10 unique music festivals you should try in 2017


Music festivals are quickly sweeping through the country, as what was once a counter-culture trend is now firmly in the mainstream consciousness. Events like Coachella and Lollapalooza have practically become synonymous with American culture.

But there's plenty of outstanding niche festivals out there that have yet to be truly discovered by the average music lover. This year, consider checking out these 10 festivals for a taste of something new and novel.

Lightning in a Bottle

Date: May 25-29

Location: Bradley, California

Lineup includes: Kaytranada, Rüfüs Du Sol, Bonobo, Bassnectar, Bob Moses, Jhené Aiko, Big Wild, Richie Hawtin

Defining aspects: "LIB" is advertised as a transformational festival, seeking to entertain its guests in mediums beyond musical acts (most of which fall under a spectrum of electronic subgenres) and promote an atmosphere of self-improvement. The all-ages event boasts a 5K race, yoga and meditation workshops, a soap box derby, nightly shows put on by fire performers, a giant 70-foot long skee-ball court and -- for the first time, after a prolonged California drought -- a whole lake to swim in, complete with aquatic art installations. Even the music performance stages double as cutting-edge, three-dimensional art structures that evoke tree and flower imagery. It's a fitting theme for an occasion that proudly boasts its multiple Outstanding Greener Festival Awards, one of very few American festivals to attain that honor multiple times this decade.

Courtesy of Lightning in a Bottle

Splash House

Date: June 9-11, August 11-13

Location: Palm Springs, California

Lineup includes (June): Hot Chip, Thomas Jack, Bonobo, SuperDuperKyle, The Knocks, Nora En Pure, Classixx

Lineup includes (August): James Murphy, Kaytranada, Big Gigantic, SuperDuperKyle, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Bob Moses, Le Youth

Defining aspects: Splash House is perfect for dance music fans who like the idea of Las Vegas pool parties, but not the drop-centric EDM fare permeating through Sin City. Most attendees purchase room packages at one of the three hotels that customers essentially take over for the weekend, with the luckiest securing rooms overlooking the pool-side stages. Shuttles run non-stop between the different venues so guests can hop freely between them to catch their favorite acts. At night, the Palm Springs Air Museum hosts a collection of live sets (the most anticipated this year helmed by LCD Soundsystem's lead man) on its tarmac alongside classic airplane models. Splash House is not for the faint of heart -- pool inflatables are more of a lifeline than a luxury after you've had a few drinks -- but if you can keep up, it'll be one of the most unabashedly fun weekends of your summer.


Date: June 15-18

Location: Dover, Delaware

Lineup includes: The Weeknd, Bob Dylan, Flume, Chance the Rapper, Muse, Weezer, Twenty One Pilots, The Shins, Dillon Francis, Galantis, Phantogram, Glass Animals, T-Pain, Kesha

Defining aspects: Since its inception in 2012, Firefly has quickly ascended the ranks of the East Coast festival circuit while expanding from one stage, three days and 48 bands to nine stages, four days and more than 140 acts. The vast grounds of Dover International Speedway have proven to be a prime location, with its 105 tree-covered acres providing cool camping refuge for around 90,000 attendees in the middle of summer. And Firefly's lineup ably carries the burden of being the eastern seaboard's premier music event, providing big names and hip up-and-comers across the musical spectrum. While you're there, make sure to try Firefly Ale, a pale ale made specifically for the festival by nearby famed craft brewery Dogfish Head.

2016 Firefly Music Festival
2016 Firefly Music Festival

Getty Images for Firefly

Essence Festival

Date: June 29-July 2

Location: New Orleans, Lousiana

Lineup includes: Diana Ross, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Chance the Rapper, Solange, Shaggy, Master P, Mystikal

Defining aspects: Essence Magazine, which has been putting on its "party with a purpose" since 1994, is set to host perhaps its most ambitious lineup yet in the Superdome this year. A celebration of African-American culture and music, Essence Fest routinely welcomes R&B and hip-hop icons alongside loads of rising talent on one stage. If you're a blues, reggae, soul or jazz fan who just wants to dress up in stylish festival garb and witness some legendary performers without the hassle of camping or traversing endlessly between stages, this is the event for you.

Newport Folk Festival

Date: July 28-30

Location: Newport, Rhode Island

Lineup includes: Fleet Foxes, Wilco, John Prine, The Head and the Heart, The Avett Brothers, Jim James, Regina Spektor, Shovels & Rope

Defining aspects: Bob Dylan stamped Newport Folk into the artistic history books in 1965 when he "plugged in," played alongside backing from an electric guitarist and performed "Like a Rolling Stone" in public for the first time in his career. The daring move -- which wasn't received well in the moment by some purists, including the festival's organizers -- marked a shift in Dylan's career and mainstream music taste as a whole. "Folk" has been redefined many times over since that fateful night, and the festival now welcomes a variety of folk-influenced indie musicians and acoustic rock bands. It'd be hard to get too fussy about listening to any set at Newport Folk's main stage, known far and wide for its breathtaking panoramic view of the Newport Harbor.

2016 Newport Folk Festival
2016 Newport Folk Festival

Sun Sentinel via Getty Images

WE Fest

Date: August 3-5

Location: Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Lineup includes: Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown Band, Alan Jackson, Darius Rucker, Randy Houser, Brett Eldredge, Eli Young Band, Kelsea Ballerini

Defining aspects: Most probably wouldn't peg Minnesota as the likeliest state to host one of the nation's deepest-rooted country music festivals. But after its first iteration in 1983 was held in a barn to accommodate 9,000 people, WE Fest has since ballooned enough to contain 150,000 attendees at the Soo Pass Ranch last year. With two Best Special Event nominations from the Country Music Association under its belt, WE Fest has the resume to substantiate the claim that a rural town in the Midwest tundra can feel just like the Heartland for a few days near the end of every summer.

Oregon Eclipse

Date: August 17-23

Location: Big Summit Prairie, Oregon

Lineup includes: Bassnectar, The Glitch Mob, The String Cheese Incident, Zion I, Lee Foss, Justin Martin, Damian Lazarus

Defining aspects: The inaugural Oregon Eclipse will comprise 13 collaborating events normally based around the globe from Brazil to Japan to hail August's total solar eclipse -- the first one visible from the continental U.S. since 1979. To add to the novelty aspect, the group of organizers chose to set camp at the beautiful secluded Ochoco National Forest, a setting never before used as a festival venue. The spiritual gathering will curate seven stages of music, yoga and dance classes, theatrical and circus performances and epic art installations to commemorate the event astronomers circled on their calendars decades ago. If you don't catch this total eclipse, you'll have to wait until 2024 to catch another one in North America.

Burning Man

Date: August 27-September 4

Location: Black Rock City, Nevada

Lineup includes: A festival without a main stage or advertised lineup, Burning Man has welcomed electronic gods Skrillex, Diplo and Above & Beyond in recent years among countless other eclectic acts littering the sprawling desert lake -- you just have to find them.

Defining aspects: Though Burning Man is widely viewed as the forefather of the spiritual, transformative festival scene, many longtime attendees are probably loath to see it receive any mainstream recognition. In the eyes of many Burners, it's already been too commercialized for years, maaan. Even so, "The Burn" has largely maintained its tight-knit community feel and alluring mystique. Every attendee is expected to contribute to the temporary metropolis by creating something that benefits others, whether that's a food truck that distributes "Jurassic Pork" or a makeshift music stage that serves up melodies from dawn until dusk – or vice versa. Even after all these years, you'll find no festival setting more immersive than the "playa."


Date: Sept. 30-Oct. 1

Location: San Diego, California

Lineup includes: TBD (March 2017 lineup included Flume, Duke Dumont, AlunaGeorge, Lost Frequencies, Snakehips, Bob Moses)

Defining aspects: Located at Oceanfront Park just a few blocks from downtown San Diego, CRSSD combines the natural beauty of a coastal venue with the convenience of being able to walk to a nearby hotel after the final set is finished. Though CRSSD itself isn't an entirely immersive affair, the numerous pre- and after-parties spread throughout San Diego's burgeoning club scene can keep you busy all day. If you want to save your dancing shoes for the main event, explore the area's robust brewery options or pristine beaches in the early afternoon to supplement your stay in this Southern California oasis.

Courtesy of CRSSD/Skyler Greene

Dirtybird Campout

Date: Oct. 6-8

Location: Silverado, California

Lineup includes: TBD (2016 lineup included Claude VonStroke, Green Velvet, Tourist, Shiba San, Justin Jay)

Defining aspects: Do you miss the halcyon days of summer when all you had to worry about was whether that cute camper in Cabin 4 was into you or not? Fear not, because Dirtybird Campout is here to transport you back to that carefree summer camp setting, complete with sack races, tug of war, kickball, arts & crafts and a talent show. The only difference is that your childhood's trademark slow dance is traded for a mass of twentysomethings grooving to upbeat electronic tunes. The lineup is typically a showcase for Dirtybird Records, the label of festival founder and headliner Claude VonStroke. But you don't need to be a Dirtybird devotee to get swept up in the feel-good aura cultivated by VonStroke and his underlings, all of whom lean in hard to their roles as "counselors" and joyfully mingle with the crowd throughout the agenda of goofy festivities.