The Return of Music Festivals


It was a rocky return for live music back in 2021, mostly brought on by the confusion surrounding whether or not large-scale music festivals that draw huge crowds were safe enough to attend. However, considering how much of the music industry was put out of work by the pandemic, music fans and workers are both eager for the return of music festivals and shows. With music events like Chicago’s Lollapalooza going off without a hitch – with vaccinations and negative test requirements in place – this proved that outdoor music events could resume under the right precautions. Lollapalooza’s success officially marked the return of festival season with dozens of other shows returning in the following months – making 2022 much more promising.

Earlier in 2021, multiple ticket vendors were criticized for postponing events indefinitely due to Covid-19 without offering refunds to fans. However, shows like the 2021 Governors Ball Music Festival proved that festivals can be done safely — and people are eager to attend live events under any circumstances. In fact, Coachella returned after a 3-year hiatus and sold out both weekends at a capacity of 125,000 people with ticket prices ranging from $449 to $1,119. On top of that, although Coachella mandated that attendees would be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test after Goldenvoice’s Paul Tollett attended the Super Bowl back in February and noticed that no one was wearing a mask, it was decided that Coachella would resume under mask restrictions.

Now in 2022, as the festival season resumes under the normal guidelines, events are no longer being canceled — and those events that were canceled are being scheduled for the coming months. Let’s look into some of this year’s most promising musical events.

Upcoming Music Festivals

As countries around the world reopen, promotors, organizers, and ticket sellers are eager to bring live music back – and audiences are answering the call. Many of the biggest festivals have returned with events in 2022 as artists are equally anxious to return to the big stage. Stars like Post Malone, A$AP Rocky, and Billie Eilish, for example, have already scheduled country-wide tours. With big names set to headline, here’s a small list of the massive number of events and festivals taking place this year:

Coachella: Indio, CA – Although Coachella has already successfully taken place, the country-theme Stagecoach festival is taking place over the last weekend in April. After being rescheduled four times, concertgoers and organizers alike are excited about the festival’s return.

Governors Ball: New York, NY – The Governors Ball returns to Citi Field in Queens this June as the event will host dozens of vendors and 60-plus musical acts.

Lollapalooza: Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza returns to Chicago’s Grant Park in late July,  31 years after making its debut as a touring festival in 1991. The event will feature 170 acts on 9 different stages, with acts ranging from Metallica to J. Cole, Machine Gun Kelly, and Lil Baby.

Austin City Limits Music Festival: Austin Texas – This festival features an eight-stage celebration of music, along with an art market, a range of food and drink vendors, and much more. This festival became a two-weekend event back in 2012 and the tradition has continued since. This year’s tour dates are October 7-9 and 14-16.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: New Orleans, Louisiana – This festival dates back to 1970 and is often described as a complete cultural experience that reaches beyond music. This year’s event takes place from April 29 to May 8.

Life Is Beautiful Music and Arts Festival: Las Vegas, Nevada – Although this is a young media festival, it features some of the biggest names like Billie Eilish, Green Day, A$AP Rocky, and much more – blurring the lines of pop, rock, hip hop, and electronic genres. The event kicks off September 16-18 in Vegas.

Boston Calling Music Festival: Allston, Massachusetts – The largest multi-genre festival in New England takes place over Memorial Day weekend and brings together some of the most influential names in rock, hip hop, and electronic to the Harvard Athletic Complex. Besides big names like Rage Against the Machine and Foo Fighters, Boston Calling features an amazing selection of food vendors, art installations, immersive games, and more. The festival is from May 27-29 this year.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival: Great Stage Park, Tennessee – Although this festival originally featured jam bands and folk-rock, it has since expanded to include a wider array of popular genres. This year’s event is from June 16-19 and features names like Lizzo, Lana del Rey, Tyler The Creator, and more.

Firefly Music Festival: Dover, Delaware – Firefly is the east coast’s biggest camping festival. Taking place in Dover, this incredibly immersive experience features some of the biggest names in popular music like Billie Eilish, Lizzo, The Killers, Wiz Khalifa, and Megan Thee Stallion. This year’s event will take place from September 22 to 25.

Newport Jazz Festival: Newport, Rhode Island – NJF is the self-proclaimed “granddaddy of all music festivals” and will be held at Fort Adams National Park from July 29 to 31. Headlining this year’s festival is Norah Jones, along with Esperanza Spalding, and BADBADNOTGOOD.

Pitchfork Music Festival: Chicago, Illinois – The Pitchfork Music Festival returns to Chicago’s Union Park on July 15th through the 17th. The event features Oscar and Grammy winner Questlove headlining with the Roots, along with National, Mitski, and more.

80/35: Des Moines, Iowa –  This two-day nonprofit music festival aims to bring diverse music to Des Moines. Although the lineup includes big names like Father John Misty and Charli XCX, half of the acts are local to Iowa or have ties to the state. The event will also feature crafts from local artisans and interviews hosted by Iowa Public Radio.

Rolling Loud: Miami, Florida – Hip-hop’s most prominent music festival is coming to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium this year. Featuring huge names like Kanye West (Ye), Kendrick Lamar (who is headlining his third festival in 2022), and Playboi Carti. This event should feature some new music and will take place from June 22nd to the 24th.

The Roots Picnic: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Coming back after a two-year hiatus like many of the other festivals on this list, The Roots Picnic will take place on June 4th and 5th this year at Fairmount Park and will be streamed on Youtube. The line-up brings together talent from all over the map, including country trailblazer Mickey Guyton, chart-topping Afrobeats star Wizkid, the legendary Mary J. Blige, and more.

Planet Afropunk Live: Miami, Florida – Although the festival returned last year for a one-day event in Atlanta, this year’s Planet Afropunk will be a three-day event hosted at The Urban in Overtown Miami, Florida. The festival will include one day of panels talking about issues that have plagued the Black Community, followed by two days of live music and art exhibitions and notable performances from artists like Rema, Yendry, and Skillibeng.

Something in the Water: Washington, D.C. – Descending upon Independence Avenue in D.C. from June 17th through the 19th, SITW will headline Pharrell and include music from Lil Uzi Vert, Tyler the Creator, Chloe x Halle, and Run the Jewels. 

Hinterland Festival: Saint Charles, Iowa – Iowa’s largest music festival returns this summer to the naturally formed Avenue of Saints Amphitheater in Saint Charles, Iowa. The event this year will feature some of indie rock’s biggest names like Phoebe Bridgers, Billy Strings, Glass Animals, and Kurt Vile as well as up-and-comers like MUNA. Art installations, craft vendors, and onsite camping will also be available at the Hinterland Festival from August 4th to the 7th.

Outside Lands: San Francisco, California – Taking place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park from August 5th to the 7th, Outside Lands will be a one-of-a-kind experience as the 3-day music festival hosts 75 musical artists alongside “Grass Lands” – the first curated cannabis experience at a major music festival. Attendees will be able to legally purchase cannabis from certified vendors and smoke in designated areas.

This Ain’t No Picnic: Pasadena, CA – Taking place on August 27 and 28th, This Ain’t No Picnic features the Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, and even Le Tigre. Kathleen Hanna and her Le Tigre bandmates haven’t played together for more than 12 years, but they plan to reunite for this new festival from Goldenvoice – the promoter of Coachella.

Primavera Sound: Los Angeles, California – If you can’t make it to Barcelona for the original Primavera Sound, Los Angeles is offering a taste of the experience from September 16th through the 18th. The L.A. event will feature Lorde, Drain Gang, Mitski, Arca, PinkPantheress, Faye Webster, Arctic Monkeys, and more.

Riot Fest: Chicago, Illinois – Dubbed punk rock’s biggest festival or Warped Tour for adults, Riot Fest will take place in Chicago’s Douglass Park from September 16th to the 18th. Known for hosting major reunions, this year we see My Chemical Romance and the Original Misfits reconnecting. Riot fest will feature plenty of acts and many late-night shows. Last year’s event included a festival-hosted job fair and offered free tickets for all Chicago residents within a four-block radius – so surprises are possible this year too.

All Things Go: Columbus, Maryland – A group of friends started a blog named after a Sufjan Stevens lyric back in 2006, 16 years later their project has blossomed into an outdoor music festival that takes place at Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion Center on October 1st. This year will feature pop staples like Lorde and Mitski, as well as some bright indie rock stars like Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and more.

Vendor Support for Music Festivals

After many of these festivals have been forced to postpone their events for at least two years, many city governments are jumping at the opportunity to host large festivals in their area and asking vendors to help populate these events with their businesses, customers, and unique crafts. If you’re interested in becoming a vendor at one of these events, one of the easiest ways is to contact the organization directly. Most event pages feature a contact near the bottom where you can submit your vendor application.

If you’ve already submitted an application, you are one step ahead. Now that you’ve decided to include your business services at one of these events, the next logical step is to make sure you have all of the equipment you need. Keep in mind that many of these festival attendees haven’t been able to attend concerts for the last two years, so there has never been a better time to promote your business!

For vendors, it’s important to showcase your business. Catch your attendees’ eyes with merchandise or engaging entertainment like iPads, video walls, charging kiosks, or even branded sanitizing equipment. Don’t just sell your product, showcase an experience. When you provide people with a memorable experience, you are much more likely to make an emotional impact – making them remember your brand all the better.

For festival organizers, make sure your stage and surrounding areas look their best. Do you have all of the sound equipment, audiovisual equipment, lighting, staging equipment, and even radios and security equipment? Festivals and concerts are built around a quality sound system and lighting – and these performances are only as powerful as the technology that drives them. Make sure your event is one to remember, after all, many attendees have probably been itching to attend your show for a number of years.

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