Blues Festivals, Jazz Festivals and More: Best Summer Arts Fests in America


Summer is almost here, which means it’s time to start planning your outdoor adventures. But you don’t have to go it alone: there are dozens of arts festivals taking place across the US this summer, from blues and jazz festivals in Chicago and New Orleans to the ultimate EDM gathering in Las Vegas. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key but still fun and interesting, check out our list below for ideas on how to spend your summer weekends (and maybe even some weekdays) this season.

Outside Lands

If you’re looking for an urban experience that’s both unique and entertaining, check out Outside Lands in San Francisco. Held at Golden Gate Park, this festival is a three-day event featuring music, comedy and food from all over the world. It takes place on August 10-12 this year with 60,000 people in attendance each day.

The lineup includes Florence + The Machine; Stevie Wonder; Kendrick Lamar; Ariana Grande (who will also be performing at Lollapalooza); The Weeknd; Childish Gambino; Ellie Goulding (also playing Coachella) and many more artists who will perform on six stages throughout the park during set times throughout each day of this summer festivity!

Chicago Blues Festival

Chicago is a great city to visit, and the Chicago Blues Festival is one of its biggest annual events. Held in Grant Park, this festival has been around since 1972 and is the largest blues festival in the world. It’s held annually during July, so it’s guaranteed to be hot (and humid).

The lineup typically includes big names like Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt and John Lee Hooker; past performers have also included B.B King, Bo Diddley and Koko Taylor – so you know there will be plenty of old school artists on stage as well as up-and-comers who are just getting their start!

Newport Folk Festival

The Newport Folk Festival is one of the most historic festivals in America, and it’s also one of the best.

The festival takes place in Newport, RI during July 26-28. It’s been going on since 1959 and has featured performers like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez (who got her start there), as well as more recent artists like Frank Turner, Neko Case and St Vincent. The lineup this year includes The Avett Brothers (who play seven times), Shovels & Rope (another band that plays multiple sets), Tallest Man On Earth plus many more great acts!

Jazz Fest

New Orleans Jazz Fest is the second-largest music festival in the country, with more than 500 artists performing on seven stages. It takes place over two weeks from late April to early May and features a wide variety of genres including jazz, blues, gospel and pop music.

The festival was founded by Aaron Neville in 1970 as part of his quest to preserve New Orleans’ musical heritage after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. Today it draws more than 400,000 people every year who come together under one roof to enjoy food and drink options while listening to some of their favorite musicians perform live onstage.

Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits

When: September 28 – October 7, 2019

Where: Austin, TX

Why: The lineup features headliners like Tame Impala, Janelle Monae and Mumford & Sons. But the real reason to go is for the rest of the lineup–it’s one of those festivals with so many acts on it that you can’t possibly see them all (and even if you do, there will still be some great surprises). If you’re looking for a more low-key experience than Coachella or Lollapalooza offers but still want to see some big names in music (or even just music), ACL is your best bet. The festival also has an excellent site at Zilker Park in Austin where they host their annual event.


Lollapalooza, the music festival founded in 1991, is located in Chicago and hosts over 100,000 people per day. The lineup features rock and hip hop artists as well as EDM performers.

The festival takes place in Grant Park every summer (except 2018) from July 31 to August 4 this year.

There are a lot of great arts festivals in America.

There are a lot of great arts festivals in America. Here’s a list of some of the best ones:

  • Blues Festivals
  • Jazz Festivals
  • Opera Festivals
  • Film Festivals

And so on! Each festival has its own flavor and vibe, so you should definitely check out as many as possible. But don’t feel like you have to go to all these festivals right away–it takes some time to get used to seeing live music, or watching opera singers, or whatever else they’re doing at these events (and if you don’t know what they’re doing at these events it’s OK; just go with the flow). Be sure not just sit there and watch passively–go up close with your camera phone so everyone knows how cool/nosy/curious/annoying YOU are!


We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the best summer arts festivals in America. If you’re looking for more things to do, check out our other articles on fun things to do in the summer and how to stay safe while traveling.

Sammy Conteh

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