It seems like every year there are bigger, better U.S. music festivals to choose from. But for most music lovers, the options dwindle as the costs add up: transportation, lodging, food and general admission wristlets can quickly ruin your budget.
Choose the perfect place to frolic under the sun and dance the night away with our guide.
For the sun-kissed hippie: COACHELLA
April 10 to 12 and April 17 to 19
Coachella began in 1999 as a two-day event in October. Beck, Morrissey, Rage Against the Machine and Moby headlined. The festival, now held mid-spring, grew to a three-day event in 2007. It shattered revenue records after organizers divided the event into two weekends with nearly identical lineups. Last year, it grossed $78.3 million.
In 2014, a reunited Outkast headlined and Beyoncé made a surprise appearance during Solange’s performance, so expectations are high for AC/DC, Drake, Jack White and the rest of the hodgepodge lineup, including FKA Twigs, Father John Misty, Nero, Steely Dan and Vance Joy.
Round-trip flights to Palm Springs International Airport will set you back about $400 from D.C. either weekend. Wristbands include access to camping grounds.
For the fledgling festival-goer: SHAKY KNEES
May 8 to 10
This festival is back for a third year and it’s slowly but surely making a name for itself. Pixies, Wilco, The Strokes and The Avett Brothers will headline while indie acts like Fidlar, Wavves, Real Estate, Panda Bear and dozens more will jam over three days.
Shaky Knees is held in Central Park, in Atlanta’s fourth ward, so the festival does not have camping grounds. Attendees stay in hotels and round-trip flights to Atlanta from D.C. cost about $180.
For the positive vibes: BONNAROO
June 11 to 14
Head to The Farm for four days of Southern hospitality. With about 80,000 campers, Bonnaroo draws fans from across the country to a 700-acre property in an otherwise quaint Tennessee town, and organizers wrote “The Code” to ensure optimal fun is had by all.
Bonnaroo began in 2002 with four dozen folksy acts and a handful of artists like DJ Logic and Disco Biscuits. By 2004, its size had doubled and Dave Matthews, The Dead and Bob Dylan were headlining. This year, artists from Billy Joel to Kendrick Lamar to Belle & Sebastian will play for the so-called Bonnaroovians.
Round-trip flights to Nashville cost about $300. Alternatively, you could rent a car and drive 10 hours from D.C., as many attendees keep their cars at their campsites.
For the mid-Atlantic dancer: FIREFLY
The Woodlands, Dover, Del.
June 18 to 21
Set in the middle of lush woodlands, Firefly isolates the festival-goer with music and only music. With two large stages, three medium stages and four small stages, attendees have a lot of sound options at any hour.
To truly enjoy the Firefly experience, indie-lovers will have to sleep under the stars in one of Firefly’s scattered campgrounds – but the $300 passes do not include campsite space.
Organizers teased fans anxious to find out the lineup last week: Elliphant, Run the Jewels, Spoon, Empire of the Sun, Bastille, Chiddy Bang and Cheerleader are confirmed. If last year’s lineup was indicative of anything, it’s that these organizers can throw a party: from Girl Talk to Pretty Lights to Young the Giant and Cage the Elephant, Firefly is a competitive festival that started strong – in 2012, The Killers and The Black Keys headlined.
For the original experience: ULTRA
March 27 to 29
No matter how many newbies pop up over the years, any ragers worth their salt will have experienced the granddaddy of music festivals at least once. Founded in 1999, Ultra has since spread worldwide, with locations in Ibiza, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Seoul.
Although the trampling of a security guard in 2014 cast doubts on whether Ultra would return to Miami in 2015, organizers confirmed that the festival would be back in Bayfront Park.
Ultra is known for bringing in the shining stars of the EDM industry and the 2015 lineup doesn’t disappoint: DJ headliners include Armin Van Buuren, Afrojack, Steve Aoki and Avicii, and DJs from 12th Planet to Zedd will also perform. Live headliners include Clean Bandit, Bassnectar, Kygo and Krewella.