of its profits to Gulf coast restoration efforts. Check out some of Paste’s coverage from last year’s time on the beach.
How (much): $174 for 3-day pass.

Savannah Stopover.jpg
What: Savannah Stopover
When: March 9 – 12
Where: Savannah, Ga.
Who: Oryx and Crake, Das Racist, Lady Lazarus, Little Tybee, Reptar
Why: Starting this year, the road to SXSW (at least for those from the U.S. East coast) goes through Savannah, Ga. For the first time ever, the Savannah Stopover Music Festival will take place on March 9-12, providing a nice little festival featuring more than 30 artists en route to SXSW the following weekend. “This is the next generation of hot bands who are bubbling up through the music blogs. It’s a great chance for area music fans to be a part of that discovery first hand,” said Kayne Lanahan, the creator of the festival, in a statement. – Max Blau
How (much): $20/day, $65 for 4-day pass.

SunFest Logo.jpg
What: SunFest
When: April 27 – May 1
Where: West Palm Beach, Fla.
Who: MGMT, Cee Lo Green, The Avett Brothers
Why: One of the most eclectic lineups you’ll find in a festival, SunFest has something for everyone to enjoy. Seriously, where else can you see MGMT, Earth Wind and Fire, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies in the same place?
How (much): $30/day, $60 for 5-day pass.

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