Forget Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and the like; why spent time and money traveling to music festivals around the country when there’s more than enough of them right in our very own backyard? This year sees a record number of events that qualify as a destination fest to some, but a short drive away for locals along with the regular touring spectaculars.
Here are some of the best ones coming up over the next few months, as well as a few tips on how to make the best of each.
Firefly Music FestivalJune 14 – 17 at The Woodlands in Dover, DE
Organizers are hoping for a lucky seventh edition of the Firefly Music Festival, the largest East Coast camping and music fest. Bolstered by a strong lineup featuring headliners Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, MGMT and Jimmy Eat World, it shouldn’t be too much of a feat. Spread out over four days, there will also be performances from newer hot acts like Lucy Dacus and Royal Blood.
Bring: Bug spray. Whether you’re camping for the whole fest or just going for a single day, the threat of insect bites is real. Remember, aerosols are prohibited, so make certain it’s a lotion or squirt type of repellent.
Expect: Lots of walking. There are eight different spots to catch musical performances, and if you want to get from Lil Wayne on the Firefly Stage to Vance Joy on the Lawn Stage in short order Saturday, it’s gonna be a brisk hike to get there.
The Radio 104.5 11th Birthday Celebration
June 17 and June 30 at BB&T Pavilion
Celebrating 11 years of Radio 104.5, the station is going all out with two sets of mini-festivals spread out over two days on non-consecutive weekends. June 17 will feature Thirty Seconds to Mars, Portugal. The Man, Walk the Moon, CHVRCHES, Misterwives and The Neighbourhood while June 30 boasts Imagine Dragons, Judah & the Lion, Mike Shinoda, AJR and Sir Sly. Both events will also have a “Discovery Stage” with up and coming bands.
Expect: Radio swag – it’s their party and they’ll ply (you with branded items) if they want to.
Wawa Welcome America!June 28 – July 4 at Independence Mall and Ben Franklin Parkway
Ok, so it’s not a music festival per se, but the annual Wawa Welcome America! event is a must see to celebrate the 4th of July. In the days leading up to the big fireworks celebration, there will be specialized days focused on gospel, Broadway Philadelphia and The Philly POPS, all taking place at Independence Mall. Come the big day, which falls on a Wednesday this year, everything moves to the Ben Franklin Parkway for the Wawa Welcome America Concert & Fireworks. The free concert will feature performances by
Bring: The downloadable guide available at welcomeamerica.com details everything from official fireworks viewing areas to an hour by hour breakdown of free museums and attractions.
Expect: Tourists, and lots of them. It’s the birthplace of America after all.
WDAS Summer Block PartyJune 30 at the Mann Center for Performing Arts
Philly’s own Jill Scott, Boyz II Men, DJ Jazzy Jeff and more will be on hand for the first annual WDAS Summer Block Party at the Mann.
Bring: A lawn chair – they’re welcomed for the event, but don’t go crazy, there will be your concert-going neighbor to keep in mind.
Expect: Lots of local love. All of the artists are hometown heroes, so plan on a lot of Philly pride – especially some aimed at our Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles!
Vans Warped TourJuly 13 at BB&T Pavilion
“All good things must come to an end” goes the cliché, and this year that unfortunately applies to the Vans Warped Tour, which is making its final cross-country trek. The longest traveling music festival started off in 1995 and will go out with a bang, with Reel Big Fish, Simple Plan, Hatebreed and Every Time I Die just a handful of the acts giving it the sendoff it deserves.
Bring: Tissues. It’s bound to get emotional, and even punks are allowed to cry.
XPoNential Music FestivalJuly 27 – 29 at the Camden Waterfront
This year’s XPoNential Music Festival is celebrating 25 years of offering an unparalleled experience for discovering music courtesy of WXPN. Taking place from Friday, July 27 through Sunday, July 29 at Wiggins Park on the Delaware Riverfront in Camden, New Jersey, the fest also features Friday and Saturday night performances at the adjacent BB&T Pavilion. Scheduled artists this year include former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, The War on Drugs, Sylvan Esso, Sturgill Simpson and many, many more.
Bring: The kids! The XPoNential Music Festival isn’t just child friendly, it offers a 3-Day Kids Pass for those ages two to 12 years of age at just $15. There’s also a Kids Corner Garden presented by the Please Touch Museum.
Expect: Heat. It’s the high point of the summer, so chances are the weather will be hot, hot, hot. Dress accordingly.
Bethlehem MusikfestAug. 3 – 12 at Various Venues in Bethlehem
One of the grandest of them all, Musikfest rarely disappoints with a varied lineup of music. This year will feature everyone from Styx and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts kicking off night one to rocker Daughtry, pop star Kesha, country star Dierks Bentley to blues phenom Gary Clark Jr. Head to musikfest.org for all the details.
Bring: An appetite. Veterans know that Musikfest has an array of eats as wide as its diverse music. From roasted corn to noodles to tacos to various confectionery, no palate will be left unsatisfied.
Made in America FestivalSept. 1 and 2 on the Ben Franklin Parkway
Since the inaugural two-day concert in 2012, Made in America has generated $31.9 million in economic impact for the city of Philadelphia. Now checking in for round number seventh, this year’s headliners Nicki Minaj and Post Malone will be joined by the recently freed-from-jail Meek Mill, Diplo, Zedd, Miguel and Janelle Monáe – and that’s just for starters.
Bring: Your checkbook. The Cause Village at Made in America is the festival’s philanthropic footprint and hub for social action, with over 56 charitable and activist organizations representing all causes including education, social welfare, voter registration, animal welfare, hunger, homelessness, arts and culture, social justice and civil rights represented.
Expect: No parking. With the Art Museum area overtaken by the festival layout, parking will be scarce. If there was ever a time to take advantage of SEPTA, this is it.
Outlaw Music FestivalSept. 15 at BB&T Pavilion
Entering its third year as a touring event, the Outlaw Music Festival 2018 has perennial headliner Willie Nelson & Family joined by Van Morrison, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Lukas Nelson + Promise of the Real and Particle Kid.
Bring: Layers. On the water in mid-September could get a bit cool, so think about a hoodie or sweater just in case.
Expect: Lots of 10-gallon hats and fancy belt buckles.