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California Travel Guide

9 California Music Festivals That Aren’t Coachella


Not making it to Coachella this year? That festival-sized hole in your summer plans might be the universe’s way of telling you that there’s more than one gathering worth going to this year.—Meg Butler

Joel Bernstein
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Aroyo Secco

When: June

The next-best thing might be a festival run by the organizers of Coachella 2017. Arroyo Seco is LA’s newest festival (this is its first year) but it’s already gearing up to be one of SoCal’s best. It not only features the Alabama Shakes, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty, and more, but also stars chefs and curated menus from some of LA’s best restaurants. LA’s own Beer Belly will also be slinging drinks at Arroyo Seco, just like they do in Coachella.

Read More: The World’s Best Summer Music Festivals

Jorgensen Photography
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Outside Lands

When: August

At last year’s Outside Lands you could find Big Boi driving a big metal bear around the art installations on the grounds, which pretty much sums up San Francisco’s most wonderfully surreal festival. This year, its 10th anniversary, promises a live comedy dating show, magicians serving cocktails, food from Michelin-starred chefs, and desert brought to you by Big Freedia, who will make you “bounce for beignets.” And while this lineup is TBD, past years have included Elton John, Kanye West, St. Vincent, Lana Del Rey, and Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. From the Muppets.

Read More: 23 Under-the-Radar Things to Do in San Francisco

Courtesy of KAABOO
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When: September

If you’ve ever wanted to see Michael McDonald and Kesha at the same festival, we’ve got great news for you. KAABOO has a mind-boggling mash up of artists that includes Jane’s Addiction, Jason Derulo, Shaquille O’Neal spinning records as DJ Diesel, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, not to be confused with Pepper who will also be playing there. Plus there will be blow-out bars, hot-shave counters, IV hangover cures, tattoo brightening, and a spa for some reason. We have no idea what’s going on at this San Diego-adjacent festival but it sounds amazing. And Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers will be here too.

Read More: The World’s Best Summer Music Festivals

Courtesy of Ohana Festival
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When: September

Ohana is the only southern California festival on this list that takes place right on the beach. Festival goers can not only enjoy the beauty of Doheny State Beach, but a portion of their ticket price goes toward preserving California’s coastal parks. And as a thank you for doing your part, Social Distortion, TV on the Radio, The Pixies, Jack Johnson, Fiona Apple, and dozens more will put on shows all weekend long. It’s an amazing lineup for a festival that’s only in its second year which is code for “hurry up and enjoy it before the lines get really long.”

Read More: The World’s Best Summer Music Festivals

Alex Gellar Photography
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California Roots

When: May

Sierra Nevada’s California Roots festival is a laid-back Woodstock of a good time with a  lineup that includes Matisyahu, Jurassic 5, Thievery Corporation, and Nas. The food also has a roots-friendly vibe with plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Enjoy the “cosmic blend of good vibes, true happiness, peace, love, and joy” now. When legalization comes to Cali in 2018, we have a feeling that this feel-good festival is going to be packed. 

Read More: Everywhere You Can Legally Get High in America

Jables by Ian T. McFarland [CC BY-SA 2.0]
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Festival Supreme

When: Halloween Weekend

Like Jack Black himself, Jack Black’s Festival Supreme is a mix of rock and comedy. This years’ lineup (and the date) is still TBD, but past years have featured music acts rocking your socks off outside – think Die Antwoord, The Darkness, and Weird Al Yankovic – while comedians make you laugh your pants of inside — Amy Poehler, Aubrey Plaza, and Eric Andre. It’s probably best to pack a second pair of both if you plan to attend the Los Angeles festival this year.

Read More: 25 Ultimate Things to Do in Los Angeles

Timothy Norris
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Ojai Festival

When: June

As long as you’re skipping out on tents in the desert, why not class your festival experience all the way up? This classical musical festival takes place in one of California’s most beautiful mountain “hippie-friendly” cities.

The vibe is less wine and cheese and dress shoes and more cutting-edge modern classical music with performances of rare works by the masters thrown in. Pitchfork called this years’ director “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” and Stravinsky was its director back in the day.

Read More: Long Weekend in Ojai, California

Courtesy BottleRock Napa Valley
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When: May

Botttlerock is Napa Valley’s culinary-minded music festival where Gordon Ramsay did a cooking demo with Cheech and Chong. This year you can find out what wine mixes well with Warren G, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, The Roots, Modest Mouse, and around 80 more artists. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers will also be there because those guys are everywhere this year.

Read More: 10 Under-the-Radar Napa Valley Wineries

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FYF Festival

When: July

While zero festivals will star Beyoncé this year, Coachella’s Younger Brother will feature Beyoncé’s younger sister, Solange. Once a well-kept LA secret, this underground festival is growing in popularity. The LA Times called Grace Jones’ 2016 performance “arguably the best set in FYF history, and nothing else even comes close.” And this year FYF plans to serve more history-making performances with Hannibal Burress, MGMT, Nine Inch Nails, Run the Jewels, and about 30 more acts lighting up the stage.

Insider Tip: Feel free to repurpose your Coachella outfit (but please don’t wear a feather headdress). This LA festival maybe further west, but fans still come dressed to impress.

Read More: The World’s Best Summer Music Festivals