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Top 5 Summer Festivals

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Mark Your Calendar for These 5 Can't Miss Summer Festivals

March 30, 2019

Sunny days, baseball games, backyard barbecues, poolside cocktails, beach vacations—the approach of summer means that great things are on the way! If you’re anything like us, your plans for the upcoming months include at least one weekend spent at a festival. Summertime is festival season across the United States, with celebrations of music, food, art and more popping up from coast to coast. If you still have a few weekends open on your calendar, consider filling them in with one of the incredible events below. P.S. Not every festival on our list requires a long weekend in an uncomfortable tent. We’ve got something for everyone, from landmark musical lineups to celebrations of food and culture in America’s most iconic cities.

Woodstock 50

August 16th - 19th

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the greatest music festival of all time: Woodstock! To celebrate, organizers are planning a four-day extravaganza in Watkins Glen, New York. It might be tough to live up to the 1969 lineup, which included Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, The Who, Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix among a total of 32 performers. However, the 2019 lineup is stacked with modern-day favorites like The Killers, Chance the Rapper, Cage the Elephant, Greta Van Fleet, Jay-Z, and Janelle Monáe. Musicians from the original festival, including Santana, David Crosby, John Fogerty, and Dead & Company, will also return to mark the 50-year anniversary of their performances. Tickets go on sale on April 22, so don’t miss your chance to celebrate one of the most important events in music history with a once-in-a-lifetime festival experience.

Stage and crowds at Woodstock Music Festival in 1969
Photo Credit: Woodstock Whisperer / Wikimedia Commons

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

April 26th - May 5th

For a more laid-back festival experience, head south for a weeklong celebration of music and culture in New Orleans. Since 1970, the Big Easy has hosted Jazz Fest from the last weekend in April through the first weekend in May. The festival is technically held at the Fair Grounds Race Course, but unofficial concerts take place in venues across the city throughout the festival week. This year’s headliners include The Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band, and Chris Stapleton, but you can catch everything from zydeco to Afro-Caribbean music, too. Along with music, Jazz Fest is a salute to the diverse heritage of New Orleans. You’ll find traditional crafts at marketplaces on the festival grounds, as well as folk demonstrations that shine a light on the region’s Cajun and Native American cultures. Don’t forget to sample a few New Orleans specialties—like jambalaya, po’boys, beignets, and hurricanes—while you’re in town.

Food stands at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Photo credit: Mr.Schultz / Wikimedia Commons


July 19th - 21st

Touted as the largest free arts festival in America, Artscape welcomes more than 350,000 people to Baltimore each July. The festival is a celebration of art in all forms, from music and theater to film and comedy. Over a long weekend, the city comes alive with concerts on three open-air stages, dozens of outdoor art installations, dance performances, operas, comedy shows, film screenings, and more. The festival also showcases the best of Baltimore’s local foods, so get ready for three days of crab cakes, Utz chips, snowballs, and Natty Boh. At the end of the weekend, take home your own piece of original artwork from one of more than 150 vendors in the Artists’ Market. Stay late for Artscape After Hours on Friday and Saturday nights, or make plans while you’re in town to explore a few of Baltimore’s well-known landmarks, like the National Aquarium, Fort McHenry, and Camden Yards, where you can catch a game if the Orioles are at home. This year marks the 38th annual Artscape; a final lineup of events will be released in early June.

Artwork at Artscape an Art Festival in Baltimore
Photo credit: Artscape / Facebook 

LA Food Fest

June 29th

The LA Food Fest homepage reminds attendees: “Don’t forget your #stretchypants,” and for good reason! This one-day festival, held on the infield at Santa Anita Park, brings together more than 100 of the best chefs and restaurants from Los Angeles and beyond—so you’d better come ready to eat! This year’s lineup is still TBD, but 2019 marks the festival’s tenth anniversary, so you can expect big things. 2018 saw everything from ceviche and tacos (it’s LA, after all) to barbecue, poke, and gourmet mac n’ cheese, plus lots of vegetarian and vegan options. Other festival staples include craft beer gardens and cocktail bars, tequila tastings, and even an iced coffee lounge if you need a refresher after a few hours in the Cali sunshine. Save room at the end of the day for the ultimate dessert spread: an ice cream social with enough frozen treats to satisfy even the most dedicated sweet tooth. You’ll leave Food Fest feeling like you ate your way through Los Angeles in a single day, and you might even discover some new local favorites. Compared to the final festival on our list, however, LA Food Fest is just an appetizer.

Los Angeles Food Festival
Photo credit: LA Food Fest

Taste of Chicago

July 10th - 14th

Known as “The Taste” among Windy City locals, Taste of Chicago is the largest food festival in the world. Held each summer in Grant Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, the festival attracts a whopping 1.5 million annual visitors. Chicago’s best chefs, restaurants, and vendors turn out in full force with culinary offerings that showcase the city’s incredible diversity over five delicious days. Celebrity chefs, like Stephanie Izard and Top Chef personality Graham Elliot, also stop in throughout the festival to host special demonstrations and private dinners. However, Taste of Chicago isn’t solely about food. The festival also offers a vibrant music and arts scene. Head to the Bud Light Stage for a lineup of local musicians, or spend an evening at the Petrillo Music Shell to catch big-name headline acts. Over the years, Taste of Chicago performers have included Stevie Wonder, Spoon, Passion Pit, The Decemberists, John Mayer, and many more.

Taste of Chicago one of the largest food festivals in the world
Photo credit: Choose Chicago

Wherever you’re headed this summer, take along your favorite Knockaround pairs and tag your pics with #KnockFan for a chance to be featured—and win some free shades!

Written by Caroline Lees for Knockaround.

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