California is home to some of the best music festivals in the United States, drawing music enthusiasts from all over the country. The Coachella Music Festival, held in Indio, is the heavyweight champion, welcoming half a million visitors every year.
Music festivals are like musical feasts, where you may enjoy performances by both well-known and upcoming performers. While music is the major draw, these festivals frequently include a side dish of art and a buffet of delectable food.
Multi-day festivals can be found all around California, from bustling towns to rural deserts. These events provide an opportunity to get away from the daily grind, camp beneath the stars, and listen to live music.
To make your festival experience easier to navigate, we’ve put together a list of 15 outstanding festivals from across the state, ranked by their estimated annual attendance, from the most popular to the hidden gems.
1. Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival
The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, created in 1999 in Indio, California, is a major festival of music and art. Every April, it spans two weekends and features a varied mix of genres and beautiful art displays. With over 500,000 attendees expected in 2023, it is California’s largest event.
In its 2023 edition, the festival drew over 500,000 people, marking it California’s largest festival. Every year in April, the festival takes place over two weekends. The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival will take place from April 12 to 14 and 19 to 21 in 2024.
2. Outside Lands Music Festival
Outside Lands, located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, features a tremendous lineup, featuring headliners Kendrick Lamar and Foo Fighters. Despite being on a lesser scale than Coachella, it is one of the world’s highest-grossing events.
The forthcoming music event in California is set to take place from August 11 to August 13. Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters, and Odesza will headline the 2023 edition of Outside Lands Music Festival on August 11, 12, and 13, respectively.
Despite being half the size of Coachella in terms of attendance, Outside Lands Music Festival is one of the world’s highest-grossing music festivals. It is also the first festival in which Cannabis is publicly sold to guests in the form of edibles, vape cartridges, and drinks.
Every year, over 100 musicians and bands from many genres perform at Outside Lands, including pop, indie, hip-hop, dance, jam, soul, and funk.
3. Aftershock Festival
The Aftershock Festival in Sacramento is a must-see for metal and rock aficionados. It drew over 160,000 people in 2022 and has since grown into a four-day spectacle. Avenged Sevenfold, Tool, Korn, and Guns N’ Roses are among the headliners, ensuring a strong event.
4. Power Trip
Power Trip, a heavy metal and hard rock festival in Indio, is set to rock California in October 2023. With co-headliners like Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Metallica, and Tool, it promises to be a colossal event.
5. BottleRock Napa Valley
Beyond music, BottleRock Napa Valley celebrates wine and cuisine alongside artists like Post Malone and Red Hot Chili Peppers. With its unique blend of music, food, and wine, it’s a culinary delight.
6. Stagecoach Music Festival
Taking place on the same grounds as Coachella, Stagecoach is a country music extravaganza. With headliners like Luke Bryan, Kane Brown, and Chris Stapleton, it’s a must for country music fans.
7. Cruel World Festival
Cruel World Festival in Pasadena offers a nostalgic trip through alternative and post-punk music. Although the festival’s return for 2024 hasn’t been confirmed, it has the potential to become an annual highlight.
8. Beyond Wonderland Music Festival
A dance and electronic music extravaganza, Beyond Wonderland moves to different locations in California. The surprise venue and lineup keep the excitement alive.
9. Nocturnal Wonderland
Electronic music enthusiasts flock to Nocturnal Wonderland in San Bernardino. With captivating performances, it’s a dream come true for fans of the genre.
10. High Sierra Music Festival
Quincy, California, hosts the eclectic High Sierra Music Festival, featuring jam bands, bluegrass, and various other genres. The festival, held during the 4th of July weekend, offers something for everyone.
11. Kaaboo San Diego (formerly Kaaboo Del Mar)
Combining music, cuisine, and art, Kaaboo San Diego offers a premium festival experience. While the next edition’s date is pending, it promises an upscale celebration.
12. Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival
Curated by Tyler, The Creator, this carnival-style festival in Los Angeles showcases top hip-hop and alternative artists, drawing over 50,000 fans annually.
13. California Roots Festival
The California Roots Festival, which celebrates reggae, roots, and hip-hop, is held in Monterey. It also includes a sampling of local vineyards, making it a cultural and sensory treat.
14. CRSSD Music Festival
San Diego’s Waterfront Park is the backdrop for CRSSD, a bi-annual electronic music extravaganza featuring cutting-edge DJs and producers.
15. Lightning In a Bottle
Lightning In a Bottle, which takes place in Buena Vista Lake, is a transformative experience that combines music, art, wellness, and other elements. It’s a one-of-a-kind addition to California’s festival landscape, with its diversified roster and holistic approach.
These 15 music festivals in California promise unforgettable memories and a chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the Golden State. So pack your bags, grab your tickets, and get ready for a musical adventure like no other!