Top 10 Summer Music Festivals in Smaller Cities 2016

Summer music festivals can be found all over the U.S., and these smaller cities have ones that can rival the biggest

By Raven Petty on Wed, 05/11/2016 - 02:00

Summer music festivals have entertained crowds of all sizes for decades. Sure, you've got your massive festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachellas and Bumbershoots, but there are dozens of alternatives in your neck of the woods. Don't miss out on the fun at these festivals:

1. Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tenn., June 9-12, 2016

Headliners: Pearl Jam, Dead & Company (2 sets), LCD Soundsystem
With 10 stages, more than 80,000 people spread out on 700 acres for music, fun and culture. Be sure to check out the Silent Disco, comedy theater, or watch a movie at the 24-hour Bonnaroo Cinema tent.

2. Taste of Country Music Festival, Lanesville, N.Y., June 10-12, 2016

Headliners: Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Kid Rock
In its fourth year, this is the only multiday country music festival in the northeast U.S. Take the SkyRide over the crowd, stop by the petting zoo, or try your luck with a bull ride.

3. What the Festival, Dufur, Ore., June 17-20, 2016

Headliners: Thievery Corporation, Bonobo (DJ set), Lettuce
The signature stage is the Splash Stage, where party-goers splash and dance to live acts, creating the northwest's largest pool party. Other must-try activities include the Oasis Spa and Sauna and the Illuminated Forest.

4. Telluride Blugrass, Telluride, Colo., June 16-19, 2016

Headliners: Dave Rawlings Machine, Ryan Adams, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
This festival has showcased the best of Telluride Bluegrass for more than 40 years. Attendees can gaze into San Juan Mountain views, and be sure to check out the signature workshops and band contests.

5. Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Boonville, Calif., June 17-19, 2016

Headliners: Toots & The Maytals, Beres Hammond, Alpha Blondy
For more than 20 years, this fest has brought the best in reggae and world music to two stages. The Festival Village features food and craft vendors, and night owls can groove in the Jamacian-style dancehall.

6. Electric Forest, Rothbury, Mich., June 23-26, 2016

Headliners: The String Cheese Incident, BASSNECTAR, Major Lazer
Music and colorful lights set the energetic vibe at this summer party. The stages, tents, booths and even forest glow as people dance, eat and play the weekend away.

7. Rock USA, Oshkosh, Wis., July 14-16, 2016

Headliners: Slipknot, Alice in Chains, Disturbed
Party like a rock star with some of the biggest metal bands for four days of music, camping and food. Attendees can buy band memorabilia or browse vendor booths for accessories.

8. Summer Meltdown, Darrington, Wash., Aug. 11-14, 2016

Headliners: Griz, Gramatik, STS9
This 15-year-old festival blends atmospheres, music and relaxing on the river. Kids have their own meltdown zone, complete with derby car races and a create-your-own costume center.

9. Bayfront Blues Festival, Duluth, Minn., Aug. 12-14, 2016

Headliners: Jennie Devoe, Southern Hospitality, Scotch Hollow
This blues fest is one of the largest outdoor events in the upper Midwest. For 27 years, more than 500 blues and blues/rock performers have performed on the Bayfront Festival Park's two stages.

10. Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI, July 22-24, 2016

Headliners: Flight of the Concords, Norah Jones, Ray LaMontagne

Bob Dylan made this festival famous in the '60s when he showed up with an electric guitar instead of his usual acoustic. These days it's still bringing in big-name acts, as well as a slew of other easily recognizable smaller acts. It also may be one of the most picturesque festivals, taking place at the historic Fort Adams State Park, right on Narragansett Bay. Be ready for great music, beautiful sunsets, and the occasional pirate ship floating by.


Raven Petty – a native Nashvillian – enjoys as much variety in her work as she does her hobbies. She is a graduate of Tennessee State University with a B.A. in English, and her greatest passions are p...

Our Latest Rankings