The Ultimate Summer Festival Guide: Who to See, What to Wear and Where to Stay
From the storied folk festival where Dylan went electric to America's biggest rave, here's everything you need to know about summer's biggest fests.
Rock In Rio Usa: May 8-9 (rock) and May 15-16 (pop); Las Vegas
What Is It? The inaugural U.S. version of Brazil's biggest pop festival, split into two weekends -- one for rock and one for pop (and equipped with actual toilets).
How Much? $298 for three-day general admission (GA); $498 for one-day VIP
Where Should I Stay? MGM Resorts is a sponsor, so the Mirage (3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South) will be prepared for the influx.
Hangout Music Fest: May 15-17; Gulf Shores, Ala.
What Is It? Held on public beaches on the Alabama coast, Hangout gives revelers the chance to truly waste away in Margaritaville.
How Much? $249 for GA; $1,599 for "super VIP"
The Crowd? Professional spring-breakers
Where Should I Stay? Rent a Gulf Shores condo through Hangout's organizers (hangoutmusicfest.com/lodging).
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? The festival's namesake, The Hangout (101 E. Beach Blvd.), is known for its fish tacos.
Best All-Time Moment? In 2011, Cee Lo Green was late to his set, so Foo Fighters made an impromptu appearance, performing covers until the "Forget You" singer finally arrived.
Sasquatch: May 22-25; The Gorge Amphitheatre, Quincy, Wash.
What Is It? The Pacific Northwest's premier festival, Sasquatch draws 27,500 people per day to an outdoor amphitheater nestled beside the Columbia River, overlooking the Columbia Gorge canyon.
How Much? $350 for three-day GA passes
Where Should I Stay? The cheapest camping options run $150 per vehicle. Otherwise, there's the nearby Cave B Winery & Resort (344 Silica Road NW, Quincy)
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? Tendrils Restaurant at Cave B Resort
Celebrity Sightings? Past attendees include Laura Dern, Zooey Deschanel, Zach Galifianakis, Jimmy Kimmel, Jason Lee, Justin Long, Gwyneth Paltrow, Giovanni Ribisi, Meg Ryan, Jason Schwartzman and Sarah Silverman.
Mysteryland USA: May 22-25; Bethel, N.Y.
What Is It? The second American edition of the Netherlands' long-running Mysteryland festival, held on the same grounds as Woodstock in 1969.
How Much? $214 for admission-only; $449 for VIP camping
What Else Should I See? Art installations and curated stage showcases from Matthew Dear, Adam Beyer, Verboten, Webster Hall, Zeitgeist, Q-Dance
The Crowd? Kandi-kid ravers, faux hippies
Where Should I Stay? Camp. This is where Woodstock took place, man.
Boston Calling: May 22–24; Boston
What Is It? A biannual music festival staged on Boston's City Hall Plaza.
How Much? $75 for one-day ticket; $175 for three-day GA; $375 for three-day VIP
The Crowd? College kids, Red Sox fans
Where Should I Stay? The Verb Hotel (1271 Boylston St.) is a stylishly retro tribute to Boston's musical history.
Best All-Time Moment? In May 2013, Fun.'s Nate Ruess declared it the best day of his life when his band played for its then-biggest crowd ever (19,000 people).
Rocklahoma: May 22-24; Pryor, Okla.
What Is It? A raucous festival dedicated to "life, liberty and the pursuit of rock."
How Much? $123 for single-day tickets; weekend passes start at $399
What Else Should I See? The annual Miss Rocklahoma pageant, for ladies who "exude rock'n'roll"
The Crowd? Headbangers and the women (or men) who love them
Where Should I Stay? Camping is the best option. There also is a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino 40 miles away near Tulsa (777 W. Cherokee St., Catoosa).
Best All-Time Moment? During his 2014 closing set, Kid Rock played every instrument on the Rocklahoma stage.
BottleRock: May 29-31; Napa, Calif.
What Is It? Set in the cradle of California's food and wine culture, this is the music festival for gastronomes.
How Much? $109 for a one-day ticket; $295 for three-day GA pass; $650 for three-day VIP pass; $3,000 for three-day platinum pass.
The Crowd? People with strong negative opinions about Guy Fieri
Where Should I Stay? Napa River Inn (500 Main St.), a boutique hotel with more than 20 tasting rooms within walking distance
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? Here. Dozens of vintners, brewers and chefs will be plying their wares. Come hungry, leave drunk.
Best All-Time Moment? Performing with Jane's Addiction in 2013, Perry Farrell swigged from a bottle of Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon and exclaimed, "What a great year!"
Celebrity Sightings? Tony Hawk, Shaun White, Marisa Miller and Minnie Driver have come through in past years.
Wakarusa: June 4-7; Ozark, Ark.
What Is It? Nestled in the Ozarks, this is the only fest that lets you catch a jam band and jump off a waterfall on the same day.
How Much? One-day GA tickets start at $69; three-day VIP passes are $705
The Crowd? Nature-lovers in face paint
Where Should I Stay? Purchase the "Glamping" option ($650-$1,000 for the weekend), which includes a fully outfitted cabana that's set up when you arrive.
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? On-site vendor Ozark Mountain Biscuits
Best All-Time Moment? In 2011, Mumford & Sons performed an unannounced two-hour set for a small crowd.
Governors Ball: June 5-7; Randall's Island, New York
What Is It? A music festival for New Yorkers who somehow still don't hate crowds.
How Much? $260 for three-day GA; $595 for VIP; $2,000 for Super VIP
The Crowd? Young people who just moved to Brooklyn, college students whose parents live in Westchester County
Where Should I Stay? The Bowery Hotel (335 Bowery) or a friend's couch
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? The East Pole (133 E. 65th St.), which serves fried oysters with cucumber and chicken Kiev with Timberdoodle cheese
Best All-Time Moment? In 2013, torrential downpours turned the grounds into a muddy cesspool, and though Kings of Leon canceled, many other acts -- including Erykah Badu, Of Monsters and Men and Crystal Castles -- gamely performed for an especially appreciative audience.
Firefly: June 18-20; Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del.
What Is It? A rapidly growing 4-year-old camping festival with seven stages that's held on the Speedway's 770 acres.
How Much? $299 for a four-day pass; $699 for four-day VIP; $1,999 for Super VIP
Where Should I Stay? Camp. There are 18,000 sites.
Best All-Time Moment? In 2014, Foo Fighters encored as a cover band called The Holy Shits.
Electric Daisy Carnival: June 19-21; Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas
What Is It? Arguably the EDM industry's most important event, this dusk-to-dawn festival is America's largest rave, with sophisticated pyro, fireworks and a lineup that routinely boasts nearly every major DJ.
Who's Headlining? Promoter Insomniac Events calls fans "the headliners," partly to avoid the politics of artists clamoring to be higher on the bill.
How Much? $229 for three-day GA (sold out, even though no artists have been announced); $699 for three-day VIP
Where Should I Stay? For artist sightings, try the Cosmopolitan (3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South).
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? LOL. No one eats, but Holstein's at the Cosmopolitan (holsteinslv.com) has great burgers and a cereal-bowl milkshake.
Best All-Time Moment? The 2014 main stage was the largest stage ever constructed in North America.
Celebrity Sightings? Not a big star-studded event, but Paris Hilton usually shows up.
Essence Festival: July 2-5; Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
How Much? $130.50 to $780 for GA festival seats; $2,700 for VIP package
Where Should I Stay? If you're on a budget, try the Hampton Inn in the Garden District (3626 St. Charles Ave.). Otherwise, stay at the luxury Hotel Mazarin (730 Bienville St.) in the French Quarter.
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? Get Creole at Cochon (930 Tchoupitoulas St.).
Best All-Time Moment? In 2014, Prince closed out July 4.
Bonnaroo: June 11-14; Great Stage Park, Manchester, Tenn.
What Is It? Sprawling, star-packed festival heavyweight, spread across 700 acres.
How Much? $324.50 for three-day GA; $1,524.50 for VIP
What Else Should I See? Comedian Ed Helms jamming with The Bluegrass Situation (and special guests). A pop-up version of the legendary New Orleans dive bar Snake & Jake's Christmas Club Barn. Oh, and Slayer.
Where Should I Stay? Camp. If you're loaded, try VIP camping. If you're really loaded, stay in a tour bus as part of the fest's "Roll Like a Rockstar" program.
Celebrity Sightings? Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Bob Saget and John Stamos came in 2013. No Dave Coulier, though.
Forecastle: July 17-19; Louisville, Ky.
What Is It? Held in scenic Waterfront Park, Forecastle prides itself on championing local talent, in addition to booking A-list headliners. Hometown hero My Morning Jacket is effectively the house band.
How much? $184.50 for three-day GA; $399.50 for three-day VIP
The Crowd? My Morning Jacket fans
Where Should I Stay? The Galt House (140 N. Fourth St.), Louisville's largest hotel
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? The nearby Garage Bar (700 E. Market St.) makes great wood-fired pizza.
Best All-Time Moment? In 2012, MMJ performed a three-song acoustic set for fans huddled in the rain.
Celebrity Sightings? Does My Morning Jacket count?
Pitchfork Music Festival: July 17-19; Union Park, Chicago
What Is It? The cool kids converge in downtown Chicago for a festival curated by music's pre-eminent tastemakers.
How Much? $65 for single-day passes; $150 for three-day passes
The Crowd? Music snobs who are on Tinder, Snapchat and Instagram
Where Should I Stay? The Inn at Longman & Eagle (2657 N. Kedzie Ave.)
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard's Girl & The Goat (809 W. Randolph St.)
Best All-Time Moment? Embattled R&B icon R. Kelly closed in 2013, performing "I Believe I Can Fly" with a full choir.
Celebrity Sightings? Lady Gaga turned up in 2012.
Newport Folk Festival: July 24-26; Fort Adams State Park, Newport, R.I.
What Is It? The famous festival where Bob Dylan went electric in 1965, Newport Folk has evolved into a mix of roots, folk and indie music.
How Much? $85 for a single day
The Crowd? Folk scholars, lobster-roll enthusiasts
Where Should I Stay? Melville Ponds Campground (181 Bradford Ave., Portsmouth) if you're frugal; the Hotel Viking (1 Bellevue Ave.) if you're not.
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? Get seafood at Scales & Shells (527 Thames St.).
Best All-Time Moment? Fifty years ago, Dylan changed the course of popular music by plugging in here. In 1969, Johnny Cash introduced Kris Kristofferson. In 2005, the Pixies paid tribute to Dylan by going acoustic. In 2014, Jack White serenaded Mavis Staples for her 75th birthday.
Gathering Of The Vibes: July 30-Aug. 2; Bridgeport, Conn.
What Is It? Founded in 1996 to fill the void left by Jerry Garcia's death, this free-loving event celebrates Deadhead culture in all its many forms.
How Much? $85 for a single day; $495 for a VIP camping pass
Who Else Should I See? Gregg Allman, Zappa Plays Zappa, Grammy-nominated soul queen Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
The Crowd? Medical-marijuana dispensary owners
Where Should I Stay? Camping is free with a parking pass.
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? The Love, Peace Taco Truck on the grounds
Celebrity Sightings? Bruce Willis, Whoopi Goldberg and Roseanne Barr have soaked up the good vibes.
Lollapalooza: July 31-Aug. 2; Chicago
What Is It? What was once a Jane's Addiction farewell tour is now a weekend destination festival held in Grant Park.
The Crowd? Women in short shorts, men in "Drink Wisconsinbly" T-shirts
How Much? $110 for one-day pass; $595 for three-day VIP; $2,000 for Super VIP
Where Should I Stay? The James Hotel (55 E. Ontario St.), near the Magnificent Mile.
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? Chow Town, on-site, has everything from lobster corndogs to spicy beef bao.
Best All-Time Moment? Through the years, Band of Horses, Ben Harper, Jeff Tweedy, Perry Farrell and Dhani Harrison have all surprised the children on the Kidzapalooza stage. The most memorable was Patti Smith's 2007 impromptu set.
Outside Lands: Aug. 7-9; San Francisco
What Is It? Lots of stages, great food and huge headliners, all nestled in the woods of Golden Gate Park.
How Much? $275 for three-day GA; $695 for three-day VIP
The Crowd? Hipsters with great tech jobs
Where Should I Stay? Try Airbnb in the Sunset or Richmond neighborhoods, or stay in Sausalito's Cavallo Point Lodge (601 Murray Circle), which offers complimentary shuttle service to the fest.
Where Can I Eat One Good Meal? Grab some Korean tacos from the on-site Namu Street Food truck.
Best All-Time Moment? In 2013, The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir sat in with The National. (The guy gets around.)
Celebrity Sightings? Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling and Kim Kardashian have shown.
Contributors: Harley Brown, Megan Buerger, Steven J. Horowitz, Garrett Kamps, Matt Medved.
This story originally appeared in the April 4th issue of Billboard.