Most of us are out of school for summer (some of us forever, à la Alice Cooper), and the rest can at least feel its proximity. But instead of sitting around and baking in the Greater Los Angeles slow cooker all summer, I’m preparing for three months the road. Because just when I thought Coachella wasn’t enough “music and arts festival” for my tolerance of heat in large gatherings of (that hated yet indelible word) hipsters, I discovered that nearly every weekend through next semester is filled with a cross country trip’s-worth of eco-friendly Woodstock wannabes.

If you, like me, have resigned yourself to enjoying the next three months without worrying about work, term papers or waking up before noon (unless you want to join Bonnaroo’s 9 a.m. yoga class), here is a to-do list of self-labeled “music and art” festivals that’ll leave you with the summer of productive nothingness you’ll never forget.


June 11-14; Great Stage Park; Manchester, Tenn.

First stop is Bonnaroo, the only festival where 700 acres of a Tennessee farm is turned into a miniature eco-friendly city as summer’s “most over-the-top” festival (according to Rolling Stone) brings solar-powered stages, morning yoga classes and over 150 acts to nearly one million attendees. Bruce Springsteen, Beastie Boys, Wilco, Nine Inch Nails and Phoenix are just a few of the acts on board for the four-day funfest, but save room for Phish – they’re playing two nights.

Rothbury Festival

July 2-5; Rothbury, Mich.

Rothbury, Mich. is a one-square mile village with a population of barely 400 that transforms a farm outside of town into a global village for their progressive Fourth of July weekend festival. Rothbury is a family-and-environmentally-friendly ode to patriotism with music from Bob Dylan and Chromeo, parties under a giant jungle gym (called the Tripolee), large-scale reclaimed art, a food drive, a circus, a tricked out forest light show and a “think tank” with scientists and other innovators discussing the future of our inevitable green economy. Drive out for the Grateful Dead, stay for the free hammocks.

Pitchfork Music Festival

July 17-19; Union Park; Chicago, Ill.

Although they don’t claim to have any art, P4k Fest does have the most old school approach to a summer music festival: 40 of independent music’s best bands (most from Brooklyn) on three stages for a surprisingly affordable $75 three-day pass. Although the online music magazine has taken heat for over-wielding their power as the most influential voice in underground music, 50,000 people will cram into Union Park this year to watch acts like Yo La Tengo, the Flaming Lips, Beirut and Built to Spill play on biodiesel generators.

All Points West

July 31-Aug. 2; Liberty State Park; Jersey City, N.J.

With views overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, the second annual All Points West Music and Arts Festival offers three days of more music than arts at historic Liberty State Park. Although the park’s Central Railroad Station that received tired and hungry huddled immigrant masses at the turn of the century is now abandoned (maybe that is the art?), there’s no reason Beastie Boys, Coldplay and Tool (plus 65 other artists) can’t capitalize on the prime real estate and give cramped New Yorkers the only acceptable excuse to be in Jersey.


Aug. 7-9; Grant Park; Chicago, Ill.

Lollapalooza used to tour around the country with acts like Nine Inch Nails and Hole, but after becoming the ’90s’ definitive alternative music festival, its popularity waned into a 1998 cancellation. After organizer Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction) attempted to reinstate it as a tour in 2003, low ticket sales across the country forced them to turn it into its current instatement as a three-day weekend destination where a variety of bands like Depeche Mode, the Killers, Kings of Leon, Rise Against, Animal Collective and Ben Folds are making this year’s the most anticipated yet.

Outside Lands

Aug. 28-30; Golden Gate Park; San Francisco, Calif.

Outside Lands might look like another music and arts festival with a green purpose (their whole “Ranger Dave” marketing campaign really hammers it home), but the lineup of mellow acts and historically hippie venue of Golden Gate Park (site of 1967’s Human Be-In) carry on the tradition of activism the city is known for. With compost collection, electric car transportation, biodiesel light towers and biodegradable food containers, the festival is able to divert over 60 percent of its produced waste and allow bands like Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, Modest Mouse and the Avett Brothers to play guilt-free.


Sept. 5-7; Seattle Center; Seattle, Wash.

Labor Day weekend will never be the same after a trip to the 38-year-old former Seattle Arts Festival, which brings music, comedy, spoken word, dance and theater to North America’s largest urban arts festival. With over 20 venues located within walking distance at the 74-acre Seattle Center (the complex at the base of the Space Needle used for the 1962 World’s Fair), the dreary Pacific Northwest gets three days of musical sunlight through performances by OS Mutantes, Franz Ferdinand, Matt & Kim and Los Angeles’ own No Age.