September 21, 2023
Halfdays Guide to Music & Arts Festivals
Covering the need-to-know on some of the best U.S. upcoming festivals
The 2023 festival season is well underway, and with timeless biggies like Coachella having come and gone, we’re shifting our focus to the mid-summer, early-fall players. From woodsy electronic portals to beachside folk music extravaganzas, there’s something for every aficionado on our list.
Pitchfork Music Festival
Pitchfork provides exactly what you’d expect from a music festival held by one of the music industry’s top publications; cutting-edge excellency. Known for showcasing up-and-coming artists, Pitchfork’s 40+ band lineup for 2023 features bigger names like The Smile, Big Thief, and Bon Iver, as well as a long list of budding artists who have been meticulously curated by industry experts.
The 3 day extravaganza takes place in Union Park in Chicago, with shows spanning across 3 stages. In-between shows, peruse the festival’s craft fair, which features a number of local vendors and vintage sellers, or grab food from one of Chicago’s best restaurants.
Newport Folk Festival
The Newport Folk Festival began in 1959 as a counterpart to the coastal town’s Jazz Festival (also worth checking out), and has maintained its unique melding of traditional folk and contemporary music since.
Set across four stages in Fort Adams State Park, the festival overlooks Newport Harbor and even allows boaters to drop anchor and listen from the water. The 2023 lineup features singer-songwriters like Lana Del Rey, Maggie Rogers, and Gregory Alan Isakov, in addition to rock band favorites such as The Backseat Lovers and My Morning Jacket. Known for their surprise guests and collaborations, the legendary Newport Folk Festival is a midsummer music haven.
Festival season wouldn’t be complete without the famed Lollapalooza. Held in Chicago’s Grant Park over 4 days, this year’s spectacle boasts 9 stages and 170+ artists, the lineup seemingly spanning every genre.
Boasting two headliners per night, this year’s top-ticket artists include Billie Eilish, Kendrick Lamar, Odesza, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Throughout the diverse lineup you’ll find a large range of electronic artists, including Fred Again…, and Dom Dolla, rappers like Pusha T and Lil Yachty, and international stars like Colombian icon Karol G.
San Francisco, CA
Another main player in the festival-scape, San Francisco’s Outside Lands will return to Golden Gate Park this August for its 15th year. Spanning the city’s famed and forested park, the festival’s 2023 headliners include Megan Thee Stallion, The 1975, and The Foo Fighters, among others. With 70+ artists from a range of genres, you’ll find big names like WILLOW and Cigarettes After Sex throughout the lineup. Head to the Soma Tent for weekend-long, nonstop house music, and take your pick from one of the festival’s 90 participating restaurants in-between sets.
A word to the weather-wise: August in San Francisco is historically temperate, with highs in the mid 60s, so adjust all festival ‘fits accordingly (and revel in the fact that you won’t be drenched in sweat by 12 PM).
How does FORMAT (For Music, Art, & Technology) actualize on 250 acres of forested land in northwest Arkansas? With a distinct amalgamation of installations, immersive art experiences, and 80+ live shows.
The festival features a handful of unconventional stages designed by innovative architects and visual artists; a converted barn will host disco parties and vinyl sets, and a multi-room, fully immersive art installation with a secret entrance will feature jam bands and local artists. LCD Soundsystem, Alanis Morissette, and Leon Bridges will headline the 3-day festival, the versatile lineup also featuring Digable Planets, Jamie XX, and Tash Sultana, among others.
San Francisco, CA
September 30-October 1
After a hit first year, electronic music festival Portola will return to San Francisco’s Pier 80 this September. Organized by Coachella producers Goldenvoice, the 2-day music festival, though definitively electronic music heavy, has a distinctly more relaxed feel to it than electronic festivals like EDC or ULTRA, with Goldenvoice producer Danny Bell saying that he aimed to “present electronic music in an adult way” with Portola. Skrillex will headline night 2, and night 1 the festival will host Eric Prydz’ innovative holographic production HOLO, which features massive 3D visuals that seemingly hover mid-air. On top of electronic favorites like Chris Lake and Major Lazer, the stacked lineup includes artists like Labrinth, Nelly Furtado, and Thundercat.
All Things Go Music Festival
September 30-October 1
Set at the historic Merriweather Post Pavilion just outside of Washington, D.C., All Things Go features performances from 32 groundbreaking artists over the span of 2 days, with this year’s lineup including singer-songwriters like Lizzy McAlpine and Ethel Cain and beloved indie bands like Boygenius and Mt. Joy. All Things Go’s all-star lineup is accompanied by curated food, immersive art installations, and a beer garden.
Austin City Limits
October 6-8, 13-15
Named after the longest running music series in TV history, festival favorite Austin City Limits will return to Zilker Park for two weekends this fall with headliners Kali Uchis, The Lumineers, Shania Twain, and Hozier, among others. Produced by C3 Presents, the same company that puts on Lollapalooza, ACL is another big-game festival, boasting 9 stages and 100+ performances. The festival’s diverse, multi-genre lineup features names like Above & Beyond, Glorilla, Portugal. The Man, and FKJ. With a two-decade track record of attracting massive crowds and scoring big acts, ACL has something for every music lover, all in the live music capital of the world.
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