13 Top Summer Music Festivals of 2012


Ahhh, it’s summertime. As the temperature rises, people keep looking for ways to keep cool and there’s no better way than with fun, music-filled festivals.  Without questions, there are countless festivals catering to every musical taste out there, from jazz to juggaloos. However, here are just a few of this summer’s highlights from each region of the U.S.



1) Orion Music Festival

Dates: June 23-25

Location: Atlantic City, NJ

Headliners: Metallica, Arctic Monkeys, Modest Mouse

Whyit's cool: For this inaugural event, the festival features 22 of Metallica’s closest rock ‘n’ roll “friends.”


2) CBGB Music Festival

Dates: July 5-8

Location: New York, NY

Headliners: Wyclef Jean, Baseball Project, Willie Nile, Ben Taylor

Why it's cool: This festival not only spotlights emerging artists, but also includes film screenings, an industry panel and even a whiskey fest too.


3) Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival

Dates: July 9-14

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Headliners: Busta Rhymes, KA, Freeway

Why it's cool: For real hip-hop lovers only, this annual get-down highlights hip-hop at its best in the birthplace of the art form.


4) Catalpa Music Festival

Dates: July 28-29

Location: New York, NY

Headliners: The Black Keys, Matisyahu, Snoop Dogg

Why it's cool: This festival crosses musical genres to bring together artists and their fans together for two days of collaborative fun.


5) Utica Music Festival

Dates: September 13-15

Location: Utica, NY

Headliners: Bad Fish, Jason Bean, Stone Soul Fondation

Why it's cool: Don’t recognize any of the names? Well that is because this festival showcases almost 100 of the best, unsigned bands around.



6) Rivers Edge Music Festival

Dates: June 23-24

Location: St. Paul, MN

Headliners: Dave Matthews Band, Scissor Sisters, Blaqstarr

Why it's cool: Live Nation Entertainment, in combination with the city of St. Paul, present this first annual festival featuring some of the best artists of every genre.


7) Summerfest 2012

Dates: June 27 – July 8

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Headliners: Aerosmith, Common, Lupe fiasco, Joss Stone, B-52s

Why it's cool: It's one of the world’s largest music festivals, with talented artists from all over together in one space for two weeks of unforgettable performances.


8) Basilica Block Party

Dates: July 6-7

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Headliners: Train, The Avett Brothers

Why it's cool: This feel-good festival uses all of its proceeds to help the ongoing renovation of the Basilica area and to support the St. Vincent de Paul Outreach Program which provides services to the local community.

9) Pitchfork Music Festival

Dates: July 13-15

Location: Chicago, IL

Headliners: Kendrick Lamar, Feist, Vampire Weekend

Why it's cool: This annual festival is one of the largest featuring some of the best indie artists and bands out there.


10) Bunbury Music Festival

Dates: July 13-15

Location: Cincinnati, OH

Headliners: Gym Class Heroes, Jane’s Addiction, Weezer

Why it's cool: The laidback, eco-friendly, and surprisingly affordable atmosphere makes this Midwestern music fest an attraction.



6) WE Fest

Dates: August 2-4

Location: Detroit Lakes, MN

Headliners: Toby Keith, Jason Aldean

Why it's cool: WE Fest is one of the most famous country music festivals of the summer with some of the biggest artists in the industry making appearances.


7) Lollapalooza

Dates: August 3-5

Location: Chicago, IL

Headliners: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Vlack Sabbath, Florence + Machine, Wale

Why it's cool: Taking place in Chicago’s famed Grant Park, this annual festival showcases big performers from a variety of genres, including rap and rock.



8) Essence Music Festival

Dates: July 6

Location: New Orleans, LA

Headliners: Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Kirk Franklin

Why it's cool: More than your average music festival, this annual bash features the best in soul, jazz and hip hop. Plus, it offers a mix of wellness and lifestyle workshops.


9) Forecastle Festival

Dates: July 13-15

Location: Louisville, KY

Headliners: Wilco, My Metal Jacket

Why it's cool: People come from all over to this festival to celebrate the best in music, art, and activism.


10) Music Midtown

Dates: September 21-23

Location: Atlanta, GA

Headliners: Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Ludacris

Why it's cool: One of the largest festivals in Atlanta, this revived event showcases a diverse mix of some of the music industry’s top-billing performers.


11) Hard Summer

Dates: August 3-4

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Headliners: Skrillex, Mike Snow, Boys Noize

Why it's cool: Marking its fifth year, this festival features some of electronica’s best and brightest.


12) Outside Lands

Dates: August 10-12

Location: San Francisco, CA

Headliners: Stevie Wonder, Foo Fighters, Norah Jones,

Why it's cool: This annual event truly represents the eclectic and vibrant culture of San Francisco with its mix of well-known performers, local food vendors, and talented artists.



Dates: September 5-9

Location: Portland, OR

Headliners: Passion Pit, Yelawolf, Beirut

Why it's cool: The third biggest indoor music festival in the U.S. features an eclectic mix of indie alt-music.