April showers bring May flower crowns, and other stylish, summer-centric looks as festival season kicks off in New York City, and beyond. About a decade ago, you needed to pack a tent, rent a car and drive hundreds of miles to get that “mega-festival” experience offered by multi-day events like Bonnaroo and Coachella, but today there are plenty of great options right in your backyard. Whether you prefer a “crunchier campout” or a high-end Metropolitan bash, here’s our list of the region’s hottest festivals that won’t put a dent in your PTO, or your bank account.
BangOn!NYC presents Elements Lakewood (Ponytelle, PA, May 26-29) – Still trying to lock down Memorial Day weekend plans? Located just a short drive away in northeast Pennsylvania, the underground warehouse visionaries known as BangOn!NYC will throw their very first three-day camping festival, featuring one of the most versatile electronic lineups we’ve seen announced this season. In addition to an enticing roster of underground and top tier names, including Burning Man beauty Oona Dahl and UK-genre bender, Tipper, BangOn!NYC will also offer daily deep house yoga sessions, on-site cabin lodging and full meal plans, all at very affordable prices.
Governors Ball NYC (Randall’s Island, June 2-4) – What started as a one-day event on Governors Island in 2010 has become one of the nation’s top music and arts festivals. Now held on beautiful Randall’s island each June, Governors Ball NYC features an all-star lineup across four fully-produced stages, a silent disco, giant field games including favorites like Jenga and corn hole, plus delicious bites from the City’s best vendors. Founders Entertainment consistently snags the season’s most popular bookings, and this year is no different with a roster touting names like the prog rock legends, TOOL, EDM’s masked crusader Marshmello and a very special live collaboration led by producer Mark Ronson and Tame Impala frontman, Kevin Parker.
Northside Festival (Williamsburg, June 7-11) – Our favorite neighborhood festival returns for the second week of June, bringing with it a packed weekend of all-star musicians and innovation programming. In addition to boasting headlining names like Dirty Projectors, Miguel and Kamasi Washington, this year’s four-day festival will also offer keynote speakers from a variety of tech, arts and culture and alternative categories. Find your inner dancing queen at a rare ABBA-inspired performance from Lower Dens, and find your funny with The Second City‘s own Robyn Scott and SNL star and Upright Citizens Brigade alum Sasheer Zamata. Whatever your interests, Northside Festival is here to satiate. What a beautiful time to be a Brooklynite!
Camp Bisco (Scranton, PA, July 13-15) – In 2015, The Disco Biscuits relocated their three-day jam sesh to the beautiful Montage Mountain Ski Resort in Scranton, PA. The lineup remained true to its roots, while the venue itself offered a total upgrade complete with a full-scale water park for festival goers to cool off in between sets. This year’s festival is sure to appeal to Bisco loyalists with names like Gramatik, Pretty Lights and Bassnectar heading the bill, plus six sets from the festival’s founders.
Gratitude Migration (Hello Beach, NJ, July 14-16) – Love the idea of Burning Man, but hate battling dust storms for a week in grueling Nevada heat? Get your own taste of the anti-festival with Gratitude Migration, an intimate 3,000 person gathering on New Jersey’s beautiful Hello Beach. In addition to an exciting lineup of Brooklyn’s best underground artists, Gratitude Migration also features stunning art installations from world-renowned sculptors, architects and more. Dive in for a weekend of wellness workshops, dance parties and some of the most interesting folks you’ll meet at this critically acclaimed mini-burn that’s easily accessible via a short car ride or New Jersey Transit.
Goldenvoice presents Panorama New York City (Randalls Island, July 28-30) – AEG brought their inaugural “Panorama” festival to Randall’s Island last July with headliners that made our jaws drop (Arcade Fire AND LCD Soundsystem . . . damn son!) This “East Coast Coachella” will return to New York City on the last weekend of July, and this year it’s bringing many of our favorites along for the ride. It’s one of the more mainstream options you’ll find in the city this summer, but you can’t scoff at the unbeatable lineup featuring hip-hop visionary, Frank Ocean, alternative rock outfit, Future Islands, and tech-house hunk, Hot Since 82.
BangOn!NYC presents Elements NYC (Red Hook, Brooklyn, August 12-13) – The third annual installment of Elements NYC needed an extra day to pack with their astounding electronic lineup, featuring a wide variety of local and national acts from BangOn!NYC residents like The Golden Pony to some of bass music’s biggest names like the always saxy Griz and Toronto-based dubstep duo, Zeds Dead. For music fans who don’t want to leave the borough, BangOn!NYC is bringing the very best beats in this bite-sized festival, along with all of their signature “burner-esque” fanfare, including aerial performers, DIY art car stages and a team of fire dancers to keep this Brooklyn party lit.
Full Moon Fest (New York City, July TBA) – MATTE has perfected the “boutique festival” with their annual Full Moon Fest, a two-day music and arts celebration paying homage to Thailand’s monthly beach parties. Thankfully, in this case you don’t have to cross the Pacific Ocean to enjoy lunar-inspired art installations, craft cocktail “buckets” and an inspiring array of musical acts which have included international sensations like Yelle, The Ashton Shuffle, Black Coffee and many more. Past venues have included Governors Island Beach Club and The Mirage. An official venue and lineup announcement will take place later this week.
Electric Zoo: 6th Boro (Randalls Island, September 1-3) – New York’s premiere electronic festival returns to Randall’s Island over Labor Day Weekend with a bass-blasting extravaganza to ignite your animal instincts. This year’s theme is a celebration of the city, and more specifically the Randall’s Island venue, which has become a top destination for music lovers from around the world. Expect more of Zoo’s appropriately wild stage designs, costumed flocks of performance artists and rare on-stage collaborations including a headlining set led by techno frontrunners Eric Prydz and Deadmau5.
The Meadows Music and Arts Festival (Citifield, September 15-17) – Last October, Queens finally got the music event it’s been missing with the introduction of The Meadows. The organizers, who are also responsible for Governors Ball, wowed us with two-days of stunning live performances from names like Zhu, Grimes, Empire of the Sun, Yeasayer and more. This year’s lineup is still TBD, but promises of an extra day have our expectations soaring at an all-time high. And we’re guessing Kim won’t get kidnapped this year.