Best August Music Festivals in North America

posted by Alyssa Buffenstein on July 30, 2014

Outside Lands by Marjana Jaidi

August may mean that summer is coming to an end, but you don't have to mourn the coming of Fall - instead, celebrate the last of your summer nights at a music festival (or two). Whether you're into EDM, jam bands, or heavy metal, there's something for you this month. August is a pretty festival-heavy month all across North America, but we've picked our top 13 festivals to hit up, from the obvious ones like Lollapalooza, to the more underground like Secret Stages.


Osheaga 2013 by Marjana Jaidi 

When: August 1-3
Where: Montréal, Canada
Who: Outkast, Skrillex, Jack White, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Arctic Monkeys, Lorde, and more.

When European settlers first came to Canada, the native Mohawk people called them, "O she ha ga," meaning "people of shaking hands." The westernized version of the phrase, Osheaga, came to mean the area that we now know as Montréal. So at the Osheaga Music Festival, you're sure to shake more than just your hands, whether you're dancing to Outkast, jumping around to Skrillex, or moshing to Against Me!. 


Lollapalooza 2013 via Matt Ellis

When: August 1-3
Where: Chicago, Illinois
Who: Eminem, Outkast, Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Skrillex, Calvin Harris, and more

Lollapalooza doesn't really need an introduction - the Chicago festival, now in its 23rd year, is one of the most well-known festivals in America. With food options as genre-spanning and varied as the music lineup, this music and arts fest is an experience you don't want to miss.

Secret Stages

When: August 1-2
Where: Birmingham, Alabama
Who: All Them Witches, Ex-Cult, Gold Plated Gold, Miss Jackson, SEA FIX, Spacewolf, and more

Secret Stages began in 2011 as a sort-of showcase for the next big things. You might not see many artists you're familiar with on the lineup, but that's exactly the festival's point. Secret Stages brings up-and-comers from across the country, but mostly artists from around the southeast US. With a festival like this one, you can support local scenes while still getting the festival experience - and who knows, maybe it'll help you find the next big thing before all your friends.


VELD 2013 via the festival

When: August 2-3
Where: Toronto, Canada
Who: Calvin Harris, Armin Van Buuren, Ingrosso, Knife Party, Zedd, Nero, and more

2014 may only be VELD's third year, but it already draws some big names in EDM. It's new, but no longer brand new, so any first-time festival kinks should be smoothed out by now. VELD keeps it simple with a modest two stages and a simple food and drink selection, so this festival is perfect for EDM fans who like to stick to just the music.

HARD Summer

RL Grime at HARD Summer 2013 via the festival

When: August 2-3
Where: South El Monte, California
Who: Jack U, A$AP Mob, Axwell, Flossradamus, Tiësto, Disclosure, and more

HARD Summer is just one of the events that HARD, the company founded by Gary Richards (aka Destructo), produces. Like HARD's other festivals - Day of the Dead, Holy Ship!, Haunted Mansion, Hard 13, and Red Rocks - HARD Summer is a guaranteed dance party with a focus on larger than life performances with top of the line production.

Outside Lands

Outside Lands 2013 via the festival

When: August 8-10
Where: San Francisco, California
Who: Kanye West, Arctic Monkeys, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Killers, Tiësto, and more

This eco-conscious festival is an all-encompassing experience. Outside Lands is for the festivalgoer who wants to not only see some of the biggest names on the festival circuit, but also wants to taste the best of the Bay Area's food, drink, and art all in one place. Each of the festival's different "lands" give you a unique experience, from a bike valet and farmer's market in Ecolands, to liquid chocolate bars and artisan cupcakes in Chocolands, to a brewery lineup at Beer Lands to rival the musical lineup. 

Heavy Montréal

Heavy Montréal 2013 via the festival

When: August 8-10
Where: Montreál, Canada
Who: Metallica, Slayer, The Offspring, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Twisted Sister, and more

Previously known as Heavy MTL, the festival changed its name so they could bring in artists and fans of more varied genres than just heavy metal. But the name change doesn't mean the festival has gotten any less brutal - metal legends Metallica and Slayer will headline the 2014 event, alongside over 50 other punk, thrash, and hard rock bands.


MusicfestNW 2013 via the festival

When: August 16-17
Where: Portland, Oregon
Who: Girl Talk, Phantogram, Spoon, HAIM, Run the Jewels, Future Islands, and more

Portland's largest music festival, MusicfestNW is a two-day, two-stage event that holds the same hometown pride for Portland as Outside Lands does for San Francisco. In between sets, you can grab a burrito bowl or artisan sandwich from a local food cart, or check out some custom art by Portland-based artists. Alongside TechfestNW, Portland is truly proving itself to be the Northwest's answer to Austin's SXSW. 

FYF Fest

FYF 2013 via the festival

When: August 23-24
Where: Los Angeles, California
Who: The Strokes, Phoenix, Interpol, HAIM, The Blood Brothers, Slowdive, and more

It takes a certain kind of pure cool to put on a music festival at age 18, but that's exactly what Sean Carlson did in 2004 when he founded FYF Fest simply out of "boredom and a need to do something." In 2014, FYF is going on its 11th year. It's now bigger than ever while retaining the cool factor it started with - it's in downtown LA; sponsors include Nasty Gal, tumblr, Refinery 29, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters; and the lineup is topped by the Strokes and Phoenix - you get the idea. 


Moe.Down 13 via the festival

When: August 29-31
Where: Turin, New York
Who: Moe., Gogol Bordello, O.A.R., Lotus, Soulive, Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, and more

Moe.down is one of jam band Moe.'s four annual festivals - the others include Summer Camp in Illinois, Throe.down in Jamaica, and Snoe.Down in Vermont. Moe. headlines all three nights of the festival, with other jam bands and feel-good artists rounding out the lineup. And at Moe.Down, camping is always free. 

Electric Zoo

Electric Zoo 2013 via the festival

When: August 29-31
Where: New York, New York
Who: David Guetta, Nicky Romero, Armin Van Buuren, Knife Party, Kaskade, Jack U, and more

New York City's premiere electronic music festival, Electric Zoo, brings the best of EDM to the city, whose residents go all out with animal masks, furry costumes, and kandi galore. Three days of EDM is only made better by the fact that each night after the festival, you can take advantage of the location and hit up the best of NYC's food, drink, and nightlife.


Bumbershoot 2013 via the festival

When: August 30-September 1
Where: Seattle, Washington
Who: Foster the People, J. Cole, Wu-Tang Clan, The Replacements, The Head and the Heart, Panic! at the Disco, and more.

There's much more to see at Bumbershoot than just music, whether it's comedy, theatre, film, visual art, TED-like talks, or Literary Death Match. You can also buy arts and crafts at the Indie Market or posters and illustrations at Flatstock. With all those options, Bumbershoot really does live up to its tagline, "art in the great northleft."

Made in America

Made in America 2013 via the festival 

When: August 30-September 1
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania/Los Angeles, California
Who (Philadelphia): Kanye West, Kings of Leon, The National, Steve Aoki, Tiesto, Pharrell Williams, and more
Who (Los Angeles): Imagine Dragons, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Afrojack, John Mayer, Juanes, and more

Made in America showcases the best of American artists, as curated by Jay-Z. The festival began in 2012 in Philadelphia, but in 2014 it will expand to Los Angeles as well. Both take place during Labor Day weekend, for the all-American celebration of having the first Monday in September off from work. 

See Also:

Festival Roundup: Labor Day Weekend
Most Anticipated Releases of Summer 2014 Part 2
Osheaga Reveals Daily Schedules for 2014