It’s been a minute, but summer music festivals are back! After a few bumpy years of virtual shows and limited lineups, 2022 has been the official return to large-scale music festivals. Music fans everywhere are rejoicing, but after being out of the music festival game for a few years, it’s tough to remember what makes each of them great. 

As music festival lineups roll out, we all enter the time-honored tradition of scanning down the massive list of names, hoping to recognize enough that may make a weekend pass worth it. Huge fan of Green Day? Well, you’re in luck because, apparently, they’re headlining every other festival this summer. 

But headliners alone do not make a music festival great enough to navigate the long list of lineups. Use this handy guide to find which vibe is right for you. 

 

Nostalgic Millennial – Summerfest

While Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Summerfest, has been dubbed the World’s Largest Music Festival, this year’s lineup is big on the nostalgia factor. Taking place over three weekends, across 12 stages, there are plenty of contemporary indie and pop standouts to enjoy. The TRL generation looking for a blast from the past should stop by to enjoy Avril Lavigne, Backstreet Boys and Wu-Tang Clan. With Rod Steward and Cheap Trick in the lineup, even dads can get involved! 

Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

When: Late June – Early July

 

Seaside Stoners – Newport Folk Festival 

The Newport Folk Festival has been bringing music fans to Rhode Island’s seaside town for over 60 years and lays claim to being one of the first modern music festivals in the country. The site of Bob Dylan’s infamous first “plugged-in” set in 1965, Newport Folk Festival still has its finger on the pulse, with acts this year like Clario, beabadoobee and The Linda Lindas. 

Where: Newport, Rhode Island

When: Late July

 

Indie Music Head – Pitchfork Music Festival 

Pitchfork’s reviews and music news may be a bit more corporate than they were 10 years ago, but their annual music festival in Chicago still attracts some of the most exciting indie acts in the industry. This year is no different, with indie heavyweights like Mitski, Japanese Breakfast and Toro y Moi making appearances. And their hip-hop lineup is equally as impressive, with The Roots headlining Sunday and sets by Tierra Whack, Earl Sweatshirt and Noname throughout the weekend. 

Where: Chicago, Illinois

When: Mid-July

 

Here for the Hype – Governors Ball & Lollapalooza

Of course, there’s always room in the summer for at least one huge, hype-filled music festival. Look no further than classics like Chicago’s Lollapalooza and New York’s Gov Ball, which are chock full of the buzziest acts you could ask for. First up is Gov Ball, which returns to Citi Field for the second year and features headliners Halsey, Kid Cudi and J. Cole. Lolla, in late July, will return to its massive blow-out event status music fans know and love with acts like Doja Cat, Dua Lipa and Green Day. 

Gov Ball 

Where: Queens, New York

When: Early June

Lollapalooza

Where: Chicago, Illinois

When: Late July

 

Always Looking to be Surprised – Made in America Festival 

Every year, Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival seems to have a ride-by-the-seat-of-your-pants vibe, with lineups curated by Mr. Shawn Carter himself that are often only announced when the festival is just a few weeks out. With the headliners all still TBD, there’s no doubt it’s still the best way to celebrate Labor Day weekend, as some of the biggest names in hip hop and R&B are sure to finish their music festival season here on the Philadelphia Parkway. 

Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

When: September 3–September 4

 

Summer Goths – Riot Fest 

Chicago punks and metalheads may not perk up for most of the acts featured at this year’s Pitchfork or Lollapalooza festival; thankfully, the city is also home to one of the country’s biggest punk, rock and metal music festivals: Riot Fest. With amazing food, carnival rides and sideshow performers, any summer goth would be right at home with this year’s lineup featuring My Chemical Romance, The Misfits and Nine Inch Nails.

Where: Chicago, Illinois

When: September 16–September 18 

 

The “I Listen to Everything” Music Fan – Austin City Limits 

As one of the year’s final festivals, Austin City Limits never disappoints. Over two weekends, a lineup of well over a hundred acts descends on one of the biggest music cities in the country for a festival that has something for everyone. Those millennial nostalgia fans? Red Hot Chili Peppers and P!NK are headlining. Hip hop and R&B head? Lil Nas X, Lil Durk and SZA are rolling through. Country? Indie? Punk? ACL has it all. 

Where: Austin, Texas

When: October 7–October 16

 

After a few years of middling festival lineups, sparse crowds and confusing protocols, summer music festivals are back in full swing. So break out the flower crowns, sunscreen and glowsticks to let loose and see all your favorite artists in one hot and sweaty place. 

 

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