Welcome to Festival Season – 11 Festivals to Play at this Summer
It’s February already and… festival season is basically around the corner. If you’re considering taking your performance skills to the next level and have hopes of performing at one this summer, it’s time to get your electronic press kit together ASAP. If you’re not yet ready to hit the stage, you should still try to make some festival appearances, as they can be an incredible source of ~inspiration~ and ~fun~. That $200 ticket not in your budget? Try volunteering—in exchange for about 4 hrs a day, you can get your ticket for free. Not a bad deal if you don’t mind lending a hand!
Here are 11 California festivals to keep on your radar and reach out to.
Do it Ourselves Fest – April 28 – 30
This tidy little festival is nestled up in the Santa Cruz mountains. It features strong musical talent, mainly in the folksy category. But at night, prepare for some face melting sets. The festival aims to honor the power of collaboration and inspire self-sufficiency. Proceeds from the event help create a music enrichment program at Camp Krem, a special needs summer camp. It’s sure to be full of good vibes and beautiful music.
Whole Earth Festival – May 12 – 14
The Whole Earth Festival is a free, zero-waste festival that has been occurring annually in Davis, CA, since 1969. The fest is full of vendors, arts and crafts, activities, and of course, music. Musical styles range from acoustic folk, to drum circle, to dub at night time. I’ve been going to this fest since I was just a little one, and am eager to return every year. The chocolate covered frozen bananas sold here would make George Michael Bluth jealous.
Joshua Tree Music Fest – May 18-21
Ah, LA’s strange, beautiful desert cousin: Joshua Tree. Angelinos should need no reason to make Joshua Tree a regular weekend trip, but we tend not to get out there as much as we should. Well, look no further for reasons, the J Tree music fest is bringing together mad musical scientists from around the world to bliss out with art and music in the desert. From world music, to funk, soul, R & B, bluegrass and electronica, these desert rhythms will lift you up. Come get your boots dusty.
SoulPlay Festival – June 8 – 11
SoulPlay Festival is located in the beautiful forest of Pinecrest, CA. It is a four day immersion into the paradigms of connection, self expression and joy. With workshops, live music, epic DJs (and hot springs!) there’s plenty of room for your soul to play. Headliners this year include the honest acoustic landscapes of Trevor Green and luscious soundscapes and thick bass of Sasha Rose.
Enchanted Forest – June 9 – 11
Get your fairy wings ready, this dub-tastic event held at Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, CA is gonna be bumpin’. Live acoustic and electronic music acts are spread between four stages amongst majestic oak trees. Headliners last year included Shpongle, The Polish Ambassador and pantyraid.
Make Music Pasadena – Mid June… Date TBD
One of my favorite LA music festivals—I have vivid memories of the first time I saw Sylvan Esso perform here. It’s fun, free, and unpretentious. This year’s date isn’t announced yet, but keep it on your radar, closer to the event they hold competitions for local artists to play. It’s more band heavy than DJ/producer heavy, but there’s a little bit of everything.
Big Surreal – June 22 – 25
This fest is a small one nestled in the Cachagua Valley along the Big Sur coast, in one of California’s most serene locations. Music ranges from deep house to drum circles, and a bit of everything in between. Last year’s headliners included Random RAB, Dustin Thomas, and Cloudchord. The focus of this festival is community building through music, art, dance, theater and positive vibrations.
Sunset Campout – Mid July… Date TBD
Sunset Campout takes place in Belden, CA, way up by the Northern Sierra Nevadas, along the North Fork of the Feather River. This festival is put on by San Francisco’s Sunset Sound System and has been going on since 1998. It’s part campout, part festival, all dance party. It focuses mainly on DJ sets and EDM, and last year’s headliners included Alvaro Z, Anthony Mansfield, and Bezier. If you’re more an “mtz mtz mtz”, four-on-the-floor kind of DJ, this could be a good one for you.
Northern Nights – July 14 – 16
This is one of the bigger music fests listed here. It’s located in Cook’s Valley campground, on the border of Humboldt & Mendocino counties. The fest takes place under the shade of redwood trees and along the Eel River. Their four unique stages have been graced by big names—such as Griz and The Polish Ambassador—and smaller artists alike in a range of styles. Along with music there is also yoga, art, comedy, dance, workshops and camping. An overall dope hippie fest.
Stilldream Festival – July 27 – 31
Stilldream is a feast for the senses, and will leave your mind free to explore the depths of your imagination. It is located in beautiful Belden, CA, along the banks of the Feather River. And by “along the banks” I actually mean you can play in the river while the DJ slaps 100 ft away. Sounds like summer. Some of last year’s performers included Big Wild, Ott, Eprom, and Space Jesus. It’s a cool, earthy and intimate culture.
Echo Park Rising – Aug 17 – 20
Ah, one in our very own backyard! Echo Park Rising was named best festival of 2016 by the LA times. It’s a free, community driven experience featuring 300 bands from near and far, that spread out across the East LA neighborhood. 2016’s lineup included Beat Lab alum Freddy Spacer, who performed alongside the likes of Chicano Batman, La Luz, and Bleached. Hit up Freddy if you want more info about getting involved in this one.
So have at it! There is so much California has to offer in terms of festivals, and in order to reap all the benefits, you should get started planning your moves ASAP. And if you’re not sure how to reach out to the festivals… google it ;-]