EDM festival season is all year long, and it seems like more festivals are cropping up every year. But what a lot of people don’t know is that EDM festivals are usually very unique in their own way. Even when they’re owned by the same amazing brands you’ve come to know and love, festivals differ vastly in themes, costumes, stage design, and more. That’s why we’ve listed our 15 fave festivals on the map and described them in more detail than you’ll find on almost any other blog or website. Hey, you might even walk away from this post with a revamped playlist!
1. Electric Daisy Carnival
The soonest Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas is right around the corner, which is why we’re starting with it. But first, we’ve got good news and bad news. To get the latter out of the way first, general admission to EDC is all filled up for this year’s Las Vegas festival. But the good news is great news- Electric Daisy Carnival is also coming to New York City this year at the end of August, so get ready! The other great news is that EDC Las Vegas, which starts on May 16th and literally doesn’t stop until the 18th, still has General Admission Plus and VIP tickets left. With GA Plus, you can make yourself a little more comfortable with special access to expedited entry, and air-conditioned restroom trailers once you’re on the scene.
Hosted by Insomniac and Live Nation, the Vegas rendition is the most popular of Electric Daisy Carnivals. Headline acts at this iconic, star-studded festival include huge industry names like David Guetta, A$AP Rocky, Deadmau5, Diplo, Kaskade, and many more. EDC is one of the most popular EDM festivals in the world, but did you know it started out as a warehouse party in L.A.? That was back in 1997. Since then it’s undergone a real metamorphosis, metastasizing into a globally renowned festival. EDC attracts almost one million fans from four different continents each year!
At the heart of Electric Daisy Carnival is its amazing artists, ranging from the hottest industry names of the moment to eclectic favorites with cult followings that keep coming back. But the artists aren’t the only reason people come in droves. True to its name, EDC has a sort of adult carnival atmosphere that expands the imagination and pushes at the boundaries of festivalization as a whole. Colorful carnival themes combine with cutting-edge stage production to create a fantastical experience that stimulates every sense. EDC has a kind of psychedelic energy that hints at 70s-esque themes of hedonism, universal love, and well, psychedelics. (But we don’t need to tell you that you don’t need to partake to have a good time at EDC). Really, self-expression is at the heart of this basement carnival turned industry standard. Everyone is encouraged to dress up in unique, intricate costumes of their own choice or creation. What’s unique about EDC is that although music is at the heart of the festival, the fans tend to take centerstage with their creativity.
We think the coolest thing about EDC is the passionate community of fans that support it. Electric Daisy Carnival’s following doesn’t just come for the music, but supports the whole experience. They’re happy to be a part of such a larger-than-life musical and sensory experience, and they want to contribute to it as well. Some fans even volunteer their services to make the carnival run smoother. The sense of community is as palpable as the beats at Electric Daisy.
Although it’s not just an EDM festival, it is known to showcase some of the hottest headliners in the EDM scene. While Electric Daisy Carnival takes fashion out of this world, Coachella’s fashion sense incorporates the big industry names with collective creativity, giving rise to some seriously iconic looks. So if you love EDM and fashion, Coachella combines them with artistic authenticity. Attendees plan their festival outfits way in advance, and change their festival wear from day to night. Coachella may not be fall under the rave category like all our other choices, but it made our list because it’s known for its diversity- there’s something for everyone, especially EDM lovers.
In 2015, the EDM sensation Kaskade, a cult favorite among house music lovers, took the stage and drew the largest main stage crowd in the history of this iconic festival. (This year, you can catch Kaskade at Electronic Zoo in New York. P.S., we’ll get to Electronic Zoo soon!)
3. Ultra Music Festival
Miami is world-famous for its party scene and sumptuous nightlife- especially when it comes to festivals. The city is as wild for EDM as it is everything else on the party scene, and its festival season is nothing short of explosive. Actually, Miami is known as one of the hottest spots in the country for raves and house music, so ravers from around the world are drawn to Ultra Music Festival Miami. This event is held outdoors at Bayfront Park in mid-March during Miami Music Week. Before it became the larger-than-life industry sensation that it now is, Ultra was a day-long festival that started out in 1999. In 2007 its massive following added a raging second day to the scene. It’s now three days long, and draws about 160,000 partiers from all over the world. UMF has earned its status as one of the nation’s premier spring break festival for college students. Everything about this festival is over-the-top, and partygoers are on display in full rave attire to flashy bikinis to daisy dukes.
Ultra was born in Miami and has all of the glitz and glam associated with the city’s world-class nightlife. But as one of the hottest EDM festivals in the U.S., it has spread like wildfire internationally. Ultra Music Festivals are now happening in Spain, Brazil, Japan, Korea, and South Africa to name just a few!
4. Electric Zoo
Electric Zoo is favorite among hardcore EDM lovers across the nation, and comes to Randall’s Island in New York City every Labor Day weekend. Featuring a diverse range of both epic favorites and rising underground artists, this outdoor festival delivers some of the very best EDM has to offer. This festival is one of the hottest party scenes of the year, but it’s far from just an overzealous excuse for drinking, dancing, and revelry. (Hello, do we even need one on Labor Day?) Electric Zoo is one of those rare times when EDM lovers can see such a variety of creative music collabs between popular and obscure artists. EDM music gives artists and fans a license for creativity that few other genres offer, and at Electric Zoo there’s no cap on creativity.
This year’s lineup includes Zedd, Kaskade, Diplo, Benny Benassi, Excision, Eric Prydz, Diesel b2b Borgore, and Eric Prydz. (As you can see, the artists are a blend of iconic and ultra-modern).
As music lights up the electric sky, it seems to infiltrate you at the same time, creating an interconnected party vibe that it’s hard to find outside of the EDM scene. The best way to describe Electric Zoo’s world-class stage production, out-of-this-world technology, and multi-dimensional lighting effects is this: Everything most other EDM festivals do great, Electric Zoo does better.
But our favorite part of Electric Zoo is its animals. The zoo theme is taken quite literally in the case of this festival- ravers collectively showcase a jungle of the wildest real and mythical creatures you can imagine! If you have an authentic love of EDM music and want to find a festival that brings out the animal in you, it’s not too late to buy tickets to Electric Zoo this year. And when preparing yourself for the big weekend, don’t skimp on your creativity- the idea is to let your wild side out to play Electric Zoo.
5. Electric Forest
Have you ever been to an electric forest? If not, a road trip to Rothbury, Michigan for Electric Forest might be worth the adventure. We love this festival’s unique nature theme, channeling makeshift fairies and mythical creatures from all over the country as they dance to some of the best EDM has to offer. The outdoor space is transformed into “Sherwood Forest” for four days in late June every year, and there’s a definite psychedelic vibe. So embody your free spirit- we’ve all got one- and put together a 70s-style ensemble for this one. Admittedly, a lot of these costumes are reduced to sparkling underthings, as the music and the sun gets pretty hot. Dress-up tip: A lot of festival-goers layer up to strip down, showing off their full costume in all its glory before eventually stripping down to bathing suits and accessories.
The lineup includes the likes of Odesza, Kygo, BASSNECTAR, and more. We love Electronic Forest because there’s something for everyone, and there are so many diverse attractions on the scene, you;ll never run out of things to do. There’s literally never a dull moment in this glittering forest of fairies, nymphs, and some of the hottest EDM music in the world. Magic is in the air: Every night at sunset, natural lighting combines with state-of-the-art stage technology to illuminate the forest into a fairy tale- from another universe.
During the day, when your focus isn’t transfixed to the stages, there are beautiful places to relax and recharge- something a lot of other popular EDM festivals don’t offer. There are hammocks to lounge in, art displays to peruse, and splendorous fields to luxuriate in as you escape from the rest of the world. There’s even a Silent Disco for when your ears need a break from the pulsing world of the stages. Sometimes you can even find an oasis in the crowd with yoga workshops, which we think is a great way to replenish your energy during this hottest of hot EDM festivals. Tickets are still available, so if you’re interested in foraying into the forest for some of the best EDM music you can find in one place, we wish you a magical time!
HARDfest is more than just a music festival that blends electronic acts with hip-hop for a cutting edge sound. It’s a triple threat featuring music cruise aptly entitled “Holy Ship”!” and a concert brand created by Gary Richards, and now owned by Live Nation. (If you’ll remember, Live Nation also partly owns the iconic Electric Daisy Carnival). HARDfest takes a summer tour across the states, and hosts a Day of the Dead event that recently passed through Pamona, California.
As the name suggests, both the music and the attire at HARDfest are edgy, so you’ll may want to forgo your flower crown (unless, of course, it’s paired with daisy dukes and goth gear). The lineup rages hard, too, featuring Kid Cudi, Dillon Francis, Excision, 2B2, Nightmare, Vnssa, Dombresky, and many more. Fans go even harder than the emerging artists at this hot concert series.
HARDfest’s cult popularity really picked up in 2015, when headliners Jack U (a hard act to follow), presented AlunaGeorge, Justin Bieber, Fly Boi Keno, and 2NE1’s CL. HARDfest is known for it’s near-perfect curation of live performances; if you can believe it, Jack Black made an appearance on a set by Die Antwoord. The diversity of this lineup should tell you everything you need to know about how HARDfest became such a hit.
The HARD Summer tour kicks off on August 3rd in Fontana, CA. The infamous Day of the Dead goes down on November 2, 2019 in downtown L.A.HolyShip! Unfortunately already boarded and docked in January, but the madness and mayhem starts all over again after the new year.
Mysteryland is the longest running electronic music, culture, and arts festival in the world! Adding to its vintage appeal is that the festival once took place at the infamous 1969 Woodstock Festival in Bethel, New York. True to its Woodstock roots, Mysteryland is all about culture, art, and sustainability. It also attracts some of the biggest names in EDM on an annual basis.
An international sensation, Mysteryland has been traveling around the world and was last in the U.S. in 2016. We don’t know when it’s coming back, but if your passion for EDM (and your budget) knows no bounds- or if you’ve simply been saving up for the festival experience of a lifetime- we think Mysteryland is worth the trip!
8. Movement Festival
Every Memorial Day Weekend, Detroit’s Hart Plaza is home to the famous Movement Festival, which honors Detroit’s status as the “birthplace” of techno music. If you’re a dancer or just really into dance, Movement festival might be your best bet. There’s a special focus on dance at Movement, and you can display your moves to the beat of over 100 music and performance acts. There are five pulsing, throbbing stages where you can get into the groove, escaping into a vibrant fantasy of music and lights.
The music spans generations, so there really is something for everyone. This year’s lineup is arguably its hottest yet, featuring Ataxia, Amelie Lens, Al Ester Earl “Mixxin” McKinney, Andrea Ghita, and Art Department. DJ Bone and the Detroit DJ Militia will add some hard beats to the show, while Hot Since 82 funks it up for longstanding fans of the techno sound. This festival is world-renowned for a reason, but you won’t truly understand until you experience it.
As with Electric Daisy Carnival and many others, there are volunteer opportunities at Movement. Yeah, you’re doing the grunt work, but you’re also getting a behind-the-scenes experience and opportunities to make new friends who love this industry and music as much as you do.
9. Austin City Limits
Long known as the unofficial culture capital of Texas, Austin presents Austin City limits, a multi-genre Texas festival that features a cutting edge EDM lineup. True to its Texas roots, Austin City Limits does music, food, and arts real big for two consecutive weekends. With eight stages and nearly 500,00 attendees yearly, this festival is unique because, again true to its Texan roots, makes everyone at home. There’s a safe, kid-friendly area for families, and the event is sponsored by ACL Cares, which puts charitable causes on the event agenda. (It’s called Austin Kidde Limits- bonus points for tongue-in-cheek cuteness). Earning even more bonus points is the fact that added bonus is that the festival happens in October. Because it’s Texas, it will still be hot, but you’re likely to escape the three digit temperatures you encounter during a summer festival in this state (as well as potential dehydration and alcohol sickness if you partake).
In recent years, Austin City Limits featured uprising EDM sensation Lemaitre, who has Coachella, other major festivals, and a Porter Robinson tour under their belt. Last year, Odesza made an appearance alongside Lemaitre and other huge names in house and techno music. If an all-around fun festival experience with quality music, state-of-the-art food, and culture is your festival fantasy, skip out on the more otherworldly events and give Austin city Limits a go.
Venturing into the Pacific Northwest, Paradiso is one of Washington’s most popular summer EDM festivals. This dance music and EDM is hailed as the largest EDM event in the entire region, and is held at the gorgeous Gorge Ampitheatre. Like many EDM festivals across the nation, this festival is a paradise of its own making, and boasts heavenly ideals. Paradiso views the sacred connection between human beings and nature as something to celebrate with sustainability; after all, nature gives us sustenance. Paradiso believes that we should honor it, not destroy it with our partying, and is thus a largely sustainable event. Combining the beauty of natural wonders with the art of technology, this festival considers itself an ode to evolution. While some pit nature and technology against one another, Paradiso embraces them as one. The focus is on freeing your mind and enjoying a wild ride- literally.
Paradiso has stated that its carnival rides are meant to induce euphoria and unleash your inner spirit of adventure, which they will if you let them! The festival also caters to art lovers of all kinds. This EDM sensation, perhaps even more than some of the others, believes that art is universal. Paradiso wants you to feel like you can find art everywhere, in everything- even the smallest things. The festival is designed to honor this ambitious philosophy, and if you feel similarly, Paradiso is the perfect chance to live your ideals.
If you didn’t come for a philosophy lesson, that’s cool, too. The lineup is explosive! Benny Benassi, Alison Wonderland, and the wonderfully horrific Bear Grillz are just a few on the list. The dress code is similar to that of EDC- rave attire, fluffies, bathing suits, and the like.
11. Beyond Wonderland
We included a lot of wonderlands on our list, but this one allegedly goes beyond. Another Insomniac EDM Festival (think Electric Daisy), Beyond Wonderland is held at the San Manuel Amphitheater. While festivals like Electric Forest and Paradiso capture a similar sense of magic, Beyond Wonderland takes a more theatrical journey- down the rabbit hole, a’la Alice in Wonderland. Festival goers dress up in costumes inspired by the ingenious fairy tale, so you can get lost in the wonder of it all. As festival themes go, this is a personal favorite.
It would be easy to be upstaged by featured artists like Aly & Fila, ATTLAS, and Andrew Rayel, but like EDC, Beyond Wonderland places the festival goers centerstage. (Think Insomniac’s approach to EDC). The attendees create the energy and diversity of the festival, so it’s bursting with brightly colored attractions outside the amazing lineup. The ornate campgrounds feature arts and crafts, yoga, food trucks, a Silent Disco, and countless other wonders!
Taking a brief detour back in Texas, our personal favorite festival in the state is Euphoria. You may have heard that the grass is greener in Texas, but it was never truer than at this unique festival. The event unfolds at the Carson Creek Ranch in Austin, a sprawling venue with two 20 acre pastures on either side of the creek. The tranquil waters and open space gives a new meaning to the word “Euphoria”, emphasizing total relaxation and oneness with nature! Sure, you may not readily associate the EDM music with tranquility, but the green pastures of Euphoria might just change your perspective. The sense of relaxation is augmented by daily meditation and yoga.
Euphoria isn’t a huge EDM festival name, but that only lends itself to the intimate festival experience it’s designed to provide. (EDM is for lovers, anyone?) As its stage designs and production evolves, it is rapidly increasing in popularity and well on its way to becoming an All-American favorite for EDM fans all over the country. This year’s lineup boasts some of the hottest rising stars in the industry, and manages to successfully blend the bold with the eclectic in a cutting edge combo. Featured artists include moody Hippie Sabotage, ultra-mod Medasin, and melodious, beat-dropping Blu J. Obviously, there are many more featured artists worth checking out. If you don’t already have a Euphoric playlist, these artists are a good starting point.
If you love enjoying nature whilst listening to EDM music, broaden your horizons and enhance your definition of the word “euphoria”. The festival happens in Texas every May- the perfect spring awakening!
13. Lights All Night
Before we leave Texas for good, we’re going to make one last memorable stop. Lights All Night is exactly what it sounds like: an explosive EDM festival that lights up New Year’s Eve every year at the Dallas Market Hall. From its state-of-the-art lighting technology to its star-studded cast of artists, everything about this festival is over-the-top. Lights All Night engages its attendees’ flair for the dramatic; costume choices range from vintage glam to as bold and sexy as you dare. There’s an open policy dress code within (very few) limits, and attendees are encouraged to exercise their creative license, adding to the decadent vibe. So if you really want your year to go out with a bang, Lights All Night is worth the morning after. It’s lights, camera, action, lasers, and stage design!
The last festival was recent, and featured Diplo, Gucci Mane, REZZ, and other larger-than-life industry names that combine house and hip-hop together. This year’s lineup hasn’t been revlealed yet, but it’s worth mentioning that the date has been set for November 30th through December 1st. So instead of a New Year’s Eve party, consider it an end-of-year celebration that lasts through one crazy night. You be the judge, but we think it’s still worth the trip. This way, if you decide to chill with Netflix on New Year’s Eve, you won’t feel like you missed out- not really.
14. Nocturnal Wonderland
Yet another Insomniac festival, Nocturnal Wonderland carries attendees into the subterranean world of dreams with a delicious mix of frenzied, urgent beats and moody melodies. Held at the San Manuel Amphitheater in September every year, this festival is a great way to embrace your shadow side in time for fall with a nocturnal theme. Peruse the magical forest at night alongside dynamic theatrical performers and other well-dressed, mythical “creatures of the night”. Partygoers are encouraged to embrace either their inner beauty or beast- but either way, design your costume to last all night long.
Fun fact: Nocturnal Wonderland is actually Insomniac’s longest running festival. In keeping with the whimsical quality of this theme, many attendees channel Alice in Wonderland (or Beyond Wonderland). The costumes are surprisingly authentic and are sure to enchant and inspire.
When the sun rises, the crowd finds respite (and hydration) at the Silent Disco. Morning yoga, arts, and crafts await with breakfast. The lineup has yet to be announced, but it’s sure to be as spectacular as it was in previous years. 2018 featured AC Slater, 4B, Boombox Cartel, Bijou, Blackgummy, and more.
15. Imagine Music Festival
Imagine Music Festival is last on our least, but it is so not least. The festival has been described as an aquatic fairy tale, complete with mythical sea creatures and cirque acts comparative to Vegas in Atlanta, GA. (The last part is in itself a feat). The Imagine pool seems to encompass the stage and the crowd, merging them together as one in a fantastical dreamscape. Featuring visual and performance art, various workshops and classes, and costumes that seem to rise up from the sea, Imagine is a fantasy come to life.
Did you know that Imagine is also one of the last independent music festivals in the country? Even more interestingly, it’s only give years old- a surprising tidbit when considering its massive success! Last year’s lineup included Oceania Stage: 12th Planet,Leah Culver, Bear Grillz, Riot Ten, Midnite Panda, and many more. This year’s lineup is set to be even bigger, featuring Diplo, REZZ, Alison Wonderland, Seven Lions, and a magical reappearance of Leah Culver.
Imagine is another dreamy September festival, so mark your calendar. You won’t want to miss this one- or any of the others on our list, but you may have to just choose one (or two or three, if you’re lucky).
Hopefully we’ve given you some serious festival inspiration- as well as some potential beats to groove to. Festival season is all year long, so what are you waiting for? Pick a spot on the EDM map and get moving!