While we are just about to hit the dead of winter, complete with snowstorms and cold temperatures, springtime – and the country music festival circuit is just a few months away. Once the calendar turns to April and May, country music fans begin traveling throughout the United States – and abroad – to hear their favorite artists live in concert.
We have chosen ten of the top country music festivals in America. Each offers attendees a unique concert experience – on and off of the stage. Whether it’s funnel cakes, Frisbee games, or scenery such as the mountains or ocean, these ten yearly events each offer a little something for everyone!
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10. Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival — Franklin, Tenn.
OK, we’ll admit that this isn’t totally a country music festival. However, that being said, this yearly event features many of the format’s top stars such as Chris Stapleton to much-admired newcomers as Jillian Jacqueline. There’s also been several of the genre’s top icons featured on the stages of this event situated just south of Nashville, such as Willie Nelson and Marty Stuart. And, any event that features Sheryl Crow or Mavis Staples, well, that’s just cool in our book!
9. Faster Horses — Brooklyn, Mich.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Brooklyn, Michigan. And, each July, the city of just over one thousand multiplies in size immensely by hosting a festival that has played host to artists such as Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan. And, there’s a lot more. There’s camping, line dancing, and an arcade / ferris wheel. Plus, throw in the Budweiser Clydesdales, and you’ve got a party for the ages!
8. Taste of Country Festival — Hunter, N.Y.
Located in the heart of the mountains of New York – no, it’s not all skyscrapers – this yearly event brings country music fans from across the globe to see and hear their favorite artists, such as Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. Already announced for next year are Eric Church and Sam Hunt. The music sells the tickets, but at the same time, the stunning scenery is worth the price of admission alone.
7. Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam — Panama City Beach, Fla.
Held each Labor Day weekend in Panama City, this event has become a rite of passage for thousands of country music fans who have a three-day weekend. This great country music festival is known for its’ diverse mix of musical talent from within the Country ranks. Superstars such as Jason Aldean and Little Big Town share the stage with legends such as The Oak Ridge Boys and newcomers like Luke Combs.
6. Rock The South — Cullman, Ala.
This yearly event in North Alabama brings the stars out, such as Florida Georgia Line. But, what really sets this festival apart is the accessibility that attendees feel. Whether you purchased VIP passes or General Admission, organizers have put together a festival layout that gives those in attendance as intimate of a feel as you can get – with tens of thousands of people around you. The story of the event is also one for the books, with the event originally starting to celebrate the recovery of the area from a series of tornadoes that hit the area in the spring of 2011. Since then, the festival has served as a fund-raiser for many organizations in the North Alabama region, such as Childhaven and Alabama Forever.
5. Watershed — George, Wash.
In 2012, Live Nation took the idea of the outdoor festival and tried it out in the Washington area. With an artist lineup that has included Miranda Lambert and Kip Moore, it’s one of the can’t-miss musical events of the season. With the natural beauty of the Gorge and the Columbia River, it’s a sonic and a visual treat.
4. Carolina Country Music Fest — Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Situated with the picturesque Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop, the city of Myrtle Beach becomes country music central for a few days each June. Just a few months ago, close to 40,000 people turned out to hear music from acts such as Granger Smith, and hometown favorite Darius Rucker. This great country music festival also features a stage devoted to rising talent, such as Luke Combs and Morgan Myles.
3. Stagecoach —Indio, Calif.
One of the highest-grossing music festivals anywhere, this yearly event brought 75,000 country music fans to Indio, Calif. Over the eleven-year history of the event, the artists who have been featured on the stage read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of country music artists, including Carrie Underwood, George Strait, and Shania Twain, with the latter’s appearance this past spring helping to signify her return to the spotlight.
2. Jamboree In The Hills – Morristown, Ohio
For forty years, the hills of Eastern Ohio have played host to this festival that defines the word longevity, standing proud and tall as the oldest festival of its’ type. So, why do over 100,000 fans venture to Morristown each year? It’s an emphasis on the music. The Jamboree is famous for having some of the biggest names in the business throughout the annals of country music history, such as Johnny Cash (who played the first event in 1977) to The Judds all the way to Thomas Rhett. And in 1990, there was this Garth guy, who has done pretty well for himself! Whether you are a rising star, on top of the world, or a veteran performer with twenty years under your belt, the chances are pretty good that your career includes a chapter at one of the premier country music festivals in United States.
1. CMA Music Festival — Nashville, Tenn.
A part of country music culture since 1972 – when it was known as Fan Fair – this four-day event brings out the stars like no other. Held at the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, the yearly event is a salute to all things Country – past and present. You might see collaborations between today’s hottest artists, a legend, or an impromptu cover of a classic (Google Little Big Town’s swampy and seductive take on “Elvira”). When it comes to great country music festivals, this one has been – and is – the gold standard